We all knew kids like him. They would say things that were obviously nonsense just to get attention. They would claim the most absurd things and boast about things we knew couldn’t be true. In my neighborhood the kid was named Steve. He once told us that he swallowed 50 gold fish. He then told us that his father was a secret agent for the CIA. We all knew he worked at the car dealership downtown. He also told us he was taken up into a spaceship by aliens one night. None of us believed a word he said. We just walked away. We could always depend on Steve to come back with more over-the-top rants. I ran into Steve years later and it seemed as though he had come down to earth. He wasn’t rich and famous, but he was successful and comfortable. Life’s experiences brought him to reality. But what if his life experience had reinforced all of his bravado and boasting? What if he had been given the support and opportunity others could only dream of to achieve wealth, fame and success? Then his name would be Donald Trump.
No one can deny Trump’s success as a businessman or reality TV star. Of course not many of us are provided with a loan of one million dollars from our father to help us make our way. Nor are many of us afforded the prep school and university education he received. While none of these things guarantees success, they can sure help you get there. He lives big and is proud of it. He flaunts his wealth and tells all who listen that he worked hard to achieve it. Most of us would agree that starting with a million dollars makes it just a tad easier to achieve wealth. If all that Trump was at this moment was a loud and obnoxious rich guy I wouldn’t be concerned. But in fact, he has turned into a loud, divisive, derisive hawker of the most insidious and damaging rhetoric in recent presidential political history. Having sustained his leading position in the Republican Presidential candidate sweepstakes for months now, he is someone who must be taken seriously. That fact has caused great concern in the Republican Party. The “establishment” of the party is dumbfounded by his continued success and gravely concerned that he may win the nomination. He has exceeded the expectations of all prognosticators on both sides. The guy who started out as the loud mouth kid in the neighborhood has turned in to the loud mouth kid in the nation who may become our next President.
However, in order for that kid to be successful he must have an audience. To this end poll after poll shows that he has maintained his considerable audience despite his extreme rhetoric and bully-like presentation. He has become a master at counter-punching all of those who dare to attack him. Truth is not a prerequisite for his comments. Despite the fact that many of his remarks and accusations have been proven to be false and outlandish his supporters stick with him just as flies stick to flypaper. In his most recent comments he stated that he could see thousands of Muslims on TV cheering in Jersey City as the Twin Towers collapased. He said that it was ok to rough-up a protester from “Black Lives Matter”at one of his rallies . He said that we should bring back waterboarding. His attitudes towards immigration and refugees are hateful and simply wrong. He laughs at the need for “political correctness”, making the most infuriating comments to show his disregard for it. He said that he wants to create a database to monitor the movements of Muslims in our country. He said that he can predict terrorism, he can feel it. His solution for all problems seems to be proper management and overwhelming power. It is clear that he is speaking to the lowest common denominator with words that are simplistic enough and stark enough for them to understand.
What the Republicans will do with their “Trump Problem” is their problem. It only becomes our problem if we allow this boisterous bully of the simpleton playground to become our President.