What Progressives can learn from Donald Trump

Trump-DonaldYou may not like what Donald Trump has to say, but you have to admit that there is a certain openness, even rawness, to what he says. Politics is such a canned sport; it’s almost like professional wrestling with everything scripted in advance.

Many progressives have had trouble with the status quo and the platitudes that are the common language of entrenched power. As The Donald has said, he doesn’t have to cater to anyone else because he is worth ten billion dollars. While we are offended by his lack of modesty, we cannot contest that he feels free to speak what is on his mind.

Quite a few politicians build an entourage of staff and supporters before they even flesh out their views on important issues. As campaigns have become increasingly characterized by what money can buy for candidates, rather than on honest answers to tough questions, Trump seems to be succeeding in using money to free himself to give honest answers. His ability to give direct answers may in part be due to the fact that he does not rely on a team of advisors to prep him as to what he can and cannot say when questioned. His views on any number of issues may be offensive to many progressives (and conservatives), but their directness is refreshing. His political persona is interesting enough to suck up enough oxygen in media circles to nearly suffocate all other candidates.

Progressives have traditionally liked straight shooters such as Eugene McCarthy, Jesse Jackson, and now Bernie Sanders. Unlike Trump, these figures on the left are motivated by compassion and empathy. They can make their points without insulting others and are respectful listeners.

Polls have shown that much of Trump’s support comes from people who have been disaffected by politics; people who think that politics is a desert of hypocrisy. Honest answers from politicians appeals to a lot of voters and actually elevates our political discourse. I shudder to think that Donald Trump could win the presidency, but perhaps his bravado will help encourage more progressives to break from the shackles of their handlers, to more frequently throw caution to the wind, and to give us the honesty that most of us expect from our friends.