Listen Up! Anger is surpassing common sense in Trump’s popularity – Opinion

Hugh Mackenzie Huntsville Doppler

Hugh Mackenzie
Huntsville Doppler

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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  1. Well written Hugh, unfortunately the only thing that you missed was his narcissistic personality, which even makes it worse!!

  2. Michael Mackenzie on

    Good article Hugh. This is definitely an anger vote. What surprises me most is that Trump support seems to be coming from more than a just the disgruntled blue collar voter class. He is also tapping into the wealthier ( supposedly educated) tier who are blindly concerned about protecting their wealth from liberal/global currents.
    I think you are right that he could win this thing and the consequences will at best create volatility, global embarrassment and some frightening narcissistic rants (hopefully deflated by a frightened upper and lower house). That said, some results may be dire and further strengthen right wing elements across the west.
    My only hope is that if this is what the American people think they want then the next four years may make them realize that good solutions require good people working together in a good system. My sanity requires me to believe that a man who lies, cheats, berates and bullies may be a successful disrupter but will fail as a leader.
    We may just have to hold our breath for four years as they hit the reset button!

  3. There is obviously a need in the American populace for an alternative to what has been provided in the past 20 years. They don’t like the direction their country is going.
    I think the last 10 years has distilled the events which have played out in their society to the sour state in which they presently find their country. The the voter is demanding change. If the Rs were in power just now the wish for change would be just as strong. The Ds happen to be on the hot seat.
    Most alive presently have not known hard times have lived in times of growth and prosperity generally since WW2 until about 15 years ago when the wheels started to fall off. The present population is spoiled and used to a relatively easy life where the economy could be counted on to provie a reliably comfortable life to the average person.
    Globalization has turned many lives on their heads and the expectations of the population have been shattered. The realization that things are not going to be as they were has finally settled in and people are lashing out.
    They are looking for a saviour to take them back to the cozy past.
    Clinton is rightly despised by many as the image of a corrupt status quo.
    Trump fills the need for change and his outrageous style appeals to the rowdy and worried and desperate and fearful. Unfortunately he has chosen the lowest path in his campaign. He could have been just as appealing and successful by treading higher more honourable ground and left himself a simpler way forward should he be successful in the election.
    While the prospect of his standing on that balcony behind the White House and taking the oath of office is truly frightening I do not believe for a minute that he can’t muster the necessaries to do the job, however coarsly, but maybe even at times impressively.
    There are checks and balances which would lay upon his shoulders. It would not be elegant but could well be generally positive.
    Trump isn’t the first to see a wall as an effective block to unwanted movement of people. The Chinese, and the Romans, more recently the Israelis and the British have seen walls as a necessary component in a defensive trategy. Trump may well be correct in wanting to complete what exists on the US southern border. Where it exists it does do a job somewhat effectively. How you wall off the Rio Grande is certainly a good question but where there is a will there is a way. Those who denigrate this as a lunatic idea ignore the fact that Trump is clearly aware of the massive commerce involved in the border and is seeking only to control illegal imigration and not commercial activity. Clearly something has to be done. Even a Canadian Liberal would, if reluctantly, admit that.
    That long term sucess hasn’t attended past wall endeavors isn’t the point. The point is that Trump offers the prospect of a leader who promises action. He appeals to a thirst for short term change and relief for emerging desperation.
    As Hugh said several columns back, there is a definite appeal to a lot of what Trump offers and when one holds one’s nose a bit it is on first blush tempting.
    The choice the Americal voter faces is stark and horrifying.
    Too bad their system is rigged against Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate. If more Americans would examine his platform they would be impressed.

  4. Excellent analysis, Hugh, as usual. However Trump continues to gain votes wherever he goes. Perhaps this anecdote from a US voter might shed some light.
    “You’ve been on vacation for two weeks, you come home, and your basement is infested with raccoons. Hundreds of rabid, messy, mean raccoons have overtaken your basement. You want them gone immediately. You call the city, the county and 4 different exterminators. Nobody can handle the job . . . But then you hear of one guy and this one guy guarantees to get rid of them. So you hire him. You don’t care if the guy smells, you don’t care if he cusses and swears, you don’t care if he’s an alcoholic, you don’t care how many times he’s been married, you don’t care if he voted for Obama, you don’t care if he has plumber’s crack, you simply want those raccoons gone! You want your problem fixed! He’s the guy. He’s the best. Period.”
    How does this relate to Trump? After years of feeling betrayed or worse (rightly or wrongly) by politicians in the USA, a very significant percentage of voters want someone who promises to change things for them. Whether he can or not, whether he is a narcissist, or blowhard, a mean person, or whatever does not matter – all those voters want is “to get rid of the raccoons” and Trump has promised to do it. Mix in a few ideas which do resonate with the voters and he has a very good formula for victory. Of course it does not hurt that his “competition” is equally (if not more) disliked than he is – and besides she is not even promising to TRY and “get rid of the raccoons” but instead will likely invite even more to live in the house!
    The Brexit vote showed that too many people have no idea what they are really voting for in any given election or referendum (how many people admit out loud they supported Mike Harris or Kathleen Wynne?) and are amazed by the result. Don’t count Trump out – people just want the raccoons gone no matter the cost and they just might get their way.

  5. A strong call for change in the bureaucracy of democracy. If Clinton wins, a divided Country. If Trump wins, a destroyed Country.

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