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Donald Trump and the temptation to destroy

Donald Trump

To say that people are fed up with the establishment is an understatement. Financial crises, foreign policy blunders and the evident systemic corruption have primed people to a ruthless demonizing of everything traditional in politics. However rightful or not this sentiment is, it seems to be Trump’s only allure on which all of his supporters agree, as well as the only legitimate attribute of his candidacy.

But there’s not much else. The public shares a temptation to destroy the status quo and he promises to do just that; but does not offer anything to replace it with. Not only can he not present a coherent plan, he doesn’t even indulge in an ideology which would tell us something about his general way of viewing the world. I myself can do without an ideologue, but the way he persistently changes opinion on everything, whether he’s talking about abortion rights or deportation, does not help us pinpoint what his vision of America and the world is –if there even exists such a vision in his own mind.

It gets even worse. The man clearly doesn’t have a moral center that would be necessary to handle all these groundbreaking, chaotic conditions which the crumbling of the establishment would bring about –when he brings it about. Can anyone say with any kind of certainty how he would react when faced with unforeseen problems and ethical dilemmas of the degree which a humanitarian crisis might bring forth? Or dealing with the moral complexity of the Middle Eastern political reality? (Can anyone imagine a positive outcome with him in the chair during the Cuban missile crisis?)

Which forces another point. He has already proposed to increase the use of torture and kill the families of terrorists as a deterrent. Let alone that he has threatened critical journalists with retribution, as he did Hilary Clinton. Threatening your opposition with imprisonment is hardly the American way; nor does it approximate a way of thinking comporting to a liberal. And so, that otherwise liberal people support him is, at this point, a mystery. For them to say that they disagree with all that, but chose him over Hilary because he’s anti-establishment and speaks ‘truth to power’, brings to mind the ‘lesser of two evils’ argument, which they pretend to despise, or even the one about the ‘necessary evil’; another argument which they themselves detest when suggested by Hilary supporters.

I think this goes even deeper, and somewhat darker. I believe this ‘temptation to destroy’ is going hand-to-hand with the belief that Trump will accommodate the role of a ‘benevolent dictator’. That the power he will procure, and the authoritarian attitudes he has, will at least be used for the greater good of his country. Assuming such a thing as a benevolent dictator is even possible to exist, is there a reason to realistically expect this character in Trump? Again, his apparent lack of moral (or even ethical) clarity does not strike me as the result of his inability to communicate his thoughts, but that of a real absence of an ability to differentiate between good and evil. If Bush was a black-and-white president, when the ideal leader deals with the grey, Trump’s vision must look like a kaleidoscope of confusion, where he is constantly side-tracked by the brightness of whichever color of the rainbow happens to get his attention in the moment.

Getting rid of the old only makes sense when you have something better to expect, and what Trump promises is unknown in the way it will unfold and illiberal in nature.

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