As of this writing on August 22, 2016, the U.S. presidential election is about 2.5 months away; Donald Trump is the Republican candidate opposing the Democrats’ Hillary Clinton; and Clinton is leading by about six to eight percentage points in the polls. Clinton’s lead is not surprising; Trump has distinguished himself with many odd and in some cases disconcerting words and acts. I do not personally think he is suitable for the office of president. There is also speculation that he may drop out of the race.
Nonetheless, as long as Trump remains in the contest, I would like to suggest one reason to vote for the man. I am not sure this reason will persuade me, though perhaps it should.
The reason is simply that Trump has the potential to disrupt politics as usual, in ways that could benefit ordinary citizens and could ultimately enhance the state of the Union.
I say that as a victim of the Obama administration’s corrupt Department of Education, which — for more than seven years, at this point — has declined to render a credible decision on a complaint I filed against Indiana University (IU) in 2009.
The Democratic Party tends to be the party of big government. That is fine with me. I don’t care if government is big or small. I just care that it works. Unfortunately, government is a form of power, and power can be abused. Among other things, having worked in a federal agency, I know that government employment can foster a mindset in which bureaucrats spend inordinate amounts of time feathering their own nest.
To defeat Republican complaints, it seems obvious that Democratic leaders would want to make sure that government functions as advertised. People who have had an experience like mine will tend to believe others’ complaints about incompetent or unethical governmental behavior.
In the past eight years, the demands for change have grown more insistent. Young voters chose Obama in 2008 because of his promise of dramatic change. Sadly, he became very much a president of the established order. The Huffington Post (Uygur, 2010) considered Obama more conservative than Ronald Reagan; Esquire (Maiello, 2014) and Salon (Brinker, 2014) agree.
I am not sorry that this country chose a black president in 2008. What I am sorry about is that we chose a professor rather than, say, Oprah Winfrey. We would have been better served by someone who knew how to function as an executive, to drive her agenda, and simultaneously to connect with the public.
At any rate, voters learned their lesson. Many who had sought change in 2008 refused, in 2016, to believe they would get it from the Democratic Party’s preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders, the Democrat who did respond to that call, is no longer in the race. But Trump is.
So let us suppose that, as some inappropriately contend, Trump has psychiatric issues — specifically, that he is highly narcissistic. As president, such a person could do considerable damage. But what if his election triggers alarm sufficient to rein in the presidency: what if the behavior of President Trump eventually forces a coalition of adversaries who leave him impeached, discredited, and hamstrung?
In other words, suppose the cleverest political minds deliberately advanced Trump as president, in hopes that his behavior as an ineffectual tyrant would trigger reinforcement of constitutional safeguards against any real American tyranny. The election of Donald Trump, a weak and confused proxy for the abuse of power, could inoculate us against the real thing.
Trump is sometimes, inevitably, compared to Hitler. All right; let’s suppose that comparison is apt. If we are to have a Hitler, let us look back to Hitler’s day: let us have him in the 1920s, when his adversaries are still strong enough to expose and counteract his extremism. Let’s not drag things out until the 1930s, by which point the Democratic opposition will have so discredited itself as to leave no coherent political counterforce in his path.
The suggestion here is, in short, that Donald Trump could be the better choice for president. On many small matters and perhaps some fairly large ones, he could be a disaster. But his independence from the established political parties may provide a rare opportunity for reform, in two regards: his best efforts may roll back some of the corruption that has so alienated so many, and his worst efforts may culminate in a crucial antidote to the growth of an imperial presidency.