Given the current state of the Republican primaries, the Trump nomination seems inevitable. If the potential consequences of that statement weren’t so serious, the notion is laughable. Putting a person with his character in charge of the most powerful military in the world, the largest nuclear arsenal is beyond comprehension. It is as if the United States has just entered the Twilight Zone.
But, back on point, what are these truths that Trump supposedly posits? What is it that, day after day, he bellows to any who would listen? Let’s examine some of his key positions.
Before I do that, however, I must offer a disclaimer. Trump really does not have any positions. As Gary Kasparov so eloquently wrote, Trump does not talk about policy or positions. And, if he deigns to do so, it is mostly an incoherent spewing of adjectives and adverbs – adjectives describing the mess he believes us to be in and adverbs describing just how well he will do fixing it.
Trump’s most used phrase is, “Make America Great Again.” Indeed, he is adding to his fortune selling cheaply made red hats with this campaign slogan emblazoned on the crown. But, what does it mean? How does he define great? How will he accomplish this do-over, this ‘rebirth’?
The phrase itself, which includes the word “again”, suggests America was great once before. But what is it, or, given that we have apparently lost it, what was the true essence of that greatness? He does not tell us. Frankly, I don’t believe he knows.
But I know what it is. I understand what made nearly 50,000,000 men and women put on the uniform of this great nation and defend what it is that made us great. That something is freedom. Starting in the 15th century, thousands fled their homes to seek freedom, leaving behind friend and family, to escape persecution, whether religious, political, economic or personal. That flight continues to this day, and it is one of the primary elements of America’s greatness that Trump fails to grasp.
He jumps from that phrase into his rant that “we never win anymore; we never win at anything; we don’t win in trade, our borders are a mess; we don’t win in the military!” The implied connection is that he will make America great by wining.
For the sake of argument, let’s take him at his word. But it’s still not readily apparent how he will win. Even more importantly, winning suggests conflict, not necessarily military conflict, just a contest. Keep in mind, people, especially those in power, have considerable choice in which fights to wage and which to ignore.
At one point in the movie, The American President, the president suggests that he will not take action on a bill because he cannot win. An argument ensues between the president and his chief of staff, who replies, “Oh, you only fight the fights you can win? You fight the fights that need fighting!”
The key point here, and one that completely escapes Trump, is that before a President wins anything, he has to decide what or who he is fighting and for what purpose. To make America great, ostensibly by winning, Trump must understand what it is that made us great in the first place. If he fails to do that, if he wants to muzzle the press, silence detractors and close the borders, he risks abandoning the very principles that made us great, in the false hope of making us great again. America is diminished in this event.
Still, he has not told us like it is. We haven’t a clue what he will do or how he will do it. Whatever it is, he assures us that he will do it so well. He ends most of his bravura claims with “amazing” or “huge.”
It’s tempting to believe that a straw man, posing as a strong man, can come in and finally get things done. The seduction of his promise to clean up the mess many Americans, including me, believe we have gotten ourselves into, is hard to resist. But resist we must.
So what has he said with any degree of specificity? During the campaign, he has said that Islam hates America. That comment certainly appeals to a significant plurality of Americans, but is it “telling it like it is?” First, a religion cannot “hate” anything or anyone. Only individual people can do that. Yes, the tenets of a religion can espouse, even preach, hatred. It’s not obvious to me that Islam does that. One thing is certain, if the President of the United States holds that belief, trying to enlist moderate Muslim regimes to assist in defeating Islamic terror will be a challenge.
Consider again the idea that a religion can espouse hatred, that it can incite violence. Isn't Trump claiming the opposite. Despite his exhortations to his followers to take people out on a stretcher, in spite of his promise to pay legal fees for any charged with assault, he claims he has no responsibility for violent behavior. Isn't that inconsistent?
What else has he said? Well, he has said what he thinks of immigrants. First, he believes the Mexican American border is Swiss cheese. He believes those crossing the border are criminals, rapists, murderers and thieves. He believes a wall will stop those criminals from entering.
I’ll tell you what I believe. Like Jeb suggested, most immigrants come to the United States out of love, love for themselves and their family. They come, just as immigrants have for centuries, to flee persecution and to find a better opportunity. It is true that criminals cross the border.
Does anyone really think a wall will stop criminal efforts? It may slow poor immigrant families from crossing our border illegally, but that is all.
He has also outlined his view of immigration. America only should bring in people with demonstrated skills, or money to invest. I don’t know about you, but I know a lot of families who would not be here today under those immigration restrictions.
Trump has also given us a window into his views about women. Frankly, I don’t even want to quote things he has said. I will point out just one incident. Donald appeared on The View some years back. His daughter, Ivanka, was with him. During the show, he commented on her figure, complimenting her. He went on to say that, were she not his daughter, he would date her. I can't even tell you what I think about that comment, or his behavior.
Trump cannot deliver a speech without disparaging something or someone. Is that who we really want as our President? Is that really "telling it like it is" or simply being rude or obnoxious?
His favorite way to disparage people is to say they are failing. But he also likes to call people who irritate him lightweight, dishonest, dumb or dummy, bad, sad, a dope or dopey, weak, a liar, a loser, the worst, boring, incompetent, biased, a disaster, a clown, a disgrace, overrated, stupid, a fraud or not nice. These are among his favorite digs. Contrary to his claim that he doesn't repeat himself, Trump often does so, particularly when insulting his enemies.
What I see under a Trump presidency is an endless string of trade wars leading to a diminished American economy. I see U.S. troops committed to wars because the Donald perceived some slight. I see a closed society, unaccepting of anyone with a different, a non-trump point of view. I see a loss of our freedoms as enumerated in the Bill of Rights. I see a diminished America. We might even win some or all of those fights. What we lose in the process is not worth the trade-off.
Donald likes to boast that he does not drink. I tip my hat to him. Me, I’m off for a few adult beverages as I watch the returns. Should they go badly, a few might become several.