Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Mad Dog That Wants to Be President

I am a relative newcomer to the practice of following political developments, and I am quite a late-comer.  I will be celebrating my 64th birthday this month.  

Election years have always been something I dreaded.  They made me ashamed of the way our country chose its leaders – largely by mud-slinging and by the brute force of the dollar.

I am a registered Democrat – largely because I was forced to choose a party, and it seemed the lesser of two evils, but I have never trusted the two-party system.  My early impressions of politics – and many other issues - came from the book, “Black Beauty.”

The son of a cab-driver who owned Beauty came home somewhat battered, and thoroughly angry because some other boys had been heckling his younger sister for wearing a blue frock – blue being the color of a political party.  His father gently scolded him for being drawn into a fracas by hearing his sister called a little “blue” ragamuffin.” 

‘"They called her a little `blue' ragamuffin, father," said Harry, who ran in looking very angry; "but I have given it to them; they won't insult my sister again. I have given them a thrashing they will remember; a set of cowardly, rascally `orange' blackguards."

Jerry kissed the child (the little girl ) and said, "Run in to mother, my pet, and tell her I think you had better stay at home to-day and help her."

Then turning gravely to Harry:

"My boy, I hope you will always defend your sister, and give anybody who insults hera good thrashing -- that is as it should be; but mind, I won't have any election blackguarding on my premises. There are as many `blue' blackguards as there are `orange', and as many white as there are purple, or any other color, and I won't have any of my family mixed up with it. Even women and children are ready to quarrel for the sake of a color, and not one in ten of them knows what it is about."

"Why, father, I thought blue was for Liberty."

"My boy, Liberty does not come from colors, they only show party, and all the liberty you can get out of them is, liberty to get drunk at other people's expense, liberty to ride to the poll in a dirty old cab, liberty to abuse any one that does not wear your color, and to shout yourself hoarse at what you only half-understand -- that's your liberty!"

"Oh, father, you are laughing."

"No, Harry, I am serious, and I am ashamed to see how men go on who ought to know better. An election is a very serious thing; at least it ought to be, and every man ought to vote according to his conscience, and let his neighbor do the same."”

As usual, Anna Sewell’s book finds the heart of an issue.  

Though I never thought I would have much good to say about Mitt Romney, I completely agree with his recent description of Donald Trump.

"Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud," he said at the University of Utah. "His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He's playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat."

Romney added that Trump's "domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president. And his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill." (source - The Huffington Post)

While I personally suspect that for much of the world the US has long since ceased to see America as “a shining city on a hill”, I wholeheartedly agree with the rest of his assessment of Trump.

The wonder of it is how Trump has managed to get as far as he has in this race.

How could this happen?

But it is, or should be, no surprise. Vast numbers of middle-class and the working poor are being crushed by insufficient wages to make their monthly “nut.” Many cannot afford to pay rent, let alone buy a home. The American Dream is steadily turning into the American Nightmare.” Nearly 1.3 million homeless children and teens were enrolled in schools in the 2012-13 school year, an 8 percent increase from the previous school year – and an 85 percent increase since the beginning of the recession. (source - The Christian Science Monitor)
Fear mongering news media like the Fox Network, which seeks to fan the flames of blame and hatred, especially among poorly educated Americans, have caused them to flee to the arms of Trump and his doctrine of hate.  

He speaks their language with the idea that they are victims and he is their hope of salvation.  They are looking for someone – anyone – to give them a hope of a better future and a way off of the grueling treadmill that is their daily existence.  And they are ready to believe his line of bullshit because he skillfully feeds them their own fears, lays the blame on easily identifiable sources, and vows to crush the infidels of color, religion and national origin.  

These are easy distinctions to draw.  They don’t require much thought or intelligence to grasp, and they are liable to turn a whole class of Americans into a loaded weapon and to commence firing that weapon on “foreigners” and “unbelievers” - even those who are their own countrymen, struggling with all their same problems.

This is not a new strategy.  It has been used before, to alienate a people and cause them to demonize their countrymen and plunge the world into war.  It not only foments hate against Jews, Gypsies and others; it specifies blacks, Latinos, immigrants of all kinds, (and just about anyone who is not white, male, heterosexual, and Christian) to be added to the list of those who must be dominated and whose rights must be eviscerated.  

Yes, we’ve seen this face before.  Some of us remember him from their early lives.  Some have only seen him peering from the pages of our history books.  But here he is again, and heaven help our country if he is elected to the presidency.

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