Donald Trump: A bully, not a leader

Republican nominee's leadership qualities leave much to be desired

love Uber. It’s convenient, it’s (mostly) reliable and it can be downright entertaining.

Like the time I was in Washington, D.C., trying to get to the airport, and the driver asked if I would mind taking the wheel. The reason?  She needed to talk to her adult son.

He was having a complete meltdown because his mother had thrown his Monster energy drinks in the trash — he had been consuming them by the case for years, and a neighbour suggested this might not be healthy for him. He was freaking out to a level I had never heard from an adult.

As I write this, I’m sitting in a hotel room in Anaheim, Calif. I hopped in an Uber to go for dinner and had a lovely chat with a born-and-bred Californian named Jason. The conversation behind the wheel of his Lexus quickly turned to the U.S. election and he wanted to know my thoughts, as a Canadian.

If you’ve travelled to the United States in the last couple of months, you’ll likely have been asked the same question. Americans seem to be fascinated, for a change, about what the rest of the world thinks.

Jason wasn’t alone in his query. When buying a bottle of water at the National Safety Council’s convention (my raison d’être for being in California), the cashier spotted by nametag and the fact that I’m from Toronto.

“You’re Canadian?” she said. “You know everybody is moving there if he wins, right?”

“He” needs no introduction. I’ve yet to type his name and you know I’m talking about Donald Trump. The objective journalist in me wants to introduce him as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. But I can’t.

This isn’t a news article. It’s an editorial. So I can say this: Trump is not a leader. Forget his policies, they’re irrelevant for this conversation. Just look at his leadership characteristics. We spend a lot of time discussing great leadership qualities in the pages of Canadian HR Reporter.

If you’re not sure what makes a great leader, here’s a handy acronym to remember: WWDTND. Or What Would Donald Trump Not Do? Look at what he does and, odds are, the opposite behaviour is what makes a good leader. It’s not hyperbole and it’s not politically motivated.

There are so many sad examples, I don’t know where to start. But how about belittling? When was the last time you saw a leader you respect belittle another person?

Mocking is a sign of weakness and small-mindedness. There’s not enough money in my ink budget to list everyone he’s mocked. The New York Times did the heavy lifting and found 274 people, places and things Trump has insulted on Twitter since declaring his candidacy.

He’s called Rosie O’Donnell a “pig.” He called out Huffington Post founder Ariana Huffington as being “unattractive inside and out” and said he didn’t blame her husband for leaving her for another man. He called New York Times journalist Maureen Dowd “a neurotic dope.” He mocked a reporter who had a physical disability.

He engages in Twitter flame wars. Following the first debate, he went on a late-night tirade against Alicia Machado, the 1996 Miss Universe title holder (a competition Trump owned). He suggested there was a “sex tape” and a “disgusting… past” for Machado after Hillary Clinton brought her up.

He has no sense of humour, which mixes very poorly with his mean streak and notoriously thin skin. Saturday Night Live has done a brilliant job with Alec Baldwin playing a hilariously accurate version of Trump. SNL has a long history of mocking politicians of all stripes. But Trump couldn’t laugh it off. Instead, he tweeted that the show did a “hit job” on him, said Baldwin stunk up the joint and called for the cancellation of the “boring and unfunny show.”

Did Trump forget he hosted the show just last November? And did a presidential candidate seriously just call for the end of a comedy show he doesn’t like?

He can’t let things go. In 1988, Graydon Carter of Vanity Fair called Trump a “short-fingered vulgarian.” Carter still gets envelopes from Trump containing a picture of his hands circled “in gold Sharpie in a valiant effort to highlight the length of his fingers,” he said.

And then there’s that video of him discussing — no, bragging — about being able to sexually assault women because he’s a celebrity. It’s not locker room talk, it’s indefensible in any realm. He owns the words and ideas — kissing women without consent. Touching them. Assaulting them. This is all OK in his world.

So, my Uber-driving California friend, I can tell you this about your election: I’m not aghast, I’m not angry, I’m just sad a man with these traits has gotten this far.

He inspires by bullying and appealing to the lowest common denominator, by pitting groups against each other and through the systematic tearing down of others. These are not the qualities of a decent person, let alone a true leader.

Trump is acting like the child of that poor Uber driver who had to deal with her tantrum-throwing adult son. And I’m not taking the wheel.

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