By Dr David Laing Dawson
My Monday blog may have leapt too quickly from pondering on the nature of thought to Donald Trump. Let me try to clarify.
This is a unique situation. We have a candidate for the highest office in the land who has no track record in public service, elected office or governance. We cannot look at his record of speeches, policies, and voting to make any decision about how he might continue to perform, what his core values are, how he thinks about issues both large and small. We do not have a record of principles and problem solving to consider – at least not outside his reality TV personae, and the wild west of High Finance.
We can only look at what he says and how he says it now, during this election season. As everyone points out what he says is entirely inconsistent when substantive, often outrageous, sometimes simply untrue. Only his hollow slogans are consistent: “Make America Great Again”.
So we need to ask, “How does he think? Does he have a keen penetrating mind? Can he ponder the evidence, consider long term outcome, consider consequences to people other than himself? Can he dispassionately apply deductive reasoning to the questions that will confront him. Can he look beyond his very human emotional reactions to slurs, to impasses, to challenges, to disappointments and to sycophantic praise?”
Now I must admit I think we are all a little limited in this attribute. Hence the first half of Monday’s missive. What usually follows the phrase “I think…” is a rationalization. Much of what we think and say is really a defense of what we did or said yesterday or of a rigid belief we happen to hold.
Seldom do any of us apply that other kind of thought to an issue: look at the evidence with an open mind, apply logic and reasoning, consider the short and long term consequences to ourselves and others, and formulate a sensitive and considerate answer.
But that is the kind of thinking I want our leaders to have, especially those who may be called upon to make momentous decisions. We can only see evidence of this through our candidates’ track records or implied by their off-the-teleprompter speech.
And I see no evidence of this kind of thinking in Donald Trump’s speech pattern – in his off-the-cuff speech. In fact I see only the rationalizations, evasions, repetitions, accusations, partial sentences of a 14 year old boy with ADD. (or a ten year old without ADD)
I used the pronoun ‘we’ in this essay though I am Canadian and do not get to vote. Like it or not we are all affected by some of the decisions made in the White House. We are all affected by how well the President of the United States comports him or herself at home and abroad.
Especially with the darkening clouds of CO2 emissions, refugees from war and famine, and unrest from inequality and deprivation looming on the horizon. We need a President who will put some real thought into these matters, who will listen to experts, and consider the long term consequences of any decision he or she may be called to make.
We need a President who understands it is not wise to either taunt or cozy up to a bear. We need a President who knows something of the history of Walls. We need a President who relies not on economic theory but on the evidence of what has worked for all in the past in some countries and states and what is working now. We need a President who genuinely understands the increasing importance of a very good public education system. We need a President who won’t bankrupt the country or blow it up.