Will The Real Donald Trump Stand Up?

Americans of a certain age will fondly recall “To Tell The Truth”, one of the earliest and longest-running TV game/panel shows, first airing in 1956. 

The object of “To Tell The Truth” was for a panel of celebrity inquirers to guess the identity of a secret character, accompanied by two imposters. After several rounds of questioning and voting by the panelists, the moderator would ask amongst the three possible contestants, “Will the real Mr X or Miss Y please stand up.”

A reprise of  “To Tell The Truth” would showcase Donald Trump as the secret contestant -- flanked by two imposters also The Donald look-alikes. The guessing would be which of the three is the real Donald underneath the triple apparition.

Would the real Donald be James Polk, 11th president, champion of Manifest Destiny, who defeated the establishmentarian Henry Clay, and launched the Mexican War in 1846, thereby establishing the Rio Grande Texas border and obtained California and New Mexico territories?

For Polk and Jacksonian Democrats, territorial integrity and sovereignty was the defining issue of a young nation. Expansion south and west, accompanied by the ongoing dispute with Great Britain over the Northwest Territory --Oregon/Washington -- was as much about limiting lingering British ambitions as it was acquiring space for growth, and to accommodate slavery in one-for-one compromises (Texas slave vs California free, for example).

Alan Gevinson in an online Q&A quotes historian Sam P. Haynes: “In 1845 for both President Polk and the public at large, Manifest Destiny remained inchoate, undefined an effusive bumptious spirit rather than a clearly articulated agenda for empire,”

Gevinson furthers draws commentary from early 20th century historian Frederick Merk, who identified Manifest Destiny as “a belief in a religious-like republican mission as the primary motivation for American expansion”.

Territorial integrity in the early 19th century -- about sovereign boundaries -- was more visceral than an abstract sense of nationalism viz Manifest Destiny. It was a pragmatic thrust where westward bound American settlers would be secure from competing claims from other nations.

Immigration, nearly two centuries later, is the modern complement to territorial integrity. As Trump himself has declared, “A nation without borders is not a nation.” 

Why do borders matter? Because unfettered immigration is but a proxy for foreign nations’ invasions, akin to inviting competing claims against pre-emptive rights from American citizens already settled.

Donald Trump has tapped into the widespread and deep-rooted anxiety, fear, and loathing over an open border policy that has spawned lawlessness, enabled localized terrorist-like invasions, and forced unsustainable drains on state and local resources for law enforcement, schools, healthcare, and family resettlement services. And not be ignored, displaced millions of American workers while over 90 million Americans are no longer in the workforce.

Perhaps equally compelling, Trump is the first would-be political force to have enough independence, financial muscle and celebrity to tell the truth -- and at the same time to refreshingly disable political correctness -- about how illegal immigration is destroying this nation.

Or would the real Donald Trump be WWII General George Patton, outraged and heartbroken that his America has been forsaken -- from U.S. Army transgender accommodations, to U.S. Marine Corps unisex carnival barker covers, to women pretending to be combat-ready excused from three pull-ups, to global defeatism, to criminalization of honor, to celebration of capitulation, and betrayal considered a virtue…

Patton’s greatest wartime speech came on the eve of the Normandy invasion to the delight of his Third Army soldiers:

“Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win all of the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American.

Patton’s megalomania and profanity-laced tirades, defining perhaps the most politically incorrect military leader in the 20th century, was at times career limiting. But Patton’s troops loved him, and Germans and Russians feared him.

Trump wants to “Make America Great Again”. Who could argue with such a noble truism? Patton sure wouldn’t…

Or would the real Donald Trump be R&B soul singer Sam Cooke, whose incomparable rendering of Lou Adler and Herb Alpert’s “What A Wonderful World” reminds us that love should overcome ignorance.

“Don’t know much about history…

Don’t know much about geography…

Don’t know much about French I took…

Don’t know much trigonometry…


“Now I don’t claim to be an A student,

But I’m tryin’ to be…

“But I do know that I love you,

And I do know that if you love me too,

What a wonderful world it would be…”

How we love Donald’s swift takedown of Jorge Ramos of Univision -- both necessary and entertaining.  And his simple two-sentence dismissal of the treasonous Iran nuclear treaty architects -- Obama and Kerry -- eclipsing all other competing long-winded civilized assessments.

At the same time, Donald also says he would not defund Planned Parenthood, “he can live with affirmative action”, asserts higher taxes are a strategy for budget reform, and envies single-payer health care systems in Canada and the UK.

 What a wonderful world it would be.

And so, we don’t know much about Donald Trump’s core convictions -- except for his self-absorbed triumphalism, for his ad hominem invectives, all-ugly epithets -- outrageous, and unnecessary-- lodged against rivals (e.g. Carly Fiorina “Look at that face!”), and adolescent shout-downs against anyone with the nerve to challenge him.

“For maybe being an A student, baby

I can win your love for me…”

Who is Donald Trump anyhow? Statesman provocateur, champion to restore American exceptionalism, or mouse-down-the blouse, smoke-bombing, know-nothing lout?

Will the real Donald Trump please stand up?