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Trump’s erratic words and actions undermine the causes he champions

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Trump has shown a certain genius for dominating the news over the past year.

The comedian Rodney Dangerfield used to complain, “I don’t get no respect!” Donald Trump frequently offers a similar lament, but in his case it’s no joke. His foundering campaign for the presidency seems more and more an indulgent quest for personal validation – and will likely yield exactly the opposite result.

Trump’s love of flattery is so extreme that when the Russian dictator, Vladimir Putin, says something nice about him, he immediately becomes a fan and defender, in defiance of facts, logic and American interests. One can only imagine what the wily old KGB operative thinks of someone whose head is so easily turned.

The Donald’s bragging about his success with women as well as his virtues as a devoted family man has put both claims in doubt and exposed him as either a liar or a sexual predator. His efforts to explain his braggadocio as mere “locker room banter” is dismissed by professional athletes who actually spend time in locker rooms.

Widely targeted insults

Insults are Trump’s stock in trade. He has hurled his barbs at fellow presidential contenders, women, African-Americans, veterans, disabled persons, the media, Gold Star parents, Muslims, Hispanics, Republican Party leaders, and countless others too numerous to count. They all love him anyway, he assures us, with the usual lack of evidence to back such off-the-wall assertions.

Few members of groups he’s demeaned or dismissed will actually vote for this candidate – or embrace him as their president. But then, Trump has shown no sign he wants to be a president for all Americans – just those who tell him how wonderful he is as he panders to their fears and prejudices.

The real estate mogul says our country is going to hell in a hand basket and only he can “make America great again.” Though he borrows that slogan from Ronald Reagan, he has none of the Gipper’s sunny disposition, belief in America, or faith in democracy. Instead, to provide himself an excuse, he undermines confidence in our bedrock institutions by proclaiming that the system is rigged. As his own words and actions increasingly marginalize him, his rhetoric becomes even more dangerous, bizarre and borderline seditious.

Showmanship, not leadership

To his credit, Trump has shown a certain genius for dominating the news over the past year. Turn on cable TV and odds are the screen will be displaying him or people talking about him. This is brilliant showmanship. What it is not is political leadership. While he has given voice to some legitimate complaints, he has hurt rather than advanced their case in the monumental ego trip that is his campaign.

Take the famous promise to “build a wall, and make Mexico pay for it!” We do need a more secure border, but such over-the-top statements do nothing to get us there; anyone who believes Mexico is going to pony up might also be interested in buying a bridge in Brooklyn – or Trump’s failed Atlantic City casino. The wall would do nothing about the estimated 12 million people now living here without documents; it is a wall that leads nowhere.

Terrorism is a genuine threat, but Trump gives such concerns a bad name by implying that the problem is with Islam itself. Do we really want to go to war against one of the world’s great religions and its 1.5 billion followers? How would we win such a contest? And why would we try? The vast majority of Muslims are peace-loving people, and they are the main victims of religious fanatics.

Erratic words, actions undermine his causes

It is similar with other issues: Trump’s erratic words and actions undermine the causes he champions – or, better said, exploits. On trade, for example, there are real victims of trade deals and globalization. But Trump offers only overheated rhetoric, not real remedies for individuals who lost jobs or regions hurt by shuttered industries. Empty promises will not get it done; they only raise false expectations that an easy solution exists.

For most Americans, this campaign has been a year of living dangerously. The world watches in horror as we flirt with the prospect of electing a person who clearly lacks the character, temperament, discipline and vision to lead our great nation. In the end, God willing, our better angels will prevail. And Donald Trump will be left with the label he scorns most: loser. 

Dick Virden is a retired senior foreign service officer. He lives in Plymouth.


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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 10/19/2016 - 10:02 am.

    Trump feels your pain…


    IDonald Trump on Wednesday doubled down on his argument that American wages are “too high” after making a similar claim during Tuesday night’s GOP presidential debate.

    “We have to become competitive with the world. Our taxes are too high, our wages are too high, everything is too high,” he said Wednesday morning during an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
    “What’s going to happen is now people are going to start firing people.”

    (end quote)

  2. Submitted by Misty Martin on 10/19/2016 - 12:38 pm.

    I totally agree with the author on this article

    I am in a minority where I work and where I attend church, as most Christians feel that Trump is a far better choice for President, simply because of the Republican platform he claims to stand on. I am a registered Democrat, but I choose those whom I am willing to cast my vote for, based on merit and
    character, and their past political history, no matter the political party he/she belongs to.

    As a Christian, even if the Republican party has the claim of being more conservative, and thus, more Christian-oriented (or so I am ‘told’) I feel, in good conscience, I cannot vote for this man. For all of the above defined reasons, so eloquently stated by Mr. Virden, I could not rest easy, knowing that my vote enabled Donald Trump to have the official power that being President of the United States would bring. I feel it is simply another rung on Trump’s ladder of “life” to win the Presidential election, and that his real heart and passion will always be for only one person – Donald Trump.

  3. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 10/19/2016 - 12:57 pm.

    Mr.Virden is correct: The whole world watches our 2016 presidential campaign with horror.

    The Americans who still support Donald Trump (or are willing to risk his being elected, by voting for someone other than Clinton) are ignorant of what the world thinks and why, or simply don’t care what will happen to our country –and the world–if Trump becomes president.

    That’s an incredible American arrogance.

  4. Submitted by Judith Schuster on 10/19/2016 - 04:23 pm.

    Finally, someone said it

    I can’t think of when a man (or woman) has been less qualified to be president than Donald Trump. His words and actions horrify me, and I have difficulty understanding how anyone could support him. I have always voted for a Republican for president, but not this time. I have already cast an absentee ballot for Hillary Clinton, and it was an easy choice. She’s well qualified; he isn’t!

  5. Submitted by Pat Terry on 10/19/2016 - 07:30 pm.


    Trump has causes? As far as I can tell, all there is is bile.

  6. Submitted by joe smith on 10/20/2016 - 09:34 am.

    Trump may be the worse messenger ever!!!!

    He has a hard time staying focused on any one subject more than 1 minute. I think it makes for fun rallies, he hits on everything from sports, celebrities, pop culture, world affairs and politics in 5 minutes with one crazy statement after another. He’s never focused, even in a debate forum. Last night when Hillary made that lame attempt to defend the 2009 stimulus program, he should have pounced on it.! A qualified debater would have asked how much money went to infrastructure (6%) how much went to “green companies” (75%) and what was the return on these loans/grants 7 years later? The finishing line should have been how did Al Gore get nearly 600 million? Let her answer then say “and you wanted more of that”??

    Can someone here please tell me how taking money from the “rich” will help the middle class. If you take .30 cents from every dollar someone makes and give it to someone else, how does that dollar grow? Don’t tell me the receiver spends it more effectively than giver, that has never been proven. The grand total is still a dollar in the economy. Welfare folks don’t start small businesses, yet. If the original maker of that 1 dollar keeps more and starts a business, expands his business, invests in another business that 1 dollar grows exponentially by every dollar his employees make. That is how money grows. Hillary keeps on talking how she will grow the middle class by taxing the rich…. I don’t see it?

    When Trump stumbles around on lowering corporate taxes so American companies can compete in a world wide economy, getting fair trade instead do free trade and a tax holiday on Trillions of overseas money with a stipulation that a percentage of that money goes to new plants, new lines or new machinery he actually has something. The problem is no one can follow what the hell he is saying.

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