It’s only August 2015. The Presidential Election is over a year away.
And we are in big trouble.
I suppose it’s best to re-visit a few basic facts before I get into this article. It’s necessary for context.
I am 51 years old. I am a single dad. I am the grandson of immigrants on both sides. Three of my four grandparents were born in Europe, two in Italy and one on the boat from the Ukraine. The only one born here was born not long after her family arrived. So I have the love for this country, and the pride in her history that comes from knowing how much she gave to my family.
The promise of freedom. The potential that being free –and only being free- offers. I love this country dearly, and as I get older, I see that this is a trait that a lot of people have lost. They think they love her, but they don’t want what is best for her. Not if it isn’t what they want.
What do I want? I want greatness. Greatness in our nation as an entity and greatness in our people. I want that greatness demonstrated from the top down. I want my president to be great.
Not good. Not better than most. Not clever and charismatic yet lacking depth. I want character. I want someone who doesn’t just love this country for what she offers him, and wants her to survive in order to keep his lifestyle…I want someone who loves her for what she is.
I want someone who feels as I do, that this country is part of my soul and I die just a little each day when she is anything less than she could be and should be.
Being president of the greatest country on earth, means that you represent each and every citizen of that country. It means that your heartbeat is theirs. It means that your words and deeds, every one of your words and deeds, are a shining example of the soul of the nation you lead. That’s what I believe. That’s what I want from a president. That’s why I absolutely despise Barack Obama. Because he so obviously hates this country and he demonstrates his loathing for it in everything he says and does.
And it’s why I cannot support Donald Trump.
I wasn’t in Trump’s camp to begin with, but he was getting my interest with his sound-bite driven statements. It was early in the process. He was saying the things I felt inside. Hearing him make a bombastic statement about border security, or economic policy, or Israel, pumped me up and made me feel rejuvenated. But then nothing else happened.
That’s essentially what a bumper sticker does. Donald Trump is a bumper sticker.
A bumper sticker says something in two lines and it engenders a reaction. You’ll either pull up beside the driver, honking wildly and giving the thumbs-up and flashing a big smile, or you’ll flip him the bird and mouth “#@!% YOU!” as you cut him off. But whatever the topic was that the bumper sticker addressed, that thing didn’t get resolved. The bumper sticker simply said what you feel –or what you hate about people who feel that way- and it got you riled up.
Just like Trump.
Trump speaks in 140 character Tweets. He says a lot of nothing. It’s early, and I was going to allow that seldom do candidates reveal their unique ideas for solving problems this early in the game, because they suddenly become not-so-unique.
So I was watching Trump with a distrustful, jaundiced eye, but I had not yet made up my mind.
Until the debates last week and his unspeakably boorish, narcissistic behavior afterwards.
I admit I didn’t support his candidacy to begin with. My opening paragraph explains why. I want a leader. I want someone who moves me to tears with patriotic pronouncement or with bold ideas.
I want someone I can look up to because he is a better man than I am. I want to look at my president and think to myself, “I’m a good man…but that is a leader!” I want to get tears in my eyes when I think of how he (or she) loves this land and I want someone who has taken the time, and exercised the care to have lived a life worthy of that office. Not just for the last few years but for his entire life.
Trump is not that man. I don’t respect Donald Trump. I don’t respect his accomplishments, because they came at the cost of four bankruptcies and three marriages. I try not to judge people solely on their mistakes. But when there is a pattern, only a fool ignores it. But that alone is not why I dislike him as a presidential candidate.
He is a game show host. You can call “The Apprentice” a reality show or something else, but ultimately it’s a game show. It’s entertaining but I don’t want entertainment.
I want statesmanship.
I want a man who instills fear in our enemies, not because he is a hot-head who spouts off if you cross him, because that can be played against him by a shrewd adversary. I want a man who instills fear because he commands respect. Because he knows the depth of his power and wields it effectively. I want a leader who can dismantle a despot with his mind or his fist, but who knows that the latter is a last resort. I want a President who keeps his commitments. All of them. Especially the most sacred.
I want a leader who embodies the best of America and inspires something even better down the road.
Right now we have a narcissistic, divisive, arrogant, hateful, entitled, pompous, smug, dismissive, vengeful, self-aggrandizing, emperor in the White House.
And we have one trying to take his place.
Donald Trump is Barack Obama.
The only difference is that Obama has yet to hold a job. And maybe a few policies.
Imagine what Trump’s ego could do with Executive Orders. Imagine “I have a cell phone and a pen” in the hands of a man who steamrolls through decisions and leaves rubble behind when his ideas fail and he has to pay the check. You can’t declare bankruptcy in the White House. You can’t get divorced from your responsibility. You can’t look at the Speaker of the House or the Majority leader of the opposing party and say “You’re fired!” with a smirk on your face.
And you shouldn’t take to Twitter and call people names and make menstruation comments when a news anchor / debate moderator gets under your skin.
Nobody owes you respect. You earn that. And if Megyn Kelly doesn’t respect Donald Trump, the man, then maybe he needs to look inside himself and ask why.
I don’t know if Kelly went too far. I do know that nobody else is going to be any easier on Trump, and if this is how he is going to react, he will be out of the race by Christmas. Nobody, not even the most ardent “I will vote for whoever can beat the Democrats” Everyman, will stomach that behavior for very long. It’s funny now (for some) it’s meat to the lions for the moment. But if Trump’s history tells us anything, it tells us that he will not drop this. He will be ranting against Fox and Megyn Kelly on Twitter this time next year, when he gets a mind to.
Ranting on Twitter.
Think about that. The potential future president of the United States, ranting on Twitter.
You’re okay with that? You admire that and look up to that? You’d teach that response to your children the next time someone in school doesn’t pick them for kickball, or makes the football team in their stead?
That’s a leader? That’s a statesman?
Sometimes the reaction is more important than the infraction. I played hockey up to and including college. I coached high school hockey for nine seasons. I told my boys over and over, “The ref will almost never see the cheap shot from the other player. He will see your reaction. You will get the penalty. So play smart, let it go, and make him pay by winning the game.
Donald Trump would spend his entire life in the penalty box. Not only can he not let go of a slight, he needs to…he needs to seek vengeance. He is a narcissist. A narcissist can never abide an offense. He has to get in the last word. He has to revenge his wounded pride. He has to pound you for daring to even look at him crossways. He can never be wrong and he can never accept responsibility. Trump did this all week. Endless Twitter rants and press statements crying foul and proclaiming his superiority and threatening Fox News and claiming the center of the political universe. He was the reason for the big ratings, he was the star, and he is the next anointed one. Don’t you dare question him, challenge him, or dim the glare of the light on him?
Is that Reaganesque? Would Reagan have responded to a debate commentator the way Trump did? Can you imagine Reagan making crude menstruation comments about a female moderator? Can you?
Sometimes the office of the President demands that the man who holds it swallow his pride and keep his mouth shut because it’s best for the country. George W. Bush demonstrated this during the Iraq war. They found those WMD’s. Long before the NYT admitted to it, they found them. But they hadn’t found them all yet and if Bush had come out and said so, every Islamic group in the world would have been combing the Syrian Desert looking for them. So he kept silent and bore the brunt of endless attacks, all of which were far more vicious and far more vile than anything Megyn Kelly said to Donald Trump on Thursday evening. He could have declared how he was right all along. But for the good of the country, he took the beating. Because sometimes that’s what presidents do.
Trump will never be able to do that. Not ever.
I have a daughter. She’s seventeen. How could I ever justify giving my vote to a man who can sink to the lowest common denominator and attack a woman for her womanhood, simply because she got under his skin in a debate. For my daughter’s sake, I won’t eat at a Hardees because they use women in seductive advertising to sell cheeseburgers, you think I’m voting for Trump? The first time Angela Merkel stands up to him, is he going to Tweet about how she “just needs to get some?”
We’ve been in a mess since 2008. We’re overrun by vermin in the White House. I don’t want to solve that problem by electing the best rat. I want an exterminator.
You know who I want? I want this: When I bore my daughter with stories about how great this land was when I was a kid, and when I tell her about what it was like when her great-grandparents got here, and when I tell her how Americans used to think, and behave, and believe, and conduct themselves, I want to point to the man in the White House and say “They were just like him.”
In my opinion…that can never be Donald Trump.