Tuesday, March 15, 2016
With the crude, crass, vacuousness of the Republican debates now behind us, it is Donald Trump's rallies that have become the focus of his campaign. Empty catch phrases, sometimes meaningless, rambling non sequiturs are met with loud applause and chants. These displays, however, have very little traction.
The media has now turned its attention to Trump's gleeful cheerleading of violence at his rallies: his offering to pay legal fees for those who might be arrested for using violence against protestors; his saying from the podium about a protestor that he'd like to "punch him in the face"; his encouraging the crowd to "knock the crap" out of protestors. These are simply escalations of his mocking of women, mocking of his Republican opponents, mocking of Democrats and President Obama, and his mocking, early in the campaign, of a handicapped reporter. A recent graphic showed a picture of the crippled reporter juxtaposed with a picture of Trump imitating him. The text asked, "Is this 'Making America Great Again'?" Here is my response.
It's called "playing to your audience." Remember, they laughed and cheered when he did this. Trump didn't make these people—he just empowered them to be as ugly as they really are and then encouraged them to compete to one-up each other.
We are who we have allowed ourselves to become, and we have allowed the worst among us to drive our national narrative for the last thirty years. Selfishness, greed, self indulgence, ugliness, coarseness, baseness, violence: In the hands of our consolidated corporate media they have come to redefine our national character. From Jerry Springer to Seinfeld (the show, not the comedian), from waffle and ice cream commercials to hotel commercials, these traits are not ridiculed or vilified, like they generally have been in our own past; no, they are championed as the means to success.
So often it goes under the guise of "values"—traditional values, family values, conservative values, religious freedom, PATRIOTISM. The tragic irony is that most of us have stood by while our language, our values, and our country were co-opted by liars, swindlers, cheats and thieves whose ironic double-speak has led to unfathomable hypocrisy, cruelty, greed and violence in both domestic and foreign affairs. Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Kasich, Ryan, McConnell, Palin, Bachmann, Gohmert and the hundreds of other little wannabe conservative extremists are the result of our own national apathy, ignorance, and complacency.
We need to WAKE UP, and just possibly, the vile and repugnant Trump campaign will be our wake up call although the ugliness of the similarly themed McCain/Palin and Romney/Ryan campaigns were not. More important than merely waking up, however, we need to fight this pernicious moral cancer and restore honor, integrity and a true sense of freedom and justice for all. That just might "make America great again."