*I wrote this post prior to the second presidential debate last night. It doesn’t take into account Trump’s advocating the jailing of his political opponent, dissembling when asked if he did commit sexual assault, or utter lack of any kind of cogent policy. None of those things improve my opinion of the man anyway.
About a year ago, I wrote a post expressing my dismay over the fact that people were flocking to support Donald Trump as a candidate for President of the United States. In that post I focused primarily on the xenophobia that Trump was stirring up, since it was written shortly after a string of terrorist attacks perpetrated both by supporters of Daesh and American white Christian extremists. Trump was riding the wave of terrorism to promote his own narcissistic agenda, stoking fires that didn’t need his help.
In the intervening year, we’ve had a highly turbulent election season. Trump beat out all of his competition in the primaries by running on an explicitly white nationalist platform. He chose to target one subset of white Americans as his base, systematically alienating every religious and racial minority group he could in the process. We saw him cast aspersions on the integrity of an American federal judge because he’s of Mexican descent; attempt to bully the parents of a Pakistani-American soldier who died heroically in Afghanistan; playact at appealing to Black communities while telling them they were “living in hell” and bringing back rhetoric reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s 1968 campaign that implicitly criminalized Black citizens. We saw the farce that was the Republican National Convention, the interminable refusal to release tax returns just like every other serious candidate for president has done since Nixon, the endless stream of lies that spewed forth so quickly that sorting them out was a task on par with Hercules’ labor to clean out the Augean stables. We saw Trump cheer for Russia’s possible interference in our country’s election proceedings, saw him insinuate to his supporters that an expedient way to stop Hillary Clinton from claiming the presidency would involve armed force, saw him openly discuss using nuclear weapons to strike at our enemies. We saw him routinely insult and demean women who challenged him, claiming they were being emotional, irrational, unstable because of their periods, reducing every woman to her value as a sex object in his eyes.
We saw all this, and, as a nation, we continued to treat Trump like a person worthy of the office of President.
Consider all of that. What was the reason we let this madness go on for so long? Was it purely love of the spectacle, or was there a darker impulse at work? Trump’s base is not large enough for him to win the election. The probability of him attracting undecided voters shrinks daily as we learn more and more about his character as a human being. In the last two weeks alone, we’ve finally been given a glimpse into Trump’s tax records (not because he released them, but because someone in his staff leaked a few pages to the press) which suggest that he’s probably not been paying federal income tax at all for the better part of two decades, and we’ve just in the last couple days been exposed to a recording of him bragging about his ability to sexually assault any woman he likes because of his celebrity. All this comes on the heels of an incredibly poor debate performance where the most ironic moment of the night was when Trump whined impatiently that he has “the best temperament” for the presidency.
There’s strong evidence to believe that Trump’s campaign is finished with a month left before election day. I’m not certain of this, because this has been a volatile campaign, and I don’t know what could happen between now and November 8.
I hope it’s finished.
We’ve nearly elected a demagogue, and we did it knowing full well what he is. If you’ve supported this man, ask yourself why you thought all of his faults were excusable. Did you care so little about the well-being of your fellow Americans? Did their skin color or their religion or their genitals disqualify them from compassion and consideration in your eyes? Was it just a matter of hating Hillary Clinton that much without asking why you distrust her in the first place?
This has been a foul election year. I pray that it ends the way it should: with Trump fully and thoroughly rebuked from his bid for president. It’s the only decent thing.