Donald Trump: Deconstructing The Person Behind The President
When it comes to public figures, no one is more divisive than our current President, Donald Trump. Supporters look at him as an honest businessman who says what he means, and detractors call him out for not actually knowing the meaning behind what he says.
They paint a picture of opposites that seem to disprove each other. Can both be true? Can both be false? Can men change completely, or are there constant traits underneath that dictate the changes we see in others?
This recent AskReddit thread provides lots of personal anecdotes about working for our current POTUS before he was elected, some time after this thread asked a similar question a few months ago. The overwhelming consensus was that he had been kind, respectful, and even humble. What’s fascinating is the clear division between the man we read about here, and the man who enacted a ban on Muslims entering the country. By most accounts he has been a fairly decent man on the surface, buying donuts for contractors, keeping attention off of himself while watching his daughter’s play, fixing mistakes and apologizing for them with personalized notes, and more.
Several of the commentors who’ve met him or worked with him in the past have trouble recognizing him as the same man. It makes one wonder where the connective tissue lies– is he a formerly decent man who allowed himself to be enraptured by his own rhetoric? Has he never truly been a good man, only acting that way to gain the favor of the people around him? Is he simply overlaying an aggressive business model approach to his performance as President, which rewards achievement of goals rather that the subjective quality of those goals? Is he simply a glad-handing businessman, with no true depth at all? Or, more depressingly, is he still a decent dude trapped beneath a web of fantastic lies he built, never actually believing he’d have to follow through?
Given his performance thus far, that last option is highly unlikely. A decent man wouldn’t laugh at or insult our allies, or hang up on them over the phone. A decent man would consider how Muslims could be hurt by his words and actions. A decent man would not propel legislation that would eliminate oversight on basic needs like water and air quality. And yet he is the same man who paid for his receptionist’s hospital bills when she was attacked by a neighbor’s dog. The man is a walking conflict, it seems.
Of course, all of these stories are anecdotal, and mostly from the side of people who have benefited from being on his good side, so there’s an inherent bias. Still, these stories are worth noting in the conversation on who this man really is beneath the toupee.
Also worth noting is Trump’s oft-forgotten but long-standing friendship with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. At first, their friendship seems natural because they’re both wealthy men, but underneath that is a different sort of kinship. The similarities they share are astounding. Both are sons of successful businessmen who saw greater potential in their fathers’ businesses and dominated their respective sectors by using aggressive, ruthless techniques. Both men are willing to risk gobs of resources for high rewards, even if those rewards might lead to a brick wall (think Trump Steaks versus the XFL). Both share a flair for the dramatic, swinging between the extremes of self-deprecation and egomania. And interestingly enough, both men share a similar sense of generosity, especially to those who are loyal to business. Where Trump paid for employee’s medical bills, Vince notably employed widow Vicki Guerrero eight months after losing her husband to heart disease, despite a lack of experience in performing. Both Trump and McMahon take care of their own.
McMahon, by all accounts, is a passionate man driven by his work. His family life is intertwined with his professional life. His friendships are fostered through his business relationships. He’s so invested in his world, he is often criticized for power trips and micromanagement.
He is kind and helpful to the people who are kind and helpful to his business. Interfering with goals he has set for his business is more of a personal offense than insulting his family. He seems to respect people who stand their ground, even if that means going against him. McMahon is paradoxically someone who values respect, hard work, and loyalty and also ruthless to the core. He does not separate his personal life and his professional life. They are one in the same.
It’s hard to determine if Donald Trump follows the same philosophy as his “closest friend,” but it would explain why he can be considered a good, honest, and humble man to those who support him, but an incompetent, shallow, xenophobic racist to those who disagree with his decisions. It’s not a secret that President Trump could remove sanctions on Russia to push forward a joint $500 million oil venture; what’s interesting is that instead of trying to hide the plan or downplay it in some way like most politicians would, Trump actively butters up Putin as a swell guy who just wants to be America’s friend. If that sounds too simplistic of an angle to carry with him on the global stage… it may very well be that simple for Trump.
Putin supports Trump and wants to do big business with Exxon-Mobil, therefore, to the President, Putin is an okay guy. If at any point Putin threatened to bankrupt large American companies, or somehow double-crossed Trump in some way, we would likely hear the President say the opposite about Putin. Remember when Trump praised President Obama as a “great guy?” That statement came directly after Obama sat down with him at the White House and offered advice to the incoming President. In McMahon’s case, he chose Trump Plaza to host his biggest show two years in a row, and later allowed Trump to even participate in a well publicized story-line in 2007.
In Donald Trump’s mind, whether a person is good or not is directly correlated to how well they treat him and his business interests.
This philosophy might even go a long way to explain why he treats poor minority citizens one way but displaced factory workers another; or why he sometimes retweets American hate groups who are active in their support, but demonizes an entire religious group. It could also explain why it was so hard for him to wrap his mind around the concept of divesting from his business– because he is his business.
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Whether or not President Trump follows some sort of paradoxical philosophy is up for debate, much like every one of the decisions he’s made since entering office. One thing is for sure though: this divisiveness must stop if our country has any chance at regaining our growth and stature. The only way to do that may be to get Trump to realize that people and their business ventures can be separate. They can be divested without consequence. A person’s business does not have to define them like it does for him.
If you take business away from the businessman, how much volume of the man is left?