By Robert A. Vella
Donald Trump is President of the United States. He has wealth, fame, and tremendous political power. Those who support him largely see the man as their stalwart champion. Those who oppose him see the man as a great danger to virtually everything they hold near and dear to their hearts. But, what if Trump wasn’t rich and powerful? What if he was just an ordinary Joe? What if he was someone you know? Would you still have the same opinion of him? If not, what would you think of him? Let’s conduct a little thought experiment.
Trump is your next door neighbor. His second wife recently divorced him, and he lives alone in a small one bedroom apartment. He has five adult children who only rarely visit him. He works at a local home improvement center as a warehouse clerk, and barely earns enough money to survive. He is overweight and has other health problems including substance abuse. You don’t like to chat with him anymore because of his persistent and angry rants about the government, liberals, and minorities whom he claims have ruined his life.
Trump is your employee. He has worked for you as a package delivery driver for three years. Although he is a diligent worker who is reliable and performs his basic duties very well, his ability to cooperate with coworkers is poor and a series of customer complaints have been logged against him. Furthermore, he has difficulty understanding and performing more complex tasks, he doesn’t seem to appreciate your perspective and position as his boss, and you’re concerned that he might lose his temper in a stressful situation.
Trump is your younger brother. When you were kids, he was always a braggart and a bully. You resented the way your parents spoiled him, but his antics didn’t affect you much because you were a few years older than he was. Still, you were worried that he would have problems in adulthood which turned out to be true. He dropped out of high school and was later arrested for domestic abuse of his girlfriend. Although the charges were subsequently dropped, you heard through the family that he got into more trouble after that. You haven’t seen him in two years, and your last phone conversation with him was a very unpleasant experience.
Trump is your financial representative. He took over your account after the previous representative left the company. You are not rich, but the investments you’ve made with this firm are considerable and you are relying on these funds for your retirement. So far, the advice Trump has given you seems both reckless and ill-informed. You are getting nervous and suspicious about his representation and are contemplating a major change.
Try to respond to these scenarios separately and without regard to what you already think about Donald Trump. Do your answers reinforce or change your opinion? Does his status as a national figure affect what you believe?