So, to start, let me be clear: I do not personally think that Donald Trump should be president.
Actually, I don’t intend for this to be a political commentary at all. It’s more of a thought experiment.
As a New Yorker, I rarely run into people who support Trump. Most people here dismiss his legitimacy. He’s crazy, he’s a lunatic, etc… Some of that is probably warranted. However, one of the things I like most in life is understanding the perspective of different people. It can be easy to dismiss people at face value and jump to conclusions, it’s much harder to truly understand the situation. Part of being a product manager is digging deep and really understanding what other people are thinking – even if you don’t share any personal characteristics with them.
So, here we go: the best explanation for why Donald Trump should be president.
In order to start this explanation, we need to set the stage with the fact that things in our country are fundamentally broken. Not just a little broken, structurally broken.
The best evidence I’ve found for this viewpoint is The $1.5 Trillion Airplane.
In his Quora post (linked above), Jack Menendez tells the story of the F-35 airplane. The post is pretty compelling. Here’s a short summary:
Sometime in the 80’s there was a proposal by the US government to build a new super fighter jet to replace all of the existing fighter jets out there. That proposal turned into the F-35 program, which ended up costing the US government a whopping $1.5 trillion.
To put it in perspective, at $1.5 trillion, the F-35 costs 3x more than the entire interstate highway system and 14x more than Apollo program (both adjusted for inflation). That’s a LOT of money.
However, in reality, the F-35 program shouldn’t cost anywhere near $1.5 trillion. The only reason it’s so expensive is because we’re building the airplane in the least efficient way possible.
You see, in order to get Congress to vote for the F-35 program, the sponsors of the program had to make sure that every congressperson got something in return for their vote. They had to “buy” the votes from Congress by creating jobs in many different congressional districts. By creating jobs – they allowed the congresspeople voting for the F-35 to go back to their constituents and say, “Look – I created jobs, now re-elect me!”
The congresspeople voted for the bill, jobs were created in many different congressional regions, the congresspeople got re-elected. Everyone is happy, right?
Well – the end impact of this quid-pro-quo arrangement is that the F-35 airplane is broken down into lots of little parts and constructed in many different congressional districts. A little something here, a little something there – the parts for the airplane scattered all across the country.
Building dozens of factories, training thousands of workers from different regions, shipping the parts around the country, re-assembling, etc. etc. – that’s how you get to $1.5 trillion dollars.
Pretty gross, isn’t it? Well – that’s the system that runs our country.
In this specific case (assuming Menendez has his facts right) Congress was ineffective and borderline corrupt. It’s screwed up. It’s terrible.
Congress should change.
The problem is: only Congress can change Congress – right? That’s a big problem.
Now – take a look at Donald Trump.
He’s a man who has little or no ties to special interest. He (at one time, maybe) was self-funding his campaign and he is someone who is a complete Washington outsider. It’s a long shot, but maybe he could come in and try to change the system. Unlike a lot of other candidates, he hasn’t made his career as a politician, so he didn’t come up through the broken system. In this light, it’s possible that he’s someone who could break our current congressional system and rebuild it.
That’s why, I think, some people like Donald Trump.
Now – the platform I describe here isn’t really the one he’s running on. But he could. If he did, and it weren’t for all of his rough edges, I could probably be convinced to vote for him.