On January 10, Quinnipiac released the first big Donald Trump poll of 2017, and it showed that he retains some strengths as a politician. Most voters think he’s intelligent (gaakkkk) and that he’s a “strong person.” (headdesk) A plurality believe he has “good leadership skills.” (o.o)
But his job approval rating is a dismal 37 percent, with 51 percent saying they disapprove of the job he’s doing. Rather than being an effective political tactic, Trump’s habit of frequently saying untrue things has led Americans to conclude by a 53-39 margin that he is not honest. Fifty-two percent say that Trump “does not care about average Americans,” and 62 percent say that he is “not level-headed.”
Just remember kids: this asshole didn't win the Popular vote, he won a broken-down Electoral College.
Sure, Trump got 62 million voters, but as I pointed out a few posts ago our elections are now so partisan that a dead dog could have gotten 62 million votes for the Republicans. I can guarantee you millions of his own voters hated him (they just hated or mistrusted Hillary more).
How historic a disaster is this?
Gallup created a comparative chart of Trump's beginning numbers compared to his predecessors Obama and Bush II and Bill Clinton:
Each of these Presidents were divisive in some respects: Clinton's win in 1992 came from a contested three-candidate race that the Republicans could not abide; Bush the Lesser lost the Popular vote and only won the Electoral College over a contested vote count in Florida (and a 5-4 SCOTUS vote); Obama won the Popular and Electoral but was hated by a Republican party that viewed him as illegitimate and a threat.
Yet all three still had high approval ratings - at least over 60 percent - going into the White House.
There are two very good reasons for this.
First reason is that a majority of Americans - regardless of party or even if they voted - want to think that the incoming President will do well and they wish him well. After all, if he succeeds the nation succeeds. It's called the Honeymoon period. It can last a few months or almost a year during which voters will give him the benefit of the doubt.
The second reason is that all three President-Elects played the public image of a Uniter, giving speeches and presentations alongside both parties to demonstrate no ill-will and to invoke signs of humility and empathy to the electorate. A perfect example is Dubya: having won a bitter contest on questionable grounds, he made a public victory speech where he spoke in humble tones about working with Democrats, and made pointed efforts towards bipartisanship:
Tonight I chose to speak from the chamber of the Texas House of Representatives because it has been a home to bipartisan cooperation. Here in a place where Democrats have the majority, Republicans and Democrats have worked together to do what is right for the people we represent.
We've had spirited disagreements. And in the end, we found constructive consensus. It is an experience I will always carry with me, an example I will always follow...
Granted, once in office Bush and Cheney pursued their hard-core conservative tax cuts and policy initiatives. But he played the part of Uniter well and got his Honeymoon polling numbers in the mid-60s where his political capital had value.
So why is Trump failing at Reasons One AND Two? He's well below the 50 percent mark, and with the Quin poll at 37 percent he's slinking downward with the general public before he's done anything in office to make him even more unliked (which happens to every President, Reagan included).
Big point: Trump is no Uniter figure. His own personal nature as a bully makes that impossible. His history of vulgar and disruptive behavior is a major reason why he's been so unpopular this entire election process. And the stories about him have only gotten worse.
The final most damning part: Trump shows no respect to those he views his lessers. And that includes everyone among his own Republican ranks and his own damn voters (he's publicly admitted as much).
Machiavelli, I know I keep referring back to him, but his passage in The Prince about whether it's better to be Loved or Feared still makes a ton of sense in an electoral system like ours that runs on emotional and irrational decision-making.
Machiavelli noted it was difficult to be loved and feared at the same time, so it was preferred to be feared. He warned, however, that Fear could lead to Hate if you try to employ fear too often. And being Hated was the worst thing a Prince (leader) could become, because in that state the leader's opposition will have nothing to lose and everything to gain by driving you from power.
And Trump is coming into this role of President so very very HATED. Behaving like he's the greatest winner of all time when he really got Second Place, dismissing entire swaths of our population with insults and disdain... People hate him - myself included - with the fire of a thousand suns.
I honestly never saw - or felt - this level of animosity among my co-workers and friends towards an elected President before. Clinton never had this much hate (even after all the mud slung at him in 1992), Bush the Lesser didn't create massive protests against himself before his own tenure started, and Obama's haters were mostly contained to Rush Limbaugh's radio show and the Fox Not-News squad.
Once they hate you, it is hard to turn that emotion into something else.
The real prize for a Prince was to be Respected, a reputation that can co-exist with both Love and Fear. With Respect, a leader can be Feared as long as his subjects were convinced he knew what he was doing and capable at it. With Respect, a leader can be Loved as long as his subjects understood his Love for them was genuine, and borne of responsibility and care for their mutual well-being.
The thing about Respect, it's not given it is earned. As the saying goes, Respect Goes Both Ways. You have to show it towards others to have them respect you.
And Trump, mentioned above, does not respect you. Unless you happen to be Putin.
It shouldn't be any surprise that Trump doesn't get any respect back from the rest of us.
And without that respect, Trump is hated. And getting hundreds of thousands of protesters marching in the streets against him before Day One of his administration even starts.
It's a damn shame it took all these events and revelations after the election for more Americans to figure this out.
Things would be less dreadful and horrifying if 37 percent was his voting base on Election Night.
And we wouldn't have 62 million Americans to blame for the oncoming train wreck.