Trump has been a fixture of American privilege and even some news cycles for as long as I can remember. Many of these were not flattering. He’s irresponsible, obsessed with extravagant displays of wealth, and prone to bad judgement. He is the embodiment of corporate influence and exemplifies the stereotype of the affluent, especially its lack of empathy and pervasive sense of entitlement.
He was given vast wealth by his father, yet fully embraces his self-made origin myth—he cannot accept failures. He insists on embarrassing self-aggrandizing, yet it’s authentic—he cannot be embarrassed. He has been bankrupt many times and has many other failures, yet has money and believes himself a success—any slight is met with petulant tantrums or vitriolic bullying.
In short: he is a joke, built up over years of connections made by living in privilege his entire life and through many failures, but he takes himself very (VERY) seriously. (He even made appointing a Supreme Court nominee an episode of Celebrity Apprentice: Presidential Special.) Thus, he is very susceptible to manipulation based on his pride (or just plain old Russian blackmail).
We have been spoiled by men (always men, for some reason) who have taken to the presidency with gravitas or an understanding of the immense pressure and responsibility that comes with the office. This is especially true since World War II, due to our standing as the one or leading super power. We are told we are moral leaders around the globe.
It turns out, none of those values are inherent to the office. Nixon was the most recent (until the weekend) to break that idea. Reagan made a play at it, but he was a shameless opportunist who went from liberal to conservative as he gained influence by selling out more talented colleagues, whether Hollywood or politics. He also played fast and loose rhetorically, but wouldn’t even be elected as a conservative today because of how reserved his actual policies were.
In short: we are now seeing what can happen when someone is elected to the highest office who has no respect for that office or any of the power it holds. Worse, we may be seeing someone who fully understands those powers and is using them purely for self-gain and furthering micro-causes to benefit a small number of close associates.
Reagan held few ideals and voiced concerns of those he thought were his constituents mostly for want of power and prestige. G.W.Bush went further, as the malleable face of war criminals who pushed their ideals through him with little resistance. Trump has taken both to the extreme.
Some of it is the assumptive and subversive racism and sexism of his generation and class, but only to a point. Whether you believe his puppet strings are being pulled by Russia, Bannon, or just some perverted idea that he’s the face of a movement (guy is really quite obsessed with crowd sizes, right?), it’s clear in his first couple weeks that puppet strings are there—even his supporters are aware (mostly).
But worse, he’s just parroting the desires of his inner circle with no consideration and creating contradictions as a result. He was strongly pro-choice; he needs the far-right to get elected; then he’s “pro-life and [has] been pro-life”. He said (related to H–1B visas) those that attend college here “should not be thrown out of our country”; Bannon said the number of south-asian CEOs was bad (notice the use of “civic society” there?); and then #muslimban doesn’t consider exceptions like H–1B. (That could be an oversight of an inexperienced and idiotic administration, or not—both are bad.)
He has no convictions, no ideals, and no morals as long as he can further his brand and influence. That his real estate empire is based on licensing his name to buildings others have built and then his claiming ownership seems to be his entire political strategy.
We cannot stand by and let him run roughshod over whatever democracy we have left. Some said we take him too literally. We should—he clearly does. Whatever checks against presidential powers we have are weak because we have a history of respectable politicians taking that office. This is no longer the case. We need to listen to anyone that has his ear, because it’s their ideas and their voices coming out his mouth, not his own.