Here's my latest newspaper column:
So, let me get this straight. Donald Trump now says his ban on Muslims was “just a suggestion.” Then, having eschewed big-donor money, he accepts a hundred million bucks from Sheldon Adelson, “proud” of his support. He’ll eliminate gun-free zones; his private resort in Florida is gun-free. He says climate change is “bulls**t” but wants a permit for a retaining wall at his Florida* golf course to mitigate the rising seas from “climate change.” Renegotiating our loans in order to end the national debt in eight years wasn’t what he really meant when he said exactly that. Calling reporters, for years, faking a persona to extol his wonderfulness (and admitting it!), he now pretends it never happened. Trump lies with each breath, including, evidently, on his taxes. In the same breath as claiming stuff that happened 25 years ago is irrelevant, he accuses Bill Clinton of rape.
And now his signature ideas, deporting millions and building a wall, aren’t really going to happen; they’re merely “virtual.” So what is it, supporters, that attracts you? Is there a position he’s taken, one you considered vote-worthy, which he hasn’t changed? Seriously. Can you name a single one? Maybe it’s his promise of deals. Terrific deals, believe him. Leading to greatness as yet undefined. His deals are great. Other than his casinos, all of which went bankrupt. And his “university.” And steaks. Great steaks. That I can tell you.
Right-wing screamers claim President Obama used the IRS for political purposes, which, as it turns out, he didn’t. Recently Donald Trump threatened, overtly, to use it against Jeff Bezos, owner of the Washington Post, for criticizing him. Not bothered, Trumpists, by threatening our free press? Or is it okay, as long as it’s the “liberal” press? What about a hair-trigger, temperamental, revenge-seeking president as Commander-in-Chief, a guy whose response to any criticism is to get even? Not a worry? How much of this before his supporters to realize they’re being conned by a guy who’ll say anything and believes nothing, not even his own words?
Which brings me to the results of the most recent PPP poll: Republicans (defined as voters for Mitt Romney in 2012) are clueless. Approval of President Obama broke along party lines, of course; but what proves the remarkably successful effects of Foxolimbeckification was their response to questions about the budget deficit and the stock market. By wide margins, Romney voters believed the former has gone up and the latter has gone down under Obama. The opposite is true, of course. Democrats, being reality-based, answered correctly. This is scarily portentous.
It’s one thing to have philosophical differences and policy disagreements. Democracy is predicated on it; but it presupposes the commonality of shared information. How can there be meaningful discussion about anything when one side has no idea of or desire for basic facts? When, as a matter of policy, that party makes a point of disregarding facts and expertise; and not just disregarding: mocking. Snowballs in the Senate. Sarah Palin and Donald Trump in the limelight.
Look, I get it: there are plenty of reasons to disagree with liberalism on lots of things, and Hillary Clinton is far from the perfect candidate. There are “conservative” ways to address climate change, and legitimate differences on where the line is between security and freedom. Given the impossible situation in the Middle East left behind by George Bush, there are other impossible ways to have dealt with it. Same with the economy. But c’mon, people. Donald Trump? Is your frustration so deep, your desire to return the Fifties, when everyone knew their place, so great that a lying, vengeful, bullying, conspiracy-theory promoting, know-nothing producer of empty promises that change by the minute your best answer? A man so in need of attention and so insecure that he brags constantly? Is he the symbol of American greatness that gives you pride? Really?
Vote for Republican representatives if you must. Send them money. (I hope you’d pick ones, assuming there are any, who still believe in civil rights and science.) But take a deep breath and ask yourself: by what measure is Donald Trump the right person for the Oval Office?*Correction: Pieter Breitner, reader and occasional commenter, has pointed out that the golf course for which he applied for the retaining wall is in Ireland, not Florida.