1.) Who needs experience to be president?It’s true that Donald Trump would have less public service experience than any president in American history, but knowledge is lame. Maybe the Know-Nothing Party in the 19th century captured this spirit in its name – and Trump is the apotheosis of knowing-nothing. In my journalistic career, I’ve never met a national candidate as ill informed, evasive or puerile as Donald Trump.
Let’s try puerility for a change! What could go wrong?
Oh, nuclear weapons, you say? Well, other countries walk all over us because they trust us to be reasonable. In, say, a trade dispute with Canada, we’d get much better results if Canadians feared that Trump might incinerate Ottawa. And even if something went wrong, so what? There’s lots more of Canada.
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Look, nobody messes with Kim Jong Un of North Korea, because he’s a crazy, inexperienced guy with nukes. With Trump, we’d have our own Kim Jong Un!
2.) We’ve accepted that leaders need not be saints, so why not embrace a paragon of fraud?With his experience allegedly cheating consumers at Trump University, maybe we could even fund government by cheating foreign tourists.
Sure, it’s a little awkward that Trump boasts about sexually assaulting women and has been accused by at least 17 women of groping or other improper behavior – and I know three other women with similar complaints who haven’t dared come forward. At G-8 summit meetings, Trump would have to be seated well away from any female leaders. But he could break the ice with male leaders by dissing Angela Merkel’s behind.
Enough with sanctimony and moralism from the failing news media! Time to shake things up with a sexual predator!
3.) Trump might become the most entertaining president in history.If Clinton is elected, she'll give earnest, wonkish speeches about the benefits of increasing the child tax credit or raising the minimum wage. Yawn. In contrast, Trump will insult world leaders, barge into Miss Teen USA changing rooms and castigate the menstrual cycles of female critics. It'll be the most riveting reality TV ever.
And whatever you think of Trump’s policies, you have to admit, no president would have better hot mike scandals.
So in an age of cord-cutting, when HBO is inaccessible to millions, a Trump presidency would keep us all amused, aghast or at least entertained. Until the nuclear apocalypse, after which we may all be dead anyway.
4.) Diversity is important, and Trump is inclusive – of extremists.
Many Americans troubled by demographic change complain that they have been left disenfranchised. Trump speaks up for such oppressed groups – like white men.
Craven politicians usually stop with supporting the white working class, but Trump goes where others dare not: He has championed those previously left out of politics, like white supremacists. What other candidate would twice retweet a “white genocide” account with the photo of the founder of the American Nazi Party? Trump has boldly empowered even one of the most marginalized constituencies in America today: the Ku Klux Klan, which has a newspaper that this week gave him a warm embrace.
It can be cathartic to express rage, and Trump gives license to make America hate again. He lets Americans put aside Kumbaya political correctness, also known as “mutual respect” or “social fabric,” and instead embrace our inner storm trooper. Finally, a politician brave enough and inclusive enough to reach out to hate groups.
5.) Donald Trump understands that our modern brains hold us back.
Deep in our heads, resting on the spinal cord, is what scientists sometimes call our “reptilian brain.” In evolutionary terms, this is the oldest part of our brains and it governs primal instincts such as hunger, sex and fear; it helps trigger the fight or flight response.
This reptilian brain has been updated with a cerebral cortex and other modern brain structures that are the seat of reason – but Trump is bypassing them. Neuroscientists have noted that he preaches directly to the lizard in our heads.
“We do experience a primitive apprehension welling up from our ‘reptilian brain,’” Steven Pinker, the Harvard psychology professor, tells me, but we still interpret it in light of our belief system. The modern world has developed science, journalism, a judiciary and similar institutions to curb our primal impulses – but Trump blows these off.
Our reptilian brains evolved to be hyper-alert to dangers, which was lifesaving in an age of pterodactyls. Trump activates these vigilant instincts, Pinker says, and channels them into the most primitive interpretive circuits of our cortex, the ones rooted in tribalism. And so he wants us to join him in making scapegoats of Muslims, refugees, Mexican “rapists” and black “thugs.”
This historic election thus presents a choice: To decide how to cast our ballots, do we rely upon our reptilian brains or our human brains? To put it another way: Are we fearful, instinctive reptiles? Or nuanced, reasoning humans?
Contact Kristof at Facebook.com/Kristof or Twitter.com/NickKristof.