I am still behind on Calen’s challenges, but since they make me reflect, I am determined to continue writing about them. This one is from July 5th and it has definitely challenged me. In fact, I’ve been thinking about it now for well over a week, trying to figure out just what I want to articulate.
I like to think of myself as an accepting and inclusive person. I try not to judge others or interfere in their decisions about life, but I’ve come to the conclusion that there are some whom I consider “unsavory” and yes, I do look down upon them. This is a hard thing to admit. Unfortunately, my admittance comes from watching this year’s Presidential election play out. It has been a long time since I’ve been involved in politics. I haven’t voted since John Kerry ran for President back in 2004. I became so disillusioned with the whole process after he walked away without a thorough counting of the ballots when he said he wouldn’t during his campaign. I began to see the political world in a whole new light, but I am not here to discuss conspiracies theories.
So what makes 2016 any different? Donald Trump and his ardent followers. I started paying attention while he was still going through the primary process. I listened to some of the things he was saying, his crassness, his ability to say anything and everything regardless of how wrong or inflammatory his words were, and how his crowd of fans reacted with enthusiasm over those words. You see, I am a history buff and I have seen crowds respond this way in other historical venues – Hitler and Mussolini’s rise to power in the 1930s to be exact. I know what it looks like when people are angry and upset by the established government who doesn’t seem to care about the “little guys” out there. I know what can happen when a leader is careless with his words (or crass on purpose). Trump has stirred up the sleeping giants in our society – the White Supremacists, racists, bigots, and misogynists. These people now feel not only justified in their thinking, but they also feel like they have been given a mandate by Trump to openly do or say the points in their horrible credos.
Trump has consistently used violence in his campaign speeches – telling his followers to punch anyone who gets in their way, stating that he wants to “knock out” his critics, and alluding to gun owners to assassinate Hillary Clinton and/or any Supreme Court justices she may appoint if she is President. His apologists continually come behind him to clean up his “missteps” and refer to them as mere jokes. But the only people who are laughing are Trump and his followers. The rest of us see the seriousness of his words. Words that could have long term consequences in the future, especially if he becomes President. On August 24, 1964, John Pastore gave the following words during the keynote speech at the DNC about the Republican nominee, Barry Goldwater:
“What does the Republican candidate choose to have anything mean at any given moment? This world cannot wait until Saturday to learn what he meant when he spoke on Monday. The man in the White House doesn’t have the luxury of a second choice. He has to be right the first time.”
Pastore’s words are just as important this election as they were fifty-two years ago. We don’t have time for Trump or his apologists to clarify what Trump has said on any given day. If he were President, his words would have to be correct the very first time he said them. If he were to say something inflammatory about a foreign country where our ties are not so strong, we could be facing another major war. We could lose allies. We could even lose the backing of important trading allies. But then, Trump doesn’t seem to care about these things. He has stated that if NATO countries haven’t paid their bills, we won’t defend them. He wants to renegotiate all trade deals and impose huge tariffs on imports. He admires Putin, Kim Jong-Un, Hussein, and Gaddafi. He sees them all as being strong leaders and wants to emulate them. I’ve even read that one of his wives said that he kept copies of Hitler’s speeches by his bedside. These are not the values of Americanism. These are fascist values.
So who do I look down upon at this moment in time? A would-be President who embodies fascism and his ardent followers who embrace his ideas.