Thought Experiment: What if… Donald J. Trump
By George Chigas
What would it look like if people like me, who see very little to like about President Donald J. Trump, were to suspend judgment for a moment and try to be more objective, even empathetic? What would it look like? The purpose of this thought experiment is to try and see Donald Trump through the eyes of the people who support him. What do they see that I don’t see? Some people dismiss Trump supporters as being racist, homophobic, xenophobic, etc., but I don’t agree. Some of my friends support Trump (albeit some less enthusiastically than others), and they are no more racist, etc., than the rest of us.
After suspending personal biases as much as possible, here are some preliminary findings:
- DJT is not an idiot, far from it. He has a great talent for gauging public opinion and using the media to his advantage.
- He has a clear “America First” vision for the US economy. That is, he is not flying by the seat of his pants, as some portray him. Rather, he has been steadfastly pursuing that vision, primarily through the use of tariffs and rewriting trade agreements. His daily measure of success is the response of Wall Street to his policies, and the DJIA is at an all-time record high.
- He is a fierce competitor and a fighter. The fact that he enjoys flouting the rules is something that works in his favor for many of us. As the old adage goes (this was recently stated in a Globe article about Alex Cora), “if you’re not breaking the rules, you’re not trying.”
- He is not a racist. In keeping with his economic vision, his “Wall” and deportation efforts are not racist. They are economic. If the people from Guatemala and Honduras were glamorous and educated like his wife Melania, the door would be wide open. Knowing full well that some people might find this policy cruel and inhumane, he uses his talent to manipulate public opinion through the media and calls these impoverished and desperate migrants “rapists” and “drug dealers.”
- He is not a hawk, and he is not a dove. He has used military force sparingly, primarily because there is no money in it. In fact, a primary focus of his foreign policy is to get US allies to pay for their own defense.
- He is a pragmatist. This means using the cheapest and most readily available energy resources to accelerate economic growth as much as possible as fast as possible. (See “findings #2” above)
- DJT is not as bad a president as some people think, and he is not as good as some people think.
- Ultimate “success” for many people who support DJT is the 20th century image of the millionaire on his yacht with a drink in one hand and a beautiful woman in the other. As a dyed in the wool elitist, President Trump plays to that illusion very well. But its time has come and gone, and I hope we’ve learned a thing or two and are ready to get back to work.
George Chigas, Ph.D., is Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of World Languages & Cultures at UMass Lowell.