Trump didn’t get where he is by containing himself, of course. His fans love him, I’ve been told, for “telling it like it is,” however crazy that interpretation of “is” might be. Trump may not have a plan for, say, health care—he has embraced single-payer socialist systems in the past, and recently said he’d replace Obamacare with “something terrific”—but he’s never cowed or apologetic. When his cellphone number was publicly outed this week, he turned his voicemail into a campaign ad. This is the Tao of Trump.
The billionaire’s fascinating rise has inspired various journalistic garment-rendings. Among the political classes, it has led to quiet eye rolls more than weeping and gnashing of teeth. Trump’s boom is merely temporary, we are told; he inevitably will implode. Surely people will notice his past Clinton donations; what about the rumors that Bill goaded Trump into a run? Yet, seven weeks in, here we are—and the scoffing has morphed into quiet unease.
“Could we all be wrong?” Jeff Greenfield asks in the latest Politico Magazine. “What if Trump wins?” At the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza updated a June 17 piece that wrote off Trump, calling it “embarrassing” and “wrong.” Around the Internet, Trump is greeted with various sighs of despair, often paired with the insistence that we deserve him; in June, P.J. O’Rourke argued that, with his “garish tastes and awful hair,” Donald Trump actually is America.
This is all fine and good, but to truly learn from The Donald, we need to embrace his Tao. In fact, we should all develop an inner Tao of Trump; not, perhaps, in the sense of offering free helicopter rides to Iowa farm kids—yes, Trump has offered this, and yes, it’s both glorious and terrible—but in the sense of making peace with the eternal, ramshackle ridiculousness of politics as a whole.