Since the Republican base seems to place a great deal of value on “telling it like it is” and not being “politically correct,” let’s make one thing perfectly clear: Donald Trump is a chauvinist pig. A rich one, a popular one, but a chauvinist pig nonetheless.
In his presidential primary campaign, Trump doesn’t debate policy because he doesn’t have any. He just insults people, especially women. He infamously suggested Fox News debate host Megan Kelly was menstruating after she questioned him on his history of sexism, and he actually criticized Hillary Clinton for taking a bathroom break during a Democratic debate. The man is disgusting in so many ways.
I do, however, understand the appeal The Donald has for angry, white middle-class Americans, especially men. He makes virtues of their vices. He blames illegal aliens and Muslims for everything that’s wrong in the country. He promises to defeat terrorists and “Make America Great Again.” He’s a sexist, racist, xenophobic populist plutocrat with a pantload of money. And he doesn’t care what anyone thinks. No wonder losers love him.
Like Gov. Paul LePage, Trump panders to people’s fears and prejudices. It worked for LePage, but at least our unfortunate governor had a conservative agenda beyond his personal ambitions. Trump does not.
The amazing thing about the Trump phenomenon is that the Republican Party is poised to nominate a man for president who is not really a Republican, never was a conservative, isn’t a Christian in any meaningful way, and who has never done any public service, let alone held public office. Shamelessness has apparently become a core Republican principle. Evangelicals for Trump! Sick!
Trump’s qualifications to be president are that he knows how to build casinos, run beauty contests, host reality TV shows, file for bankruptcy, avoid paying taxes, make piles of money and insult people. And that’s it, Mr. & Mrs. GOP.
When was the last time you heard Trump talk about cutting taxes or downsizing government, things that used to matter to Republicans? If he actually made good on his security and defense promises alone, our taxes would go through the roof to pay for the police state and vast global army Trump wants to create. Or do you think Trump will magically get Mexico to pay for everything?
Bottom line: Trump is not qualified in any meaningful way to be the leader of the free world. He is the American Kim Jong-un, a megalomaniac bully with a bad haircut. He admires Vladimir Putin’s leadership style, for heaven’s sake.
So is Trump really the man Americans want deciding issues of war and peace, foreign policy, and the use of nuclear weapons? Maybe he can decide whether to push the nuclear button on a reality TV show called “The Apocalypse.” Or nominate Supreme Court justices on a game show called “Celebrity Justice.”
I have a good buddy who has pretty much thrown up his hands and decided to vote for Trump just so this dysfunctional country will get the leader it deserves – a rich celebrity.
“In a country drowning in ignorance and greed,” he wrote me, “a country where the ruling class gained immense wealth from two wars that slaughtered the sons and daughters of the poor and working class, Donald Trump would be a perfect president. No one represents greed and ignorance and personal gain better than he does.”
I’m not ready to give up quite yet.
The subtexts to Trump’s “populism” are the sexism and racism; his, and that which lies in the dark heart of America. Asked recently to describe Hillary Clinton in one word, Trump chose “evil.” Why? Benghazi? Email secrecy? Nope, I believe it is because she is a woman. Trump is afraid of powerful, capable women, a weakness he shares with a lot of American men.
Trump’s popularity is based largely on voicing the fears of angry white men who see their centuries of privilege slipping away as women come to power and new waves of immigration change the complexion of America. When he says he wants to “Make America Great Again,” what he’s really saying is “Make American White Again.”
But Trump can’t do either.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the only person in the 2016 race actually qualified to be president on Day One is Clinton. And I say this as an early Bernie Sanders supporter. But there’s too much at stake now to stand on principle. Sanders can’t win the general election and he’s a single-issue – economic justice – candidate. It’s time for Democrats, Independents and Republican moderates to unite behind Clinton to avoid the potential huge disaster that is a President Donald Trump.
Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.