US President Donald Trump has largely been the central focus of the news cycle since he became the GOP front runner in the 2016 Presidential contest. Before Trump, the Syrian Civil War, as well as the Syrian Refugee Crisis, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, via the Ukraine Crisis and Russia’s intervention in Syria, took their turns dominating the news cycle. The Arab Spring Revolutions and the Great Recession also enjoyed protracted periods of obsessive coverage featuring the most minor developments at the expense of other stories.
There are many different reasons why the news tends to obsess over certain stories, but the common denominator is that these topics garner a great deal of sustained public attention. It appears people feel these stories represent the greatest threat and source of uncertainty when they emerge. Donald Trump is a wild card who enjoys all the powers of the US Presidency, so it is natural that he would attract as much attention as a global crisis. Not only is Donald Trump prone to unconventional and seemingly unpredictable decisions, he actively seeks ways to have a big impact on whatever topic he chooses to address.
When, and if, the President’s public policy decision becomes more predictable and produces viable, favorable results, the public will find another obsession to focus on. Until then, Donald Trump will be dogged by intense scrutiny and never-ending criticism. It is, however, Trump’s instincts that determine his seemingly irrational behavior. For some, their instinct is to respond to situations with well- reasoned, fact-based decisions. For many others, their instinct is to respond to situations based on their emotions. For others still, their instinct is to respond based on their intuitive understanding of the world, which is what Trump does.
Intuition is not an intellectual or emotional response. Intuition is the way people react to a situation without thinking or feeling. It is a response based on an individual’s personal and professional training. Drivers, for example, will rarely calculate the distance to impact or try to cry their way out of accident. Instead, they will react to avoid a collision based on their intuition. If they are well-trained, their intuition will help them avoid an accident. If they are not, they will have an accident. In Trump’s case, his intuition was forged from a lifetime of training as a real-estate developer, boss, and privileged individual.
Trump’s trained intuition determines how he perceives situations, what information he finds important, and how he processes that information. Because his primary instinctual mode is intuition, he will never respond favorably to novel intellectual arguments or emotional pleas that conflict with his intuitive conclusions, unless they are presented in terms that do not conflict with his intuitive understanding of the world. Expecting an intuitive person to respond against their instinct is like expecting a clock to tell time in reverse. Like the clock, the brain will simply freeze.
The Question is, therefore, what are Donald Trump’s intuitive instincts. Unfortunately, this is a very difficult and complicated question that cannot be easily answered in a handful of words. Intuition is about how someone reacts to those who interact with them. In person-on-person interactions, an insightful individual can learn how to respond to an intuitive person and elicit constructive responses, even when criticizing the individual. When it comes to indirect public interactions, it is exceedingly difficult to predict and consistently elicit a constructive response.
This means those who have direct access to the President have greater sway over his views than the average American. It is also why the President needs to regularly expose himself to people from across the political spectrum. There are many special interests groups, particularly hardliners on the far-Right, who would love to isolate the President in order to secure their influence over his government. While the presence of Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner in the White House raises concerns over conflicts of interest, the moderating influence they have over him is beneficial. For his sake and the sake of government, they should ensure he regularly meets with a myriad of respectful people from across the political spectrum.
With that in mind, the President has demonstrated his intuitive responses in public enough to derive some meaningful insights. Those who find themselves in he “against me” camp, such as the Press, simply have to dissent from the President in order to elicit a “shutdown response,” which is an avoidance response from the President. When pressed further to respond by critics, the President reacts with an “attack response.” Given Trump appears to heed the advice of his advisers, at least some of the time, he shows a willingness to reflect on his intuitive-based policies, such as his willingness to review NAFTA instead of outright rejecting it, thus he is willing to listen to dissent.
What matters to an intuitive person is not what is said, but who said it and how it was said. If the Press, for example, wants to elicit constructive responses from the President, the Press needs to use its direct access to the President to build a relationship of trust. Members of the Press must show their criticism is intended to help the Administration succeed. Because members of the Trump Administration follow the example of their leader, the Press, as well as others, must engage the entire Administration in a similar fashion. There is a “with us or against us” mentality in the Trump camp and this approach takes time, but it can be beneficial.
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