Peters: Shameful State of the Nation
When Donald J. Trump announced that he would be running for president in June, I thought, “Well, this should be amusing.” I figured he’d join the rest of the anti-tax, anti-abortion, anti-regulatory, anti-immigration and other anti efforts in the run to the extreme right. In a presidential field that began with more than a dozen hopefuls, distinguishing one’s self has been paramount. Trump has done just that. Garnering support from conservatives, he has enjoyed a consistent lead over the other GOP candidates. This support is concerning.
While candidates like Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum primarily rage on about Evangelical philosophies opposing abortion and same-sex marriage, Trump has targeted the hearts and minds of voters with rhetoric that plays to tunes of fear and hatred. From promising to build a wall across the Mexican border, to promising to deport Syrian refugees, to calling for an unconstitutional ban on Muslims entering the country and expressing a desire for Muslims to register in a database and carry special identification, Trump has become the standard bearer for right-wing bigotry in American politics. What is terrifying about this is not that Trump is campaigning to sit in the Oval Office, but rather that he is dominating the GOP race with as high as 35 percent of the support from Republican voters.
In contrast with Democratic candidates and voters, Republicans are running on platforms that marginalize immigrants and minorities, blindly propose harsh military force in the Middle East and promote policies that would let banks and big businesses run wild. They have established themselves as the candidates that will defend America against terrorism, immigrants and China, while offering vague or undetailed plans for the economy, national security or replacing the Affordable Health Care Act and no, a wall on the southern border, bombing the hell out of ISIS, and simplifying the tax code are not detailed plans.
Trump is at the forefront of it all. Bold, unapologetic and unyielding, the real estate mogul and reality television star has not only deflected criticism, but has gone on the offensive — even launching ad homenim attacks at his fellow Republicans. Most notably, he tweeted that Carly Fiorina was too ugly to be elected president. While he has received plenty of scorn — particularly from women — for the often crude and off-the-cuff comments he makes, his lead in the polls remains consistent. His position in the polls reflects the voters’ favor, their desires and their preference for a candidate who is not afraid to speak candidly and consistently with rhetoric that advocates for isolationism, brute force and racism. The truth about Trump’s campaign is not simply that he is being honest, but that so many voters hold those views in high enough regard to support him. Reinforcing this interpretation of conservative polls is Senator Ted Cruz, coming in at second place with 19.5 percent. Simply put, we have a large section of the electorate that is scared, angry, ignorant and bigoted — and we should be ashamed.
It appears that the GOP is once again working with candidates that seem unlikely to wih the presidency. In 2012, Mitt Romney was always the clear frontrunner for the nomination. Not because he was a populist or because he used bold language, but because he had a respectable resume as a business candidate.
This time it seems that everyone who gets a chance to talk about any national issues during debates or events seems to either want to start a war, shut the doors or turn America into the Fourth Reich. I’m not a fan of Hillary Clinton’s populist positions, and it does not seem realistic to believe Bernie Sanders, the self-proclaimed socialist senator from Vermont, will win a general election. But at least neither of them are talking about violating the Constitution or closing the door on refugees and Muslims. Not that winning the presidency would make achieving such things easy. We still have a Congress to hold the executive branch in check or at least we hope we do.
American voters have eleven months to take a good look at the candidates and decide who they want in office next January. If their answer is that they want to see a president that shuts the door on migrants and refugees, hates gays and Muslims and thinks that they can muscle the world into submission, then it would seem that we have a dark future ahead of us as a country. If you wake up in the morning and see Trump in the news and think to yourself, “I hope he’s president,” then you have taken every liberty this country offers for granted.