I was originally intending to entitle this piece "A Challenge to All Potential Trump Supporters Who Can Read Above a Third-Grade Level." After giving the matter some thought - and an affable chewing out by my wife - I decided that it was more than a bit too snarky and elitist. And so, a change of title, but not of message. Precisely what is the challenge? Before answering, a bit of background: As a longtime political writer, blogger and university lecturer, people are forever seeking to engage me in political discussion; some friendly and civil, some contentious and downright hostile. Some want to know what I think, ask me for a bit of background on someone or give insight into a process or issue; others seemingly have no purpose other than proving - at least to themselves - that I haven't the slightest idea what I'm talking about; that I am nothing but a treasonous drone.
(n.b. When I started drafting this essay, the "Trump/Pence" logo was au currant. Now, less than 24 hours later, it has been modified. Seems there were too many tweets pointing out the unintended same-sex nature of the logo . . .)
Over the course of many months, I have noticed that the lion's share of those supporting - or at least leaning toward - Donald Trump, expend the lion' share of their political angst in endlessly listing the sins and shortcomings of Hillary Clinton; of how totally untrustworthy, mendacious and left-wing she is. Rarely do these folks utter a single positive reason for why they are supporting - or considering supporting - Donald of Orange. Nothing about what he would bring to the White House; nothing positive about his policies, personality, vision or knowledge. It seems that the best - if not only - reason to vote for him is that for all his shortcomings, at least he's not Hillary Clinton. Many - without actually saying it - are suggesting that electing Donald Trump POTUS would shake up a system, country and world, that just doesn't work; something tantamount to a last-gasp addition of a new cast member to a television show that's been falling off the ratings' cliff.
Sorry, but that simply doesn't cut it. This is not The Apprentice'; its a presidential election. And those whose primary - if not sole - reason for supporting Donald Trump is that he is not Hillary Clinton are showing themselves to have an appalling lack of real world knowledge. They spew phrases they cannot parse and repeat gutter innuendoes as if they the God's honest truth. But then again, these are precisely the kind of folks Trump - now Trump/Pence - cater to. After all this is the guy who proudly proclaimed "I love the poorly educated. We're the smartest people, we're the most loyal people." What's he going to do to "Make America Great Again?" How's can the man who manufactures virtually everything with his name on it - including his cockamamie hats - outside the U.S. of A. - say with a straight face that he's the guy who's going to bring back jobs to America? How can anyone who claims he reveres the Constitution not know that it doesn't have an article XII and blithely "disinvite" major news organizations from attending his press conferences because he doesn't like the way they cover him? Are you comfortable with this obnoxious sideshow?
And herein comes the challenge: To express in positive terms precisely why you support Donald Trump for POTUS - without once mentioning Hillary Clinton. Heck, I endorsed Secretary Clinton a couple of weeks ago without once referring to Mr. Trump. It's not that difficult when one is supporting a candidate who actually has a record to run on. Yes, she has had more than her share of bad press - and occasionally for good reason. Then again, anyone who has been in the media cross-hairs for more than 4 decades will have a lot of crapola sticking to them . . .
So what is it about Donald Trump guys?
Is it that he is a billionaire? Do you guys really believe that because he is - or at least claims to be - so terribly, unimaginably ungeshtupt (Yiddish for "overstuffed," meaning incredibly rich) that he must be the best-credentialed candidate when it comes to the economy, creating jobs, issues of war and peace, the challenge of globalization, the environment (including global warming), guns, unifying and healing an increasingly fragmented and injured country, and being the face of the United States of America? Do you really, truly believe this? Or, are you willing to overlook so many of his most glaring shortcomings - like being a narcissistic, tactless bully who blithely offends Hispanics, Blacks, Women, the disabled and Jews - are you willing to overlook all this simply because Well, at least he's not 'Crooked Hillary'? Are you willing to overlook the hard-right platform he's running on; one which favors a strict, traditionalist view of the family and child rearing, bars military women from combat, describes coal as a “clean” energy source and declares pornography a “public health crisis?" This is on top of the typical Republican gobbledygook about lower taxes for the wealthy, a Constitutional amendment to balance the budget, and overturning both the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade. The platform he's been given to run on refuses to condemn anti-gay discrimination, looks to pass a Constitutional amendment which will once again make same-sex marriage impossible and urges federal funding for so-called "reversion therapy" by which gays are talked out of being gay. And by the way, it also encourages the teaching of the Bible in public schools because, the amendment said, a good understanding of its contents is “indispensable for the development of an educated citizenry.” That's OK by me, so long as the Bible is in Hebrew, and contains the classic Hebrew commentaries of Rashi, Maimonides, Nachmanides, Ibn Ezra, David Kimchi and the rest of the gang . . .
Do you have any idea of what his plan is to "utterly destroy" ISIS? Has it ever crossed your mind that he doesn't have the slightest idea about how he's going to accomplish it? Do you really, truly believe him when he says "I know more about ISIS than the generals" . . . this from a man who claims he gets most of his information from television news? Do you really, truly believe he's going to succeed at building a wall down at the Mexican border and then have Mexico pay for it? Not too long ago, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto - who leads one of our strongest allies and trading partners - said in an interview that Trump’s brand of politicking and his “strident expressions” tended to pose “very easy, simple solutions to problems that, of course, are not so easily solved . . . There have been episodes in human history, unfortunately, where these expressions of this strident rhetoric have only led to very ominous situations in the history of humanity. That’s how Mussolini got in, that's how Hitler got in, they took advantage of a situation, a problem perhaps, which humanity was going through at the time, after an economic crisis.”
Are you comfortable with the fact that the man you want to elect POTUS has publicly praised Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un (the last remaining Stalinist dictator on the planet) and the late Saddam Hussein, while claiming that Senator John McCain is no war hero, Senator Elizabeth Warren is a "loser" (how many "losers" become tenured law professors at Harvard and then get themselves elected to the U.S. Senate?) and columnist George Will as being "wrong almost all the time." The list of people, institutions and businesses Trump has condemned is legion. And yet, at the same time, he has shown himself to have just about the thinnest skin of anyone in public life. Does this mean nothing to you? Are you at all concerned that he will sue anyone who disagrees with him at the drop of a hat? (To date, he has been involved in nearly 3,500 lawsuits.)
Then there's the man who would replace him if, God forbid, he became ill, disabled, or simply decided he'd had enough: Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Pence, who during his stint as a conservative radio talk show host liked to refer to himself as "Rush Limbaugh on decaf," is a lot like another Hoosier, former V.P. Dan Quayle. The only real difference is that Pence has a few more brains and a lot less money. Pence is likely the most conservative candidate for Vice President in the history of the nation. As Governor, he signed the “license to discriminate” bill allowing Indiana businesses to deny service to gays, and tried to halt the settlement of Syrian refugees in the state. His position on abortion is so extreme that, as a member of congress, he voted for legislation that would give “personhood” rights to embryos, and defund Planned Parenthood. And by the way, his first choice for POTUS was Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
So go ahead. Make my day. Try taking the challenge. Tell me what's so great about Donald Trump . . . without mentioning the name Hillary Clinton.
Ready . . . set . . . go!
Copyright ©2016 Kurt F. Stone