First, let me begin addressing this intentionally incendiary question by extending an apology to Canada and Mexico, and all the other nations of North and South America for implying that the United States owns the trademark to the name America. After all, if Donald Trump becomes President of the United States, that does not make him Prime Minister of Canada. Yet still, I’ll offer only a small apology. Adolph Hitler was never Prime Minister of Poland, or President of France, but his appointment as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 proved nearly fatal to both nations. Similarly, a Donald Trump presidency, for good or ill, will impact the future of the Americas and the entire world.
So, is Donald Trump America’s Adolph Hitler? Of course, he isn’t. He’s just another candidate for President. And a candidate of his ilk has run in every election as long as I can remember, usually disappearing in a flash. They always supply the same thematic undercurrent for their platform. Namely, that our bad thoughts aren’t really bad thoughts at all, they’re good thoughts, it’s just that bad people are telling us so—shame on them!
I find myself stunned, not by Donald Trump, but by the success of his thematic undercurrent. Every time I hear Donald Trump speak I do not hear a future President, I hear the Gordon Ghekko character from the movie Wall Street saying “Greed is good.”
For example, Donald Trump wants to build a great big wall to hinder illegal immigration. And, like many people, I’ve seen the financial hardships wrought on family members who’ve suffered from unfair labor competition. Makes me want to do something to fix the problem. My mind wants to draw a direct line between the porous Mexican border and my family member’s financial hardship. And for a brief moment, a great big wall seems like a good idea. Keep them out!
Yet, what sort of person am I keeping out? Apparently, that great big wall will keep out men who have left their loved ones to walk across the searing hot desert southwest to pick vegetables for a few dollars a day. Has my financially-strapped family member ever picked vegetables for twelve hours a day? Ever walked across a desert for a job? Ever left their loved ones to work all day, sleep on a dirt floor and send their paycheck home to their family. And when I think of it this way, I just feel greedy. I feel like a man in a life raft who’s letting another man drown because I’m just not sure there’s enough room for the two of us. Leaving a man to drown is bad…always has been…always will be, and no amount of political rhetoric will change that.
Donald Trump appeals not to Abraham Lincoln’s “…better angels of our nature,” but instead, to the worst instincts of our selfish id. If we embrace that selfishness, will we recognize ourselves eight years from now? Will we wonder how it all came to be? Will historians point to the 2016 Presidential election and say that it was the turning point, not to a better nation, but to damnation? I hope not. I so do hope…
Stream of Consciousness Quote:
“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”-Edmund Burke