Lyles: I am not a Trump fanatic

Disclaimer: I am not a Trump fanatic. I didn’t vote for Mr. Trump in the Republican primary, I couldn’t stand “The Apprentice,” and if you ask to see my list of people I would most like to have dinner with, you won’t find Donald Trump in my top 10… or 20… or 30. If we were next door neighbors, I doubt our relationship would extend much beyond an occasional casual wave as we passed each other coming or going.

After his election and prior to him taking office, I was asked hundreds of times, “What kind of president do you think he’ll make?” I always answered, “I have no idea, because he has no track record as a political office holder.” Many argued there was no way he could be an effective president because of his demeanor. They disliked his public arrogance, bluntness, lack of political correctness and rudeness believing his personality would render him ineffective.

It’s easy for these arguments to carry an air of credibility, because it’s a paradigm we’d all like to embrace — us as genteel members of a cultured society, respectfully nodding and bowing to our leaders and each other as they all nod and bow in return, while the affairs of state magically resolve themselves behind the scenes. America’s problem is that the hope of being governed with such elegance is what led us to the predicaments we faced in 2016.

America 2016 had been told to expect a stagnant recovery, higher than necessary unemployment, lower wages, higher taxes and diminished world stature. At the same time the top echelons of our federal law enforcement agencies, intelligence community, state department and other federal agencies were rapidly transforming into networks of corruption serving the governing elites. Leaders and elected officials from both parties had politely turned their backs on mainstream America. Major media had become slaves to the ideology of “clicks and eyeballs.” They traded truth and factual reporting of political issues for salacious and often false stories aimed at driving revenue.

America needed a turnaround, not cheerleading. We needed a president who would confront the problem. Many people across the political spectrum sensed this need, which partially explains the surprising popularity of Bernie Sanders. He saw the problem. His downfall was the socialist ideology of his proposed solutions.

Only one candidate truly realized the breadth and scope of the problem and offered viable solutions. Mr. Trump understood the depth of American’s leadership problems better than anyone. His proposed solutions resonated with enough voters that he was elected president.

My years as a young naval officer taught innumerable valuable lessons. One of the most important related to the area of command responsibility. My first commanding officer was gruff, sometimes rude, and not particularly articulate. Despite being universally disliked, he was a superb sailor and warrior. The second was popular, good looking and well-spoken. Everyone liked him. But his decisions got people killed. Not just one or two, but dozens. Who would you want at the helm of your ship?

Likeability and competence are two independent variables. Sometimes they come in the same package; most often they do not. Emotions spoil our judgment when our dislike of someone impedes our ability to assess their competence or effectiveness.

You’ll never catch me on the golf course with Donald Trump, but if the election were held today, I’d vote for him without hesitation. His results have been extraordinary, despite enormous opposition from every quarter. Emotions determine likeability. Results define competence. Try as you may to dispute them, the facts surrounding President Trump’s performance are indisputable. Like him or not.

Lyles, a Poway resident, is a management consultant and best-selling author.

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