Donald Trump may be one of the most transparently principled people ever to run for public office.
The real estate mogul has been telling us how to understand him for decades. We just weren't listening.
Mocking? Sure. Laughing? Yep. Listening? Nope.
But now that this man is poised to become a leader of the free world, it’s important to understand a few things:
Donald Trump is not a mastermind; he’s a salesman.
Donald Trump is not an evil genius; he's a rich real estate developer.
He's a reality TV star, whose biographer describes him as a “bottomless pit of need.”
He's a confidence man from Queens who duped rural America into believing he's on their team.
Trump has been forthright about his nature and what he values most. If you want insight into how things are going to unfold, what to expect, you first need to know his list, and know it well.
Trump's list of principles in its entirety is:
Race relations, LGBT rights, the environment, pro-life, the economy, jobs, the rust belt, the working class, the little guy. Everything that other people take principled stands on are points of strategy to him. I expect he has some personal feelings about various political issues it's just that they're trumped by his principle.
Other politicians use a totalitarian approach in their campaign so they can win, and then promote their political agenda.
To Trump, winning is the agenda. It is the end goal. Once he's decided what winning looks like, all other principles be damned unless they help him win.
He became a conduit of hate and racism because many people in this country still feel hate and are racists. He needed those votes to win.
He became a conduit for the frustration of working class because there is frustration in the working class. He needed those votes to win.
He became pro-life because evangelicals are pro-life. He needed those votes to win.
On this single, absolute, point he has been nothing but honest, straightforward, clear and predictable.
It's the lesson his father taught him as child and he hasn't wavered since.
It's his absolute, his defining principle.
In Einstein's universe "C" is the constant. In Trump's universe it's "W."
Why must understand this?
Now that he's won the presidency, his political inexperience will create a power vacuum. Politicians, lobbyists, everyone within earshot will fight to fill it.
Some will succeed.
Good or bad, for better or worse, there will be one defining way to gain ground with Trump during his presidency: Convince him your agenda is what winning looks like.
The people who do this best will guide his decisions and heavily influence the future of our country.
And that leads me to my biggest concern.
I'm not sure enough of the best people in our country will have the stomach for it.