When I was a young lad, my high school football coach would say that if we were to ever lose a game, it wouldn’t be because we were sucking wind on the field, it would be because the other team was simply better than us. What he meant was that the fundamentals of the game required that we at least be in shape.
Getting the fundamentals right is the first step towards winning championships, while getting them wrong could mean that otherwise inferior teams will eat your lunch.
The same is true for basically everything else in life. There are fundamentals that must be met before one can at least have a decent shot of expecting desirable outcomes–no matter what one is doing or hoping to achieve.
Which brings me to our current president. Many people voted for him because they felt he was the best hope for our country. Some saw in him a Supreme Court seat. Others saw in him an answer to the prevailing, and at times heavy handed, liberal order of the past administration. And still many more saw in him an unlikely alliance to advance a value system often at odds with the way the candidate himself has lived his entire life.
And who am I to judge them for voting according to their own interests? That’s exactly what democracy is all about. And it is to this that I return to the point of my post.
You see, my problem with Donald Trump is not that I disagree with his politics. In fact, there have been times I have even agreed with some of the things he has said. And my problem with him is certainly not because I can’t see how so many saw in him a rejection of the establishment norms they had come to so revile (often for good reason).
No. That’s not my problem with Donald Trump. And what a merry day it will be when I can return to just being concerned about matters of policy. My problem with Donald Trump is that he does not even come close to possessing the most basic fundamentals that are required for our country to avoid getting beaten by even the inferior teams.
And my fundamentals list is a very short one, because I have to allow for the fact that many people have different preferences for the qualities they seek in a candidate. It’s not that he’s authoritarian, because there are many folks who see nothing wrong with a strong leader who can get things done. Not my cup of tea. But a democracy must allow for the occasional strong leader personality types. And it’s not any one of his many other personality tics, because, as I said, I must allow for the fact that many people have diverging points of view about what they want in a president.
Rather, the two most basic fundamental qualities I think our country needs in a leader, regardless of that leader’s politics, personality type, or competency level, are humility and inquisitiveness. With those two in place, even incompetence can be managed with qualified enough surrogates.
By humility, I don’t mean someone who is always second guessing, because sometimes it’s better to have a leader who is decisive, especially during national emergencies. And by inquisitiveness, I don’t necessarily mean brilliance, because great leadership is not always about being the smartest person in the room, so long as the room is full of smart people.
What I mean by the two is that we need a leader who is humble enough to appreciate that they don’t know what they don’t know, and inquisitive enough to want to learn more about the highly complex world they will inherit as the President of the United States. Perhaps the least qualified candidate for office then, would be a candidate who was basically incompetent, hard headed, and completely uninterested in even the most basic facts about the world. And in Donald Trump we have exactly that candidate. By any objective standard he is incompetent (and there is bipartisan agreement on this), and no reasonable person would deny that he is totally infatuated with himself, and not really much else.
And this is really a dangerous situation for the most powerful country with the most powerful military the world has ever seen. I really can’t overstate the dire straits this puts us in. And for those who see this as nothing but partisan blindness that prevents me from seeing the real, qualified candidate he is, I might add that the existence of the whole Never Trump phenomenon is proof that concerns about this president are bi-partisan, and cannot so readily be dismissed.