Common Reaction is not Common:
How Democracy Threatens Trump’s Greatest Insecurity
“How stupid are our leaders?” he asked over and over again on the campaign trail. It all seemed so simple to Trump and to his followers. The reason for this is — simply — the grasps he has of any given situation are simple. He has no real knowledge about the Middle East or the various wars and people therein. Nor does he have experience with military strategy, diplomacy, or governmental operations. He has demonstrated a clear lack of familiarity with both The Constitution as well as international law, and even seems to be dangerously unfamilliar with history. Of course there are also many things he does not know that he does not know. All he knows is what he sees on TV. Many of us (myself included) lack the type of knowledge and experience I am here referring to. The difference is that most of us know that this prevents us from taking over the free world and making informed decisions; that whatever base knowledge is enough to have something to yell at the TV or discuss at a bar, would likely not be sufficient to form policy. The danger of Trump is his immense insecurity when it comes to his intelligence. There is no evidence to support that he is intelligent or even educated. He speaks at a 6th grade level, he changes the point he’s making in a single sentence, offers little in the way of content or even a clear point of view. Additionally there is no evidence to support the claim that he is educated, aside from his attendance at the finest schools. It’s no secret that he doesn’t read, doesn’t have the patience to listen to people, receives all his information from popular morning talk shows, and routinely answers incorrectly when asked even the simplest questions. Trump’s greatest insecurity is that he is not very smart. All signs point to a very obvious attention problem, which would inevitably prevent him from being able to read a book or spend any significant time trying to understand an issue or concept. To compensate for this he has developed a compulsion to proclaim every shortcoming, a strength, and every failure a success.
An effective leader is one who realizes that he/she is not capable of knowing everything about everything and that nothing is simple, particularly when it affects millions, 100’s of millions, or even billions of people. The positions Trump takes never progress past initial reactions to what a situation looks like from the outside, i.e. if we were attacked by some bad guys from this general area, then why not just bomb that general area? The scary thing is that in his mind, he doesn’t think he needs to learn anymore. His insecurity shows through the most when presented with the mere suggestion that somebody else knows more than him. He doesn’t think he needs to learn more not in the same way a Baseball player does not need to learn the entire history of the sport in order to to be a home run hitter, but in the sense that there isn’t anything more to learn. In short, the situation must be simple, because it seems simple to him. If “they” attacked us, we attack back. Simple. His supporters responded so well to him because his policies — if they can be called that — were formulated out of the same things they’ve all been yelling helplessly at their TV’s. ‘Just repeal Obamacare.’ ‘Just build a wall.’ ‘Just bomb the shit out of them.’ ‘Just ban Muslims.’ It’s all so simple. Trump has routinely referred to the stances he takes as common sense and everyone else (within certain demographics) agrees. Isn’t that the definition of common sense? Well the answer I’m sorry to say is no. The distinction never drawn by this man is between common sense and a common reaction. Everyone from the far left to the far right agrees that ISIS is evil and must be stopped. When we see the pain and suffering they inflict — primarily on other Muslims in their own region — most of us have the initial emotional response of, “just bomb the shit out of them!” Common sense is the logical response that follows and tempers that reaction. It’s the result of the rational taking over for the emotional. That it is common does not mean it is passive or effortless. It refers to a harmony of conclusions each the result of the work an individual has put into a given matter at hand. Such work will always run the risk of revealing to oneself, and to those around them, that they are not the smartest one in the room. The current president has demonstrated an ego — a sense of self — so frail that any action that risks this outcome must always be perceived as a threat. Therefore any discourse, be it science, logic, established law, etc., yielding conclusions differing from his own will be dealt with the same way he has dealt with any person who has ever criticized him. They will be mocked, invalidated, and ultimately dismissed. “Some things are law and I’m all for that,” he said in defense of his travel ban, “but some things are just common sense and this is common sense.” When the validity of rational discourse is deflated in defference to the emotions of one person or group, we not only lose the right to voice dissidence (i.e. democracy), but the means by which such a a voice is even possible.