Browsing through YouTube’s list of recommended videos one day, I stumbled upon one chronicling radio shock jock Howard Stern’s views on Trump. Stern and Trump have a relationship that goes back for some time. Trump has infamously been on Stern’s show and made comments which he was later criticized for. “Battling venereal disease was my personal Vietnam” (paraphrased) being a prime example. Now, Stern made the point that Trump’s life prior to him descending the escalator at Trump tower and throwing his hat into the ring was spectacular. Why would Trump want to give that up or jeopardize it in any way Stern asks.
Stern makes a good case here. Trump owns an extremely luxurious private jet, several spectacular properties, including Mar-a-Lago, several skyscrapers, several golf resorts and so on. He has well accomplished and loving children and a very beautiful wife. He is also a multi-dollar billionaire, meaning he could afford to do all kinds of wacky, zany eccentric billionaire hijinks. Instead, Trump choose to pursue the presidency. He jetsetted endlessly around the country holding massive rallies, attending events, debates and interviews.
He thus denied himself many of the sweet fruits stemming from a life of hard work. Trump was dragged through the mud in the press to an extent far surpassing anything we’ve seen in politics. People cursed his name, demonstrated, attempted to attack him physically, boycotted his brand and businesses and so on. Stern’s puzzlement at this makes perfect sense. How could this be a rational course of action? To me Trump’s actions make perfect sense. If we only view enjoying the good life as our measurement of value, Trump appears to be a delusional fool. But if we allow alternate sources of value to enter the calculation, all the pieces come together.
First of all, winning the presidency is a tremendous achievement. It is the most sought after political office in the world. The overwhelming majority of essentially the whole world though Trump didn’t have a snowballs chance in hell of winning not just the presidency or the Republican nomination, but even a single primary. Proving them all wrong must have felt uncomprehendingly satisfying. Claiming the presidency following the end of Obama’s second term must have been all the sweeter. How is this not one of the greatest revenge stories of all time, following the treatment of Trump at the 2011 White House correspondent’s dinner?
It is often said that money can’t buy happiness. To a certain extent that is true. If Trump had worked to add another billion to his already substantial pile of wealth, he would suffer diminishing returns in terms of happiness. The first billion is more satisfying than the second and so on. Trump’s White House run has provided enjoyment in non-monetary ways. Getting the “ultimate revenge” (as stated by Omarosa herself) can’t be measured in a measly dollar amount. Being in the successful and wealthy position of Donald Trump gave him the entrance ticket to enter this high-stakes game. Compare this to a risky, but potentially very profitable investment.
Proving almost the entire planet wrong, surpassing their expectations and dictating your own terms also is a psychologically powerful motivator. Amongst rich people it is said that at some point money doesn’t matter for much apart from keeping score. Perhaps Trump got bored with the money game and wanted to enter another league to test his mettle? Claiming the presidency against all odds certainly is the pinnacle of possible achievement in the political arena.
Trump is also an extreme extrovert. He feeds of the energy and adoration of people. The massive and almost countless rallies held all across the country fed Trump like blood feeds a vampire. He wouldn’t have been able to consistently attract such massive and adoring crowds without following the political route. Certainly, the extreme passion of his supporters wouldn’t have been available along other paths. We thus see that Trump’s bid for the presidency wasn’t an irrational flight-of-fancy or wacky gamble at all. It was the logical means to achieve perfectly good ends. We also have the aspect of the grass being greener on the other side in force here. For those without billions to their name (Stern) that must seem like the ultimate happiness. For Trump with multiple billions in assets, the success, power and adoration that certain politicians can command must have been enviable.