Charity Under Trump

Donald Trump in Chicago

As we look ahead to the next four years of the Trump presidency, we might wonder what the fate will be for global nonprofits.  For many the situation may seem bleak, considering the president-elect’s ‘America First’ ideas and focus on profit.  I’m no fan of Mr. Trump.  I don’t believe that his inclinations lean toward supporting global charities, such as 100 For All.  However, I hope to find a bridge between those inclinations and the idea of global charity, even employing Mr. Trump’s traits and vision to serve the greater cause.  I believe those traits especially may prove beneficial.

First of all, Mr. Trump is not a true conservative.  In the past he has been liberal to some degree on matters of abortion and same-sex marriage, regardless of his rhetoric regarding his SCOTUS nominations.  He likes to be unpredictable and does not appear to be beholden to his campaign promises.  However, his business interests may align with traditional conservatism and may oppose organized charity.  Until the time he sets his agenda, the best we can do is speculate and prepare.  So, until we see his actions, neither are we to treat his words too literally but look for opportunities to influence his actions.  His seems to be a top-down administration, also a traditionally liberal governing plan, though perhaps with more dictatorial tendencies.  This however may assuage fears coming from his cabinet appointees, who seem far more traditionally conservative than he himself.  Perhaps this is to endear him to the Congress with which he will be working.  He will need to do this if he is not, in fact, one of them.  Congress will not be in favor of more global initiatives.  Our way into the government and, perhaps society at large, may be Donald J. Trump.

Secondly, along with shifting ideas and a lack of plans to accompany his vision, he is learning as he goes.  He recently learned, in contrast with his previously stated campaign pledge to reinstate the technique, that waterboarding is torture and is not recommended by his military advisors.   You and I may have known that for years, but he has since changed his mind.  No big news conference or need to explain himself.  Just moved on.  Publicly his transition team states that his appointees are there to implement his vision.  Again, this is top-down.  One does have to wonder then, ‘If I’m not in his inner circle, how can I convince him to change his mind?’  Our way into the government and, perhaps society at large, may be Donald J. Trump.

Thirdly, he is a businessman whose relationships are often transactional.  If we were afraid of Mrs. Clinton’s quid pro quo highway, just wait for the toll road into the Oval Office.  Whether it’s the States, NATO or the UN, nothing seems available for free from a Trump administration.  And perhaps it shouldn’t be.  Perhaps a price should be asked of him.  Perhaps we need to understand how to better pitch global water initiatives to Trump and conservatives normally averse to such concepts.  Is there a business or national security angle to be presented here?  I think an organization like One.org, with its celebrity advocates, has done a good job with this.  Of course the audience of One.org is national leadership.  Yet our goals and scope are not dissimilar.  What does he get from global water security?  What is its price for America?  What is his personal price for not achieving it?

Lastly, the man is a narcissistic demagogue.  I don’t mean to be charitable with this term.  He is a demagogue.  He appeals to the masses on simplistic terms in order to win beauty contests, not caring that the masses’ needs cannot be met.  I don’t feel I need the backing of psychologists for this.  As for the narcissist charge, this is a pretty easy call as well.  Several psychologists, not just left-wing crybabies, have weighed in on the topic (Psychology Today, August 10 2016; The Atlantic, June 2016; The Washington Post, July 22 2016).  Whether it is becomes harmful to us, we can only wait and see.  But I stand by the term.  He has a grand idea of his own power or ability to affect change while craving the attention of others.  I hate to falsely label the man, but by walk and talk, the duck’s name is Donald.  So he needs, not just desires, the attention of others.  And though he can handle the short-term boos and hisses like a pro wrestling villain, he loves to hear how admired he is, and he loves to tell us all about it.  Let him tell the world how much we admire his plans when they work for us.  He’ll be all the advertisement we ever need.

What do we do now?  I believe we owe Mr. Trump a kiss, a KISS of PAIN.  To be honest the acronym could have been KISS of NAIP or KISS of IANP, or I could have changed the initials, but I like this one.  It is both carrot and stick.  The KISS should have come second, but I’ll address it first.  We most likely are dealing in 140 characters, but preferably less.  Far less.  Drill Baby Drill and Lock Her Up are far more indelible than a white paper on energy security or governmental corruption.  My best advice is to Keep It Simple, Stupid.  You’re probably smart, much smarter than I am, but brandishing an intellectual shillelagh is not in vogue at the moment.  In fact it places you in the elitist camp.  That camp is outside the city gates.  We must speak to our opponents’ needs, in less than 100 characters, and in simple, inclusive language.

Next, bring the PAIN!  Do I mean the pain of riots and protests?  Not in this case.  There may be time for protest and boycott.  In this case I mean we must address the president DIRECTLY when possible keeping four things in mind: be Positive, Active, Informative, and speak to our National interests.  Mr. Trump doubles down on aggression if people disagree with him.  Be Positive.  Wherever we can align our goals with his, do it and let him take credit.  Who besides him cares?  And if we see a tweet from him that aligns with our interests, retweet it and get your friends to follow your lead.  He will follow what makes him appear popular.  He demeans his critics and ignores their advice.  This is part of be Active.   Also be Attentive.  Take action when the conditions arise.  To be Informative in 100 characters is impossible.   Nuance is lost.  But be prepared with good information. Certainty is built with hundreds of pieces of good information, but Doubt bulldozes all that down with one piece of bad. Understand the sources your audience will appreciate.  Learn to speak the language of Fox News, the National Review, and the Economist.  Speak to the National interest.  Better yet, speak to the most immediate needs of your audience.  Herein it also helps to be informed.  The more your audience can relate, the more apt they are to consider your position.  Whereas riots and protest may feel more productive, they are not.  To many conservative, blue collar Americans, alongside whom I work everyday, those acts are dangerous nuisances, incapable of changing minds.  The work of global charities like 100 For All will be helped when a President Trump makes them acceptable to his audience, who in many instances, may not be naturally deposed to supporting them.  We must make our work acceptable to him directly in a way he understands.

By way of social media, our way into the government and, perhaps society at large, may be Donald J. Trump.  I know a lot of people who think that these are dark days, full of monsters.  But I believe it is an opportunity to BE the light, even if that light blinds the monsters’ eyes.

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