Donald Trump is the living embodiment of everything wrong with politics today. I know a decent amount about both things. I filmed with Trump in 2006 when I was on his reality show, The Apprentice. I lived and breathed politics when I ran for Congress in 2010. Having spent the last two months finishing up a book on the ills of our political system, and recently seeing Trump again in the headlines thanks to his $5 million challenge to President Obama, the seemingly obvious hit me. Trump = everything bad in politics. Am I wrong? You decide:
1) Politicians focus on stupid distractions. Trump has practically become the leading champion of the "birther" cause. He used it to court the fringe in the 2011 Republican primaries and then doubled down this past week with his $5 million challenge. Recognizing that an honest focus on public policy was a dead-end, Trump's embraced his #1 political credential: being birther-in-chief.
2) Politicians shamelessly ignore reality. During Trump's 2011 flirtation with seeking the Republican nomination, he shamelessly took positions that were the exact opposite from his previous presidential bid. Way back in 1999 he was strongly pro-choice, pro-universal health care, and even proposed an aggressive tax on those with a fortune over $10 million. Of course, in 2011, he became a "very conservative Republican," pro-life, and absolutely disgusted by Obamacare. To me, this was just classic Trump. During my season of The Apprentice, Trump repeatedly proclaimed it as one of the most popular, top-rated shows on TV. The only problem was that our ratings were actually terrible.
3) Politicians are relentless opportunists. Trump's 2011 presidential flirtation and now his $5 million challenge were both conveniently timed with news about Celebrity Apprentice. One might think it was a coincidence, if not for the fact that Trump injects himself into anything he can. Whether it was the 2010 Ground Zero mosque controversy, or most recently Hurricane Sandy, like a small child, Trump just wants your attention. He doesn't limit himself merely to the heavy stuff though. A few weeks back, the Donald was giving relationship advice to America's favorite vampires, the Twilight couple. He counseled Robert Pattinson to not give Kristen Stewart a second chance, because "she cheated on him like a dog & will do it again." Given Trump's history of infidelity, he managed a twofer as he was both opportunistic and ignoring reality.
4) Politicians over-promise and under-deliver. Just last week Trump promised "something very, very big" and that it could possibly change the election. What was it? His ingenious $5 million challenge to the president to turn over his school records and passport application. Something both campaigns just ignored.
If you're still skeptical, let's consider one more fact. Trump is so representative of American politics, that just by being him, he finds massive popular support. In 1999 during his flirtation with an Independent bid for president, at one point he even polled above Gore. In 2011, he again briefly led the field in the Republican primary. It's true: Trump is American politics.
If seeing the state of American politics manifested in the ugly form of Donald Trump doesn't give us each pause, I'm not sure what will. In a few days, we'll put the 2012 presidential election behind us. Hopefully seeing our political system perfectly embodied in the form of someone like Trump, might be akin to a drug addict looking the mirror, and for the first time, seeing with horror what they've become. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, right?
To be fair, it's not all bad with Trump. Someday soon he might end up be the president we need. After all, who has more relevant experience? Trump's driven his companies into bankruptcy four times, most recently in 2009. Say what you will about the man, but he's eminently qualified in this respect. Trump's bankruptcy riddled business career has been the perfect crucible to prepare him to take America through a managed bankruptcy.
Surya Yalamanchili just released his book "Who Cares? We refused to care, they refused to govern." a nonpartisan primer on America's most pressing issues.