Donald Trump is a liar, a conman, a narcissist, a likely tax evader and a hypocritical, racist misogynist. Yet, any further effort to demonstrate this to voters is wasted energy.
For most Americans, our quality of life is declining, the cost of living is increasing and we live on a narrowing financial precipice. Wealth inequality is at levels unimaginable for a democracy. Left or right, few are satisfied with the results of either Congress or President Obama on the issues we care most about.
Both Bernie Sanders and Trump exceeded early expectations because of their outsider status and their appearance as disruptors of the status quo. Sanders used his authentic regard for equality and social justice to address these issues, whereas Trump promises to tear everything apart and restructure it without specifics.
Who can’t empathize with his intention? The status quo is broken for all of us. Even when money in politics fails to win elections, gerrymandering and the Supreme Court keep us on course toward an increasingly indebted country with failing infrastructure controlled by the wealthy and corporations for their own benefit. Frankly, there’s not much of a democracy left here.
What unites voters on the Left and the Right is that we all want a better quality of life and more transparency and accountability from our government. But the struggle for most Americans has reached the point that our presidential election is no longer driven by logic, but by the heart.
The cultural and political gridlock in our country has left a vacuum for a man like Trump to exploit, and he has. Until after the election, facts don’t matter anymore and intellectual argument is pointless.
This race is no longer about either a candidate’s credibility or their relative offensiveness.
Certainly the Right has unjustly demonized Hillary Clinton for years to Republican voters, but she lacks both Trump’s authenticity as a disruptor and Sander’s heartfelt concerns for average Americans.
He’s shredded the Republican Party elite and become a hero to those most angry with the status quo and the prospect of a Clinton presidency.
Alternatively, she berates Trump for not releasing his tax returns while continuing to withhold her Goldman Sachs speeches. The sincerity of her views is difficult to discern.
She’s most authentic only in her desire to become President.
For Trump supporters, mostly older white men without high school degrees, the future is increasingly uncertain. It doesn’t matter to them whether he delivers prosperity as much as he simply delivers radical change.
Anger is the only way they know to manage their fear.
To win this election, Clinton would need to simultaneously hold close the plights of women, minorities and immigrants, while speaking authentically to how the corporatization of government which she’s been a part of leaves us all at risk, including angry white male conservatives.
Unfortunately, I don’t think Clinton holds these beliefs nor can she effectively pretend to. It’s why the race has become close enough for Trump to win.
Let’s hope she triumphs; a Trump presidency is unthinkable. But beyond this election, we need to cultivate leaders who run to address people’s hopes and fear much more than their own personal aspirations.
Future leaders also need to have the courage to talk openly about our historical cultural legacy and the ongoing damage caused by racism and misogyny.
Trump says whatever it takes to inspire his followers, but healthy, sustainable leadership will require a balance of courage, truth and emotion to touch all of our hearts — none of which he has. Sadly, neither which either candidate has.