It is difficult to take him seriously. What appeared to start out as a joke has turned into a horror-story version of The Joker. What appeared early on to be just silly is now turning sinister. He is being called a Fascist and likened to the types of leaders that appeared on the world stage in the Depression era.
This, of course, may be overly generous since even the architects of evil that precipitated World War II developed their power around something resembling a political ideology, as warped as it was.
Donald Trump is scary in so many ways, not the least of which is a childish obnoxiousness that begs adult supervision and discipline.
Donald Trump is scary in so many ways, not the least of which is a childish obnoxiousness that begs adult supervision and discipline. But what is probably most diabolical is not that he purposefully plays to the raw passions and emotions of a cynical, frustrated, bigoted, and angry substrata of uninformed miscreants but the fact that in a calculated way he is performing the oldest high-wire election tactic of all time: namely, when you start to fade, revert to the most outrageous behavior that will bring you back into the public focus.
I have little doubt that he is fading, but only the voters will validate that. Polls have become stubbornly unreliable and one can cling to any number of them to substantiate their popularity. Trump is unconventional at a time when conventionality is detested by large segments of the populace. Fear is the prime motivational tool employed by conservative candidates and has been for decades, but instantaneous and sensational coverage of world events highlights the immediacy and relevancy of it to our daily lives like no other time in history.
What we in this country have witnessed and experienced in the last decade and a half, since 9/11 anyway, is a concerted international effort to stoke fears in a society that for most of its history has been protected by oceans as an island of prosperity. If there has been an effort to bring down the can-do optimism of the American experiment, the most successful strategy has been to tap into the latent reactionary tendencies of a society not accustomed to introspection or doubt. By appealing to the basest elements of bigotry and hate and intolerance outside forces have spawned a movement that has found solid footing in an established political system that has evolved over the past two centuries plus.
To accede to the likes of Donald Trump—or Ben Carson, or Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio or any number of conservative politicians either running for President or running our state legislatures or Congress—reflects fear and doubt that have throughout our history been overcome by a unity of spirit and progressive leadership that have transcended both. That there are legions of Americans who have fallen for the snake oil salesmanship that capitalizes upon and thrives upon fear is disturbing but not insurmountable.
Sure we need to face the reality of a world in turmoil and we cannot let apathy or naiveté blind us to the challenges that confront us. But neither must we allow ourselves to abandon the most precious values we hold dear. Those values—emblazoned in our foundational document, the Constitution, and its progressive interpretation over the years—places a premium upon balancing individual liberties and freedoms with a need for a strong national defense. We have faced the difficult challenges of servicing these fundamental tenets of representative democracy in both our darkest hours and our shining hours. The need to strike the appropriate balance has been sorely tested in the inaugural decade and a half of the new millennium but succumbing to fear and cynicism only serves to highlight the hypocrisy our enemies accuse us of.
So for those who despair of the current events that are testing the human condition our strength and resolve to showcase the virtues of tolerance, fairness, freedom, and equal opportunity will deprive those who wish us ill will a recruitment tool that can be used against us. Building walls to keep people, religions, cultures, or new ideas out is xenophobic and is guaranteed to thwart progress.
Suppressing diversity is anathema to a modern society. Casting people out in a land built on the prosperity of immigration is neither patriotic nor helpful and illuminates our shortcomings. We need to make America great, not return to a perceived time or place where we once prospered. In this respect conservative ideology as practiced today is destined to fail and in time the Donald will become merely a footnote in history.