Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The truth or consequences of a Donald Trump presidency

Donald Trump / Same as he ever was: Boastful, volatile, misogynistic,
race-baiting, willfully and strategically ignorant, exploitative fear-monger.

While listening to NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday and perusing the Sunday New York Times, the recurring themes of rage, violence and chaos at Donald Trump's campaign rallies caught my attention – jumped out at me. At nearly every event during the past week, from North Carolina to Illinois to Ohio to Missouri, non-violent protesters have been violently beaten, shoved, kicked and verbally abused by Trump supporters. The abused are often blacks, women, gays, immigrants. The abusers are always white. Candidate – and bully-in-chief – Trump has encouraged his supporters to do his bidding by attacking protesters, then claiming that his and his supporters' First Amendment freedom of speech rights are being trampled upon. It should come as no coincidence that this kind of incendiary behavior isn't seen at rallies by any other candidate running for president, Republican or Democrat.

"There's been nobody injured at my rallies: zero, zero. You're making it sound like everybody's broken down and injured. Give me a break," said Trump over the weekend, appearing on CNN. I guess The Donald's selective memory doesn't take into consideration the young North Carolina protester who was sucker-punched in the face by a Trump supporter – the same Trump supporter who later said afterward that maybe he'd have to "kill him" next time.

"While we have witnessed many divisive campaigns and candidates before, we've never seen such a volatile, social regressive political crusade as Trump's in modern American politics," writes Lincoln Blades in Rolling Stone. "Trump is giving all these hateful people a voice. He's done damage to the country that cannot be undone be merely losing this election."

Throughout many cities in America – among them Fayetteville, N.C., Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City – people are not standing passively while demagogues like Trump encourage violence against dissenters and advocates for the U.S. to commit war crimes. The protesters are peacefully speaking out against Trump's hateful and divisive rhetoric and extremist politics. It is Trump whose vitriolic comments have set the tone of conflict for his vile campaign. It is Trump who must own up and take responsibility for his actions. "Trump's base is so damn scary because it's not so much made up of people with shared policy ideas – it's more of a battalion filled with angry, mostly white folks who've been hungry for emancipation from the supposed scourges of political correctness and diversity," added Blades in his Rolling Stone article, "What Happens to America If Trump Loses?"

"Everything about Trump's campaign can be explained in terms of substance abuse: He's addicted to attention, demanding regular fixes and going to ever greater lengths – in terms of reckless statements and provocative acts – to get them," wrote Frank Bruni in the Sunday Review section of The New York Times this week. "Imagine what that would mean for a Trump presidency. His agenda wouldn't be conservative, moderate, liberal or for that matter coherent. It would be self-affirming and self-aggrandizing: whatever it takes to remain the focus of everyone's gaze, the syllable tumbling from everyone's lips. Trump, Trump, Trump."

Trump, in the words of New York Times Op-Ed columnist Ross Douthat, "is cut from a very different cloth. He's an authoritarian, not an ideologue, and his antecedents aren't Goldwater or McGovern; they're figures like George Wallace and Huey Long, with a side of the fictional Buzz Windrip from Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here. No modern political party has nominated a candidate like this; no serious political party ever should."

Nothing makes Trump more acceptable today than yesterday or last week – or six months ago, writes Kathleen Parker, who pens a twice-weekly political and culture column for the Washington Post. "He is still a boastful, volatile, misogynistic, race-baiting, willfully and strategically ignorant, exploitative fear-monger who is guided by profit over principle and whose hair-trigger temperament has the world on edge."

Day after day, Trump has proven time and time again that he isn't like any other candidate running for President of the United States. Instead, the loud, rich and famous Trump marches to his own drummer and plays by his own rules while pathologically spewing lies and untruths to suit himself. He's leading us down a dark, hateful road. That's not leadership folks. That's tyranny.

Dignity for the highest office in the land and decorum be damned, Trump – the ultimate narcissist – doesn't possess an empathetic bone in his body. And, it's become quite obvious that he's no student of public policy or constitutional law, either. As Douthat notes: "A man so transparently unfit for office should not be placed before the American people as a candidate for president under any kind of imprimatur save his own."

Talking points memo to Mr. Trump after watching him – unscripted – spew out poll numbers and other unfettered nuggets of bigotry during a Monday afternoon campaign stop in Tampa, Florida: 1. Stop saying you're going to make America great again. America never stopped being a great nation. And, under President Obama's vision and leadership, it's been done without the hate and feat-mongering your tone of voice and actions exemplify. 2. We aren't going to send ground troops into a war against ISIS. I don't think you're going to find any military advisors who would advocate this ill-thought out strategy. By the way, just who are your military advisors? 3. For goodness sake, we don't need to build a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border to divide us from them. None of the other candidates are advocating the building of a "beautiful wall" that you want to stiff Mexico for the bill. Forget about it, Mr. Trump. Our borders are fine just the way they are now. Walls are for isolationists, and the U.S is certainly not going to enter into a 21st-century cold war with the world and become an isolationist country.

Trump has proven time and again to be a divider and not a uniter. His brand of demagoguery is dividing the U.S. by race, ethnicity, religion, and gender, barriers that Americans have fought hard to overcome during the past 50 years of our nation's history. Funny thing how Trump's bigotry and hatred are not being condemned by the Republican National Committee or Republicans in Congress, or for that matter by former Republican leaders, Republican governors, Republican CEOs and Republicans on Wall Street, as former U.S. Secretary of Labor-turned-academician Robert Reich pointed out on his Facebook page over the weekend.

On Monday, on the eve of key presidential primaries in Florida, Ohio, Illinois and Missouri, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) spoke out against Trump, saying: "There's a history of demagogues calling those they disagree with 'terrorists' and using that as justification for intimidation and violence – and that history is ugly and dangerous. There's also a history of people staying quiet for too long, hoping for the best but watching silently as the threat metastasizes. Donald Trump is a bigger, uglier threat every day that goes by, and it's time for decent people everywhere – Republication, Democrat, Independent – to say 'No More Donald.' There's no virtue in silence."

The bottom line is this: Fascism has no place in America and, yet, those who support Trump – primarily uneducated, lower class white Americans – appear to be completely blind to this. C'mon, you can do better than be trapped in a sleazy reality TV show. Don't believe any politician who constantly says "Believe me" or tries to sell you raw meat or wine with his name branded on it. Mr. Trump is a terrible choice for our country and, by extension, the world.

We are defined by the choices we make. God help us all.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Michael Dickens,
    Thank you for this article and the hilarious caricature of Donald Trump, which I have integrated into the illustration for a fable to be published soon on my blog, A Revolution in Fiction. (I will acknowledge your site as source of image.)

    In case you're curious, here is the fable:

    Fable 3. The Pit Bull, the Bear and a Mouse

    When the pit bull and the bear came to meet,
    They circled round and round with narrowed eyes:
    They snarled at each other, and bared sharp teeth,
    They fought, slashed and clawed in a heat.
    They looked quite ferocious, and though it sounds perverse
    No airstrip or trade talks did they rehearse.
    The only thing they wanted, truth be told,
    Were the rights to the next Miss Universe.

    A little mouse watched the show from a vine
    And shuddered in fear at their girth.
    “What’s the matter with you?” his pals asked with a scold,
    “Why don’t you cheer our dog with all the guys?”
    “Beware, my brothers,” the little mouse moaned,
    “This fight can only end badly.
    You may think it’s a just a rumble,
    Or something on TV,
    But both of them are quick to agree:
    They will send us mice in gladly
    If a new war begins,
    For the love of a beauty queen.”

    Well, that dire prognostication
    Was luckily mistaken,
    Things went back to normal.

    Nothing much has changed for us mice.

    But in Bear’s splendid city, there’s lots going on:
    New rules come and gone those of yore.
    For those who learn their lessons, there are pockets full of kopeks!
    For those who do not, there is something too:
    Stalag Eleven in old Leningrad,
    Or a nice little gulag from before!

    Now Trumpiski Tower looms o’er the Volga’s banks
    And proudly wears a big red star,
    The once-great Donald’s rising up the ranks:
    He’ll soon be Bear’s first foreign commissar!

    -- by Julia Douthwaite