I get the popularity of Donald Trump.
I get the slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
But what I don’t get is the increasingly terrifying prospect of a Trump presidency.
Trump’s meteoric ascent is a direct response to many Americans’ frustration with President Barack Obama. One of Obama’s most remarkable achievements has been to infuriate voters on both the Left and the Right — the Left, for not going far enough; and the Right, for going even farther than they feared.
It’s been a long, steady decline since Obama’s stirring speech in 2008, curiously staged at the Brandenburg Gate, where he seemed to be running for president of the World. It’s been an even harder slog since he was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for — basically showing up.
The history books will surely teach our children that Obama was America’s first African-American President. But they will also surely omit that he was re-elected with the lowest margin of any president in U.S. history — a real squeaker, at just 51 percent of the popular vote to Romney’s 47 percent. Worse yet, just over half of the electorate bothered to vote that year at all — 57.5 percent in 2012, as compared to 62.3 percent in 2008. That’s a lot of disaffected people.
You’d think a man with such a narrow victory might have extended an olive branch to the other team. But no: There would be no Ronald Reagan-Tip O’Neill alliance with this president, none of Bill Clinton’s “safe, legal and rare” language to acknowledge both sides of a divisive issue.
Why does Trump’s “Make America Great Again” theme resonate with so many Americans? Let me count the ways.
The seeds of the Donald Trump campaign were first sown when Obama won the Democratic nomination. Was he really more qualified than Hillary Clinton?
A community organizer with two short, inauspicious years in the U.S. Senate does not a serious presidential candidate make. (Ted Cruz is also a freshman US senator — whose presidential prospects now hover between “unlikely” and “impossible.”)
The media, starry-eyed at the prospect of reporting history in the making, would seek no skeletons in the Obama closet. While Bill Clinton was vilified for smoking marijuana, Barack Obama published a best-selling memoir in which he casually mentioned snorting cocaine.
Once elected, Obama again made history. He became the first president to deliberately diminish America’s power and influence on the world stage. This was no hapless Jimmy Carter, but a man who chose to launch an apology tour, to create the untenable foreign policy of “leading from behind,” to draw lines in the sand with Syria that were crossed with impunity, to miscalculate ISIS as the “JV team” while they beheaded “infidels” and sought to establish a worldwide Islamist caliphate.
This was the man who would enable a nuclear Iran, watch baseball with Castro while thousands of political prisoners languished in Cuban prisons, and yet could not discern, in his arrogance, the public relations disaster of waging a Supreme Court battle against a group of elderly nuns called Little Sisters of the Poor.
Under this president, the welfare state would grow bigger, while African-Americans grew poorer. A hopelessly complex universal health care system would wreak havoc with 15 percent of the economy. Higher education, threatened with the loss of federal funds because of their alleged “rape culture,” would allow male college students to be tried and convicted, without legal representation, by sociology professors.
Enter The Donald.
For all his warts, Donald Trump is the anti-Obama. Brash, politically incorrect, and a successful entrepreneur, he is everything that Barack Obama is not. While Obama lectures America, Trump reminds us of our greatness — and what we have lost.
But Donald Trump is an entertainer, not a leader. The folks at Trump’s pep rallies look like they’re rooting for their high school football team, not a presidential candidate. Sure, it feels good to blow off some steam. But what happens next?
Where are Trump’s policy platforms — not his slogans? From whom, besides himself, would he take advice? What would the world look like with Trump’s finger on the button? Does his jaw-dropping vulgarity towards Fox’s Megyn Kelly alone disqualify him for office — any office?
The pro-Trump phenomenon is like a house full of frat boys on spring break. There’s not a grown-up in the room, and it’s all great fun. But when it’s over, you’re going to have one awful hangover.
The highest office in the land should not go to an apprentice. Please, America, let’s fire Donald Trump.