The four previous articles in this series suggested the following insights about Trump:
First, Trump, at heart, is a people person: the ultimate populist.
Second, Trump uses words like paint: captivating us with the colors, but we must remember that the picture he paints can change at any moment.
Third, Trump wants to be liked and he has already set his mind towards winning the popular vote four years from now.
Fourth, Trump bears some striking similarities to Democratic populist Huey Long, the Kingfish of Louisiana, and Cyrus the Great of ancient Persia.
This final article ties up some loose ends by looking at Trump as a dealmaker and how he views money, and explains the price of being part of Trump’s inner circle.
The Art of the Deal
Donald Trump explains in his own book, The Art of the Deal, that if you want to obtain a good outcome for yourself in a negotiation, that you have to be willing to ask for much more than what you really want. He then proceeded to use that very same strategy on us, the electorate! We now know that some of his forceful statements were more like opening round negotiations: prosecuting Hillary Clinton, completely repealing Obamacare, and deporting millions of illegal immigrants.
Those who knew Donald Trump well could see this coming a year ago. For instance, Trump had a meeting with the editorial board of the New York Times, with part of that interview being “off the record.” Later on some of those comments leaked, and we heard that Trump told the New York Times that his extreme position on deporting immigrants was not anything he would necessarily carry out in real post election life, but would rather be a starting point for negotiation. While Trump would never allow them to put those remarks back on the record, he did grant them one of the first interviews post-election, on November 23rd, when the NYT was able to break news about Trump potentially backing off of other campaign positions, like climate change, and waterboarding.
How should we view all this? We must simply understand that Trump is in a continual four-year long deal making negotiation with the American people. To win the popular vote in the next four years, he will be asking us not to judge him on any one particular decision, but to judge him on the overall value of deal he is constructing for America.
Deal making is a common skill of those who live and breathe in the world of people because deals are made by people. In fact you will find many such people in sales and marketing roles. But Trump’s deal making skills seem to be at a higher level than anything we have seen before, and I expect him to be effective in positioning his “overall deal” to the American people over the next four years. In fact, I will be very surprised if he does not win a second term.
How Trump Views Money
I was speaking with a friend of mine recently who was wondering how Trump’s wealth might affect his governance. This is an interesting question, given he will be the wealthiest president ever.
The Bible does not condemn rich people as necessarily evil, far from it, but it does condemn the arrogance of wealth, and any unwillingness to give to those in need. In my view, Trump scores pretty well in this category. He may love money, but he does understand that it is a tool.
Over the next four years, I will be very interested to watch the performance of Trump’s wealthy appointees. While there will inevitably be allegations of conflict of interest, as that is all but unavoidable, I do not think any of them will be found to be colluding for their own financial gain while in the employ of the government.
The Price of Being in the Inner Circle
Our final topic is related to how the ultimate populist will treat his own staff – his inner circle. It boils down to this:
The biggest price of being on Trump’s staff will be that of protecting Trump. Any person who joins the staff of a “people person” like Trump will be expected to support the leader. I suppose you could call this not quid-pro-quo, but relational-pro-quo.
It works like this: when you are asked to join in someone’s inner circle, the leader values your participation and presence. Yes, you may respectfully voice an opposing opinion to an issue, but once the decision is made, you must get fully behind that decision. There is nothing unusual about that.
However, where the “people person’s inner circle” differs is in regards to the importance placed upon protecting the leader. When attacks come, the staff will be expected to protect the leader at all costs. For instance, during the campaign, Mike Pence refused to defend any of Trump’s previous controversial comments during the Vice-Presidential debate, which most people considered to be a good debate strategy. However, Trump was said to be very angry that he would not offer defense. But this is not unexpected at all, because Trump is a “people person.” Mike Pence didn’t realize it, but he was breaking the unstated relationship-pro-quo contract: I picked you so you protect me.
How far will a staff member be expected go in defending Trump? If necessary, a staff member must be willing to resign their position, quietly, and without bringing any repercussions on the leader—in other words, to “fall on their sword.” The inner circle may not fully realize what arrangement they just signed up for, but they will learn in due time.
We hope this series has helped you understand the man Donald Trump, and to have a glimpse of some of his strengths and weaknesses.
The best response to this article series is: informed prayer for our leaders. Why? We should always pray for leaders to do well, and that they will overcome personal weaknesses and blind spots.
We should also pray that Trump treats Israel well, because there is no single issue that can affect God’s blessing upon him, or ultimately upon our country, than how he treats the apple of God’s eye. That is true for any president, not just ones that have a populist agenda. To that end, we should all pray that Trump and his administration bless Israel, and in so doing, may God bless Donald Trump, his administration, Israel, and the United States of America in a way we have not seen for many, many years.