Perhaps the most unsettling thing we have learned during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has not been about Donald Trump at all, but about ourselves as a country.
Certainly, many of us thought Trump would never get this far. Clearly, that includes a legion of old-guard Republicans and Paul Ryan. Ryan, who may have a future in presidential politics himself, is probably in the worst spot of all. He is doing that dance that is somewhere between placating the voters who have spoken and being able to look his own children in the eye one day and tell them that, ultimately, he supported Trump.
But a more pressing issue, is the “why?”. Why have Republican voters spoken in favor of Trump over others who displayed the proper decorum and credentials expected of presidential candidates? Even more concerning is this question: Why have Republican voters been either complicit or dismissive in relation to his racial slurs? What does this say about America?
Partly, it says that when you make xenophobic comments about Hispanics, Muslims, and the Black Lives Matter movement, you can unearth a lot of racist Americans who agree with you, and who will vote for you. Also, there is a fringe percentage that sees it as acceptable for their candidate to rally his supporters to bad-mouth a Federal Court Judge. If you or I did that, we’d be in jail. There is a racist, entitled faction, but this still does not fully explain Trump’s free pass.
Probably the biggest piece of the puzzle is that voters are looking for a candidate who is not part of the inside circles of Washington. This is huge, and it’s not going away. Trump obviously fits this bill, even though he is way out in left field when it comes to the issues and his demeanor. Look back at Will Ferrell’s hilarious Saturday Night Live opening from December of 2015 where he portrayed George W. Bush. Ferrell chided that Jeb Bush “…didn’t stand a chance in this field. He’s an insider who knows how to govern. Republicans voters don’t want that. They want someone who is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.” While this made my family and me double over with laughter, we cannot fail to recognize that, for whatever inexplicable reason, Trump has appeal for some voters.
On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders has rallied millions of supporters, me among them, who want to see real and positive change for people. There is a write-in campaign mounting for Bernie and, in an attempt to defeat the status quo, it could defeat Hillary by changing the margin just enough. Many polls have projected that Bernie would have the greater margin of victory against Trump. Business as usual is over. Voters want things “shaken, not stirred” this time around.
While we need to be careful not to pin a “violent” label on any one group, certainly we have seen outrage on both sides of the political fence throughout the Primary. This, I think, will play out at the conventions. The City of Cleveland has used part of a $50 million federal grant to order 2,000 full sets of riot gear and three miles of metal fencing barrier for the Republican National Convention, according to the June 4 issue of The Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Department of Justice awarded the City of Philadelphia a $43 million grant to pay for police and fire protection, bomb squads, traffic cones, etc. during the four day Democratic National Convention in late July, according to nbcphiladelphia.com/.
Now, do the math: 2,000 sets of riot gear; three miles of metal barrier; 11,200 attendees at Trump’s Costa Mesa rally; 28,000 attendees at Sanders’ Portland rally; 96 hours for each convention; two presumptive nominees who are still being contested vocally by voters and, in Trump’s case, by his own party.