Asked why — if he cares so much about American jobs — he manufactures products in China, Donald Trump said simply: “I’m a businessman. These are laws. These are regulations. These are rules. We’re allowed to do it.” That pragmatism makes business sense for Trump, whose chief credential as a presidential candidate is his billionaire status. It’s a status he attained by being able to work the system — to exercise the “art of the deal” as he says. “Frankly, I know the system better than anybody else,” he said at one of the early debates. “And I’m the only one up here that’s going to be able to fix that system because that system is wrong.”
Yet it’s not clear why Trump would want to fix a system that has made him a virtual king. Trump has impressed people as a lot of different things, but no one has yet pegged him as someone who puts other people first. By his own admission, Trump is known (and often respected) for taking full advantage and doing whatever it takes to win (see quote above). Why would he attempt to level a playing field where he has scored — and continues to score — so many victories? Voters often vote on their instinct about a candidate’s motivations — at least as much as the candidate’s platform. So voters will have to figure out this paradox:
- Donald Trump is winning the game.
- The rules of the game are fixed in his favor.
- Donald Trump wants to win the game. He depends on winning the game.
- Donald Trump wants to unfix the rules and make the game more fair.
As in a classic paradox, all of those things appear to be true, but they can’t be true at once.