Donald Trump is a Douche
I’ve configured my browser to replace all instances of the word ‘leadership’ with ‘douchery’. While this makes business commentary much more tolerable and leads to the web being a generally snarkier place, it leads to the question: Why does this work so perfectly? Why doesn’t it change anything into gibberish?
Here is the secret: The words ‘leadership’ and ‘douchery’ are synonyms. Both of them mean ‘the sorts of things done by the person in charge’, but ‘leadership’ emphasizes making important decisions and (hopefully) creating lots of value, while ‘douchery’ emphasizes putting on airs and vying for power. While the spins are polar opposites, the underlying meaning is identical.
‘Douchery’ is not only a new word in the english language, it represents a fundamental shift in views of authority. In the past criticizing the boss could always be met with the rejoinder: By definition the boss is the leader, so he’s showing leadership, and by definition leadership is good, it says so in the dictionary! Therefore your criticisms are wrong. It is not an exaggeration to say that the bulk of grandiose business writing is based on this conflation of authority and greatness, baked not only into not only the culture but the language as well. While this argument is laughably fallacious, in the past the only way to argue against it was to get mired in metalinguistics. Now it can be met with the simple response that the boss isn’t a leader showing leadership, they’re a douche who’s being douchey.
This blindness to leadership ineptitude has resulted in rulers being selected based primarily on prejudice and superstition. Leaders are expected to be tall, well dressed white men with a strong air of being a Serious Person. Having personally had the misfortune of doing an outside CEO search using one of the standard CEO recruiting agencies, I interviewed many candidates who at first seemed impressive but when asked basic questions about what a CEO’s operational responsibilities are they clearly didn’t know. On the positive side, at least they had what is widely perceived to be the key trait to being a successful CEO: the ineffable qualities which contribute to being Serious. Lip service was at least paid to there being a job to do and some kind of traits, however misjudged they might be, necessary to do the job well. (The main trait a CEO should actually have is being a business wonk, which in a sane world would be what everybody assumed in the first place.)
And now we have Donald Trump.
Many douchebags are offended and appalled at the claim that Donald Trump is one of them. He’s may be a tall, well-dressed white man, but he’s also pudgy, with a comb-forward, an orange tan, and a frozen face. He looks less like a Serious Person and more like the reality TV star which he is. Instead of earnestness there’s naked self-aggrandizement, hubristic confidence, and overt disdain for actual knowledge. But these are the very central traits of a douche. Putting on airs and vying for power are all that Trump does, with the pretense of competence dropped entirely.
Trump, to his credit, admits to this, and spins it as a good thing. His incompetence is a sign of being an outsider. His personal ambition is a sign of honestness. His orange tan is… actually I don’t know what’s up with the orange tan. In any case, his fans buy all of it. They want a douche, not a leader, and see transparent self-aggrandizement as a good thing.
All this creates a problem for the culture of closeted douchery. When douchery is sold as leadership it’s a logical, perhaps inevitable conclusion that out and proud douches eventually come into positions of power. Closeted douches are then left to grapple with first admitting to themselves what they are, and then deciding whether to come out to the world, risking backlash from a counter-movement which values competence. To any closeted douches who may be reading this I say: It’s okay, a lot of people already suspect your secret, and the debate of whether the world needs douchery or leadership rages on. Your fate is far from sealed.
But there’s one thing which everybody agrees on:
Donald Trump is a douche.