Even if only a pretense, staying civil is in Donald Trump’s interest (and ours too).
During the 2016 presidential election a great deal of attention has been paid to a single question: How should Donald Trump behave?
Even as Trump occasionally acted like a conventional candidate he also continued to flout proprieties.
From the first days of the campaign through much of the primary season, Trump appeared to specialize in defying conventional electoral etiquette. He said many inappropriate things. He called Mexican immigrants rapists, pointedly questioned the intelligence of one of his opponents, and condemned the esteemed veteran John McCain for having been a prisoner of war. Trump also mocked a reporter with disabilities, and he insinuated that the tough questioning he received at a debate occurred because one of the moderators was menstruating.
The outrageous comments and inflammatory insults were, as former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski frequently observed, a result of simply letting Trump be Trump. Trump was his own man. He listened only to his gut, not to pollsters and consultants.
Trump’s authenticity won enthusiastic praise from core supporters. Yet as the prospect of Trump winning the Republican nomination became more certain, pressure mounted on Trump to change his ways. Lewandowski was pushed aside by a new campaign manager, Paul Manafort, a seasoned political professional who promised to pivot Trump toward a more conventionally presidential public style. “You can’t change somebody’s character,” Manafort observed shortly after joining the Trump campaign. “But you can change the way somebody presents themselves.”