We are only weeks away from the U.S, presidential election and, for the first time in our history, we have a female candidate from a major party, yet much of the focus and attention has not been focused on Hillary Clinton and her historic run for the presidency but on her opponent and his suitability, or lack there of, to be president of the United States. The Donald Trump debate is one being discussed by voters in circulated emails, the workplace, homes, social media, and just about anywhere two or more are gathered.
The famous novelist and perennial New York Times #1 Best Seller, Elizabeth George has circulated an essay she has written on why she believes Donald Trump is running for the presidency and why she feels he is unqualified. The essay is printed below. The publishers of Prime Women thought it would be interesting to hear a counter point from one of our readers on her response to Elizabeth George’s essay and why she is supporting Trump for president.
The Trump Debate
Elizabeth George: THE TOOTSIE ISSUE
For a little more than ten years, I lived down the street from a woman I’ll call Tootsie. She had a lovely home that would have been lovelier had it not been overly filled with objects: crystal chandeliers, ornate furniture, collectibles on nearly every surface, a dining table that was constantly set with china, silver, and Waterford goblets, photographic portraits of herself, her children, and herself with husband and children, even an authentic popcorn cart in her family room. In mink jacket and black pearls, she walked her dog in the evenings. In her front yard was displayed over the years a growing panoply of garden ornaments, benches, fountains and lighting fixtures. It was an unusual collection of goods that at first I didn’t understand. As I came to know her a little better and as I met her extended family, I could see that, having grown up in circumstances in which these kinds of things were beyond her reach, she was determined to fill a well of emptiness that she believed the absence of ownership had left within her. It was as if all her possessions said to the world “This is who I am”, without her being able to understand that who she was would always be unrelated to what she owned.
Marketing experts in a capitalist economy serve the interests of the companies they work for by making people believe—through advertising—that they will be different, they will feel different, they will appear different to others if only…And we are meant to complete that subordinate clause: if only I owned that Porsche, if only I could drive that Mercedes Benz, if only I lived on the golf course, if only I had perfect skin, if only I lost fifty pounds with this new diet system, if only I bought this new skin product that swears I will lose every line on my face. If only. Each time we go for it with “if only” as our reason, we attempt to fill an empty place within us that cannot be filled by possessions or by anything that is not learned wisdom and tranquility. And we all have empty places because it’s impossible not to have them unless one has attained enlightenment, which is a steep challenge for most of us.
Having watched and listened and thought about Donald Trump for many months now, I’ve come to believe that he is—for whatever reason—a man of profound emptiness, unaware of how his actions have attempted for years to fill him up. But because the manner in which he has attempted to fill himself up cannot actually do the job and because he hasn’t been able to understand the why behind his behavior, he has continued along the same path, reaching higher and higher for more and more, satisfied for a moment or a day or a month, only to feel empty once again. This, of course, is the problem with attempting to fill internal emptiness with external goods. One feels a momentary satisfaction only. Soon enough the emptiness returns because an external object cannot ever define the being that resides inside a person.
His penthouse inside Trump Tower in New York City is a good example of this. With its gold furniture and golden pillars and sumptuous decorations, it is more than a monument to execrable taste. It also serves as testimony to Mr. Trump’s emptiness as well as in indication of how Mr. Trump truly feels about himself. It shouts. It demands, “See? See who I am? See what I have achieved? See how rich I am?” In doing this, it gives him permission to be nothing, actually, and least of all a person of substance. He is Ozymandias made flesh before us.
When people lack substance, they seek something else to put it its place. In Donald Trump’s case, his name upon buildings, hotels, and golf courses as well as packages of meat, bottles of water and wine, baseball caps, and other assorted Trumpernalia have long stood in place of his having a core. This is one of the reasons he “sells” his name, allowing it to be put on structures with which he isn’t personally associated. The more he is known, the better he feels, the more filled up, the less empty. Additionally, garnering attention in various ways has always shored him up: from his early declarations to the media in his younger years that he just “might run for President” to his snatching at opportunities for publicity during the last eight years with his various demands that President Obama prove his citizenship.
Donald Trump’s run for the Presidency of the United States has served as another way to fill the empty spots inside of him. Night after night he has been featured on the news. Morning after morning, his phone calls have been taken by talk shows. Day after day his tweets have received national coverage by various journalists. All of this has allowed him to feel whole at the same time as it has also allowed him to wear the guise of a person of substance. Indeed, we who have watched him lo these many months have created the monster that we see before us now.
People will argue that Donald Trump has only given voice to what “some kinds” of people have been thinking all along, and this is true. But in giving it voice, Mr. Trump has tacitly promoted racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and ignorance by letting it be known that it has only been “political correctness” that has kept people silent for so long. What has been unleashed as a result, is an underbelly of American citizenry the exposure of which to the light of day has diminished the very purpose for which that the United States of America was created in the first place at the same time as it has damaged the electoral process in ways that might well be beyond recovery.
I cast my first vote for President forty-six years ago. In the elections before I was old enough to vote and in all the elections since I have been a voter, I have never seen anything that remotely compares to what I’m seeing now. For while I did not like nor did I vote for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, or George W. Bush, at least those individuals stood for something, no matter the degree to which I disagreed with them. But Mr. Trump stands for nothing save his own desperate need to be—at long last—a complete person in his own eyes. The problem with this approach to meeting what is in reality a psychological need is that achieving the ultimate goal of the Presidency is very much like purchasing the ultimate automobile. The fulfillment he will feel if he wins the election will be fleeting only. He can listen to the Marine Corps Band play “Hail to the Chief” till hell freezes over, but it simply will not change who he is at the heart of who he has always been.
Ellen Masterson: THE TRUMP CARD
One thing everyone seems to agree on is that the 2016 Presidential Election Cycle is the most unusual in our country’s history. I am not a prize-winning novelist, nor do I claim to understand the psychology of either candidate, but I do think there is a counterpoint to Ms. George’s view. It’s time for change in Washington. Some want that change to be a woman in the White House – oh, how I hope I see that in my lifetime. But, given the candidates in this race, I believe that Donald Trump, not Hillary Clinton, is the change agent we need.
For anyone who has spent a career in business, Donald Trump’s blunt and often outlandish dialogue can be seen as fairly normal in the context of a successful CEO. It is not normal in the context of a political campaign, where words are parsed and messages crafted based on polls and media reaction. After all, the language of politics is in sound bites and on teleprompters, rather than that used in conference rooms where deals are negotiated. Savvy business people take much of what is said with a grain of salt, keeping their eyes squarely on the “bottom line”. In this election, the bottom line may be the future of our country.
If NORMAL is what you want in Washington, then our future includes continued corruption, lack of accountability and partisan politics dividing our country upon itself, while the rest of the world loses respect for American leadership and greatness, all of which has come about thanks to career politicians like the Clintons. There is an entire economy in Washington DC made up of people who have never had any practical role outside of the political machine. They don’t live by the laws they pass and are not held accountable in any real sense for the impact of their decisions on real people across the country. This is nowhere more evident than in this year’s election. What we have is a choice between real change in the Substance of Washington vs a continued escalation of the current political Style machine, controlling our lives in more and more ways while enjoying the riches they have created for themselves.
The president of the United States is the leader of the Free World. Like many readers, I would love to see a qualified woman elected to this role. Hillary Clinton is not that qualified woman. She has proven time and again that she is not up to the job. If we assessed performance of career politicians in the same way that we assess performance in business, we would have to admit that she has failed in Substance – in protecting American lives in Benghazi, in securing National Secrets on her private email server, in creating a reasonable approach to quality healthcare, and in job creation. What she has done is cash in on the stature of her public office repeatedly, most recently for the benefit of her family and the Clinton Foundation in ways that so far surpass the “appearance” of conflict of interest as to be laughable. That is, if it weren’t for the fact that business people – including CEO’s and members of the public accounting profession — have been convicted for far less “appearance” and no ACTUAL conflict offenses.
The double standard of accountability in Washington vs. the real world is something that has to change, and now is the time for that change. Hillary has repeatedly told Americans that she is smarter than they are and that she will take care of them better than they can take care of themselves, even though the decisions she makes for them she does not apply to herself. She is the quintessential Style representative of the current climate in Washington, DC which has legitimized a new approach to segregation through terminology that offends everyone — “the 1% vs the 99%”, “whites vs blacks”, “men vs women”, “young vs old”, “Democrats vs Deplorables”. What of Substance has she accomplished other than promoting political rhetoric that puts us all into buckets pitted against each other? While promoting the in-fighting, she distracts everyday Americans from our real challenges – terrorists who seek to destroy our way of life, globalization which has adversely affected the uneducated in every part of the developed world, and spending programs that pass mountains of debt to our grandchildren.
Donald Trump is a businessman. He has created jobs, balanced budgets, returned profits to investors and built businesses that can withstand the test of time. He’s also had some failures and been held accountable for those. But, at the end of the day, his record as an agent of change is very clear. He brings to Washington an understanding of what makes our economy succeed and what causes it to stumble, something of which Hillary has absolutely no knowledge. He also understands and acknowledges those things beyond our borders which threaten our way of life, something she seems incapable of comprehending. He makes decisions based on fact, she makes them based on political expedience. He uses blunt and sometimes callous language, while she is a polished political machine. His approach is appealing to Americans who are tired of the polish of Washington politicians and want change, including plain speaking from the heart rather than political correctness from the teleprompter.
This election isn’t about a man vs a woman or about Tootsie. It’s about Substance vs. Style. For those who believe that Washington is out of touch with mainstream America, that decisions made in Washington should apply equally to the politicians making those decisions as to those on Main Street, and that Washington should have to balance its budget just like we have to balance our check books, the choice is clear. Change is ALWAYS painful. But, today the pain some of us are feeling is mostly grounded in Style — the language that Donald Trump uses and the way he approaches real problems with candor, toughness and aggressive solutions. All of this is totally foreign when put in the context of political correctness and empty promises of Washington politicians, including Hillary.
I believe that the substance of the change that is ahead of us with President Trump will include leadership that insists on accountability, re-establishing American values of greatness, ethics and common business sense, rather than what will garner votes in the next election. Strength in leadership is the ability to get others to follow you. Donald Trump surprised many in the establishment by the immediate following he garnered. As Hillary’s following diminished and Trumps’ following grew, the signs of real leadership emerged. I have worked with many CEO’s over the years, some extremely competent and others not so much. The great difference in the measure of the two is their ability to attract a loyal following. Compare the messages from Trump’s employees to the whisperings of those who have worked for Hillary. One is a leader, the other lacks any semblance of leadership capability. How many times do we need to witness the signs before we recognize them?
Ms George has done what she does best, written a novel, this time regarding the inner workings of Donald Trump. Fiction is her forte. I deal in facts. I see the characteristics of a change agent in Donald Trump. I may not agree with everything he says. He sometimes evolves in his thinking, and he admits it. I believe he has the experience and substance to lead our government through the changes needed. He will meet with world leaders as the Leader of the Free World and bring respect to the office, not pandering to those who seek to destroy our way of life. He has national security at the heart of his message – whether border control, clamping down on terrorists, or balancing the national budget. All of this is critical to the security of our way of life.
Trump calls it like he sees it. In business, that is something I respect. In politics, it is like speaking a foreign language. This is Donald’s time to serve, to give back to a country in which he has enjoyed immense success. He has told us that is his reason for running, to serve in a way that he does not see current politicians serving. I don’t feel the need to psycho-analyze him or come up with an alternative view. Unlike others in Washington, I think for once we can take this candidate at face value. He’s the real deal.