It’s a problem that Donald Trump has a severely limited understanding of public policy. It’s a bigger problem that the presumptive Republican nominee believes his overly simplistic sound-bite solutions will work wonders. Take this USA Today article, for example, on Trump’s visit to California late last week.
California suffered one of its driest years in 2015. And last year the state hit its driest four-year period on record.But Donald Trump isn’t sold. The presumptive GOP nominee told supporters in Fresno, Calif., on Friday night that no such dry spell exists.
At the campaign event, the New York Republican vowed, “We’re going to solve your water problem. You have a water problem that is so insane. It is so ridiculous where they’re taking the water and shoving it out to sea.”
Trump added that he’d redirect water to Central Valley farmers and ignore concerns about endangered fish. Towards the end of his speech in California, the Republican candidate assured locals, “We’re gonna get it done. We’re gonna get it done quick. Don’t even think about it.”
As it turns out, those last five words – “don’t even think about it” – represented an important request, because when one does think about it, the presidential hopeful’s rhetoric starts to sound like gibberish. Indeed, using exceedingly charitable language, BuzzFeed’s report noted in response, “It was unclear how exactly Trump would deliver on his water promises.”
How very polite. The trouble is, Trump is apparently under the impression that there is no drought – a belief that’s plainly wrong – which is made worse by the fact that he also believes he can impose a simple solution that wouldn’t actually resolve a complex problem.
Slate’s Phil Plait gave Trump’s remarks a closer look and asked, “Where to even start with something so bizarrely nonsensical?”
To believe there’s plenty of water in California you’d either have to be a cactus or completely, utterly oblivious to reality. Because that’s grossly wrong. Grotesquely wrong. […]Part of what he’s talking about in that speech deals with water being diverted from farms to rivers to protect wildlife such as the delta smelt and salmon. That’s a very complicated and thorny issue, and I don’t pretend to have an answer here. But Trump certainly doesn’t either, and simply saying, “If I win, believe me, we’re going to start opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive,” as Trump did in his speech, is ridiculous. The laws won’t let him do that, for one thing, and for another it’s unlikely to help in the long run. California simply doesn’t have an infinite supply of water.This is a situation that calls for a lot of political compromise, nuance, and long-term thinking. Trump has none of that.
The Republican presidential candidate speaks with great confidence about his unique ability to solve any problem, despite having no idea what he’s talking about. It’s one thing to be ignorant; it’s something else entirely for someone who is ignorant to convince himself of his own vast and imaginary knowledge.
Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, argued last week that the Republican “knows he has more to learn.” But does he? Or is it more likely that the presumptive GOP nominee is already convinced his instincts and brilliance have provided him with all of the tools he needs to succeed?
As his rhetoric about California’s drought helps demonstrate, Donald Trump doesn’t understand what he doesn’t understand. There are few traits in a presidential candidate that should be less appealing.