It would have been so easy to not give The Donald a fair shake in my candidate evaluations and simply say that his arrogance and tone automatically disqualified him as a candidate. Considering how much support he has even as his sophomoric personality has been on public display I think it is important to treat him as a serious candidate and study his campaign itself rather than the media coverage of his campaign.
The media coverage of his campaign has highlighted all the reasons that voters should avoid supporting Trump for president. The problem is that there are many people who have learned to be wary of what they are told in the media and many of those folks are likely to go looking at his campaign website to decide for themselves if there’s any substance behind all the fuss. What they’ll find is a fairly traditional presidential campaign website with policy positions that aren’t as radical as the media make them out to be. If that is how people are making up their minds about Trump I am less surprised than I was before about the level of support he has attracted.
On the other hand, what I see there is a campaign website that shows a candidate who, despite jumping into the race months ago, only has three policy positions and each of those positions feels grossly oversimplified. His tax proposal promises to save everybody money while being revenue neutral, which is impossible but it sounds good on paper. His gun rights position is nothing more than GOP red meat – it’s not one of the important issues of the election so I consider it campaign fluff. His immigration position is the one most covered by the media and isn’t quite as radical as it’s made out to be by the media.
My problem with Trump’s positions isn’t the positions themselves, they are more or less what I would expect from most GOP candidates. My problem is that a candidate with his resources should have more than three positions articulated by this point in the campaign and those positions should be more than the vague, idealistic outlines that I find there.
As for the brash and tone-deaf rhetoric that Trump constantly spouts, my thoughts are summed up best by what Jonathon Van Maren so excellently wrote:
Calling people a string of adolescent names and refusing to avail yourself of basic manners is not “truth telling,” it’s buffoonery. Being rude and crude isn’t “defying political correctness,” it’s just being rude and crude. You can tell the truth without sounding like a drunk teenager.
I could forgive a candidate for having underdeveloped policy positions and plans, I can also forgive a candidate for being prone to verbal gaffes but I find it difficult to conclude that a candidate suffering from both of those drawbacks is actually ready to hold the office of president. The fact that Donald Trump has both of those flaws while maintaining such a significant level of support in the race makes him a very politically destructive candidate. I can’t possibly endorse Trump for president.