Vetting Donald Trump
The Republican National Convention has come and gone (thankfully). Donald Trump is now the official Republican nominee for the position of next President of the USA, his trusted running mate, soon to be former Governor Mike Pence of Indiana by his side. The rough and tumble days of the primary campaign behind him, Trump promises to bring his mudslinging talents to unprecedented heights against his main general election contender, Hillary Clinton (pending, of course, her nearly certain nomination at the upcoming Democratic National Convention).
Aside from his acerbic manner and penchant for flinging biting insults at anyone and everything that he perceives as standing between himself and his current goals, Trump has earned his Party’s nomination by gathering a following among disenchanted voters ignored too long by GOP establishment politicians. Stoking populist sentiments by vilifying members of just about every interest group other than white males, Trump has been promising crackdowns on such perceived problems as illegal immigration and faulty international trade deals which have helped to wreck our economy for many working men and women, and which will continue to make matters worse in the future unless we hire him on to “Make America Great Again” as our next President.
Trump’s solutions to various problems he seeks to rectify have been spectacular in scope (building a border wall to keep out illegal immigrants from Mexico – financed, of course, by Mexico and banning Moslem immigrants in order to deal with terrorist threats, to name two) while being extremely light on details. His main rhetorical tool in dealing successfully with an abnormally large field of Republican opponents has been to largely ignore substantive issues while concentrating on his perceptions of their personal shortcomings as individual human beings. Schoolyard taunts seemed to be his specialty, especially when on the stump or in a televised debate. When his opponents tried to strike back at him in kind, he got even more vicious in his attacks against them and their loved-ones. During and after the convention, he has shown no inclination to change either his strategy or his tactics in campaigning against Clinton for the November general election
Whereas the Democratic campaign did contain debate and proposals on substantive issues and means of actually achieving stated goals, Trump seems content to continue with his grandiose rhetoric, labeling “Crooked Hillary” and slamming her as untrustworthy due to numerous pseudo-scandals and investigations of her conduct during her tenure as Secretary of State, before and since. Any mention of allegations made against Trump and/or his business dealings has thus far been met with outrage (against a “Mexican” judge ruling against him in a lawsuit dealing with Trump University fraud allegations, for instance, or the Media when it called him on claims he was donating and raising millions for veterans’ charities).
Perhaps the biggest problem Trump faces overall is his steadfast refusal to account for his own personal finances. Whereas Clinton has provided decades worth of her income tax returns for public scrutiny, Trump gives a categorical response stating that he cannot do so pending IRS audits. He also consistently refuses to discuss accusations of impropriety related to the conduct of business dealings within the vaunted Trump corporate empire. The last business mogul to gain the GOP presidential nod, Mitt Romney in 2012, was also shy about releasing his detailed tax returns, but was prodded into eventually doing so at the urging of, among others, Donald Trump himself.
Trump helped create the Birther conspiracy theory that questioned the very legitimacy of Barack Obama becoming president in the first place. He harangues opponents of all sorts with lacking all the intangible qualities he alone possesses and which uniquely qualify him for the office of President of the United States. They lack “leadership”, “convictions”, the ability to discern when foreign leaders are trying to hoodwink us into unfair deals – be they diplomatic or business-related in nature. Only he can provide us with the leadership and know-how to get the trade deals necessary to fix our economy and provide us with the millions of good jobs lost abroad due to being ripped off by unfair foreign competition. Only he can defeat ISIS and other purveyors of Radical Islamic Terror” with his fierce combativeness and willingness to bomb them back to the stone age while preventing them from infiltrating refugee groups to attack us at home.
Trump hits all the right buttons to earn him support among many understandably frustrated people who find themselves downtrodden after decades of subjugation in an economic and political system that has done more and more to increase economic and social inequality rather than making life better for all. He does so in a manner that blames the wrong people for causing their difficulties – dividing working people on the basis of race, country of origin, religion or some other characteristic and distracting them from the fact that these people are also being exploited to the benefit of the wealthy, the corporations, and the political elites, often to a greater extent than they are themselves. Thus, white supremacist groups, such as the KKK, have tended to gravitate towards Trump and his entourage.
Trump needs to be prevented from continuing to steer the debate in directions he feels comfortable in. He is no better than Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton or anybody else when it comes to personal accountability to the American people when it comes to his personal and corporate financial conduct. A con man and fraud must explain himself, not be permitted to ignore these issues because he’s in the midst of court proceedings or IRS investigation. Clinton certainly has withstood her share of public scrutiny dealing with Benghazi, her email communications, etc. We need to know how these people function under pressure, as well as how they conduct themselves in their face-to-face interactions with other people. We also need to hold them responsible for their personal honesty. Fact-checking Trump’s claims has been a growth industry in the media. It’s also a waste of time when he can’t speak more than a sentence or two without spewing forth some sort of falsehood.
We don’t need a President adept at inventing creatively insulting nicknames for other powerful people or potential rivals. We don’t need a hotheaded chicken hawk willing to threaten international war and the bloodshed of thousands or millions of people in the exercise of military adventurism to “fix” our economy. Trump’s companies have gone bankrupt without negatively impacting his personal pocketbook. How and why has this occurred? Will the same happen if we put him in charge of the government and our military might? Knowing that building his border wall with voluntary contributions from the Mexican government is about as likely as him financing his own presidential campaign, how is he going to make that happen? What good will it do to build it?
His claims to want to punish corporations for moving jobs and operations abroad in order to bring them home to the US again rings hollow when it comes to the fact that many of his own products are manufactured outside of the United States. As for his tax returns, no doubt he does fear the impression of the American public on seeing the information contained in them. He certainly makes seems to be hiding something important when he continues to do so even after his stated objections have been proven moot. Other candidates have public tax information while undergoing audits. He brags about being rich, so proving it won’t hurt him among likely voters – or will it? What further questions would releasing the information raise?
The coming election season should hold some excitement. I hope the nonsensical mudslinging and inane name-calling will not drown out discussion of issues that really directly impact our everyday lives. Concrete policy proposals along with the means by which to economically and effectively implement them are not only desirable but necessary for voters to make educated decisions on how to vote in November. This sort of discussion occurred to a certain degree in the Democratic primary process, though not to the extent necessary. It was almost non-existent in the GOP nominating procedure from the moment Donald Trump announced he was running through the official nominating convention last week.
We need a President and a Congress which will function as intended in the Constitution. We need people there who excel at decision-making that results in actions that improve the lives and livelihoods of the people as a whole, not people who thrive on media manipulation and misrepresentation in order to deflect hopes and dampen expectations for most, cause misery and death for many (both here and abroad) and foster hatred and aggression against “others” rather than peace and prosperity for all. It’s up to us to ask the appropriate questions and up to the candidates to show they deserve the job by answering them respectfully, honestly and fully. Don’t tell me it’s none of my business how you live your life and treat others if you expect me to hire you for this particular job.
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