Donald Trump’s railing against a federal judge over his ethnic background reveals yet another glimpse of how a President Trump would behave in office— and it’s frightening. Rather than apologizing for what almost everyone recognized as a destructive and racist comment, Trump doubled down, suggesting Muslims and even women might well be biased as judges, because of their religion or gender.
Apparently white males are the only ones who can remain impartial in Trump’s opinion, suggesting a worldview so antiquated it’s almost disorienting.
Even some Republican leaders felt forced to object to the casual racism or bias inherent in Donald Trump’s comments about Judge Gonzalo Curiel, and others, and publicly denounced their presumptive nominee. But that still hasn’t stopped many of the same leaders from holding their noses and voicing their support for the megalomaniacal real estate developer.
And why not? Trump is the culmination of years of Republican rhetoric that engaged in half-truths, paranoia, and coded language designed to appeal to the baser emotions and prejudices of American voters. Trump believes in divide and conquer. He did it with Republican primary voters and he hopes to do it to the country writ large this summer and fall.
Even a single term of President Trump could prove disastrous for the country. His knowledge of foreign affairs is almost non-existent and his fawning over dictators and his penchant for torture is positively unseemly. Outside the U.S., Trump is seen either as a dangerous demagogue or as a buffoon, neither of which will bolster respect for the U.S. as a democratic republic. Traditional U.S. allies are literally mortified at the very prospect of a President Trump.
While his understanding of the world is shockingly limited, his understanding of the American Constitution, and the basis for our system of checks and balances, is equally lacking. Trump may have been able to stomp around issuing orders in the corporate world, where outsized egos are stroked by legions of sycophants and yes men, but Washington is an entirely different situation. He’s not running for Emperor, although that would certainly be his preference. He would have to work with others, including those who don’t agree with him, to be an effective leader, but Trump seems only to recognize his own interests, not those of others.
Donald Trump is equally ignorant of the role of the press in the furtherance of a democratic system. For Trump, the only role for the media is to sing his praises. Those bold enough to question Trump’s motives or policies quickly find themselves shut out of Trump’s press conferences, or worse. He has already threatened to push legislation that would make it easier to destroy the careers of journalists who question his actions, demonstrating his utter lack of understanding of the role of a free press.
Perhaps most frightening is Trump’s utter inability to empathize with those who have faced setbacks in life, through disability, major illness, job loss, or other misfortunes, writing them off repeatedly as “losers.” His comments regarding former POW and now-Sen. John McCain were reflective of his disrespect for anyone who has had to overcome adversity. He has no sense of honor, and certainly no shame.
In most years, Trump’s lack of experience, his repellent views, and his simple-minded approach to the issues would be considered liabilities by voters. But years of inaction by a divided Congress, and the fanciful narrative spun by Republicans, who have blamed immigrants, President Obama and a host of others for America’s misfortunes have fed an appetite for change with some voters.
Those who share a more hopeful vision of political transformation have fueled Sen. Bernie Sanders’ remarkable campaign. But those who take a darker view of the world somehow see vindication in Trump’s open racism, misogyny, and braggadocio. They see authenticity in Trump’s decidedly un-presidential actions, or merely find it entertaining. But we don’t elect presidents for the entertainment value. We elect them to lead. And Donald Trump would lead this country to a very dark place, indeed.