July 20, 2015

Instead of Demonizing Trump...

Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been in the news again due to comments he made about Sen. John McCain. The comments, characterized as a "a new low in American politics" by Rick Perry, quickly led almost every other Republican candidate to unload on Trump. Despite the fact that former moron Rick Perry is now undeniably brilliant, I cannot agree with him here that this is anything close to a new low. Politics has been a nasty business for some time, and this does not strike as any worse than much of it. Remember McCain's illegitimate Black child? Remember all the nonsense about President Obama's birth certificate and how he's a secret Muslim? Trump's war hero comments were far from the worst we've seen.

The upside of Trump's comments is that the spotlight is back on him where it belongs, and people are once again asking how he can possibly have the appeal he seems to have. I have seen countless people asking variations of the same question: How can anybody like this guy? I've already shared some thoughts on this subject, but I'd like to add one more here.

I am extremely tired of politicians who run for office by pretending to be people they are not and promising all sorts of things they have no intention of even attempting. Most of them are so thoroughly out-of-touch with how the average voter lives that they must surround themselves with advisers who teach them how to act more like us. Frankly, the whole thing is insulting. It is fairly obvious that we are being lied to again and again.

It is sad to see how many voters still get fooled by this charade, only to feel betrayed when their candidate is elected and seems to transform into something else before their eyes. I'm not suggesting I'm somehow immune to this, by the way. As cynical as I am, I can still get sucked in and carried away if I am not careful. I recognize that I must remain vigilant if I am going to overcome these failings.

I may not agree with much that comes out of Trump's mouth, but I have to admit that I find the manner in which he presents himself to be a refreshing change from politics-as-usual. Despite his many flaws, he does not seem to be pretending to be anything other who he is. Yes, who he is is pretty damn objectionable. I'm with you there. And no, it is not at all clear to me that he possesses the requisite ability to be diplomatic that we ought to want from our presidents. But I do find myself respecting his bluntness and his willingness to speak his mind.

I would much rather have someone express their genuinely offensive beliefs directly than have them conceal these beliefs from us while continuing to act on them. This is part of why I find political correctness so objectionable; it does not change minds but merely assures that people will learn to hide their beliefs from who find them offensive. What I like about Trump is that he's doing us the favor of communicating what he really thinks.

Social media has been filled with people howling that Trump should apologize for his comments about McCain. Why? If he said what he believes, why should we seek an apology? If he genuinely believes what he said about McCain, wouldn't an apology be a lie? Why would we demand that he begin lying to us now? I'd rather he continues to say what he really believes. Maybe forthrightness will catch on and our other politicians will start to do the same. And besides, I'd much rather learn about what he believes than what he wants us to believe about him.

I am glad that Trump is running for president even if I am not planning to vote for him in the general election. I think his candidacy is good for us, and I sincerely hope that it makes us take a good hard look at much of what is wrong with our political system. It is far too easy to demonize Trump; the much harder task is to investigate what he reveals about us and to brace ourselves for some difficult truths.