Is Donald Trump Qualified to Be President?
Is Donald Trump qualified to be President?
The short answer is: yes, but in the same way a duck is qualified to be a mammal.
The qualifications for president are actually pretty slim. One only needs to be at least thirty-five years of age, a natural born citizen or citizen of the United States, and have resided in the United States for at least fourteen years. So says Article II, section I of the U.S. Constitution.
However, should Donald Trump be President? And if he's supremely unqualified to be President as many of his statements suggest, why are so many people supporting him?
The Kim Kardashian Effect
Most pundits suggest that Donald Trump's popularity is tied most profoundly to disenfranchisement among working class white, male Americans. These Americans feel as though they have lost their voice in the world and that their economic circumstances are either falling or have remained flat. Donald Trump's campaign slogan "Make America Great Again" feeds into their belief that there's something wrong. America has fallen and she can't get up.
While the reasons for Donald Trump's popularity as a presidential candidate may be true, it's necessary to look at what has changed in American culture to make people believe that Donald Trump's brand of qualifications make him a reasonable candidate. How did somebody like Donald Trump become a reasonable alternative?
Donald Trump's appeal is related to "The Kim Kardashian Effect", otherwise known as "whatever it is about our culture that allows somebody with absolutely no talent or intelligence or reason and no connection to real people to become incredibly popular." Put less cynically, it means that people trust brands.
"The Kim Kardashian Effect" is influenced strongly by cultural changes brought on by the ubiquity of the internet. We all have access to information unprecedented in the history of our country. Unfortunately, this isn't always a good thing as much of that information is inaccurate. The internet gives equal voice to those with false information. They have the same platform as those with good information and there's no way for the average person to discern which is which. Furthermore, sites like Twitter reduce that bad information to bite-sized chunks that are easily digestible.
Many of the same folks who support Donald Trump are the ones who believe that climate change is a hoax and that vaccines cause autism. While neither one of these is true, incorrect information has the same weight on our main method of communication - the internet. This has led to many people to base their decisions on false assumptions.
Why is Kim Kardashian popular? Why is she an icon? Why is she a brand? It's because she is an expert in exploiting our means of communication.
Donald Trump is exploiting this same thing. His brand, that of the brash, take no prisoners businessman, is what people are voting for. His brand is so powerful that people overlook what actually comes out of his mouth. They believe in what he represents. He represents power and prestige and people like that. The surface is more important than the substance. His manipulation of the media during the Republican nominating process was nothing short of brilliant. It's that specific brilliance that appeals to people.
Both Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump are experts in using media to promote their brand. Unfortunately, people are prone to mistaking that expertise for expertise elsewhere. We live in a media world. People believe that if you can control the media, you can control the world.
The Donald Trump Poll
Why/Who Will You Vote For in the Upcoming Presidential Election?
What Has Donald Trump Said That Should Make Him Unelectable?
On May 9, 2016: " You never have to default (on the debt), because you print the money."
This was one of the more outrageous things I've heard Trump say. Anybody with even the most limited understanding of economics would know that saying this, much less doing it, is idiotic. It would send inflation sky high. It would destroy the U.S. credit rating. It would make our currency worthless. No person qualified to be President of the U.S. would ever say such a thing, yet it's not making his supporters run from him like the plague. Do they not understand what it would do to America? It would create chaos.
October 2015: "We're going to build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for the wall."
It's hard to imagine that Donald Trump supporters think this statement is merely symbolic. Perhaps it just translates to the fact that they expect Trump to be tough on illegal immigration. However, I expect that many of them actually believe that Trump will follow through on this statement. Unfortunately, it's impossible in a multitude of ways. Can you imagine if your dogs were going into your neighbor's yard and your neighbor said: "I'm going to build a wall and you're going to pay for it." Would you take him seriously or laugh? And by the way, President Obama has deported more illegal immigrants than any other president. Shouldn't Trump supporters excited about the wall be pretty excited by President Obama's record on this issue?
"I will ban all Muslims from entering the United States"
Even if you think this is a good idea, it would cost a fortune and be almost impossible to implement. What would actually have to happen is that people from certain countries around the world would be banned from entering the United States. Ostensibly, the reason to do this is to prevent terrorism even though Muslim terrorism on U.S. soil rarely occurs and is dwarfed by many other types of violence. However, specifically targeting Muslims would be very difficult. There's no way to identify a person by their religion, so some other means of identification would be needed. We could require some form of religious identification, but it seems reasonable to assume people intent on doing us harm would lie about it. We could ban anyone who looked like a Muslim, but that would be open to interpretation. Ultimately, actually doing this would be close to impossible.
The Reality Gap
So why are people voting for Donald Trump and who are these people?
I suspect that the same people who are voting for Donald Trump are the same people who believe that the unemployment rate has gone up during President Obama's administration and that the stock market has gone down during President Obama's administration. If you're an adherent to reality, then you already know that unemployment has gone down during Obama's tenure - quite a lot, actually. It's dropped from over 8% to under 5%. And if you believe in truth, you also know that the stock market, whose level is about as objective as you can get, has gone up from 7949 when Obama was inaugurated, to over 17000 today.
Those are facts (you could argue with the former if you believe the government is lying to you). Yet, among Republican respondents in a poll done by Public Policy Polling, 64% believe that unemployment has increased and 57% believe that the stock market has declined. You can bet that, among those people, none are probably going to vote for the Democratic candidate.
Donald Trump is a perfect candidate for people who don't believe in facts and it appears that those who don't believe in facts are supporting him. It's very hard to make a case for an idea or a program if the people you are arguing with refuse to accept factual information.
How Does a Billionaire Represent You?
There's no question that there are millions of voters in the country who feel disenfranchised by our electoral process and cheated by our bevy of career politicians. People are sick and tired of politicians speaking out of both sides of their mouths. They will often say or do anything to get elected.
Donald Trump has succeeded by being himself and saying whatever he thinks. He's challenged politicians on both sides of the aisle. He's just as apt to tell a Republican to "go to hell" as he is a Democrat.
However, what's sad about the rise of Donald Trump, in addition to the obvious racism and xenophobia, is the fact that so many regular people seem to believe that a billionaire businessman can somehow represent their interests. Donald Trump has never been poor. He's never even been middle class. He has absolutely no experience with the problems facing normal people. His interests are the interests of a billionaire businessman. To think that he's a good candidate to fight for regular people is absurd.