Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Trump could do with some predictability

Published:Wednesday | April 6, 2016 | 4:00 AMStephen Cooper
A girl waits to see Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump after a rally at Nathan Hale High School in West Allis, Wisconsin, on Sunday.

In an Associated Press article, 'Imagining a Trump administration? Count on unpredictability', Nancy Benac writes that Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump likes to complain.

"We talk too much," and "We're totally predictable ... . I want to be unpredictable," Trump told Bill O'Reilly. "The voters want unpredictability."

Like most Trumpisms - salty Twitter tirades tweeted in the wee hours of the night - this simply is not true. Americans want, and respectfully I submit, Americans need a president who is predictable.

On pages 104-05 of her book What Moves Man: The Realist Theory of International Relations and its Judgment of Human Nature (State University of New York Press 2004), Annette Freyberg-Inan writes, "Stability means that the behaviour of other actors becomes more predictable, and the predictability of the effects of one's decisions is an essential prerequisite for the calculations necessary for rational decision making."

Echoing Freyberg-Inan's conclusion on predictability is Tom Wall. In a piece called 'Please be Predictable' for dairycoach.com, Wall writes, "Ambassador Mark Green (the former US ambassador to Tanzania, now president of the International Republican Institute), posted the following statement online: "... I had an international-relations professor who used to preach to us, 'When you're a superpower, you must be the most predictable nation on earth. Everyone, friend and foe alike, needs to know that if they do X, America will do Y. The whole world is based upon that idea.'"

 

NORMALITY OF LIFE

 

Freyberg-Inan, Wall, Green and Green's former international relations professor are not the first to draw connections between predictability and peace, and certainly won't be the last. See, for example, Jovan Babiç, Trust, Predictability and Lasting Peace. (The paper's main focus is the connection between trust and peace, which makes predictability as a necessary condition of the possibility of normality of life, especially collective and communal life.)

Also, Howard H. Stevenson and Mihnea C. Moldoveanu, The Power of Predictability, ("What our ancestors discovered holds true today: Survival still depends on the ability to respond quickly to change, and organisations can still help people predict the outcomes of their actions and thus act swiftly and predictably. Without predictability, people will be too scared not only to take risks but to take any actions at all. Life within an organisation will become what it was for the solitary hunter: uncertain, brutish, and short.")

What these academics are saying - objectively smart folks, not just blowhards claiming to be so - is that unsurprisingly, Donald Trump could not be more wrong. In fact, Americans want, and Americans need, a president who is predictable - predictable about this country's use and non-use of nuclear weapons, predictable about long-standing nuclear policy in sensitive areas of the world, and a president who predictably and declaratively says "no" when asked softball questions - questions like, "Would you ever use a nuclear bomb in Europe?"

Americans want, and need, a president who predictably and consistently will treat women with respect, fairness, and equality - not one who, among other vulgarities, consistently jokes how his daughter is so attractive that if he weren't her father, he might make a play for her.

As demonstrated by his recent contradictory and buffoonish statements about punishing women who have abortions, Donald Trump will be anything but predictable concerning his respect for women and the rule of law on women's reproductive rights.

Americans understand, in these trying, sometimes terrifying, times that the United States needs a stable, predictable leader in the Oval Office - not an unhinged, rudderless, narcissistic ego in a suit - willing to change course with each new poll or political wave.

- Stephen Cooper is a former federal and DC public defender. He writes full-time and lives in Woodland Hills, California. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.