Donald Trump is an occasionally amusing TV show host and a self-branding success, even if he’s not a consistent success in the business world. He is someone who claims not to like politicians and comes across as a bit of a bull elephant in a china shop. More than any of that, he is simply the wrong man at the wrong time for the presidency.
Trump has set a tone, intentionally or not, that has led to protests and reaction to protests that are troubling and scary. That tone has already resonated poorly around the world; if he were to become president, it could do lasting harm. His comments about waterboarding and women and Mexicans and Muslims and targeting the families of terrorists and boasts about his own anatomy, combined with his campaign drumbeat that the country is a loser run by losers, are certainly all provocative. But what these verbal blasts are provoking is ugly and scary. And after insulting and offending so many, his ability to deal with Congress, either side of the aisle, will require more than the art of the deal. More like miracles.
Whatever the reason, given how polarized the country already is and how dysfunctional and partisan the Congress is, this is the wrong time for someone who engenders divisiveness. Trump’s motto of “making America great again” should start with the tone of civil discourse, which the president is singularly responsible for setting. In times of crisis, it is difficult to imagine his comportment or choice of words helping us heal or move on, as President Obama’s did after the shootings in a predominately African-American church in Charleston, S.C., for example. An old Cold War campaign trope had candidates daring voters to imagine their opponent’s “finger on the button,” assuming responsibility for a potential nuclear war. In Trump’s case, the fear is more about the hand on the microphone.
Our aim is not to protect the political establishment, which needs some shaking and stirring, and has gotten it thanks to the Republican primary cage match and the Democratic coronation that wasn’t. This is about putting the needs of the country above those of the individual, in this case Mr. Trump.
His campaign has clearly identified an anger and distrust of government that is widespread, and in some cases completely justified, and which must be addressed. But “throw the bums out” and “be politically incorrect” are emotional responses, not a workable, proactive strategy for governing a nation.
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