We live in strange times.
Who would have thought that a businessman turned reality show star would have a shot at becoming President of the United States? Not most people! You’ve been written off as a candidate almost from the jump.
We also live in a world where people think Batman can beat Superman in a fight. Preposterous, right? Makes no sense whatsoever.
The reason people think this is because thirty years ago, Frank Miller wrote a really popular comic book series. In it, Batman beats the hell out of Superman with the help of a nuclear winter, synthesized kryptonite and a suit like Iron Man’s.
When a precedent becomes popular, precedent becomes reality. Even if the precedent defies all forms of logic.
Which brings me to you.
You’re not the first president to embrace ‘new media’. Presidents always have. FDR. Kennedy. Remember when Bill Clinton played his sax on Arsenio Hall? People legitimately wondered if it cheapened the process.
Flash forward five election cycles from Bill Clinton. President Obama creates content with BuzzFeed and sits down with YouTube stars. He’s continuing on a path, reaching people where they want to be reached.
You’ve done something different. You’ve brought the flaming hotness of the internet to the election. Debates are so far from actual debate we should just give up and call them something else. Screamates? Insult-athons? Podium Battles?
Flash forward five election cycles from now. There might not BE an election. We’ll just lower candidates into a pit. The last man — or woman — standing gets to rule. Electoral Thunderdome. Twelve candidates enter. One candidate leave.
If you see this before November — I’m sure you won’t, but who knows — you’re probably sitting there, shrugging and smirking. “So what? People love me. They really really love me. I’m a winner.”
My boys are six, four and two. They don’t win yet. They participate. I don’t want them to think for one second that the way to become the most important person in our country is by saying vile, hateful things. I don’t want my kids to think that fighting and bullying is the solution to every problem. That outlandish, constant narcissism is acceptable.
I’m teaching them these things because these are the things you teach children. You’re teaching the country something else.
People are angry. Someone said to me recently that people respond to you because of what President Obama has done to this country. That may be partially true.
After eight years of a cool, cerebral father figure, people yearn for someone who gets angry with them. Who says ‘what needs saying.’
We need honesty. More than ever.
But we also need inspiration. We need someone who can take America’s idealism and apply it to our problems. Race problems. Economic problems. Infrastructure problems. Kids should not get sick from drinking tap water in this country. This isn’t Jamestown.
The problem is that people mistake your act for honesty. Sure, Mario Rubio sweats a lot. That’s an actual medical condition. Hyperhidrosis. Does it matter that he sweats a lot? No. Because there are so many other, substantive, real reasons he shouldn’t be President.
We have real problems. They don’t need super-villain solutions. (“Build a wall!”) They deserve — we deserve — tough honest solutions, wrapped in substance.
You want to know what tough, Presidential honesty looks like? I’m begging you, before you talk or tweet again, to watch President Andrew Shepherd deliver some honesty to a politically-divided America.
Yeah, he’s a character in a movie from the good old days of 1995. But we live in strange times when the best candidates for President are all fictional.
So, I’m asking you, the next time you look in the mirror, think about this. Think about what happens if you win. I’m sure you think about it all the time. About putting your name in giant block letters on the White House and the solid gold toilets and luxury furnishings you’ll install during the gut rehab.
Think beyond that.
Think about the election of 2032, when all my kids will be old enough to vote and they’re watching twelve people beat the shit out of each other with clubs and maces for the honor of becoming our next Commander-In-Chief. An election where the only qualification for office is an ability to fight dirty. An election where my boys’ only civic duty is to scream and cheer and spike the needle on the Rage-O-Meter to select their next President.
Then think about whether you want to be the guy who makes that happen. Who turns our process into a no-holds-barred dome brawl in the middle of a post-apocalyptic wasteland after we’ve bombed ourselves back into the Stone Age because we didn’t want to back down on trade. Because that’s where we’re headed.
Mister Trump, you put your name on everything. Don’t put your name on that.