When you think of compassion, empathy and kindness, the name Donald Trump probably does not pop up in your mind- especially if one focuses on his actions directed at people outside his immediate family tribe (Although Trump was not very compassionate towards his brother’s fatal drinking problem). Indeed, he campaigns on his ball-busting, deal-making prowess in the harsh real estate world. He says he will parlay this business acumen into the office of the Presidency, and no country will sail over the interests of the USA when he is at the stern. Given his billionaire status, and many successful business adventures, he speaks to supporters from a unique position of power and optimism
Apart from the economy, and America’s struggling leadership role in worldwide trade, Trump also exploits the silent majority’s angst over what they perceive to be weak and liberal immigration policies in the country. Trump has coyly tied this issue directly to the President’s less than aggressive approach to combating terrorism, and the notion that Muslims are dangerous and gaining entry into the country unabated. The recent terrorist attacks in Paris, America and other parts of the world, have substantially fueled the passions of a once mostly muted, predominantly white, sizable block of voters. Whether they turn out to vote, is a different question. Meanwhile, the regular Republicans, many who loathe Hillary Clinton, and hold Obama in low regard, will turn out for Trump; the question here is whether those Republicans and Independents, who place religious principles at or near the top of their criteria for choosing a candidate, will stay home on election day.
The ultimate question of whether Trump can maintain his lead in the Republican race also depends on whether voters will opt for a compassionate and fair leader. Trump is not kind towards others and has demonstrated a clear lack of empathy for anyone he considers “stupid” or incompetent. His measuring stick for making these assessments relies heavily upon an individual’s economic success and not the person’s everyday acts of kindness. If someone does not have the “killer” instinct in business transactions, he or she is not worthy. Although almost all of his supporters will never live the luxurious lifestyle Trump enjoys, nor share his daily privileges, they settle for vicariously living his life of wealth and glamour. But they are not part of his inside group. Trump has zeroed in on these angry and frustrated people much like a weight loss marketer aims ads at resolution makers after the first of the year. But like many self-promises that are based more on temporary urges than fundamental and humanistic beliefs, the fire in the gut feeling that drives them often burns sporadically and simmers quickly. The problem for the other Republican contenders is one of time; it is running out fast.