Monday, March 7, 2016

Answering Frank Lewis and His Editorial "Explaining the 'Trump Syndrome'"

I feel obligated to reply to an editorial by Frank Lewis “Explaining the 'Trump Syndrome'” appearing in the Daily Times on March 1, 2016.

(Frank Lewis. “Explaining the 'Trump Syndrome.'” Daily Times. March 1, 2016.)

I appreciate Mr. Lewis attempting to simplify and explain the popularity of Donald Trump and the reason for his mercurial rise to the top of the heap of Republican candidates running for nomination. Yet, I have some reservations about his conclusions, and some real concern about Trump's popularity.

First of all, I am not willing to accept the premise that I “have to throw out everything I have ever learned about a presidential campaign in the past” and believe the actual issues and civility “matter not to the angry American voter.” The current issues and the next president's views on them matter greatly. If a candidate is not addressing these things civilly with his opponents, he or she will be ineffective once elected because the office demands respectful bipartisan negotiations.

Actually, the Democrat debates have shown that the issues and civility do matter to voters. That is evidenced by the decorum practiced by Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Even their disagreements and arguments are fairly cordial and not seething with anger, hatred, and name-calling like those of the Republicans.

Speaking of those “angry American voters” who have no interest “in sending the establishment Republicans back to Washington” and who want “real change,” Lewis posits that Donald Trump, as a spinoff of the Tea Party, is evidence of a “brand new party” composed of those “who have never voted before.”

Yet, if Trump is not a member of the Republican establishment, an “outsider” as he claims, he should try much harder to distance himself from conservative Republicans. Instead, he too like so many Republican candidates, conjure the names of Reagan and other party politicians to enhance his image. He claims to hate politicians – the truth is he is a politician, just one who has never held an office.

And, just a minute, Mr. Lewis. I agree with you on this – the distaste for “the Republican majority in both houses of Congress “has not accomplished anything and in head-to-head competition with the president.” However, Trump is currently the choice of the Republican Party, not a spinoff third party candidate. Those angry people who support him are conservative Republicans – they vote in Republican caucuses and primaries, and they willingly buy into his crude, “doesn't care what he says” attitude.

Make no mistake, at this point in the process, Donald Trump is the leading Republican candidate for president. At the last debate, the other candidates – Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich -- all pledged that they would support Trump with their votes if he became the Republican nominee. Trump also promised he would support any of the others if they became the Republican nominee. It is difficult to deny he knows his own political suicide would be waging too much resistance to the party.

Here is my point. The Republican Party has constructed its own partisan views, its own conservative mentality, its own platforms, and its own candidates. Whatever it has become and just how much Trump had to do with its transformation is squarely in the lap of the GOP. What you see is what you get, and it is evident, at least at this time, the party supports Donald Trump for its presidential nominee. Blaming Democrats for the so-called “Trump Syndrome” is ludicrous.

In America, our political process is supposed to be based on the will of the people. If enough angry people make rash judgments while their emotions lead them toward the “Trump Syndrome,” they will reap the consequences of their will.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lewis, there is no need to employ slanted language and declare “Democrats are bent on a coronation of Hillary Clinton.” Clinton is a respected member of the Democrat Party. She is running for the privilege of being their presidential nominee, not for a ceremonial monarchy. I trust you know that veiled references serve to feed the beast of stereotyping liberals as subjects of such a state. Also, you are generalizing Democrats as one and the same. I need not remind you that respect given is essential to respect received. Are you a disgruntled Republican against Hillary Clinton?

And, yes, Mr. Lewis, we do have those pesky news agencies and commentators who feed us a steady diet of emotionally charged yellow journalism. Agreed – it is extremely repulsive. But also, local news sources such as the Daily Times often practice reporting such stories for profit and for increased subscribership. Somewhere here there is a lesson about the pot and the kettle. Mayors and Viagra and “B” words and confusing Solace news?

Lewis says, “... the talking heads on the news channels are no better than the politicians in Washington. They too are completely out of touch with the man and woman on the street. For the life of me I don’t know why we still listen to them. They haven’t been right this entire campaign.”

Here is a fact: we do listen to the commentators just as we always have. The difference is that today people choose their networks for their slant on the news – they choose the “spin” that most closely matches their preconceived personal opinions. Father Walter Cronkite and the days of reporting the news as “the facts and just the facts” are long gone.

Quite frankly, the airing of the Republican debates makes for the kind of entertaining reality television so popular in America today. The Republicans, largely thanks to Trump, present viewers a rowdy circus of desperate, angry name-callers who act more like juveniles than leaders with integrity. Is it any wonder political pundits marvel at the debates? They remind me of professional wrestling – scripted violence mixed with fictional drama and the promise that the next episode will be even more action-packed.

Of note recently is Rubio and Trump referring to the size of their penises, Trump calling Rubio “Little Marco,” Trump naming Cruz “an unhinged liar,” and both Rubio and Cruz desperately tag-teaming against almost everything Trump has ever done. Now, that, folks, is prime-time Big Time Wrastling with a capital “W.” Stay tuned for more.

Mr. Lewis, with all due respect, these are Republican primaries. Here is the headline of the biggest story: “What has the Republican Party Become?” If Trump is the messiah of a third party, then why does he seek the nomenclature of “Republican” and why does he maintain firm “Republican” caterwauling against the hybrid Obama-Clinton ogre of the party's own invention? Like it or not, at this moment, he is the standard bearer of the GOP.

And, let's be realistic. Politicians of a party seem to ultimately support the party above the character of their candidate. Just look at New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is said now to be Donald Trump's most important endorsement. Christie is the guy who previously said Trump was a “childish whiner.”

Christie and Donald are now united as part of that same, good ole Republican Party. The irony of this cannot be ignored. “Donald’s a great guy and a good person. But I just don’t think that he’s suited to be president of the United States,” Christie recently told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren (before he became a part of the Trump Syndrome). He added: “I don’t think his (Trump's) temperament is suited for that and I don’t think his experience is.” And, even when the GOP candidate is still yet to be determined, Christie openly declares his support for Trump? Go figure what integrity has to do with that.

And lastly, Mr. Lewis, you claim: “Trump is a product of a disgruntled electorate and to a certain point so is Bernie Sanders. America has done something Washington has feared for a long time. They have finally stood up and taken notice of the substandard way things are done with their tax dollars and they don’t like it. Their voice is just being heard for the first time.”

Although you make this claim, Mr. Lewis, this is not even remotely the first time America has “taken notice of the substandard way things are done with their tax dollars.” Real third parties have had significant impacts on presidential races in the past. And, we will have the usual Green Party and libertarian parties' candidates in 2016.

For some third party historical reference, I'm sure we all remember Ross Perot, who famously ran for president as an independent in 1992 and 1996. Ralph Nader also ran for president as a popular Green Party candidate in 1996 and 2000, and as a very popular independent in 2004 and 2008.

Dear reader, if you actually do care enough to vote, and you are a member of the disgruntled electorate, consider that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both offer a more sensitive alternative to the Trump Syndrome of the Republican Party. Or, you could vote libertarian or Green.

I believe if you support Donald Trump, you also support his unbridled and often vicious attacks against other human beings. If you support Trump, you may be supporting the demise of an institution that dates back to President Abraham Lincoln.

As adult Americans, we all have a vote. Whatever the outcome of the Presidential Election of 2016, we all will have four years to live with our majority decision. I, for one, have passed the state of amusement with the Trump Syndrome. I am genuinely concerned about the possibility of a Trump presidency.

I join so many others in the belief that the political system needs fixed; however, to me, Trump is an alternative with reckless abandon and no class. He is a rich man who will muddy the waters with his rash actions, but his lack of real concern for others will cause him to remain in the murk he creates. Call it the way you see it. I try to do that, too.

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