It’s always a surreal experience watching Donald Trump say almost anything. Not that much of what comes out makes any sense beyond braggadocio and bluster, but watching him talk, watching him move creates a particular sense of unease in me. Any political candidate has to pare down their message to digestible talking points, whether this is the fault of the media or of an ADD riddled public I won’t go into now, but at least there are some bellwether guiding principles beneath the clips. Trump defies this tradition in the absolute vapidity of his rhetoric.
Simply put Trump is terrifying to watch, his legion of angry followers even more so. Even at the level of Sanders, whom I support, there is a certain amount of pandering in his soaring rhetoric and unrealistic promises. This is unfortunately necessary as we have to some extent always valued condensed ideas over screeds. We are fascinated over manifestos but barely take the time to read them, we know the names but haven’t read the works.
We are so easily misled, often by people who have been misled themselves or worse who know that they are intentionally bending Scripture, Marx, Hitler, Smith, to suit their own purposes. The problem is that we have become too intellectually lazy to even think about fact-checking anyone, too dim-witted to go where we are uncomfortable, to stupid to really care about anoyone but ourselves and our own unchecked assumptions.
Unfortunately, this is what we deserve. Trump, Clinton, Cruz, Rubio, playing the children around a schoolyard picnic table hurling insults at each other and the American people while Kasich and Sanders try to rise above the fray. Neither is perfect, but they are the adults in a room of increasingly agitated and angry children. Kasich is still too far right for my tastes and Sanders is to old and studious to stand against the poop flinging zoo that is congress, but either is far better than the assortment of alternatives above.
Trump continues to exemplify pretty much everything wrong with America currently. Trump proves the founders original eligible voter criteria right as his minions may be white, but far too few are truly educated. Jefferson was fluent in several languages, intellectually curious and doubtfully would have been as dismayed by having to press “1” for English as many of the people who revere him are. The same can be said for Adams, Franklin and Madison. What a shame, what a terrible travesty that the people so often quoted and revered by scholars and statesmen alike are so cruelly excised from the pantheon of those we try to emulate.
We are more than willing to blindly quote the 1st, 2nd or 5th amendments to the constitution for our political purposes, but reject the responsibility to live up to the exemplary lives of the people who wrote them. We rattle off defenses against people attacking us based on the constitution but even those of us who know what the text says can barely place ourselves in the minds of those who conjured the words. We champion “rights” with no thought to “responsibilities.”
We have become exactly what the founders feared. We have become the uneducated rabble that their restrictive voting protocols tried to stave off. Yes there was inherent in them racism, classism and sexism, but at their root was the very real and now fulfilled fear that we would be led by a consortium of self-interested ignorant idiots. When we expanded voting rights to all we neglected to expand education of all, and that, in the guise of a Donald Trump (or if not him, the inevitable NEXT him) will be our downfall.
Great empires always seem to collapse inward. Ours is no different, and in all likelihood, next to go.