Americans are the most entertained, and the least informed, people on the earth. They spend their lives watching movies and TV, texting and talking on smartphones, and otherwise roaming at large in cyberspace, but cannot name the vice president or find Africa on a map.
So it shouldn't surprise anyone that a blowhard narcissistic business tycoon with no political track record should be leading the race for Republican presidential nominee. It matters not one whit to his ardent followers that Donald Trump has no idea what he is talking about - he is entertaining and that is all that matters.
In the Trump worldview, there are no complex challenges, only a lack of will to deal with them. He would replace Obamacare with something "much better" and "terrific" which will cover everybody and be "much less expensive." Gee, why didn't we think of that? And he would replace the nuclear deal with Iran with something "that's 100 times better." What's not to like?
He would replace the current tax system with "a fair tax" that might actually be "a flat tax" or maybe just leave the system as is but "take out deductions and lower taxes and do lots of really good things, leaving the system the way it is." Works for me.
With regard to the Islamic State, Trump said, "You have to go in," but in the next breath insists there will be no invasion. He will find a General Patton or General MacArthur, "the guy that's going to take that military and make it really work." To be sure, Patton and MacArthur, and the other World War II leaders, were successful, but it required a tremendous sacrifice of lives and resources over several years. Trump does not discuss hard choices.
Trump's signature policy proposal is to build a huge wall across our border with Mexico, force Mexico to pay for it, and then deport 11 million illegal immigrants. Never mind the extraordinary cruelty of disrupting millions of homes and sending throngs of hard-working, law-abiding people to places they have not been in years and where there are no opportunities. Never mind that it would leave millions of jobs unfilled here - dirty jobs that Americans will not do.
As for making Mexico pay for the wall, Trump has yet to explain how he would pull that off but we can be assured his plan would be "something terrific" and "much less expensive" than whatever we're doing now.
All of this would be quite entertaining if it was a TV sitcom, but this is real life. We're talking about the leadership of our country in a critical time that demands serious thought. The story is told that when the Constitutional Convention concluded, a woman accosted Benjamin Franklin asking what kind of government he had given them. "A republic," he said, "if you can keep it." Keeping it requires seriousness, not entertainment, and the first responsibility for seriousness lies not with the candidates, but with the voters.
Lt. Gen. Clarence E. "Mac" McKnight, Jr., (USA-Ret) is the author of "From Pigeons to Tweets: A General Who Led Dramatic Change in Military Communications," published by The History Publishing Company.