I have resisted writing anything about Presidential Candidate and TV personality Donald Trump. Why? First, because I expected him to be a “flash in the pan.” Second, because I read his book, “The Art Of The Deal.” In the book he says, “If you want to command the stage, make the most daring demands possible and say the most outrageous things possible — people will pay attention to you.” So, he told us what he was going to do and he is doing it, just like he said he would.
And, he is right. People will pay attention to you if you do outrageous things. In fact, not only people will pay attention to you so will the news media. Candidates have already spent an unbelievable amount of money on this campaign and it isn’t even to the primaries stage yet. Not Donald Trump. Yes, he has spent some money but not much for advertising. The news media is doing his advertising for him. Everywhere he goes reporters follow him and report whatever he says, no matter how ridiculous.
A reporter once told me that if 350 airplanes land safely at Atlanta Hartsfield that is not news. However, if one slides off the end of the runway, that is news. In that sense, Donald Trump is news. He has long since slid off the runway. He has insulted a long list of people including Senators, Congressman, and Presidents as well as national hero Senator John McCain. He has attacked multiple ethnic groups including the Hispanics (criminals and prostitutes) and Muslims (terrorists) and he has advocated violating our Constitution (Use a religious test for entry into the country.).
Worse, when the fact checking organizations evaluate Donald Trump’s statements they find him to be wrong as often as he is right. Organizations such as Snopes, TruthFinder, FactCheck, and PolitiFact believe him to be wrong not just by accident but just to be more outrageous. Either that or the level of ignorance he has collected exceeds all rational thinking.
Worse, any policy related utterance, and there have been very few, has been found to be as outrageous as his various attacks. About our Constitution and about governance in a Democratic Republic he has demonstrated that he doesn’t have a clue.
We are painfully aware that a portion of our population is disenchanted with this current administration. Unfortunately, a portion was disenchanted with the last Republican administration too. I am reminded of a Richard Nixon campaign in the 1960s where Nixon came through a crowd to make a speech. Many of his followers were holding up pro-Nixon signs. One little girl held up a sign that said, “Bring us together.” In that time of college unrest, draft card burnings, and Viet Nam controversy, a portion of our population was disenchanted. The point is, it isn’t new, folks. We have a two party system and those on the outside want to become insiders. They can’t do it by telling us how well everything is going. They have to attack the incumbents and they do it very effectively. Those in office have a track record that can be attacked. Those outside do not so attacking them is much harder. So, everywhere we turn in the news media we are hearing how bad things are. We are always told that things are much worse than they really are.
Here is a plan for the serious voter. Read everything you can get your hands on about the candidates, the issues, and the proposed policies of the candidates. Read magazines and newspapers you don’t usually read. Listen to different TV commentators and different talk shows. Get as many different perspectives as you can. Look beyond the surface to the underlying political philosophy and the motivation in the statements of the candidates. Then you will be ready to make your choice when November of 2016 rolls around.
Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and Scripps Newspapers. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states and currently serves as executive director of a higher-education consulting service. You will find Hopkins’ latest book, “Journey to Gettysburg,” on Amazon.com. Contact him at email@example.com.