IS DONALD TRUMP’s “IGNORANCE” A PLOY?

A Google query on the phrase “Trump is Ignorant”* brings up more than 17 million hits. I suggest that this thinking is victim to a successful ploy. The book, Trump Never Give Up  (Trump & McIver 2008, p 167 ) states:  “Remember, it takes a lot of smarts to play dumb. Keep them off balance. Knowledge is power, so keep as much of it as you can to yourself as possible”.

In the same book, unknown or ignored by respected political commentators, Trump cites a kindergarten teacher who referred to him as her most curious and questioning student. Trump’s behaviors arouse antipathies, but his many-sided interests are evidenced by the diverse and ever-changing issues with which he engages or into which he intrudes.

In another book (Think Like a Champion, Trump & McIver 2009) Trump cites a list of authors ranging from Pythagoras, Machiavelli, Thoreau, and Albert Schweitzer, to Bill Gates and Billy Jean King. His favorite book is the classical Chinese text, The Art of War, by Sun Tzu, that emphasizes the importance of surprise. Trump’s choices of quotations have a pattern. They tend to focus on achieving success and personal rewards.

Trump first attended two years at Fordham University, a well-rated Jesuit institution with strong core requirements including history. He then completed his bachelor’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance,  where he would have gained background in economic history. Appearing to show ignorance or crudity encourages opponents and media pundits to overlook his strategies and tactics. It also serves to distinguish Trump from the academic, political, and media establishment in appealing to a disillusioned base.

The final argument against Trump being dumb is that he went from 3% in polls before he announced his candidacy for president on June 2015, to leading 16 credentialed Republican candidates one month later. His campaign operatives spanned the spectrum of Republican politics from assistants to Robert Dole to Tea Party activists. Trump is not an adversary to underrate.

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