I think it’s a pretty simple explanation, really.
Donald Trump is different.
My honest opinion of George Washington is that he was not a politician. He was a classically educated Renaissance man of his times. He was a land surveyor. A militiaman. A planter and land investor. He was a political figure, but not anything like anything we see today. Elected before the advent of powerful political parties, he thought much and spoke little; in the feud between Jefferson and Hamilton he refused to take sides publicly.
In all the years since, not one other president has acted with such diplomacy, nor faced so little criticism. Washington benefited from his station and from his status as a Revolutionary war hero.
Since his time, American politics has rarely if ever crossed a period of such political harmony. Partisan rancor has been the rule, especially over the last half century.
The other important evolution in politics is the “lifetime public servant.” Washington desired power so little that he had to be convinced to serve as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. He eschewed the grandiose titles his peers wished to bestow upon him as President, and he stepped down after two terms even though popular sentiment could have kept him in office until his death.
Washington was different.
Trump is also different.
Let’s be clear: Trump is no Washington. Trump isn’t Lincoln or Reagan or Coolidge or even George W. Bush.
He is different.
He is not a politician. He is not a diplomat. He is not a military hero. He is not any of the things that Americans expect their presidents to be.
He is different.
And the political establishment on both sides of the aisle DOES NOT UNDERSTAND HIM.
Frankly, neither do I.
But I do understand this:
I think this simple statement provides the best available explanation of the socio-political phenomenon we call “Never Trump” on the right and “#Resist” on the left.
One thing that makes Trump different is that he appears to be far more focused on getting things done, with very little interest in the process of HOW things get done.
And in a very short time, he has exposed most of the Washington establishment in this regard. There are very, very few politicos in the Beltway with his experience in business. For good or ill, where Trump is, THINGS HAPPEN. For years and years and years, Washington has been a noise machine where things get talked about but rarely happen. Trump is tipping that paradigm on its head.
The establishment does not understand that.
They fear it.
Because they fear it, they hate it. And their hate needs a target.
And the target is Donald Trump.
But Donald Trump is different.
All available evidence suggests that Donald Trump doesn’t care who hates him, as long as THINGS GET DONE…
…and he gets the credit for it. (Everyone has flaws)
Trump’s adversaries don’t want to understand him. I think they just want to beat him into submission and get rid of him.
(I think Cocaine Mitch gets Trump a little bit…or if not, he at least understands how together he and Trump can reshape the Judicial branch for the next three or four decades. But McConnell is an outlier.)
A lot of people like the comparison of “They’re playing checkers but he’s playing chess.” I don’t think that holds up here.
I think the Establishment is at war with Trump, but he isn’t playing their game. They throw bricks at him and expect him to be hurt, to fall over. But that hasn’t ever been his nature or character. He just keeps getting bigger. I think he takes all the bricks they throw his way, and uses them to build a bigger castle, and begs them to throw more.
As I said before, I don’t understand Trump. Especially what happened in Helsinki yesterday. But a rational observer who has been paying attention probably would not go far wrong to anticipate that there just might be something going on here that hasn’t been predicted.
We shall see.