Friday, November 4, 2016

Trump Brings Out the Worst Instead of the Greatness of America

So, I took my son trick or treating on Halloween, which has become an annual tradition for me and, moreover, is one of those ways in which I can both spend some wonderful time with my son, as well as reliving my own childhood. Usually, I take him to the same neighborhood where most of my trick or treating took place, as my parents still live in the same home where my brother and I grew up. At least for now, they do.

It was a fun time, although there was one thing that happened which, frankly, put a damper on the afternoon and evening for me.

You see, after knocking on one door and getting candy, my son started going towards the next house, when he stopped in the back of one vehicle in particular, right on the edge of the house he had just gone to, and the one where he was next heading. There was a pick-up truck or SUV, and it had some bumper sticker on it expressing support guessed it - Donald Trump.

One sticker did not initially look that bad, and seemed hardly evidence of anything much worse than your typical campaign bumper sticker and/or poster. After all, Ronald Reagan also used the slogan "Make America Great Again," and despite my disagreement with, and distaste for, the "Reagan way," if you will, he nonetheless showed some restraint as leader. If I feel less than thrilled when seeing such stickers or posters being so prominently displayed, it is nothing that I am not used to, not only this election year but, frankly, most election years. I could not understand why people adored Reagan so much in the 1980's, nor supported George H. W. Bush in the late eighties and early nineties. Ditto with George W. Bush in the 2000's, the McCain/Palin ticket in 2008, and more recently, the Romney (Mr. 47% himself) four years ago. 

Trump, however, takes this to a new level, although on some level, he has pushed the veneer of normality upon his campaign, tried to make it seem a bit like any other, which it most certainly is not. And a closer look at the sticker showed this. Here is what it said:

Trump 2016

No More Bullshit

Still, seeing this particular campaign bumper sticker, as ludicrous and classless as it was, did not ring alarm bells as much as the other pro-Trump sticker that was on there, and which my son spotted first. Easily so, I might add.

It showed an image of Trump's face in the mode of the Obama red and blue image from the 2008 campaign, but with these words:


Your Feelings.

Excuse the language, but this is what the bumper sticker says, after all. 

Perhaps it is wrong to not take Donald Trump's campaign seriously but, admittedly, I probably fall into the category of those who have underestimated Trump and his supporters. 

It is just that, ever since first started hearing about the guy, back in the 1980's, he seemed to represented to me the very worst tendencies towards excess that was unfortunately evident among too many Americans back then. Frankly, I thought that this was actually pretty obvious and, moreover, believed that a majority of Americans agreed with me. This was even before everyone found out that he had racist tendencies, not to mention leaned towards fascist ones, as well.

There was a time when we, as Americans, actually had that level of self-respect and dignity that we held our leaders to the same standards. Now, we have someone who uses language that we do not want our kids to see or hear. We have this clown who seems like an overgrown brat who was never told no for anything as he was growing up, and as a result, has become an insufferable prick now as a 70-year old man. A rich jackass who does not care who he screws over, so long as he gets his. A man who makes a fool of himself and a mockery of American democracy on almost a nightly basis. A man who has expressed blatantly racist and sexist views, and who even stooped so low as to make fun of someone with disabilities. A man who pretends to have simple answers to complicated questions that, in fact, he does not and cannot even begin to understand.

Yet, he appeals to people by the millions.

And I cannot understand this, and admittedly have always underestimated it (and yes, admittedly, still probably do). I simply cannot understand the appeal. Again, to me, this guy was a clown act since the 1980's. The model of American excess in all of the wrong ways, a symbol of everything that is wrong with the country.

Trump is often referred to as a bully. I do not disagree with this, but it seems also somehow more and, if possible, even worse. You see, indeed, he is a bully, picking on groups that have been traditionally targeted in the past - Mexicans, Muslims, women, blacks, people with disabilities. Everyone knows that.

What is worse, however, is that he not only is doing this, but he is empowering the worst instincts among many Americans. Rosalyn Carter was interviewed years after her husband lost his re-election bid to Ronald Reagan, and she lambasted him, suggesting that he was making Americans comfortable with their own prejudices. That may indeed have been the case then, but it most certainly is true in regards to Donald Trump. He is like the kid, like the bully, who not only bullies people on his own, but also cheers on other kids when they decide to go ahead and bully. His approving gaze empowers the worst in kids who might otherwise not engage in such activities. That is the danger of Donald Trump, and if he wants to turn back the clock and "Make America Great Again," then this is what is meant by that. Make some people who feel they have gotten lost somewhere and somehow in the last decades feel good about themselves once again by actively making others feel worse about themselves. Put these people in their place again, in other words.

How is it that so many of my fellow Americans cannot see this? Why do they have such a hard time seeing through this clown act?

This guy's big claim to fame was that he manipulated the system to personally enrich himself. He did not contribute in a great manner like so many public servants, elected and non-elected alike, have done, for the betterment of the country. At every turn, he simply tried to build up his empire, and that includes by lying about it, greatly exaggerating his own wealth and importance. He was the real life Gordon Gekko, and that is not meant as a compliment. Eventually, he got his own reality show, and his big line, which he also seems to have tried to own, was "You're fired!" As if he was the first person to utter those famous words!

Now, he has become a conservative politician. Of course, some true conservatives would take exception to that, feeling that Trump is not, in fact, particularly conservative or anything. Still, he has spoken out loudly against President Obama for years, and was one of the main people to make the birth certificate a major issue. He ran for president in 2012 and quickly lost. He ran again in 2016 and, somehow, he managed to win. Despite the low regard that I generally have held for the Republican party at large, it still staggers me that they stooped quite as low as this, to nominate a man like that. Perhaps not surprisingly, though, conservative evangelical Christians seem to flock to the guy, although he hardly seems to be a Christian as all. His manner and language are crude, and his behavior is anything but moral.

Yet, here we are, and Trump has a serious chance at actually winning the presidency, in large part because of the conservative Christian vote across the country. This just shows that these conservative Christians by and large use religion in the worst possible way. In far too many instances, they utilize religion not for serious self-examination and to constantly strive to improve themselves, to aim to be better people, but rather, they use it as a kind of membership to an exclusive country club, keeping everyone else out and flaunting their exclusivity. They ignore most of the verses of the Bible where Jesus speaks charitably towards all, and speaks of not judging, and they only allow their religion to empower their own pre-existing prejudices. If they are closet racists, on some level or another, they too often utilize the church to empower their hatred, rather than their love. They actively foster that part of the religion - which often is filled with like-minded people - in order to develop their hatred, to give it some sort of subtext and institutional legitimacy. And a figure like Trump fits in perfectly with this. Oh, he might not be the "ideal" candidate, as he does not wear religion on his sleeve, and he has engaged in some bad boy activities. He has a foul mouth, he has a wife who has posed for nudie shots, and he himself boasts of the affairs that he has had with women, and how he essentially makes them bend to his will. Also, he has engaged in destroying his competition in business, has hurt people in the process, and yet makes no apologies for it. But none of this bothers these so-called evangelical Christians much, although they cannot stand the secret Muslim in the White House, and view Hillary Clinton as the devil incarnate.

Now, do not get me wrong, or anything. Anyone who knows me, or keeps up even fairly regularly with this blog page, knows that I am far from being a Hillary Clinton supporter. However, much as with evangelical dislikes and even fears towards certain other prominent Democrats who spent some times in the White House - most notably Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama - these people believe what they want to believe about the "other." It does not matter if this happens to coincide with facts or not - and the ease with which facts have been cast aside during this election is yet another matter which alarms me and which likely could and should be a subject worthy of dedicating a blog in and of itself - so long as it is spoken aloud. Trump follows the practices of George W. Bush in this manner, where it hardly matters if what you are saying is a lie or not, because if you repeat it enough times, people will begin to believe it anyway. To them, Carter was not the true evangelical Christian in the 1980 presidential race, but Reagan was (despite being divorced, and not being particularly religious himself). To them, Bill Clinton is not just some guy who likes women a little too much, but he is an outright sex offender and rapist (and never mind that Trump himself is evidently actually going to court over rape allegations). To them, Barack Obama is a Muslim, and was born in Kenya, and not the United States, no matter what anyone says. To them, the United States is swarming with "illegals" (the next racist catch phrase) and Sharia Law has already taken over numerous American cities and the United Nations is always standing by our sacred American borders, ready to invade and impose their will, and Hillary Clinton is actively undermining America's sovereignty and greatness. No matter what the facts reveal, this is what they believe, and they are the true patriots who see this, and who view themselves as the knights in shining armor, serving as Minute Men in the best traditions of the country, nobly defending their nation's borders and interests. Increasingly, Trump seems to be incorporating anti-Semitic arguments into his world view, that this world is being run by elite Jews in high places who are actually running the world and, in the process, destroying all that is good in it. And moreover, they are doing so with great pleasure.

This kind of thing is, of course, nothing new. Such ridiculous beliefs and transparent prejudices have always relied on ignoring the inconvenient facts that run counter to their own beliefs and especially prejudices. But these people are not and will not be bothered by facts, because facts are only important if you pay attention to them. What do facts matter when you make a point of systematically ignoring or distorting them?

Does this make any sense at all? Am I missing something here?

Again, what's the appeal? Are we not yet tired of loud mouths who make claims that they cannot back up?

The thing is, ignoring the facts in this day and age, with all that we have at our fingertips to access the world like never before, is to me, unforgivable. We have more information then ever before, and people in the past would have given anything to have the kind of easy and ready access to what is available to us literally in the palm of our hands in this age of information, in this computer age. That means that ignorance, and bigotry along with it, is an active choice, and it is one that the most active of Trump supporters turn to systematically when they pine for their candidate.

Trump is a ridiculous excuse for a presidential candidate and, frankly, even as a human being. He embodies the very worst in us all, the worst potential excesses come to life. He hurts people to build his wealth, and then flaunts that wealth, boasts about undermining people. He literally screws over people, and then kisses and tells, like some high school brat boasting about his sexual exploits to the adoring, empowering masses. And he in turn empowers them to engage in the same kind of despicable behavior. This guy has stated blatantly racist and sexist things, has engaged in hate speech.

And we are debating whether or not this guy should be our next president? Any real evidence that the country used to be great, but has seen it's status diminished over time, is revealed with those facts right there. Nothing shows our national deterioration more clearly right now than the fact that Trump may actually be elected the next president.

Again, I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton. In fact, I cannot stand her. However, she at least warrants serious discussion based upon a record that she has, and the proposals she put forward. Like them or hate them, that is what she brings to the table. But Donald Trump does not warrant serious discussion, because he still is not a serious candidate, and that is true regardless of how high his approval ratings are, how close the race is getting or, God forbid!, even if he gets elected to the White House. His whole approach is to make a mockery of everything, and that makes people like me wonder just why he chose to run for president to begin with. He personally embodies the very worst potential in us all, and if ever there was rock solid proof that something has gone terribly wrong with the United States of America, that it has lost a certain dignity and greatness, then it is Donald Trump himself. 

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