Archived Opinion

Trump is leading somewhere I just won’t go

op frWith the North Carolina primary election just days away on March 15, Donald Trump continues his march toward the Republican nomination and, dare we imagine, perhaps the presidency. What was a bad joke six months ago now seems a very real possibility.

This much we know: Trump is most probably not a total racist and bigot, but he is at the very least a xenophobic jerk, he’s pompous, crass, egotistical, a comfortable liar, and more-than-a-little lewd. He seems to take real joy in constantly being disrespectful to those he is competing against and makes bizarre statements (“I love the poorly educated”) that reveal a deep obliviousness to this country’s problems.

Any time someone discusses leadership, a few common traits almost always rise to the top of the list: vision, courage, integrity and humility. Trump falls woefully short on all these measures.

He does, however, have a singular trait that is also a key to being an effective leader: he’s authoritative. In a country where politicians — particularly in Washington — are a constant joke line because of their ineffectiveness and their petty political bickering (think of the back and forth between Sens. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, or Sen. Ted Cruz reading Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate floor, for example), Trump comes off as authentic, a larger-than-life aristocratic ass who gets things done and is unapologetic when offending whomever he chooses to offend. That trait is appealing when compared to the normal state of affairs in Washington. 

I was shocked — and pleased — to hear him criticize George W. Bush for trying to topple Saddam Hussein. Mocking Bush’s Iraq strategy is akin to breaking one of the GOP’s holy commandments, but he did so with vigor. In doing so, he also displayed another trait of leadership — taking criticism for one’s decisions. He has also run away from things he’s said or simply lied and said that he didn’t say it, but this time he did stand by his words and weathered a storm nearly as intense as when he criticized Sen. John McCain for being a loser because he got captured in Vietnam (which should have torpedoed his candidacy).

The fact that the Republican Party establishment is completely at a loss in dealing with Trump is not surprising. The fracturing GOP is a reality those of us in the mountains, and in particular in Haywood County, have been witnessing for quite some time. In Haywood County, the likes of Monroe Miller, Eddie Cabe and Johnnie Cure — renegades whose ideology is more anti-government than solution-based — have usurped the GOP from the more traditional conservatives like Kevin Ensley and the husband-and-wife duo of Ted and Pat Carr. Anti-establishment bomb throwers have taken over from the old guard GOP.

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I love rebels, people who fight with fire because they feel the need to right a wrong. But anarchy is not a solution, and it certainly is not a recipe for running a county or a country. Our experiment in building the greatest country on earth succeeded in part because our forefathers not only had the courage to fight against an unjust monarchy, but because they also had the wisdom and education to then form a fractious but stable democracy.

And that’s what’ missing from Trump — a measure of wisdom, or at least a small dose, to balance the anger. Disagree with the policies of all of our past presidents — Obama and Bush included — if you will, but they all have relied on a knowledge of history and government to lead. They knew the value of introspection, valued what the citizenry contributes to the greatness of this nation. They valued humanity. 

I don’t see that in Trump. Egomaniacs may make great speeches and can even inspire people to follow them; but they don’t make great leaders — especially not for the country I would still put my life on the line to defend.

Put me in the “I just don’t get it” category.

(Scott McLeod can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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