In a recent interview with Carl Thornton Jr. on local radio station WTHB (1550 AM), he and I discussed that Donald Trump has not been given a fair chance in the media, or by his fellow conservatives and/or Republicans. Certainly liberals, progressives and Democrats haven’t either, as well as the foreign media.
I expressed concern that people were too caught up in how he was saying what he was saying, instead of concerning themselves with the substance of the issues. As a firm believer in the right to be politically incorrect, I was ashamed that even academics – who ought to see all opinions as being acceptable to free speech – were focusing on form instead of content.
IN THE FIRST Republican primary debate for 2016 presidential candidates, held Thursday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich issued a similar comment. He said that Trump sat atop all polls because what Trump said resonated with the people, and that the issues he was pounding needed to be discussed.
This is true. Trump brings to the forefront important issues – issues of dire importance to our country, and our national security, such as border control and immigration laws.
But after watching the debate, it was certain that Trump is not presidential; is making a mockery of the presidential system; has no class; and has no respect for other people. And although I believe unmitigatedly in free speech, even I thought his comments, brashness, demeanor, tone and lack of respect – especially toward women – went way too far for any person, especially one seeking to become the next president of the United States.
First, why were the other candidates so polite, for the most part, to Trump? It is because of the opening question and Trump’s refusal to state that he would not consider running an independent campaign.
If he chooses such a spectacle, he will take a small but significant chunk of the conservative, Republican and independent vote with him, inevitably ensuring a Democratic victory. Thus, it is better to play nicely with The Donald to assuage his feelings when he loses the primary, to discourage an independent run.
Republicans must be careful how they handle Trump because of this scenario. But enough is enough. He is an aggressive abuser of “the other,” and is too quick to dehumanize his opposition.
CASE IN POINT: When Megyn Kelly asked Trump to explain is unabashed remarks against women, he not only doubled-down and defended the indefensible, but he even attacked Kelly at one point, seeming to issue a threat to her to watch for a forthcoming attack.
Free speech is one thing; clearly misogynistic hate speech is a totally different spectacle, and should not be tolerated, especially from a presidential candidate. The president is the national symbol of the country; with his continued hate-filled speech, he has demonstrated that he cannot properly represent who we are, nor who we want to become as a country. He came off as a hatemonger
and a warmonger, and acknowledged that money can buy politicians.
But if that is true, why did he not assure us he could not be bought by Big Business? He acknowledged he gives to everyone who asks for political donations, and thus demonstrated that all he cares for is power and influence, and he does not stick to his core principles – principles that he failed to outline.
He also failed to mention any practical policies that would fix our broken system. For these reasons, we should stop taking him seriously, and for those of us who like giving everyone a shot, we should realize he had his fair chance – and blew it.
Something good can be taken from the debates, however. It is the great diversity the Republicans finally seem to be expressing. It is not as if they have not been a diverse group before, but they are now trying to relay this message better through public relations and media campaigns, and with the vast array of candidates running. They span the demographic spectrum and include those typically underrepresented in politics. This bodes well not just for Republicans, but for American politics and the people more generally.
REPUBLICANS ALSO should be excited about the future prospects of Carly Fiorina and Dr. Ben Carson. In fact, based on the debates, if those two comprised the presidential ticket, in either order – well, I might have to publicly declare my support (something I have never done).
The concern is that this assessment is based on one night only, and it is a long, lonely road ahead. And we have to wait two months before we can assess the Democratic candidates.
(The writer is an assistant political science professor at Georgia Regents University. You can follow him on Twitter – @polscountrydoc.)