Disgusting and disappointing

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Two weeks ago today, the presidential candidate representing one of America's two major political parties made a not-so-subtle suggestion that supporters of the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment could potentially assassinate his opponent.

The suggestion was met by his audience not with shock, not with boos, but with a smattering of laughter and applause. It was a disgusting moment in American political history, and one that serves as a disappointing microcosm of what our political system has become.

Of course, the candidate who made the remark later said those who condemned it for what it was were obviously mistaken -- that his reference was simply to the potential voting power of the Second Amendment bloc. Also of course, that explanation holds no more merit than much of the other verbal vomit that he spews on the campaign trail. This is not a man of subtleties or oratorial finesse; his supporters like to say he "tells it like it is." The reality is, he tells it like they would like it to be.

And that -- the mob mentality -- is the much more frightening component, the more terrifying revelation of this election season. That a man like Donald Trump can stand at a podium and say the things that he says is, I suppose, not that surprising. He's just one human being, after all, and some human beings are more prone to the depravities of megalomania than others. The fact that millions of Americans support those depraved ideas and suggestions -- not just support, but cheer for them -- that is truly horrific.

Trump is a puffed-up, steroidal version of a stereotypical used-car salesman (with sincere apologies to used-car salesmen). He has built his campaign by appealing to the base instincts of what apparently is a relatively large segment of the American population. His campaign is about fear, ignorance, xenophobia and hatred.

The irony is, many of those who support him actually mean nothing to Trump beyond the power their votes can buy him. Poor white Americans? Go vote for Trump and then watch him slash income taxes for the wealthiest individuals in our country by 19 percent of after-tax income, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center. Yes, his plan includes tax cuts for middle-class earners as well. Specifically, 4.9 percent of after-tax income. And to balance his plan -- to pay for all those cuts -- he would have to make unprecedented cuts in federal spending or increase government borrowing. Either could have profound, negative effects on the U.S. economy. And what group of Americans would be hit hardest by those negative effects? Poor Americans, be they black, white, brown or yellow. That is correct. Despite white America's affinity for Trump's promise to make America great again, despite the popular notion that he will somehow restore white Americans to what many perceive as their rightful place atop the economic food chain, the fact is the only color that really matters to him -- once he has your vote, of course -- is green.

This column could continue ad nauseam, discussing and detailing the infinite reasons why Donald Trump should never be elected president of the United States. But time and space limitations preclude that.

I would, however, like to offer some solace to those who believe as I do that Trump is a danger to America and a symbol of how far our nation has yet to go, and some reality to those who believe instead that he represents our greatest hopes. The truth is, Donald Trump will never, ever be elected to serve as our commander in chief.

We do still have a long way to go, but at least we've come that far.

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Scott Loftis is managing editor for Carroll County Newspapers. His email address is CarrollCountyNews@cox-internet.com.