By Laura Nunez
We are less than a month away from the highly anticipated 2016 presidential election. Voter guides have landed in our mailboxes, commercial breaks are clogged with mudslinging, and the first mail-in ballots are being tallied. If you have yet to decide who to vote for, or whether you’re even going to humor the election and vote at all, it’s imperative to understand the implications of a vote for Trump, and what his resulting presidency might look like.
THE ALLURE OF THE DONALD
Though haunted by reproachful controversy, presidential candidate Donald Trump has managed to cultivate a following of devout disciples who have been able to forgive and overlook every shocking scandal that circulates the news cycle. Why?
Trump totes a refreshing and seductive leadership style that resonates with American voters fed-up with the political process. His unapologetic honesty demonstrates an authenticity establishment politicians lack. He offers simple and straightforward solutions, which starkly contrasts with the bureaucratic double-talk of traditional politics. Most importantly, he addresses an audience with the confidence powerful enough to convince you that he can walk on water.
Authenticity, straightforward solutions, and self-confidence might be enough to drive voters to the polls, but do they make an effective leader? Before making your final decision about the presidential candidates, consider the consequences of electing someone whose authenticity is on par with school-yard bullying and whose simple solutions lack substantive plans to see them through to fruition. Ask yourself the following questions when evaluating his capacity to be a strong leader.
Is he competent?
Presidents must demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the governing process and the various issues facing the country. Secretary Clinton displays such knowledge when answering policy questions, drawing from her decades of experience and referencing facts, statistics, names and dates. On the other hand, Trump answers similar questions with fiery ambiguous remarks and fails to mention the specific details of his own policy plans. He has shown little interest in studying the intricacies of the issues, has held inconsistent stances on issues like immigration, and relies on his advisors to clearly communicate his campaign platform. During the second debate Trump even admitted he “knew nothing about Russia,” didn’t understand that a single Senator can’t unilaterally rewrite the tax code, and struggled with describing his own healthcare plan. How would such inexperience translate into the presidency? Would he show up to policy meetings unaware of the matter at hand? Would his advisors have to whisper in his ear every time he’s asked a policy question? To be fair, how do we expect a real-estate mogul/TV personality to have extensive knowledge of political affairs? We don’t expect our plumbers to know how to build rockets.
Does he have the temperament?
From sun-up to sun-down, Presidents face criticism, judgement, blame, and intense pressure; and they must endure such abuse without starting Twitter wars or encouraging supporters to punch the opposition. Secretary Clinton has demonstrated her unwavering composure during scandals, investigations, and difficult policy meetings. Trump, in contrast, is a belligerent individual whose first priority is to settle the score. He revokes press passes from reporters who criticize him, ridicules those who ask him tough questions, threatens his own party for not supporting his tirades, and attacks parents of fallen service members. Will he personally attack our allies? Will he interrupt, mock, or intimidate world leaders mid-discussion as he does in the debates? Will the first amendment be jeopardized when he leads witch-hunts to persecute those who disagree with him? Add the powers of military and nuclear strength to the equation, and a President Trump could launch the U.S. into World War III because he doesn’t get his way. We don’t reward children for throwing tantrums, so why should we reward Donald Trump for his hysterics?
Can he unify the country?
Presidents represent all Americans, not just their loyal band of followers. They must be able to interact with all groups of people with courtesy and respect. They can’t pigeonhole entire communities as “rapists”, “terrorists”, “weak”, “ugly pigs”, or any of the other derogatory slurs Trump has used in the past. Such comments have understandably caused Americans to question their place under a Trump presidency. Will racism, classism, bigotry, and sexism translate into damaging policy positions reminiscent of the pre-Civil Rights Movement mindset? He might be honest. He might speak his mind. But he might also divide the country beyond repair, fostering hate and fear among our own fellow citizens.
Does he work well with others?
Much of Trump’s appeal stems from the simple fact that he is not a politician. But, just like you can’t be a doctor without medical skills, you can’t be a president without political skills. Even GOP darling Ronald Reagan, an actor turned politician, was the governor of California before he ran for president. The president composes only one branch of government; he or she needs to be able to persuade, cajole, and preserve positive relationships with policymakers in order to maintain a functioning government. They must be willing to extend a hand across the aisle, while sustaining the support of their own party. Such skills are manifest in Secretary Clinton’s substantial legislative record, including work with Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on “legislation to reward U.S. manufacturing and promote more benefits for the military.” Mr. Trump chases away party defectors, picks fights with House Speaker Ryan, and has claimed that Republican Congressional incumbents “don’t know how to win.” If he won’t work with his own party, how do we expect him to work with governors, legislators, and ambassadors? Surely it will involve blackmail and heated hashtag campaigns.
Think hard before casting your ballot this November. Can Trump’s leadership style withstand the challenges of the presidency? Can the world withstand a Trump presidency?