Flip or Flop
Prior to the election I predicted that there would be a plethora of opportunities to write about for the next four years no matter who got elected and, boy, was I right! Just this week I can choose from alternative facts, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), massive voter fraud investigations, border taxes, it goes on and on.
One cause of all this controversy is Mr. Trump’s notoriously thin skin combined with his enormous ego. This toxic combination makes him burst into paroxysms of twitter posts at the least slight of his power or popularity. He is obsessed with poll ratings, attendance numbers and twitter followers (he’s way behind former President Obama). He even made a point to note that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ratings on the Celebrity Apprentice weren’t as good as his. Everything is a contest and he always has to win.
But the question we must ask ourselves is if Mr. Trump’s outrageous vanity will impair his ability to lead the country? History tells us that many other great leaders had serious character flaws while many decent, honest, well-intentioned leaders failed miserably. Mr. Trump’s thin skin reminds me of Alexander Hamilton whose fatally thin skin led him to duel it out with Aaron Burr. Despite his character flaws Hamilton was a brilliant leader who established the Treasury Department and our US financial system at the founding of our country.
Alexander Hamilton was the right man at the right time. Seriously flawed Winston Churchill rose to the occasion as Britain’s wartime leader. The United States is itself in a time of transition from being the world leader that won both the Second World War and the Cold War to what? We all feel that we are in a time of transition but we don’t know exactly where we are going or how to get there. But we do know that the path that we were on was unsustainable and that a new paradigm was needed.
One of my favorite shows on TV is Flip or Flop. It’s about two young real estate agents who purchase run-down houses, fix them up and then sell them for a profit. But this is way different than speculators who buy houses and then resell them at higher prices without adding any value. When Tarek and Christina go into a run-down house they tear down and rip out all the rotten wood and linoleum, bring electrical and plumbing up to code and convert old stodgy room arrangements into wide-open modern homes. It can cost them up to $100,000 to renovate some of these houses but with their efforts and design ideas they usually make a profit.
Any major transition requires the demolition of the old in order to build the new. In his first few days in office, Mr. Trump has shown he has the ability to tear things down. He has undone many of President Obama’s executive orders and promises to do more. He has rattled our allies and threatened our trade partners. He has intimidated as well as cajoled domestic manufacturers. No one knows what’s coming next but they are all getting prepared for a new world order.
It will likely be impossible to stop President Trump from tearing down much of the current order. But it would be unwise and counterproductive to block him from putting something new in place of the old. He is a good negotiator and this may be one of his negotiating tactics. We need to see some of the new policies and how they work before we are in a position to judge. Let’s see if he can build us a shiny new edifice out of a crumbling shack. If he builds a load of crap or nothing at all leaving chaos in his wake, at least we can change things in four years.