Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Trump Is Running to be Alienator-in-Chief

It is hard keeping up with the alienator-in-chief. He’s not the presumptive AIC. He won the actual title from the moment he declared his candidacy for president. Or maybe four years ago with his advocacy of the birther movement to delegitimize the presidency of Barack Obama.

Donald Trump believes in shooting the messenger while ignoring the message. His preferred tactic is to ridicule anyone opposed to him, as if diminishing their stature would somehow reduce or eliminate criticism of his actions or words. His latest salvo pins the label of “devil” onto Hillary Clinton. If that doesn’t stick, maybe he will mine literature and biblical history for some equally dismissive appellation, such as Lady Macbeth, Cruella de Vil, Jezebel or Salome. 

To small-minded America, to those who hate his opponents, to those whose bigotry he has given cover to, Trump’s in-your-face tactic exudes strength and refreshing leadership, qualities that politically correct politicians do not harbor, they believe. Should he win, and obviously I hope he does not, Trump would be the alienator-in-chief of an alienated nation.

At what point, however, will Trump say something so outrageous that even his most ardent supporters see him as the boob he is, unfit for the highest office in the land? Would it not be a delicious irony if Trump was taken down by a Muslim?

Sadly, I don’t think the Khan affair surrounding Trump’s defamation of the family of a Muslim American U.S. Army captain killed in Iraq will be his undoing. Trumpsters—I can’t claim authorship of this term for Trump supporters, though I swear I had not heard it before it popped into my head recently—anyway, Trumpsters are so entwined in his candidacy that rational arguments cannot and do not work on them. 

While public figures on both sides of the political spectrum sees Trump as a neo-dictator in style and substance, Trumpsters only see positive aspects of his authoritarian style. Like dumpster divers who believe hidden gems can be found among the detritus of society, Trumpsters view him as the fulfillment of their dream for a new American revolution that lowers taxes, removes the burden of government regulations, strengthens the already strongest military in the world while signaling Russia that NATO isn’t to be considered a deterrent to its Baltic and Black Seas expansionist desires, reduces entitlement programs but god forbid does not touch their Social Security or Medicare, builds a protective wall around our country to keep out criminal illegal aliens and cheap goods that will now be built in America but cost more, restores law and order by putting minorities back in their place behind white America, and appoints judges that will halt, maybe even reverse, the last 60 years of progress toward social equality in the country.

Trump is a factual chameleon, changing positions day to day, denying statements made in print and the airwaves. Yet Trumpsters don’t care about the truth. 

Apparently, neither do Republican Party leaders. They may cringe at what he says, but they are betting their future, and that of the country, on their ability to control him should he take the oath of office. They are as foolish as the voters and government leaders who thought they’d be able to contain Hitler, Mussolini, Hamas, and other dictatorial movements. Trump’s pronouncements, as offensive as many may be, such as limiting entry to America by select foreigners, oftentimes are within constitutional grounds. The CIA director has said he would not re-institute torture, but if Trump wants to, no doubt he would find some acolyte who would do his bidding.

In Monday’s New York Times Paul Krugman refuted reasons why Republicans cannot support Hillary Clinton (http://nyti.ms/2aVCiQN) . He cited three areas they find fault with her: economic policies, national security and the fear of executive overreach. In each case Krugman argued Trump would be worse. As cogent as his arguments were, he failed to mention the key impact this election may have on the coming decades. The next president will most likely nominate two to four Supreme Court justices. Presidents set policy for four to eight years. Justices influence lives for decades. 

Perhaps that is why GOP poobahs like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and John McCain and Mike Pence have not abandoned their support of Trump. To their shame and lack of patriotic duty. 

Five and six years ago I wrote that Profiles in Courage should be required reading for public officials. It is John F. Kennedy’s 1955 Pulitzer Prize-winning account of eight U.S. senators who, at different times in the history of the Republic, acted on their conscience rather than succumb to political pressure to conform to party politics or the majority of their constituents. They did so at great risk to their careers, in the interest of serving country first.

Republicans want to go back to the “good old days.” Those days included times when public servants truly put the public good ahead of their own self-interests.

Here’s your election witticism of the day, courtesy of whowhatwhy.org:

A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation. —James Freeman Clarke