You can disagree, vehemently, with Donald Trump. You can find him ridiculous, his views abhorrent, his whole person a little bit monstrous. What you cannot do, however, is ignore Donald Trump. He is there, and there he will remain.
Donald Trump and the Spectacle of 2016 – Megan Garber, The Atlantic
I find Donald Trump utterly fascinating. I also find him contemptible but so, so fascinating.
At Thursday’s GOP debate when asked why he donated to previous Hillary Clinton campaigns and the Clinton Foundation he was honest and said it was to curry favors:
I’ll tell you what, with Hillary Clinton, I said, ‘Be at my wedding,’ and she came to my wedding. You know why? She had no choice, because I gave.
Because that’s how politics work. Favors exchanged for money. Anybody who has enough money can buy whatever policy they want. And you know what Donald Trump has? Money. Lots of it. $4,000,000,000. Do you know what that can buy? The right to say anything you want without consequence and whatever favor he wants. Maybe even a presidency.
Donald Trump, serious contender for the presidency or not, is unencumbered by what the other candidates need: financial support. So, he can say vile things. He can be a racist, a sexist, and just an all around awful person. Because he doesn’t need financial support, he has four billion dollars.
And, to be fair, Trump doesn’t even need the Republicans. Consider this exchange from the start of the debate:
BAIER: Gentlemen, we know how much you love hand-raising questions. So we promise, this is the only one tonight: the only one. Is there anyone on stage, and can I see hands, who is unwilling tonight to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the Republican party and pledge to not run an independent campaign against that person.
Again, we’re looking for you to raise your hand now — raise your hand now if you won’t make that pledge tonight.
[Trump raises two hands.]
Mr. Trump to be clear, you’re standing on a Republican primary debate stage.
TRUMP: I fully understand.
BAIER: The place where the RNC will give the nominee the nod.
TRUMP: I fully understand.
BAIER: And that experts say an independent run would almost certainly hand the race over to Democrats and likely another Clinton.
You can’t say tonight that you can make that pledge?
TRUMP: I cannot say. I have to respect the person that, if it’s not me, the person that wins, if I do win, and I’m leading by quite a bit, that’s what I want to do. I can totally make that pledge. If I’m the nominee, I will pledge I will not run as an independent. But — and I am discussing it with everybody, but I’m, you know, talking about a lot of leverage. We want to win, and we will win. But I want to win as the Republican. I want to run as the Republican nominee.
BAIER: So tonight, you can’t say if another one of these…
PAUL: This is what’s wrong!
PAUL: I mean, this is what’s wrong. He buys and sells politicians of all stripes, he’s already…
BAIER: Dr. Paul.
PAUL: Hey, look, look! He’s already hedging his bet on the Clintons, OK? So if he doesn’t run as a Republican, maybe he supports Clinton, or maybe he runs as an independent…
PAUL: …but I’d say that he’s already hedging his bets because he’s used to buying politicians.
TRUMP: Well, I’ve given him plenty of money.
BAIER: Just to be clear, you can’t make a — we’re gonna — we’re going to move on.
You’re not gonna make the pledge tonight?
TRUMP: I will not make the pledge at this time.
BAIER: OK. Alright.
Trump is allowed to behave and speak as he chooses because he has zero restraints on him.
Now it’d be easy to wave my hands in the air and say, “God, thank you that I’m nothing like Donald Trump.” But, unfortunately, I cannot do that because the only thing that separates my behavior from Donald Trump’s is restriction.
Most of us are restricted by cultural and societal norms, moral and religious convictions, the need to be gainfully employed, a desire to be liked, upward mobility. These restrictions may fool us into believing that we, individuals, are inately good. That what wickedness we see in the world is separate from our individual expereience. That badness is something outside of ourselves. That wickedness is something Other. The Devil made me do it, right? See no evil, hear no evil. If we close our eyes and plug our ears then we will not be soiled by wrongdoing.
But wickedness and sin are not objects outside of us working on us but rather, they are in us. They are a fundamental part of DNA, not in us like a parasite or a cancer. We are all fundamentally flawed and bent towards evil. Evil doesn’t work from the outside in, but from the inside out.
Ask anybody what they would do if they had zero consequences and four billion dollars and the answer will, unsurprisngly, not be donate that time and money to charity. A far likelier answer would be something mischievous, self satisfying, and immoral. Because, none is righteous. No. Not one. All of us are Donald Trump.
Behind every atrocity commited in history is not a religious fanatic, be they Christian, Muslim, or Atheist. Behind every act of terror or war is not a political or religious worldview. No murder, rape, or pillaging in history is an act of philosophical violence. Behind every sad and tragic thing that has ever happened in human history – regardless of the size or scale of the offense – is a person, a human acting out their own base desires. It is no surprise that Cain killed Abel.
What about goodness? What about love and kindness then? If the soul of man is wicked, what is there to say about love? Because, no matter how you look at it the glass has got something in it. You don’t have to look too far to see humans being kind to one another, helping each other out along the way. If we’re so bad at our core what about that?
Darkness is an absense of light and if it is interior to man, working from the inside out, than light must be exterior, working from the outside in. Because light and darkness do not and cannot co-exist. Where then is light found?
Is it a natural occurring phenomenon? Outside of us, yes, but accessible in the natural order of things? No, nature is neutral, indifferent to good versus evil. A lion cares only for its hunger, not its prey. The sun shines on both the good and the bad and the rain falls on the wicked and the just.
If I’m right and man is obviously depraved but good does exist then it, goodness, must exist supernaturally. Alternately, if I’m wrong and man is inherently good and evil is outside of us than there is a malveolent force working against us. Or, I’m wrong again, and man is netural, neither good nor bad, then we exist as pawns between two or more cosmic forces of varying degrees of power. Even more so, I could be wrong and good, evil, love, sin, or any other human experience is simply an arbitrary chemical reaction experienced biologically and without meaning.
My personal belief, and any hope that I have when considering what lurks in the dark and hidden corners of my being, is the first because the other options cause me great dread. I hope that despite the evil that exists within me there is a knowable benevolent force who works against my worst impulses. Who would willingly die while I was still the way I am.