The cure may be worse than the disease
In recent days it has been disclosed that private e-mails sent by Colin Powell, who has served the United States as Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and as Secretary of State, have been hacked, quite possibly by Russians. An embarrassment to him, no doubt, but also an unintended revelation of the terrible divide in the U.S. leading up to the presidential election in November. Among other things, the Powell e-mails revealed that he considers Donald Trump a “national disgrace” and Hilary Clinton “greedy”. He has been harsher with Trump than he has been with Clinton, but never the less it is pretty clear that he does not think either one of them will make a great President.
That is the problem facing the electorate in the United States. They are left with two flawed candidates, one of which, not withstanding the also rans, will become President. It becomes more complicated because Americans are generally fed up with government and the status quo. They are not alone as we have witnessed in Brexit and indeed, in our own Canadian election a year ago. However, in the States, the dysfunctional nature of governance, the lack of trust in those who govern and the perpetual stalemate in any meaningful legislation, has risen to a level where frustration and anger is surpassing common sense. As a result of this, it is now entirely possible that Donald Trump will win the presidential election in November.
Many of those who support Donald Trump are willing to cast a blind eye at Trump’s obvious flaws because they believe that he will shake up and clean up Washington, solve immigration issues, defeat terrorism, destroy ISIS, fix the economy, appoint right-wing judges to the Supreme Court and send Democrats into purgatory for decades to come. After all, that is what Trump is promising to do all by himself! It is a pipe dream of course, but one to which many Americans cling in their quest for change. I know of some folks who believe that Trump’s irrational behaviour on the campaign trail is simply a brilliant election strategy and does not reflect the manner in which he would operate as President. I say, if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck!
As President, Donald Trump may well be able to shatter the status quo in Washington, but the real question is, at what price? Maureen Dowd, a highly respected journalist in the U.S., has said that “Donald Trump’s platform is his ego.” And therein lies the problem. A person who believes solely in themselves, who believes they know more than the Generals, or for that matter anyone else; a person who believes that bullying, character assassination and out right lying is the best way to climb to the top, is truly dangerous.
Donald Trump has made no secret about who he is or what he believes to be appropriate. Let’s look at a very few of the things he has said.
- Very recently Trump has said that Hillary Clinton should disarm her body guards and then “Let’s see what happens”. Earlier in the campaign he suggested that second amendment supporters might be able to prevent Clinton from becoming President. Both remarks could be taken to imply or encourage assassination of an American citizen.
- Having propagated the so called “birther” issue about where Barrack Obama was born, for more than eight years, Trump does a complete turnabout in a single sentence, saying that “President Obama was born in the United States, period.” And then he says that Hillary Clinton started it in the first place. The scary thing is I think he believes he can just change the facts by denying he ever said what he did. A propaganda artist at its best!
- Donald Trump loves to put people down and to mock them, as he did with a reporter living with a disability. He thinks nothing of challenging John McCain’s heroism during the Vietnam war or implying that the Kahn family, who are Muslims and whose son died a hero in the U.S. Military, are disloyal to America. He does not tolerate opinions other than his own. He can’t stand criticism. He cares little about facts and assiduously avoids being held accountable.
- Trump has encouraged Vladimir Putin to hack the Democratic Party’s computers and has praised him as a great leader.
- He also hates the media and I believe would like to be in a position to control it. It seems he likes only those members of the media who unconditionally praise him. Those who question what he says or are critical of his actions he calls “losers in life”. He sees a conspiracy behind every tree.
Call it by any other name, but to me, elements of Trump’s campaign have smacked of racism, fascism and jackboot politics. The New York Times has called him “neurotic.” Robert Gates, a former Secretary of Defense called Donald Trump a “disaster”. Colin Powell called him a “disgrace”. Both of these men are Republicans. Is anyone listening? Certainly there are serious issues related to governance in the United States, but surely it is important to ensure that the cure is not worse than the disease.
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