Donald Trump Does Not Really Want to Be President

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump speaks during the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition's annual fal
Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump speaks during the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition's annual fall dinner, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

I do not believe that Donald Trump really wants to be president.

In fact, behind all that arrogance and bravado, Trump is incredibly insecure and knows he's not prepared for the job. Nobody who talks so excessively about how rich, smart, and lovable he is really believes it. I doubt that Trump is very self-reflective, but even he knows that he's way over his head, and he's more surprised than anyone that he's doing so well among Republican voters in the polls.

Trump jumped into the race as a lark, to feed his ego, and perhaps to sell more books and increase his speaking fees. His campaign took off far beyond his own expectations. He's milking it now, because he loves the attention, but he's also scared shitless that he might actually win the GOP nomination. At that point, his ignorance will be even more exposed than it is now. He won't be able to improvise his policy ideas on a day-by-day basis. And if it gets to point that he has to debate Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden, he will collapse. Even more than now, he'll become a laughing stock.

Trump doesn't have the patience, temperament, self-discipline or interest in policy issues that it takes to be president. And, deep inside, he knows it better than anyone.

Some might say that George W. Bush had many of the same qualities, except that he grew up as the son of a politician, diplomat, and president, and had been a governor before running for president.

Trump goes to sleep at night both excited about the next day's media attention and worried that he might actually win, but unsure how to get out of the bind he now finds himself in.

Fortunately for America, he can't win the presidency, because his appeal is much too narrow. He's doing OK among conservative Republican primary voters, but he can't beat Clinton, Sanders, or Biden in a general election, where his ignorance and arrogance will alienate moderate voters.


Peter Dreier is the E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics, and chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department, at Occidental College. His most recent book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame.