Donald Trump does not want to run to become our next President.
It's entirely possible that he wants to be president. He's a man who likes power and glory. But running for President involves retail politics - that means not only talking to regular Americans, but listening to them, which Trump has never shown much interest in.
However, acting as though he wants to run is something Trump is excelling at. This allows him to give speeches and appear on TV, which he loves. It allows him to be provocative and sensational, which is his true gift. It allows him to be the center of attention, which is where he's most at home.
All of which should scare Republicans. You don't want a man who has no interest in truly running to be your frontrunner. It makes your other candidates look a little pathetic. They can't compete with Trump's wattage, and it will make them appear flimsy by the time he bows out of the race. Trump is effectively sucking he oxygen out of their fledgling campaigns, which makes it hard to raise money, get attention and build name recognition… all of which they'll need to take on the billion-dollar brand that is Obama.
You can see Republican power brokers angling to bump Trump - they know that he's more threat than treat, more of a liability than a likability. The greatest fear is that at the first GOP primary debate on May 5th, the candidate not on the stage will get more attention than the few who are. The candidates would rather spend their time associating their party with Ronald Reagan than fielding questions on Trump… at least that star-driven media manipulator had some interest in elected office.
In the end, Donald Trump will not be our next President - so the longer he dominates the news cycles, the more Democrats should be thrilled. It heightens the circus-like quality of their opponents' primary, hints at the desperation felt by many Republicans, and showcases a few of the wedge issues that split the conservative movement.
But I'm not thrilled. The longer Trump romps around, the better Democrats look; but the worse our entire political process comes out. There are real differences between the left and right in this country that deserve a healthy discussion -- yet we are perpetually distracted from real debate. We are distracted by birthers challenging Obama's citizenship. We are distracted by Tea Partiers claiming Obama wants their guns…and by progressives dismissing Tea Partiers as nothing more than kooks. We are distracted by big corporations that don't want us to think about how much money their executives are making and how little taxes they are paying. We are distracted by a Democratic Party that often obscures its real differences with Republicans in order to seize a mushy middleground.
And now we're distracted by Donald Trump.
The Republican primary will be a fascinating clash of ideologies without Trump's ideology of self-importance in the mix. There will be culture wars, economic battles and real discussions that go beyond blaming Obama (though I expect a hearty amount of that as well) and give self-identified conservatives real questions to consider. How important is their war against equality for gay and lesbians when balanced against economic concerns? How much do they see Wall Street bailouts as a problem? What would they have done differently than Obama in Egypt, Libya and Yemen?
I want to hear those answers - as do many Republican voters - but right now all we're going to hear is whatever Trump knows will make headlines the next day.
A serious Republican primary would also force Obama to be serious about his policies and plans. A farce on the right will allow Obama to look like the only adult in the room - which means he won't have to articulate his vision as clearly to the American people or to his own progressive base, which has been frustrated with him over his first two years. And while that may be good for chances of Democratic victory, it's not good for progressives who want these ideas discussed, and it's not good for Americans who want to understand the choices they are making.
None of which will be an issue because Trump won't run and won't win. All of it, though, is a distraction for now.
Justin Krebs is a political organizer and writer based in New York City. He is the founder of Living Liberally, a nationwide network of 250 local clubs that create social events around progressive politics, and author of "538 Ways to Live, Work and Play Like a Liberal."