Every four years we have an election for the office of President of the United States. For over 150 years we have had one Republican, one Democrat and always someone from other smaller parties. Some of those from smaller parties made people extremely uneasy because their world view seemed so skewed from the norm. But we never feared the American Communist Party or the American Fascist Party would be able to win even a single state let alone the presidency itself. This year’s election cycle, however, has changed all that with the rise of Donald Trump.
That Trump’s ego is so large is of no surprise to anyone. But he has shown us sides of himself which should scare all Americans. He is absolutely a misogynist, xenophobic and a racist. We can live with his arrogance but his blatant lack of fairness and decency is so totally lacking it is almost incomprehensible how he is leading the Republican party in delegates and is likely to get the Republican nomination in spite of the best efforts of the Republican National Committee to derail him.
But this brings into focus a much larger and more ominous question, what does this say about the millions upon millions of Americans who have voted for him thus far? It is impossible they have missed those parts of Trump’s campaign that most of us find offensive. We have always thought of ourselves as Americans as being ultimately fair in all things. But Trump’s campaign has moved that into doubt.
What’s next? Next I think will be the Republican leadership running a candidate, likely Kasich of Ohio. It will split the conservative ticket and likely guarantee the Democrats a November victory. Why would they do this? To maintain as much of a good image as is possible. And to maintain control of Congress. Were Trump to be elected, he would likely so polarize Americans that moderate Republicans would likely migrate towards Democrat politicians.
But American urgently needs to do a gut check in the form of a personal inventory. Just how racist are we? And are we so xenophobic that the words at the base of the Statue of Liberty just that, words?
Although Trump has brought out the worst in us, I still believe that the vast majority of Americans are better than he is, that they are good and decent people who are neither racist nor xenophobic. While Americans may struggle to understand Islam, most bear it no ill will towards those of that faith and certainly do not want to exclude them from entering the U.S. I think it highly unlikely that Trump can be elected but when this election is over, Americans have their work cut out for them.
In our Declaration of Independence, it is stated in very exacting terms what our new country cannot tolerate and what we have to expect of ourselves. If we are to continue to be the leader of the free world, then we have to clarify our intentions towards that world. We must redouble our efforts in the areas of human rights, basic human needs, and fairness. We must make positions such as those expressed by Donald Trump to be unacceptable under any circumstance. We must hold ourselves to the highest of standards, set the bar extremely high, and we must make it more than just a little bit uncomfortable for those who would do otherwise.
America is greater and better than Donald Trump. Every few generations his ilk shows its ugly face and America has found a way to overcome them. I suspect such will be the case this time as well.