Sunday, March 13, 2016

Is this the American ‘Arab Spring’?

Trump supporters appearing to raise their hands in a Nazi-like salute
No, he’s not Hitler. But he is scary. Not so much because of what he says. But because of the way his supporters support him. A support that seems to be growing!

Donald Trump can do no wrong. Awhile ago he said that if he shot and killed somebody in the middle of Times Square, people would still vote for him.  I think he’s right. The more outrageous he gets, the stronger his support seem to get.

This weekend Trump had to cancel an appearance at The University of Illinois - Chicago Circle Campus. Because anti Trump protesters turned violent even before he showed up. The opposition to this guy is just as fierce as his support is. This followed a Trump  event where his supporters got violent with protesters. Which many blame on Trump’s rhetoric urging people to get violent and that he would pay their legal bills!

I mean… REALLY?! Is this the kind of man we want to be the leader of the free world?! I have never seen anything like it in my lifetime. Trump has managed to bring out the worst in all of us.

The media has been relentless in criticizing him. They have correctly pointed out what to me is obvious. The man is a vulgar self promoter that has incited violence among his supporters and inspired violence against him by his detractors. He is a man that will say anything to get elected.

When challenged does he not back off. He doubles down. He refuses to take any responsibility for the violence that took place at his rallies responsibility.

In what has to be the ultimate analogy to Hitler, Trump asked people at one of his recent rallies to raise their hands and pledge to vote for him in a primary regardless of any possible impediment. But instead of raising their hands they way would in a court, they raised it in what looked like a Nazi-like salute.

Was this a ‘Heil Trump’?! Absolutely not. I am not accusing anyone of Nazi-like feelings. Not Trump and not his supporters. But one cannot ignore the irony of an image like that in light of the kind of racist-like rhetoric from Trump that one might hear from a racist dictator.

How in heaven’s name can anyone support this guy after all he has been saying? His rhetoric seems to get worse with each passing day! Maybe the answer is contained in my question. The hand of God is guiding this.

But there are more mundane explanations. There is a lot of anger by the typical middle class American voter. Anger about the increasing divide between the rich and the poor. The middle class is shrinking as incomes decrease while the rich keep getting richer and living the kind of ‘good life’ that they can only dream about – with the possibility of achieving it decreasing year after year while politicians in Washington ‘fiddle’.

Bernie Sanders is the most likable candidate. How can you not like his attack on income inequality and the shrinking middle class? It’s just too bad his socialist ideas aren’t realistic, un-American , and ultimately counter-productive. The last thing we need to do is turn the United States into another Europe. Which is what he is selling.

What the people supporting Trump are saying is the same thing the people supporting Sanders are saying: Enough! They want someone that says what is on his mind regardless of the fallout. They want that person to say to congress what he is saying on the campaign trail.

People are also tired of the political correctness that disallows saying anything negative about Islam. It’s not that they want to overturn the first amendment. But a lot of people are afraid of the kind of terrorism that stems from that faith. They appreciate Trump’s candor on that subject instead of the usually politically correct response about religious freedom.

It’s not that Americans want to deny refuges from countries at war entry onto this country. It’s that they don’t want themselves to get shot in a mass murder by someone from a religious group that in our day has a proven record of doing so. People like hearing him say that we should treat terrorists that behead our citizens in kind – instead of saying that water-boarding is torture.

Trump taps into this kind of thinking. People like what they are hearing from him – and not hearing from other candidates. That’s why he is getting the kind of support he is. The media coverage – although mostly negative – loves covering this guy because this is what gets people to pay attention to them. And yet the more they condemn Trump, the more support he gets. They are going to support the guy whose thinking reflects theirs.

What about all the anti Trump ads by political pacs? Waste of time. They will only encourage more support. Trump has inspired people who never vote to come out and support him. The numbers voting in primaries is unprecedented.

Just to be clear. I don’t think Trump’s supporters are evil or stupid. Because that would make half the country evil or stupid. I refuse to believe that. They are just rebelling against the system. This may be our ‘Arab Spring’!

I am appalled that this guy is very likely going to get the Republican nomination to be the President. But it seems likely now.

What about the general election? I no longer believe that Hillary Clinton is the inevitable winner in a contest with Trump. The momentum is on Trump’s side. And his support is increasing. Clinton, in the meantime has her hands full with Sanders, having lost Michigan to him in a major upset. There is no doubt that she will get the nomination. Her lead in the delegate count is likely insurmountable. But in a general election, all bets are off.  Sanders has shown her to have weaknesses. Her negatives are probably just as high as Trump’s.

I have said that in a contest between Trump and Clinton, I would support Clinton. But she is a very unappealing candidate for me. The more I see her and hear her speak, the less I like her. Her authoritarian angry tone is almost as scary as Trump’s ugly rhetoric. That tone combined with her position on social issues will move the country even further away from the values I hold dear. I may very well sit this one out (for the first time in my voting life).

How can I sit-back and not vote against a possible ‘President Trump’? Because the Trump we see is not the Trump we will get. He is not a racist. He is not anti Israel. He is not a misogynist. He is not anti immigrant. Despite his current image – his record shows that he is basically a fair minded man who knows how to get things done. 

There is no negative record of him in any of those contexts prior to his entry into the Republican Presidential primary. What we see now is a man who knows better than anyone else how to get publicity. He does what it takes to get it - by getting the media to focus on him. He knows that publicity – good or bad – is publicity. And ‘as long as they spell his name right’ – he’ll take it.

I do not believe the country will fall apart under either candidate. I certainly hope not. But I cannot stomach Trump or Clinton – and I doubt I will be voting for either of them.