While this addresses one person in particular, consider this An Open Letter to all Political Candidates
This might be because I’ve gotten older and wiser to the ways of political candidates, this might be because I’m cynical about personal motives or this may be because of the current crop of candidates and slate of politicians who dominate headlines, but this is an open letter that needs writing.
With the leading candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination to the Presidency currently touting everything that’s special about him, I think it’s important for candidates and politicians to remember what serving in public life is all about. It’s not about you. It’s about everyone else. I see candidates in local, state, and national elections try to make elections a judge of their character or popularity, about who they are, not about what solutions they will offer for the people whose votes they seek.
I recall the famous words that John F. Kennedy uttered in his inaugural address: ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. This doesn’t apply to only the citizens whom he addressed, this applies to candidates and politicians as well. People began to see a system that was so rife with corruption that they lost faith in the capacity of the government to function of their behalf, so they began to vote for people who were against everything the government did. Voting for those people reinforced incompetence and then reinforced the perceptions of corruption when it was found out that these people were just as corrupt. This quickly became a self-perpetuating disease. People who were less and less competent at governance began to climb into higher and higher levels of power.
Enter Donald Trump. Six years after the rise of the Tea Party, which was at the time the height of right-wing activity, we have a man who has proposed to build a wall all along the Mexican border, saying that Mexico sends over drug dealers, murderers, rapists, and, oh yeah, sometimes good people; a man who has proposed expelling Muslims out of this country; a man who threatens to sue anyone who dare expose a falsehood he has told; a man who at one time renounced David Duke and then later couldn’t remember who David Duke was after Duke endorsed him for President; a man whose stories about his wealth and prowess at business are exactly that, stories; a man whose vilest and basest attacks on the most truly dispossessed have inflamed the passions of those who only merely feel dispossessed; and finally, a man for whom the truth is nothing but a footnote of a footnote, a trifle that needn’t be bothered with. Everything about Donald Trump is about him. It’s all about the brand, not the substance. And it terrifies me that when you dig into the substance of what he says, it either brings out the worst in people or brings the worst people out.
Donald, this election isn’t about the yuuuge things you’ve done in New York, New Jersey or wherever. It’s about what you are going to do to “Make America Great Again.” Your slogan is exactly that: just a slogan. There’s nothing behind it. You can rally behind “Make X Y Again,” but unless you have a real plan for action that exists in the world as it is and not the fantasy you’ve managed to delude both yourself and your adherents into believing, it means absolutely nothing. Just mere words. And for those of you who are going to vote for Donald Trump come primary election day or the general election, bear that in mind. This election isn’t about him. This election is about us.
Think about it: would you want this man making the decision to launch a nuclear weapon because of a slight, whether real or perceived? Would you want this man going across the world, representing the United States in its worst possible form: the one with so much swagger that it doesn’t care what it destroys, so long as it gets what it wants? Do you want to trust a man who claims to be incredibly successful at business, yet has managed to be, by his daughter’s admission, billions of dollars in debt? What is real about him? I can’t fathom a world where Donald Trump is the President and he doesn’t lead us head first into the first fully-armed nuclear war between nation states.
There’s the old adage that politics isn’t personal. But to Donald, everything is personal. He attacks people critical of him, tries to talk over those who dare disagree with him, and creates a mythology of the reality that surrounds him. The Donald’s is a cult of personality. He commands the incredible loyalty of those who buy into what he says. He attacks those who don’t. What happens when this man becomes President and someone from the press dares investigate him? For every time Republicans have declared that President Obama has demonstrated contempt for the Constitution of this country, Donald Trump has done so at least four times over. He wants to do things by force of will. That’s the terrain of despots, dictators, and tyrants. That is not a feature of the republican democracy that was constructed, flawed though it may be, by the likes of Adams, Jefferson, and Madison.
This is a mistake not worth the consequences. Electing Donald Trump to be President is not a mistake that you can fix with an eraser. Elections have consequences.
For everyone who claims that they respect the Founding Fathers and want to go back to the way it was, I suggest you read the Constitution and understand the context from which it grew and then compare those words that claim to purport liberty; the right to speak freely from one’s conscience; the right to practice (not impose) religion; the right to due process; the right to a speedy trial, the right to not be punished neither cruelly nor unusually; that being necessary to the security of a free state, a well-regulated militia, that the right to bear arms shall not be abridged; that no religious test shall be required ever as a qualification to an office of the public trust of the United States; and that while power is reserved to the states for many circumstances, the increasing interconnectedness of our country’s fabric requires that the commerce clause be invoked by the Congress.
Being a politician, maybe more specifically, being a governing leader, is about more than the self. I don’t believe that Donald Trump sees the Presidency of our nation as anything more than the final step of his self-aggrandizement. He offers no solutions, he offers only the Donald. And surely he may say what he feels – and what he feels seems to change with the wind – but do you, as an employee, as a family member, as a friend, always utter the first syllables that pop into your head? I try not to. Donald neither gives the appearance of trying or caring.
We deserve better than that.