Are there any shocks left in the 2016 US Presidential campaign? Do we have any right to be shocked at what has happened so far?
The American democratic process has morphed into a reality show. As with all successful reality shows, what happens in a one hour episode is further fed by tabloid headlines, commentaries and interviews throughout the week. It’s a basic marketing tactic, ensuring a larger audience for the next show.
We, the viewers, get sucked in by the outlandish characters. We gasp at the latest absurdities. We try to break free from the shock vortex. We try to look away. Instead, we get sucked in deeper and deeper each week.
The three presidential debates are finally done. Thanks be to God! A couple more weeks and this over-hyped, over-priced, over-reported election will be over. Perhaps news headlines will then begin focusing on real global issues? I’m not that naive. I’m sure we will continue to be bombarded with the latest shock talk from the ever bombastic and ever ungracious loser, Donald Trump.
Here in Canada, we often grumble about the over-sized egos of American politics; both from the candidates and the country as a whole. The United States of America may be a cultural, military and economic Goliath but the president is their leader not ours. No, we do not consider him or her to be the “leader of the free world”. The US is our neighbour and ally, not our feudal lord.
This does not mean that we are indifferent to who becomes the US President. Being a part of a global community requires that we all elect leaders who genuinely desire to work for the greatest good both within their country and on the world stage. We need leaders who understand the value of diplomacy and working with allies. We need leaders who garner respect in international meetings and dealings.
On a recent visit to Canada, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls stated that President Barack Obama was “elected by the world” and that Donald Trump is “rejected by the world”.
The world does care who Americans elect as their leader. The world needs intelligent, experienced leaders more than ever. We need women and men who are well grounded in the complexities of foreign affairs as well as the reality of domestic issues. We need leaders of integrity. They do not need to be saints, but they must reflect basic moral tenets of respect and care for all people in both their daily and public lives.
Which brings us back to Donald Trump.
The biggest shock, in my opinion, was when Trump announced he was considering running for President. Knowing what we did about this man, how could he even contemplate this? Was it a joke? Who would be foolish enough to support him?
Trump was no hermit billionaire. Narcissism was the foundation of his empire and brand. His poor business dealings and bankruptcies were public knowledge. His unfaithfulness to his wives was well reported.
The Donald was a regular guest on shock jock Howard Stern’s radio show. His conversations with Stern were not “hot mic” moments. They were recorded on public air waves, leaving no room for misinterpretations of his disgusting, sexist, misogynistic views. Why weren’t these tapes brought out at the start of his campaign to demonstrate his unworthiness?
Donald Trump never hid who Donald Trump really is. He flip flops on issues but there is little duplicity in his character. He eschews political correctness and basic rules of respectful, public dialogue. What you see is what you get.
It is disingenuous, therefore, of Republican leaders and others to only express shock now, this late in the game. It wouldn’t have taken much vetting by the GOP to show that he is the most unsuitable and dangerous presidential candidate in history. Many knew this, but lacked the courage to do anything.
Modern history is filled with examples of egotistical, racist, nativist, hate-filled, paranoid dictators. That society can produce such a person is not shocking. What is shocking is their power to attract so many loyal and fanatical followers, followers who are willing to go to extremes for their leader.
God bless America? You bet! I pray that wise minds and right judgment will prevail on election day. I pray that the nation that takes such pride in its democratic process will be blessed with the leaders they need at this divisive time in their history; leaders they can be proud of.
The world is watching….and praying.