This column appeared in the Midland Daily News without footnotes on October 2,2016.
David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times, wrote that Donald Trump is an affront to basic standards of honesty, virtue and citizenship.” I will explore in this column why Brooks made such a bold statement.
Words are the building blocks of communication, whether in personal conversation or speeches. Trump’s speeches are filled with words of anger and frustration, echoing what so many people are experiencing today. Instead of raising people up from their anger and frustration however, he is using that to fuel his campaign and his hunger for power.
Patrick Healy and Maggie Haberman reported in the New York Times in December 2015 that Trump often uses words like “kill”, “destroy”, and “fight” even though those he intends to fight are illusive even in his own mind and speech. He talks of building up the military to fight unidentified enemies. He supports the use of nuclear weapons, even in Europe.
Trump said in reference to a protester at a rally, ‘Maybe he should have been roughed up.’” Clearly he was suggesting violence but later denied it.
Trump’s style of speaking is much like a demagogue. He maligns whole groups of people, claims to be the sole savior of the mess we are in and will personally make America great again.
Jennifer Mercieca, an expert in American political discourse at Texas A&M University, said that Trump puts people in categories of losers or winners. For Trump, illegal immigrants, people captured in war, like John McCain, and the disabled are losers. He claims himself and others like him to be winners, based on wealth, success, and intelligence. Trump said in Macon, GA, “When you’re really smart, when you’re really, really smart like I am — it’s true, it’s true, it’s always been true, it’s always been true.” [i] That sentence alone shows his lack of intelligence.
Following closely upon his demagogic use of words is his avoidance of factual evidence, even when confronted with it. He has claimed, for example, that Hillary Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment and is a co-founder of ISIS. [ii] Both statements are absolutely false.
Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin by saying he had greater leadership qualities than President Obama, but then bristled when he was questioned about it. [iii]
David Brooks reported on a study done on facts in 4.6 hours of Trump’s speeches. The study revealed “five dozen untrue statements, or one every five minutes.” [iv]
One of the most amazing attempts to make a lie into a fact was the claim that President Obama was not born in the United States. Trump was the primary advocate of this notion and only recently disavowed it by saying Hillary Clinton started it and he finished it. Clinton had nothing to do with this lie. [v]
Tony Schwartz, the ghost writer for Trump’s book The Art of the Deal, said “More than anyone else I have ever met, Trump has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true.” [vi]
In an interview with Philip Rucker at the Washington Post, [vii] Trump said nothing coherent or substantive in answering any questions. In other words, his abuse of words is indicative of the lack of depth in his thinking.
This lack of focus is borne out in an article by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker, in which she writes about her interview with Tony Schwartz, who spent hundreds of hours with Trump. When Trump announced his candidacy, Schwartz was terrified of the prospect of Trump being president because of “Trump’s personality, which he considered pathologically impulsive and self-centered.”
After meeting with Trump just a few times, Schwartz observed “that it’s impossible to keep him focused on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes”. “Schwartz believes”, Mayer wrote, “ that Trump’s short attention span has left him with “a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance.” [viii]
Among the most ardent supporters of Donald Trump are evangelical Christians, like Dr. James Dobson, founder of Christian based Family Talk, Jerry Falwell, Jr., the president of the Christian based Liberty University, and Robert Jeffress, the influential pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas.
A Christian worldview defends human dignity, welcomes the stranger in our midst, stands for justice, dispenses grace and are agents of reconciliation in a broken world, ACCORDING TO Peter Wehner, who IS a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and has served in the last three Republican administrations,. Trump represents none of these traits.
As I have indicated above, Trump has shown contempt for the vulnerable in our society, bullied people he disagrees with, and his first thoughts in any crisis are if himself. “Power, strength, and success are his values”, Wehner wrote. In contrast Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “blessed are the poor, blessed are the meek, blessed are the merciful, and blessed are the peacemakers.”
Wehner says we need to look to Friedrich Nietzsche, who was repulsed by Christianity and Christ for the source of Trump’s values. Nietzsche wrote that “good is Whatever augments the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself in man. Evil is Whatever springs from weakness. Happiness is the feeling that power increases.” Werner concludes that “Trump embodies a Nietzschean morality rather than a Christian one.”
Clearly, the evidence presented here demonstrates that Donald Trump is not fit to be President of the most powerful nation on earth. If you support Trump, then I hope you have a few reasons to reconsider your support. If you don’t support Trump, then you have more information to bolster your decision. If you are in the middle, then I hope this column will influence you to reject Trump as our President. Those who endorse Trump, like our Congressman John Moolenar, do not deserve our vote either.
[i] Patrick Healy and Maggie Haberman, “95,000 Words, Many of Them Ominous, From Donald Trump’s Tongue”, New York Times, December 6, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/06/us/politics/95000-words-many-of-them-ominous-from-donald-trumps-tongue.html?emc=eta1&_r=0
[ii] Isaac Stanley, “”From Trump’s controversial words, a pattern: Outrage, headlines and then denial”, -Becker and Sean Sullivan August 9, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/from-trumps-controversial-words-a-pattern-outrage-headlines-and-then-denial/2016/08/09/4feadec0-5e71-11e6-8e45-477372e89d78_story.html?wpisrc=nl_politics&wpmm=1
[iii] Robert Costa, “Trump bullish as poll numbers rise, won’t say Obama was born in United States”, September 15, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-defiant-as-polls-rise-wont-say-obama-was-born-in-united-states/2016/09/15/48913162-7b61-11e6-ac8e-cf8e0dd91dc7_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1
[iv] David Brooks, op. cit.
[v] Jenna Johnson , “Trump admits Obama was born in U.S., but falsely blames Clinton for starting rumors.” Washington Post, September 16, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/09/16/trump-admits-obama-was-born-in-u-s-but-falsely-blames-clinton-for-starting-rumors/?wpisrc=nl_evening&wpmm=1
[vi] Jane Mayer, “Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All”, The New Yorker, July 25, 2016. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/07/25/donald-trumps-ghostwriter-tells-all
[vii] Chris Cillizza , “Donald Trump’s Washington Post interview should make Republicans panic”, Washington Post, August 3, 2016.
[viii] Jane Mayer, op.cit.