To his supporters, Donald Trump’s most appealing trait is his willingness to tell it like it is. To call a spade a spade, with no worries about political correctness. They see Mr. Trump speaking for a lot of angry Americans, like themselves, who feel that their concerns aren’t important to a political establishment that caters to the wealthy and the already powerful.
But here’s the unfortunate reality: Trump isn’t speaking truth to power. Mostly, he speaks nonsense, or parrots conspiracy theories, false memes, and exaggerations he’s picked up through social media, Fox News, or the National Enquirer. Sure, he’s repeating the far out stuff that many Americans see reflected in such outlets, and that some even believe, but many of the claims have only a tenuous grasp on reality. Much of it is invented from whole cloth, purely to stoke racial fears and anger over an economy that hasn’t been kind to working families for the past thirty years.
Trump may be able to successfully peddle falsehoods to segments of the electorate that are receptive to conspiratorial talk, such as the birther nonsense that launched Trump’s entry into politics. But when viewed by better-informed Americans, Trump comes off as immature, inarticulate, and far from ready to assume the presidency.
When challenged during Monday night’s debate, Trump refused to take responsibility for his intentional stoking of racial paranoia, through his insistence that President Obama, the nation’s first black president, was not born in the United States. Instead, he falsely took credit for ending the controversy by prompting President Obama to release his long form birth certificate. That explanation might satisfy some of his supporters, but it won’t wash with the public at large, many of whom have already seen the dozens of video clips of Trump right up through 2015 continuing to question the validity of Obama’s birth certificate. Trump used the birther conspiracy to cement his position with a Republican base that has become increasingly divorced from the real world. But now that it’s a liability in a general election contest, he’s trying to shed his past by lying about it.
But the birther controversy was just one of many such examples of Trump’s blatant dishonesty from Monday night.
He also misrepresented his position on the Iraq War when he stated that he had opposed the U.S. invasion of that country beforehand. Trump has used the claim to suggest that he has superior judgment over Hillary Clinton, who voted to authorize the war, a decision Clinton now acknowledges was a mistake.
While Trump did come out against the war after it was apparent it had become a quagmire, he expressed support for the war in advance of the invasion during an interview with Howard Stern. The audio recording of the interview is widely available.
While Hillary Clinton has her own problems with the truth, they pale in comparison with the serial deceit practiced by Trump. If he isn’t lying outright, he’s exaggerating to a degree that would make Al Gore blush. To hear Trump tell it, the U.S. economy is crumbling, a claim that is difficult to justify given that the nation remains in the midst of the longest stretch of continuous job growth in American history. Since the economic recovery began in 2010, the country has seen over 14 million new jobs created. And while the income gains to the middle class took too long to arrive, they hit high gear in 2015, when median household income jumped 5.2 percent, the largest gain ever recorded.
Contrary to Trump’s claim, Ford isn’t leaving the country, although the company is building a small car manufacturing plant south of the border. The reality is that Ford has added nearly 28,000 new American jobs in the past several years. That’s one reason why top manufacturing states, like Michigan and Ohio, are enjoying unemployment rates below the national average of 4.9 percent. Trump must be remembering the bad old days of the George W. Bush administration, who left office with skyrocketing unemployment and an auto industry on the brink of collapse. The industry is thriving today, thanks to President Obama’s economic policies, which Clinton has promised to continue.
Finally, while Trump and his followers constantly complain about the nation’s debt, Trump proposes a tax plan larded with giveaways to the wealthy that would add more than $4 trillion to the debt over ten years, according even to conservative analysts. At the same time, he promises to rebuild the country’s infrastructure and military, at huge expense, while claiming he’ll balancing the budget. He must have learned math at Trump University.
Hillary Clinton is a flawed candidate, to be sure. But the world’s most powerful nation cannot be led by a man who lives in a world of make-believe. Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to America, and more Americans need to recognize that fact before Election Day.