Don’t drink the sand…

Before I go any further, please take a few minutes to look at the snippet from the 1995 movie, The American President:

In this election of 2016, life imitates art. In this election, we have the human incarnation of the fictional character Bob Rumson, a hyperbolic, mean spirited, conniving megalomaniac whose only ambition and concern is that he be elected President, no matter the harm to our political system.

Donald J. Trump has debased our democratic processes. The heir to the party of Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Reagan performed a hostile takeover of that proud political party, and in so doing callously defamed its legacy. Once a home to reformers, the Republican Party under Trump is now a party of hate.  As one of the two major American political parties, the Republican Party thrived on consensus, inviting divergent views to join in common purpose. Under Trump, this proud party is relegated to one narrow purpose: electing Donald Trump to the presidency.

Once a conservative home, home to a conservative philosophy of limited government and self-reliance, of free markets and strong communities, and of an abiding patriotism in its zeal to engage the world in order to ensure our national security, it is now a home to Trumpism. Trumpism is a “philosophy” of no substance, no consistency, no governing focus but instead is nothing more than the celebration and aggrandizement of its leader, a virtual captive cult of personality.

Who could have guessed that June day of 2015 that the optics of Trump descending down an escalator to make his announcement that that image would be later seen as a metaphor for his campaign.  Trump’s campaign has dragged us all down in a continuing spiral with no bottom in sight. We continue to be sucked into the vortex of his black heart and inexorably pulled into the black hole of his mind. We are all damaged by the actions and antics of this most damaged man.

Trump’s entire campaign is predicated on exploiting the fears of good people. There is no doubt that many of our family, friends, and neighbors are confronted by forces unseen and by a world that appears to be spinning out of control. All of us, no matter who we are, seek answers and explanations for the events that impact our daily lives. We want to know if we’ll have jobs, secured savings and pension plans, will continue to live in safe and secure communities, and leave this place better for our kids. It’s what most of want and we work hard to get it. We play by the rules, pay our taxes, obey the law all in the expectation that those we charge with serving us will do their best to look out for us and act in our interests.

There is no question that we don’t always get the government or leadership that we hope for. Whether at the federal, state or local levels, office holders and government employees fail in their duties. That’s life. All of us, in spite of our best efforts, fall short of our goals or responsibilities. But in a democratic society, the remedy is available and our duty clear. We, the voters, have the ability to replace those who have failed us with those who will reflect our values and aspirations.

In a pluralistic democracy such as ours, there are numerous and divergent values and aspirations. In order that we all progress, we need to blend these values into a workable whole and develop policies and programs that reflect our shared values; for the one thing that keeps us “united” is a recognition and honoring of our shared cultural and political values.

Chief among those values is having respect for those with whom we disagree. This, of all our values, is the one that Trump blatantly disregards. There is no individual or group that he will restrain himself from attacking. Women are targets of his scorn; political opponents who have the temerity to suggest alternatives to Trumpism are liars, crooks, low-energy, and just today, the devil; officeholders are stupid and losers; ethnic groups are rapists, drug dealers, and criminals; immigrants are suspect and millions are to be denied entry to the United States for the sole reason of their religion; and a Gold Star family, Muslims who immigrated from Pakistan and became naturalized citizens, are vilified because they dared question Trump on his immigration policies.

Trump is the ringmaster of a three ringed circus of hate. Never was there heard chants at major party’s nominating convention chants of “lock her up” referring to Trump’s opponent; a chant that has carried over into his “rallies” and one he last week endorsed. Never has a president’s qualification to hold office questioned because of his citizenship status, an attack Trump led for many years. Never has a major party candidate placed our national security in jeopardy by raising the specter of not meeting our NATO obligations to member nations due to that nation’s non-payment of dues, a base mercantile approach to our treaty obligations.

Trump’s ignorance of the world is exceeded by his ignorance of policy, both foreign and domestic. He neither knows nor cares whether Russia has annexed the Ukraine; he glibly argues that Japan should have nuclear weapons, and perhaps South Korea as well; he has a secret plan to defeat ISIS, a reminiscence of Nixon’s secret plan to end the war in Vietnam. He doesn’t know anything about economic policy, trade policy, employment policy or else he’d disclose them to the American people to be read and judged. Instead, we’re asked to trust and believe him.

We would do well to remember the old adage, “trust everyone but cut the cards.” It’s hard to cut the cards when the dealer won’t show the deck.

Each week is some new outrage. Does Trump have a relationship with Vladimir Putin? Either we take his word from over the past three years that he does, or the more recent assertion that he doesn’t. Do we accept that he is a mult-billionaire who can’t show his tax returns because he’s being audited, or do we accept his assertion that there’s nothing unsavory or incriminating in those returns?

Do we accept the notion that he’s the smartest and strongest among us, the only one who is able to lead us, to “make America great again?” Is he the quintessential man, uniquely qualified to be President at this time in history, and without whom we will further descend into the dystopian hell he outlined in his acceptance speech?

Because in the end his swagger and bluster is only designed to stoke greater fear among those whose world is rapidly passing by and who fear change of any kind. Trump promises that which he cannot deliver, a world of fifty years ago when the rules were better defined, change occurred much more slowly, and the American economy was the envy of the world. Bear in mind that America of fifty years ago wasn’t good for everyone; if you were a person of color, a woman, gay, or the wrong religion things weren’t so good. But if you were a white male, coming of age at that time, could you be blamed if you were constantly told that the life you knew was taken away by selfish people for their own gain?

Donald Trump is the most dangerous candidate for the presidency that has ever run in my lifetime, and maybe for all time. Each day brings new outrage, worse than those of the previous day. His bigotry is only exceeded by his self-absorption. He has no loyalty to anyone or anything but himself and his business and brand. His lack of knowledge about anything having to do with any public policy is staggering. Donald Trump is the playground bully that we all have met at some point in our childhood, the kid who has nothing to offer but fear.

Trump runs for the presidency as the star of his own “reality” show, spewing hate and fear in order to establish himself as the strong man whose ascension to power is the last gasp we can take in order to preserve and protect our way of life. That isn’t leadership, that’s demagoguery. History teaches what happens when people like Trump attain power, which afterwards becomes absolute power in order to protect the state. In the 1930’s, Sinclair Lewis wrote a book entitled It Can’t Happen Here, a cautionary tale about a totalitarian regime ruling on the basis of fear and division, promising a return to American values.

To those people, those good people, who support Trump, please understand that he is not a leader, rather he’s a demagogue. If you love your country as I know you do, if you treasure our cultural values as  i know you do, if you care about the future of your families as I know you do, then please do not vote for Donald J. Trump.

Please, don’t drink the sand….

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