"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

We have allowed Donald Trump to get too far

I swear that the following is true: Back when Donald Trump was coming at us with his "birtherism," I had a fantasy about how he might be confronted and discredited. I imagined David Gregory doing this. Gregory was host of "Meet the Press." Trump had said with such bluster that he sent investigators to Hawaii and "it was unbelievable" what they were finding. It was unbelievable because there was never any follow-up or report from him. It was racist-inspired bluster. And yet the important people in the media walked so delicately around this. They gave Trump space to shock us with his incisive talk, talk that was allowed to just float out there.
So I had this fantasy of how David Gregory of Meet the Press might confront Trump. Suddenly, as if Gregory just gave up being courteous, he'd look at the man of bluster and say "You are a racist and you reflect the worst of America." It would have been a turning point moment. It might have shaken us from the detached state we were in. We couldn't see the forest for the trees. We were unable to use our tools of analysis to see what was obviously going on.
Maybe if the media had recognized that Trump was a potential major party candidate, the confrontation with him would have emerged. He might have been set on his heels. But the media seemed fazed, deciding to be rather indifferent and maybe even deferential.
My generation was browbeaten about not being racist in the 1970s. We got the message and even got a little weary with the intensity of the message. The tea party and then Trump-ism came along to glorify anti-intellectualism. Until now I thought maybe our society could stay under control, rendering Trump-ism as rather a sideshow. But after yet another demonstration of his media manipulation Wednesday night (8/31) in his supposed immigration clarity speech, I'm starting to lose sleep. We should have known that Trump's Wednesday behavior was not going to bring clarity as promised.
Aren't we all on to this guy now? His trip to Mexico where he stood at a podium as if he truly was a high-ranking public official, merely set up his prime-time speech. And, his prime-time speech was nothing more than a typical screed in front of his usual supporters. He suckered the three major cable TV news networks into broadcasting it live. It was yet another Trump rally with the recognizable spots. He used much of it to attack his opponent Hillary Clinton. Obviously he massaged the facts or even crossed the line into misrepresentation.
Up until now we have rationalized about Trump: He's a celebrity who is accustomed to using the media, in the past for entertainment purposes. We figured maybe he was just having some fun with his foray into politics. It seemed impossible to envision him emerging with his major party nomination.
But who else could have gotten the nomination? It seemed impossible to envision any of the other GOP candidates getting it. They all seemed too extreme or silly. So we end up with Trump who probably won because he's a performance artist who uses politics as his canvas. He has defied all predictions to date. It is definitely possible he could get elected. And then what?
I remember Newt Gingrich being asked if he'd send Federal marshals to arrest judges. "If they don't follow the Constitution," I remember him saying. Perhaps this statement should have gotten more attention than it did. But I don't think we'd need to be truly afraid of Newt Gingrich. He's implanted in the Beltway culture and would never do anything that drastic. I figured it was just some inflamed talk. With Trump I'm genuinely concerned.
I fear this scenario: various judges stand in the way of some drastic things the impetuous Trump might want to do. What if he does in fact direct Federal marshals to arrest judges? And what if, in the wake of that, we learn that certain judges have mysteriously disappeared? This is the type of thing that happened as Hitler began his rise: people began disappearing. Fear then gripped everyone. The dictatorship slid down that slippery slope.
I can imagine Trump dispensing the most intense and disrespectful rhetoric about anyone who stands in his way. Our government in Washington D.C. was designed with lots of checks and balances, and it was designed to work slowly so that a majority faction can't just ram its designs down everyone's throats. Mitt Romney talked about how government needs to be more efficient. Oh, we all like to sing the praises of efficiency, right? But government has to be more measured. What if that quality begins slipping away? What if it loses its basic and time-tested qualities because of a bully type of leader, a true potential Hitler?
Bob Shrum talks about an "exogenous event" that could catapult Trump into the presidency. I'm guessing he's speculating about a major stock market crash or correction, something causing at least a semi-panic. A despot might seem attractive in the eyes of many. Such is what happened in 1930s Germany. Of course it sounds drastic. But there is precedent.
If Trump gets elected and surrounds himself with thugs, who knows what could happen? People didn't protest in Germany because they knew they'd be killed. The Nazis developed into a death cult that gave us the darkest chapter in the history of the world. Think of the price paid to finally get it eradicated.
The U.S. has had a long and blessed history. But history is full of examples of how the mighty can fall.
What if Trump directs the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons? Anyone who balks at carrying out the order will probably be dispatched like those judges I alluded to. What if the U.S. develops an ominous image in the eyes of the rest of the world? The fundamental gentleness of the Obama administration would be nothing but nostalgia that we would pine for. We would miss that very gentle black man who led us through eight years of relative peace and even prosperity, given how we were digging out of the hole of the 2008 financial crisis.
The George W. Bush administration called for a massive bailout of financial institutions, despite how his Republican Party has always railed against government interference in things. But hey, the top Republicans were in a wink-wink relationship with those Wall Street biggies, right? If government has to virtually bail out the private sector, maybe it's a sign the private sector isn't working. Wouldn't that be a natural conclusion? I'm sick of dealing with the private sector and all its deceiving machinations. I'm sick of private insurance companies. Aren't you?
We have allowed Donald Trump to get in a position he never deserved. The media were complicit. The media could have called a spade a spade. Or, called a racist a racist. If only David Gregory could have given us that. At first we'd be shocked. There would be cries from the likes of Fox News for Gregory's head, and for a time he might have pariah-like status. But in the end, he might have woken all of us up.
Gregory has since departed from "Meet the Press." Chuck Todd is host now.
It's time for the cable news channels to throw the Trump surrogates off the air. It's time to get a breath of fresh air of honesty and objectivity. But it might be too late. Let's say a prayer for all of us.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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