One of the biggest problems in combatting Donald Trump’s political rise has been the inability of his detractors to pinpoint what makes Trump so bad, anyway. His populist and anti-establishment sentiments have received approval like never before, leaving critics dumbfounded and defeated. Citizens who feel the need to protect their country from Trump’s regressive comments and actions are at a disadvantage: How can one attack him, without fully understanding what he stands for and means to his supporters? This inability to effectively derail Trump does not come from a lack of effort; many liberals have come after his past business transactions, racist suggestions, and sexist history, but to no avail. It seems that, no matter how much we point out his glaring flaws, Donald Trump retains faithful and passionate supporters.
But we cannot lie down in defeat. We must be vigilant in our efforts to prove the unhealthiness of Donald Trump’s ideas and policies. Perhaps we have to go deeper in our analysis in order to find the thing that makes him so dangerous. I propose that we target Trump from a moral and ethical standpoint.
We must first consider Trump’s primary motives. For instance, it is apparent that Trump has a large sense of ambition, but we must question this ambition. Is it the product of desire to do good or a staple of his toxic egotism? He seems disproportionately focused on self-success, which makes it doubtful that he would put the well-being of his country before the preservation of his legacy. We see Trump’s glaring self-advertisements in things like the Trump Plaza, Trump Tower and the 17 Trump golf courses around the world. This success has encouraged Donald Trump to believe that he can, in fact, do anything, including being the president of our country.
It could be said that this is true of many financially prosperous executives and business people, and that may be so, but should skilled self-representation qualify someone to lead our government?
Consider Trump’s claim that he will create better trade deals in which America will “win.” This type of aim is acceptable in business dealings, but not in diplomacy. In the free market, the goal is to make the most money possible, so any tactic-legal tactic, that is-should be implemented to make a profit.
But in international agreements among governments, the goal should be to advance all involved countries and their citizens, resulting in a collective humanitarian win, not a personal one. In fact, Trump’s intense focus on “beating” the other countries points to another major problem within his system of beliefs: his sense of superiority and discrete endorsement of valuing some lives over others.
Trump’s inauguration speech outlined a new type of American exceptionalism: instead of creating a hub of progress and prosperity to be a model and leader of the world, Trump wants to promote America out of a belief that we are simply better than the rest of the world.
In regard to Trump’s ‘America first’ policy, one may ask: to what end? There seems to be no motivation for Trump’s raging patriotism other than an overriding desire to be in power. He cannot possibly embrace all people of the world because that would undermine the principles of competition that so obviously guide his life.
This belief in American superiority can be seen in Trump’s recent immigration ban on seven majority Muslim countries. This ban has absolutely no bearing to actual world affairs, but rather constitutes a declaration of American exceptionalism. It’s not as if the Obama Administration had an extreme policy of admitting refugees whom Trump felt needed to be dialed back. In fact, vetting processes for immigrants from these seven countries were already extensive.
Nor were there calls from Trump’s own party to enforce this ban. Trump upheld that he was protecting American lives, but there is no overwhelming evidence that this order would do anything to prevent terrorism on American soil. If anything, Trump’s ban will fuel the passions of radical Islamic groups and thus decrease the safety of Americans. Trump’s faulty justification for an explicitly discriminatory policy illustrates his favoritism for the well-being of few, if any, Americans over the need to help the most needy citizens of the world.
Trump’s policies and beliefs also demonstrate poor ethics. Trump has consistently berated the media for creating “fake news” and lying when it reports negative news about his administration. His assistant Steve Bannon has declared the media the “opposition party.” Not only is this undemocratic, it also directly undermines free speech and the spread of information.
If the media truly is the opposition party for the Trump administration, then shouldn’t we be concerned about Trump’s true objectives? It is generally accepted that we all should have a hand in our democratic process and, in order to make our mass policy collaboration possible, a media that provides information freely. By this, I mean a state in which all citizens are able to contribute to the pursuit of progress, where every person can influence the laws of the land. This system incorporates all views and combines them in order to create a representative and effective plan of action.
By denouncing the media, Trump is challenging this American ideal. It seems like Trump wants an America run by him and his small group of elites. This again points back to a serious concern regarding Trump’s motives for running and being president: He does not want to be the representative for the common man, but rather to be the idolized leader who is never doubted. This belief is in direct contrast to the principles of American democracy and a blatant insult to the hard-working citizens of the United States who have the right for their opinions and desires to be incorporated into our system of governance.
The fact that Trump adamantly opposes any criticism illustrates his belief in his own greatness. Sure, the president is allowed to defend himself, but Trump’s responses to the media indicate an unwillingness to listen and consider the views of others.
Every day, Donald Trump says and does things that perpetuate his self-importance and demonstrate his utter disregard for truth and honesty. Of course, this would be objectionable for any person, but it is flat-out corrupt to do so as president of the United States. The whole world watches every move he makes and those with similarly corrupt ideals get dangerous confirmation.
Trump can no longer pass off his questionable comments and nonsensical speculations as mere talk, because that talk will influence the behaviors of people across the globe. Yet that’s exactly what he does; repulsed by political correctness, Trump continues to say whatever he wants, whenever he wants, because he doesn’t believe he could possibly say anything that’s wrong or unjustified. This is another example of Trump’s self-righteousness and complete lack of humility, two qualities that could possibly blend into the behaviors of the American children growing up with this man as their president.
Ultimately, the danger of Trump is less about what he’ll do in the next four to eight years, and more about the lasting effect he’ll have on American society. Our president’s philosophy values self-indulgence over what will spur progress for the world at large, and we must challenge this philosophy to ensure that it does not become the norm. In the age of Donald Trump, we must maintain belief in the collective good and our ability to create prosperity without compromising anyone’s well-being or minimizing anyone’s problems.
Delegal is a senior at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts public high school.