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Face It: Trump Is the Man in America’s Mirror

Imagine looking in the mirror and seeing the face of Donald J. Trump—stocky body, orange hair, pompous smile, pockets lined with gold. Imagine the shock of being told, like Peter as the cock crowed, that you are “one of them,” and that “you were with him,” yet defiantly denying it as you screamed, “I never knew the man!”

And despite all your protesting, the voice of your accusers only grew louder. Fight as you may, there’s no getting over the fact that you, by virtue of being an American, possess the habits, inclinations, and appearance of our commander-in-chief.

Does this all sound like a bad dream (minus the pockets lined with gold)? As Rod Dreher is wont to say [1], Trump is not the cause of our present woes, he is a symptom of them—the symptom of something that runs much deeper in the American character. When Alexis de Tocqueville [2]visited American in the 1830s, he met a whole lot of people, Americans like you and me, who acted a whole lot like Donald Trump.

While reading Democracy in America, I often wince as Tocqueville describes his everyday encounters with Americans. Certainly, there is a genius to the American character that Tocqueville lauds (industry, voluntary associations, religious fervor, etc.), yet his litany of vices hits unusually close to home given that he penned his travel journals nearly two centuries ago.

For example, he devotes two whole chapters to the national vanity of Americans and the accompanying currents of anxiety, agitation, and monotony that enable it. He begins Chapter 16 of his second volume in near “Trumpian” terms by describing how foreigners have a challenging time talking with Americans because, “They badger you at every moment to praise them; and, if you resist their insistent demands, they praise themselves.” While most would consider this trait to be a vice, Donald Trump flipped conventional logic on its head by taking every opportunity to praise his wealth, health, and Y-UGE victory in the electoral college.

When the transcripts of Trump’s phone conversations with Mexican president Peña Nieto were leaked [3] early in August, we saw how Trump took this very approach by asking at the beginning of the meeting if Nieto had heard about his success with Hispanic voters: “In the latest election, I won with a large percentage of Hispanic voters. I do not know if you heard, but with Cuba, I had 84 percent, with the Cuban-American vote. But overall generally, I had well over 30 percent and everyone was shocked to see this.”

Later in their conversation, Trump cited the crowd size on the campaign trail (“No one got people in their rallies as big as I did”) as a mandate for implementing a border tax. While Nieto took both of these comments in stride and responded respectfully, if sternly, he might have been thinking that Tocqueville was on point when he observed, “You cannot imagine a patriotism more troublesome and more talkative. It tires even those who honor it.”

While Americans love praise and flattery, we love money more. As Tocqueville noted, “The love of wealth, as principal or accessory, is usually found at the bottom of the actions of Americans.” In democratic societies, a certain agitation permeates the culture as each person races to get ahead so he can pay for college, purchase a home, pay off debts, and plan for retirement. Money, more than family or community or religion, appears to be a silver bullet that can deliver us from the rat race—therefore, we pursue it vigorously. Tocqueville says that Americans have this passion for wealth “not because their souls are smaller, but because the importance of money is really greater.”

It should come as no surprise that when Donald Trump boasted of his wealth, unlike Mitt Romney who tried to downplay his fortune, the American people embraced him. While the coastal elites sneered, the working- and middle-classes of the heartland saw a man who possessed their habits and manner of speech, yet managed to escape the rat race by amassing an enormous fortune. And when Trump promised [4] not only to “Make American Great Again” but to “Make America Rich Again,” voters took his promise to heart—after all, according to a 2016 study [5], 69 percent of Americans have less than $1000 in their savings account and 34 percent have no savings at all. Given the stagnant economic growth [6] for the middle class over the last 30 years, it’s no wonder that so many Americans considered a vote for Donald Trump to be a bet well placed.

But can a society preoccupied with vanity and greed endure the test of time? Tocqueville was plagued with the same question when he visited America in the early 19th century, yet nearly two-hundred years later, our republic endures. At the end of Chapter 17 in Volume II of Democracy in America, Tocqueville posits a strategy for survival: “Love of wealth directs men principally toward industry. Now, industry, which often brings such great disturbances and such great disasters, can nonetheless prosper only with the aid of very regular habits and by a long succession of small, very uniform actions” (emphasis added).

In short, the disciplined practice of “regular habits” and “uniform actions” checks our passions and keeps our economy from spinning out of control. Without such patterns of discipline, our economy, culture, and future come unglued. Could it be possible that Tocqueville coined the idea of the “Benedict Option” centuries before our very own Rod Dreher was born in West Feliciana Parish?

As Dreher has argued on his blog [7], the “Benedict Option” rightly understood is not a flight for the hills but rather a reordering of our lives around timeless habits and traditions, many of them faith-related, so that we can withstand the tide of liquid modernity, which includes the “creative destruction” of our economic system. In fact, Tocqueville suggests that one of the primary functions of religious faith in America is to help keep our democratic passions in check by elevating our hopes beyond temporal and finite concerns. But religion need not be the only way to establish such “regular habits” and “uniform actions.” Perhaps we need to conceive of a “Benedict Option” broadly understood that posits strategies for Americans of all creeds or none to unplug from technology, as Jean M. Twenge suggests [8], and cultivate patterns of living that offer rootedness and community in a rapidly changing and atomized world.

The next time Donald Trump takes to Twitter to boast about his popularity or wealth, consider the fact that Tocqueville encountered the same behavior in America when his boat landed onshore in 1831. The vices of vanity and greed were not the province of an eccentric few, but rather the normative characteristic of American culture. Today, not unlike 1831, Americans like you or me anxiously court the approval of our peers on social media and worry if we’re making enough money to “keep up with the Joneses.” While it’s easy to denounce these vices in our commander-in-chief, it’s much more difficult to recognize that we may be far more similar to Donald J. Trump than we’re willing to admit.

And as we come to terms with the man in the mirror, with his stocky body, orange hair, and pompous smile, we must each decide if we have the discipline needed to keep our passions for vanity and greed in check. If not, the “Benedict Option” may be the only thing standing between us and the end of the American experiment.

John A. Burtka IV is the Director of Development for The American Conservative. His writings have been featured in American Theological Inquiry, First Things, The Intercollegiate Review, and Touchstone.

33 Comments (Open | Close)

33 Comments To "Face It: Trump Is the Man in America’s Mirror"

#1 Comment By Nicolas On August 24, 2017 @ 1:59 am

“You cannot imagine a patriotism more troublesome and more talkative. It tires even those who honor it.”

Where is this Tocqueville quote found? Google yields nothing.

#2 Comment By polistra On August 24, 2017 @ 4:06 am

Part truth, but overly generalized.

The pitchman and huckster and serial entrepreneur are classic American types, but most Americans headed west to GET AWAY from those types. Those types stayed in NYC, where they manipulated and ruined the rest of the country to enrich themselves. Panics and depressions every few years, civil wars and foreign wars, all crushed America and enriched NYC.

Trump is just the latest NYC booster to fool the rest of America for his own aggrandizement. (I confess, he fooled me for a while!)

#3 Comment By Chris Chuba On August 24, 2017 @ 7:27 am

Are we a vain people?

Hmm … let’s see, why else would HRC declare, ‘we are great because we are good’, or a host of Republicans insist on calling the U.S. indispensable and exceptional. Why else would our MSM make it a litmus test to require DT to call Putin a thug and a murderer and recoil in horror when he retorts, ‘we aren’t so innocent’.

Oddly enough, not only is Trump a mirror but his bad behavior is reinforced and his few moments of restraint are mercilessly condemned.

#4 Comment By John Adler On August 24, 2017 @ 8:30 am

This is a very dishonest take on Trump. It abstracts from the actual political situation. Trump may be a symptom of America writ large—this is inevitable. But Trump is an antidote to the failed policies of global capitalism. Trump is an attempt by fly-over country and middle America to drag all of us back toward community and rootedness. This criticism of Trump on the basis of his alleged individual vices is characteristic of the cosmopolitan conservative. To wit: Trump is an advocate of national unity and rootedness which the author professes to admire. “Nationalism not globalism shall be our credo”. Meanwhile the author harps on individual virtue and vice—a symptom no doubt of our extreme atomization.

#5 Comment By Robert Charron On August 24, 2017 @ 10:58 am

Tocqueville’s impressions are echoed by Dickens in “Martin Chuzzlewit” when Martin visits America and Dickens relates his experiences with the Americans Martin met. Dickens was a keen observer of people.

#6 Comment By TheIdiot On August 24, 2017 @ 11:19 am

One way to look at it is that we are all victims of our own success; as Keb Mo said, Victims of Comfort. We lack the character formation of family / community / self reliance because, ironically, our government doesn’t actually want Liberty, they want conformity. Thus our leaders tear down every institution in its way. With the righteous aim of looking out for our liberty they tear down repressive institutions that offer a conformity that is too diverse for them to control. Thus we are left with fewer places to turn for necessary character development. We look to them, which is working to their best design, to fulfill our demands for a better world. No matter which side of the debate fuels our intractable demands, we are all left with an unexamined conscience, demanding change in the world while not having our own tools of character to achieve it. This idiot included.

#7 Comment By grumpy realist On August 24, 2017 @ 11:40 am

If Trump is an advocate of national unity and rootedness, I’d hate to see what he’d be like when he’s trying to DIS-unite us.

Trump is simply another US huckster with a YU-UUGE chip on his shoulder. And his gullibles are those who want to be like him.

#8 Comment By joe On August 24, 2017 @ 12:00 pm

Pollster:
You hilarious. “but most Americans headed west to GET AWAY from those types.” Perhaps a little thing called manifest destiny played a role”– Incentives to move west, cheap land, land speculation, gold — etc.

#9 Comment By Omar On August 24, 2017 @ 1:00 pm

Trump is a strange man. He pupports to represent “fly-over” country and it’s yearning for american traditions of the past rooted in a long-forgotten nationalism yet he lives none of these things and in most cases he demonstrates the opposite in his professional and personal life. I guess that would make him a good ol’ American huckster.

#10 Comment By Tom M On August 24, 2017 @ 2:47 pm

Trump is an attempt by fly-over country and middle America to drag all of us back toward community and rootedness.
——————–
How the heck is he doing that?
Is this some sort of reverse psychology thing?

And I thought the readers of TAC did not smoke dope.

#11 Comment By Dan Green On August 24, 2017 @ 2:58 pm

If circumstances don’t evolve somehow on their own, rendering the swamp inconsequential,that people already understand, our society may just collapse. We are to diverse to come together and push the cart in the same direction. Our two political parties have already collapsed, evidence of the election.Trump with no GOP support , and still none is President. Hillary is in exile with worse popularity than Trump and Bernie Sanders is very popular. How is this setting some course or refining a model.

#12 Comment By Steve On August 24, 2017 @ 3:08 pm

Americans admired Trump not because he was wealthy, but because he became wealthy honestly, by creating thousands of jobs. Americans didn’t reject Romney because he was wealthy or tried to hide it, but because he became wealthy by destroying American jobs.

#13 Comment By One Man On August 24, 2017 @ 3:15 pm

Sorry, Mr. Burtka, when I look in the mirror, I don’t see a man with no friends, who lies constantly in order to elevate himself, who only has money because he inherited millions, and who makes impossible promises to people looking to blame others for their own failures.

For the few Trump characteristics you’ve touched on, there are dozens you’ve ignored. Trump has two eyes, one nose and two ears; that doesn’t make him like me.

#14 Comment By grumpy realist On August 24, 2017 @ 3:35 pm

Trump became wealthy “honestly”?

Giggle.

Someone else who hasn’t noticed the bankruptcies and the stiffing of the little people and the fraud of Trump University….

Someone else, in other words, who will probably sign up for the next con job that Trump offers.

#15 Comment By Ken T On August 24, 2017 @ 4:10 pm

Steve:
Americans admired Trump not because he was wealthy, but because he became wealthy honestly,

Um, no. Trump became wealthy the real old fashioned way – he inherited it. As was frequently pointed out during the election season, even taking his claims of his net worth at face value (despite much circumstantial evidence that those claims are grossly inflated), he would have been worth far more if he had simply taken his inheritance and plugged it into a plain vanilla Vanguard index fund. He has spent his lifetime losing money, and stiffing hundreds of small business vendors and contractors along the way.

#16 Comment By carr klaub On August 24, 2017 @ 6:39 pm

our honest president had 3500 law suits against him for non-payment of debts, mostly to small businesses and laborers. I guess the little guy who admires him would like to stiff his neighbor and steal him wife. Nice qualities.

#17 Comment By Cynthia McLean On August 24, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

I haven’t read de Tocqueville in many years but, in addition to vanity and greed, what does he say about an American propensity to bullying and violence?

#18 Comment By Center State On August 24, 2017 @ 8:35 pm

I agree with Polistra above that this is really a New York problem more than American. It gets worse the closer you get to Manhattan. I knew a guy from the Bronx who didn’t regard them as real Americans. I sure don’t. Trump’s that type, arrogant, phony, vulgar, loud, pushy, a bully, but at base a coward who crumples before real steel.

#19 Comment By EliteCommInc. On August 24, 2017 @ 9:34 pm

“Make American Great Again”
When I first read early this morning, I found it shallow. I am not sure bit that it casts the Pres and the country in very superficial terms. Because the above quotation is accurate and the sentiments are accurate, but it took a while for me to consider the second. And I think you are using rich in light that is mighty shrift in context. What I understand the second reference to mean is prosperous. And that is a common refrain amongst leaders. Making american prosperous in the context of Mr Trump’s speeches is a very different refrain than the shallow you are pressing.
But it took a while because I wanted to check my own conscience on the press. It begs the repose,
“Am I like Pres Donald Trump?”
If I consider my own comments on the issue — then I must say, it depends on what you are talking about. In my case the mirror would be very imperfect reflection. Not only on the issue of money and its relation to effective grasp on economic issues, but politics and the social construct of who we are as citizens.
And when I consider the issue of faith and practice — I think my comments reflect differences so vast as to make such a comparison or metaphor to mirror, nearly impossible. And yet despite these differences, I can find reason to support he current executive.
As for what we are called out to be as christians, if I dare make that claim for myself — and here I am cautious for reasons noted many times, that refection is barely noticeable. Since I think Pres is only now making himself familiar with scripture. I would hazard a safe bet that millions and millions of supporters bare little resemblance to Pres Trump when it comes to being followers of Christ.
It is a mistake to assume agreement on some issues or even most means agreement on the vast array (overly broad view) you lay out here. And the liberty of slipping the option in relationship to Pres Trump — that is entirely abusive. It characterizes wealth t
as a vice as though it models Mr Trump entirely and worse it assumes a magnitude and presence that is not supported. Christ’s position on wealth is clear, it’ mor difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom. He does not say it is imposible. He does not even say being rich is a sin. The pursuit of riches for its own sake is error. Nor is it a sin to desire affirmation of one’s “okness”. Whether Pres trump is seeking some affirmation due to a lack of slf confidence or some insecurity is hardly some trait unknown to politicians, bankers, military leaders, or the old school teacher beyond reason. But for politicians they are constantly having to justify their existence. And never more so than the tumultuous last ten years or so. The constant media barrage begs for response to justify one’s election. And while I chagrin some of Pres Trump’s methods, I get his intent.

I don’t think there’s much in the way of general greed among most citizens. I am not even sure it exists in Mr Trump. Greed is hardly satisfied by political service.
_________

Whether one attempts to use De Toqueville or Christian ethos, or the lack thereof, this article does not make a case that Mr Trump is a reflection of the US public. There are certainly some reflective surfaces, but none of them are noted here, in my view.

As for the Benedict Option, since that has been an issue long before the nomination of Mr Trump, it’s a very empty press. The election of Mr Trump is no more a sign to embrace the idea than that established by Christ. Which means, being a people called apart is part and parcel to being a christian, not so latter day group of believers.

The incessant and tired attempt to link supporters of Pres Trump into some faceplate of the man himself is old news and deeply disingenuous. It’s the same insult made during the election. It gets dressed uo in many different garbs, but in the end it is an attempt to shame his supporters. And it is nothing more than that. It has no value to a call for Christians to be more christalin or Christlike.

That is why there are few if any references to who Christians who support Pres Trump are by indicating what it is they believe. I know of no christian who stands in awe of Pres Trump as the bringer of the good news of the gospel or waits with eager ears to light on spiritual enlightenment.

In fact in my thinking, the current executive represents less and less of what I believe the US ought to be doing as to policy.

This article just does not make the case for the mirror image of most citizens or that of who christians are in light of the same.

I don’t think most Christians support same sex marriage as in need of protection, Mr trump does. still there is support for the Pres.

I could set down a litany of counter images. There may be a mirror but this is not it.

#20 Comment By EliteCommInc. On August 24, 2017 @ 9:37 pm

Note:

I will have to reread my de Tocqueville, but if memory serves,

You are really disabusing De Tocqueville.

#21 Comment By EliteCommInc. On August 24, 2017 @ 10:23 pm

What you refer to as Greed is explained by the referenced scholar in this way.

“The Americans, on the other hand, are fond of explaining almost all the actions of their lives by the principle of self-interest rightly understood; they show with complacency how an enlightened regard for themselves constantly prompts them to assist one another and inclines them willingly to sacrifice a portion of their time and property to the welfare of the state. In this respect I think they frequently fail to do themselves justice, for in the United States as well as elsewhere people are sometimes seen to give way to those disinterested and spontaneous impulses that are natural to man; but the Americans seldom admit that they yield to emotions of this kind; they are more anxious to do honor to their philosophy than to themselves…”

[9]

#22 Comment By AnotherJohn On August 25, 2017 @ 8:56 am

The statement “…pitchman and huckster and serial entrepreneur…” did not find their and have their way coast to coast is a myopic view of history. But, it does handily feed into the grand scheme of “it’s them not us!” victim hood so popular among the tragic remains of the “Republican” party. You know, these East Coast elites. Say, ain’t that icon of Republicanism, Trump, an East Coast fellow?

#23 Comment By connecticut farmer On August 25, 2017 @ 9:29 am

@ Omar

Trump is indeed a huckster. As was (in her own somewhat bumbling way) Hillary Clinton. As was Obama, B.Clinton, Junior Bush etc. etc. They’re all hucksters. Pulling a fast one is as American as apple pie. It’s hard wired into the American psyche.And Americans fall for these snake oil salesmen (and, increasingly, saleswomen). Again and again. As Barnum is alleged to have said “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

#24 Comment By One Man On August 25, 2017 @ 12:27 pm

All politicians ARE hucksters to some extent. But Obama, Junior Bush, and Clinton got things done. Trump has had no major legislative victories, and isn’t even really trying. He promised the moon, and delivered nothing. Now THAT’S a huckster!!

#25 Comment By sglover On August 25, 2017 @ 2:38 pm

EliteCommInc, in one of his usual aimless rambles through the mysteries of the English declarative sentence, accidentally slips out a lucid statement (emphasis added):

I don’t think there’s much in the way of general greed among most citizens. I am not even sure it exists in Mr Trump. Greed is hardly satisfied by political service.

Yeah, sure. No American politician has ever ended his term wealthier by an order of magnitude, even two. All those hacks doing their internships as congressmen, marking time until the real money comes along in the shape of lobbying gigs — they’re completely oblivious to the pursuit of wealth. You bet.

And so following from EliteCommInc’s, um, “logic” we can all rest easy knowing that Mr. Trump would never ever be swayed by thoughts of his own personal gain. For instance, he charges the Secret Service for the use of his own hotels purely as an accounting convenience, nothing more.

#26 Comment By Tyro On August 25, 2017 @ 11:20 pm

our honest president had 3500 law suits against him for non-payment of debts, mostly to small businesses and laborers. I guess the little guy who admires him would like to stiff his neighbor and steal him wife.

Have you ever spoken to those small business owners about their subcontractors and their employees? They themselves feel that paying them is akin to having their pockets picked and resent paying every last dime.

Yes, I feel bad for the honest contractor who naively did work for Trump, but many small businesses operate by taking in income and making sure as little of it as possible goes to paying anyone else.

Trump is just the alpha-dog of that crowd. So many of those contractors that Trump stiffed came back again and again to do another contract with him, because they were either desperate to get into his good graces, or they figured out that the best strategy was to charge double to him and then take home an honest fee after he only agreed to pay half.

It’s flim-flam all the way down.

#27 Comment By EliteCommInc. On August 26, 2017 @ 12:53 am

” Trump has had no major legislative victories, and isn’t even really trying. He promised the moon, and delivered nothing. Now THAT’S a huckster!!”

And as to the rest of the huckersterisms.

Not quite.

Pres Trump had very simple ambitions.

1. No regime change. And Afghanustahn is not regime change. I am not convinced it will work, but it’s not an attempt to installs som system we invented. That is a work in progress, and one has to grant that it may be hard to pull out of -just like that. Not that I think it can’t done – but i get why it may be a rad tricky.
Thus far he has held true to his word.

2. He just repeal the healthcare legislation. This was always going to be tough. His plan ultimately is to ave a single payer system — I don’t support that.

3. I am still waiting for the wall, but his progress here has been steady moving toward keeping is campaign goals — cracking down on immigration, especially illegal immigration.

I find it odd that anyone would expect mountains of legislation as though that is a sign of success. In my view less is more.

I’ll take Joe Croft at his word.

[10]\\

Caveat: I don’t think much of stock market highs. They are not a reflection of the economy in full and certainly as we now know, not what is underneath as to sound economics. In fact, these highs minus any corrections on the frames are troubling.

#28 Comment By EliteCommInc. On August 26, 2017 @ 12:55 am

4. This far not a single new conflict has begun under his tenure, despite more than a year iof doom and gloom.

#29 Comment By Mañuel Laver On August 26, 2017 @ 12:52 pm

Mr Trump does not represent ‘industry’ as de Tocqueville has it, that is to say routine, boring regular activities that require prudence and patience, but rather a combination of inheritance and flashy coups. His way appeals to many working people because they know that industry will evidently not bring them security, much less the great boon of freedom from that sort of work.

We say we respect hard work, but really, do we really? I think it is much as it is for education: everyone knows what they’re supposed to say, but both actions and other attitudes tell a different story.

Also:
I agree that Trump is not our reflected image but rather one of the components of that image’s projection, separated-out (to torture the metaphor) by the refracting prism of celebrity. I disagree with any notion that his American ‘type’ were limited to New York or the East or the coasts: wherever there are marks, you will find grifters, and a few of those will become prominent.

#30 Comment By Tyro On August 27, 2017 @ 11:17 pm

We say we respect hard work, but really, do we really? I think it is much as it is for education: everyone knows what they’re supposed to say, but both actions and other attitudes tell a different story.

So true. Most people I know have regarded hard work in order to achieve success to be a form of cheating, or at the very least, a sign of being a chump. Education even more so, and success in education by working hard being the biggest sin of all.

The roots of this are in both the New England and Southern ruling classes. In the south, as is well known, the role models were the plantation owner rich through inherited wealth and the labor of others. In New England, it was the WASPy ruling class who came to their positions after an academic career of Gentlemen’s C’s and a sinecure in an established elite profession where not too much work was required, as the main requirements were a proper background.

The firm establishment of the upper middle class business owners on the side of the Republican party has been due to their desire for lower taxes that they feel would allow them to join those “role model” social classes.

#31 Comment By One Man On August 28, 2017 @ 4:18 pm

Like all Trump supporters, EliteComm moves the goalposts. Before the election, it was rapture with all the great things Trump will do. After the election, it’s excuses: Trump is “making progress” (that’s what we tell our boss when we haven’t done anything). And for some odd reason, the voices have told him we expect “mountains of legislation”. We don’t. How about 3 legislative victories where he made grandiose promises?

#32 Comment By EliteCommInc. On August 29, 2017 @ 11:18 am

“The firm establishment of the upper middle class business owners on the side of the Republican party has been due to their desire for lower taxes that they feel would allow them to join those “role model” social classes.”

In response,

[11]

This is an old wives tale. But the above article demonstrates something quite different. And t has been leaning in th noted direction for 10 plus years.

#33 Comment By EliteCommInc. On August 30, 2017 @ 5:33 am

“Yeah, sure. No American politician has ever ended his term wealthier by an order of magnitude, even two. All those hacks doing their internships as congressmen, marking time until the real money comes along in the shape of lobbying gigs — they’re completely oblivious to the pursuit of wealth. You bet.”

Aimless it may be. But I am not sure, there’s a flaw in the logic. There are individual’s who have gotten rich by way of office. However, few billionaires if that is accurate, have taken on government service with the goal of getting rich.

And our political s certainty full of greed, no doubt. And greed by no means is limited to financial greed. The description you provide addresses interns members of congress generically and they in manner reflect the position of Mr Trump. He is neither an intern nor a member of congress. He did not come to office via the political class gatekeeping system, which is the major complaint.

As to this comment,

“And so following from . . . “logic” we can all rest easy knowing that Mr. Trump would never ever be swayed by thoughts of his own personal gain. For instance, he charges the Secret Service for the use of his own hotels purely as an accounting convenience, nothing more.”

You making an argument I am not. I am not making an contend against any possible state of mind. It may very well be that Mr Trump’s move into office is motivated by greed. But, given the environment and based on who what has transpired thus far, it seems unlikely. Unlikely does not preclude the possibility. Your claim as to some logical flaw is not applicable. The case you need to make is that it is likely he is motivated by greed and is so behaving. That is not the case you are making.

1. Your position is circular. He is greedy because he could be be. that hardly addresses the liklihood of the same.

2. Your precursor has nothing to do with the manner by which Mr Trump has gained office. He did nit enter washington as an intern and wonk his way into the political arena.

3. Your response is often referred to as “strawman” contend. You respond to y position y creating an argument I am not making and then proceed to argue against the false contend.

So in response to the possibility, I can only state y original position, it’s an unlikely path to fill one’s pockets for the love of money as that is the form of greed we are discussing, in my view.

I would that all elected members be required to live on the salary we alot them when they enter office to guard against greed. But if you have a case against Mr Trump as o lining his pockets, even its by way of his family or other connection by being in office, I would certainly be interested in hearing it. Though I suspect it is unlikely.