Donald Trump Is Making Politics “More Fun” A laarge segment of US public opinion likes politics as contact sport featuring loud tough guys

WASHINGTON – I just heard a personality commenting about Trump on a major TV business news show. He said something truly remarkable. He said that now, with Trump as a serious contender for the GOP nomination, politics is “more fun”. And he also added that Trump may be able to recruit a couple or more of his billionaire friends, so that they can fill important positions in a future Trump administration.

More fun 

“More fun”? A new Trump administration run by a “Billionaires’ Club”? Is this –entertainment, with weird features– what we want from a political process that will end with the election of the next US President? Is this mostly about Trump as the familiar TV CEO who played tough guy in a popular reality TV show?

Is this what American politics has become? “Show Biz”?

Who is serious? 

Look, I am not trying to say that Trump should be disqualified because he is obviously unserious, while all the others are serious contenders with the required CVs, patina and gravitas. If I said this, the simple objection would be: “So, who are the serious contenders, the real professionals whom we should trust?”

Frankly, not that many.

Only a couple of real contenders 

I fully agree that looking at the 17 Republicans seeking the GOP nomination, we may have 2, possibly 3 serious people who have actually been there and done something that we can see. And these are: Jeb Bush, John Kasich and may be Chris Christie. With all due respect for other former governors, they have been gone too long. They are getting old. The Senators currently running are pitiful. As for the other two outsiders, (Fiorina and Carson), while they may have some credentials, I just do not believe that they are up to the task.

Which is to say that most of the pros (and to some extent the amateurs) make up a sorry-looking bunch of retreads, mediocrities and wannabes.

Trump the outsider 

Hence the interest for Trump, the new man who claims –in fact shouts– that he will do things differently, simply because he is his own man and not part of “the machine”.

The problem is that Trump has articulated no policy agenda that the voters can look at. Besides, he believes that he does not need to know much about policy issues.

He is so smart that he will have figured out everything he needs to know, by the time he will have to make a decision as President. His campaign message is very simple: “Trust me. I am and I shall always be the smartest person in the room. My opponents are weak, unimaginative and frankly stupid. Therefore, vote for me”. 

Vote for me

Really? Being a wealthy real estate developer is good enough? Again, it would be unfair to say that only very knowledgeable people who have spent years in public office can apply for the job. If we apply the “prior experience essential” criteria, unless you demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of national security, Europe, Asia, China, Russia, Islamic radicalism, fiscal issues, tax policy, health care, space exploration, and more we cannot take you seriously. This would be unfair.

Nobody can master all the policy details 

First of all, we cannot expect any future US President to master all the details of often complicated policy matters. Secondly, being knowledgeable is not the same thing as being smart and wise. Knowledge is helpful, in some instances essential.

But Presidents are often called upon to decide about unclear matters without having any idea as to how things will play out later on. They make judgment calls. When things turn out right, we call this “good leadership”.

Does Trump gets a pass? 

That said, can we give Trump a pass, and avoid asking him “technical questions”? Can he just reply, as he just did during a radio show, that he does not know much about the Middle East, Iran, the Kurds and so on, because at this time this knowledge is unnecessary? Can he just brush off this significant ignorance by claiming that, once he is President Trump, he will have all the knowledge required?

We want a reality TV President 

In other words, are we going to elect Trump purely on the basis of his self-confidence and his past success as a businessman? Is that really enough?

Or, worse yet, are we going to elect him because we love rich people who talk tough? And, deep down, we shall vote for him mostly because we love Trump’s reality TV style –a style that is making boring politics all of a sudden “fun”?

Again, do we want a competent administration or “Show Biz”? Leaving aside that is sad we are even debating this point, I can assure you that we cannot have both.

If I could have my wish, I would love a competent, yet inspiring, real leader with proven credentials. Note: in 2008 we fell in love with Barack Obama. He was definitely inspiring. But he had no competence, and he had no record. I hope we can do better this time.

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