Trump is a dangerous demagogue who presents an unprecedented threat to American democracy and deserves to be consigned to the dustbin of history.
For a man who likes his women young, slim and pretty, Donald Trump, to use a phrase from this author’s officer days, is an “old, fat and ugly bastard.” Even the rather beatific Dalai Lama could not help laughing about Trump’s ghastly hair and small mouth that never shuts up. If the rest of us had the same equanimity as the old monk, then we could laugh off the absurdity of Trump.
Sadly, Trump is no longer a laughing matter for those who do not have extraordinary Buddhist detachment. He is now a bigger American supervillain than the Joker. Trump is a coarse thug, a cowardly bully and a compulsive liar who deserves prison instead of the presidency.
The reader could do well to remember that this author has never been enamored of the Clintons. The September 18 edition of The World This Week chronicled the hypocrisy, deceit and opportunism of the Clintons in some detail. It is indubitably true that the Clintons skirt close to the law and have a rather tenuous relationship with the truth.
What most people detest even more is that the slick mythmaking of the Clintons is at deep odds with painfully uncomfortable realities. For instance, even as Bill Clinton was being acclaimed as the first black president, he signed into law the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act in 1994. This 356-page act granted $9.7 billion for prisons and has led to a prison industrial complex, which now locks up one in three black men at least once during their lifetimes. More recently, Hillary Clinton’s leaked speeches to the Wall Street elite make a mockery of the claims that she represents the working class. Tellingly, The New York Times reports that the Clintons “have made more than $120 million in speeches to Wall Street and special interests” since 2001.
The Clintons form a dynasty that is increasingly out of touch with the new realities of the 21st century. They have been in power for too long, are beholden to too many vested interests and lack fresh ideas. Yet for all her faults, Hillary Clinton is a better candidate than Donald Trump by a mile and more. This is not so much because of her ability or accomplishments. It is because Trump is a fatally flawed candidate who, in the words of an Alabama newspaper that fondly remembers Ronald Reagan, is downright dangerous and simply “unfit to lead” the United States of America.
The reasons many Americans support Trump are varied. Some assume that this billionaire celebrity-in-chief has run successful businesses and will run the country similarly. As per this narrative, the country is in ruin. It has mountains of debt that it cannot afford to pay back. Industry is in decline, jobs have fled overseas and people are struggling to make ends meet. Government is strangling businesses with tax and regulation. Obamacare is a disaster. The elites are corrupt, incompetent and arrogant. A decisive and competent chief executive officer (CEO) is what the country needs.
Now, there is much truth to the argument that the US is facing intractable problems. In the May 1 edition of The World This Week, this author argued that “growing partisanship, gerrymandering, increasing inequality, burgeoning amounts of money in politics and tightening control of media in the hands of a few corporations” have led to terrible consequences in the land of Uncle Sam. However, the key question is whether a CEO—and, in particular, a billionaire CEO—is the right man for the job.
The truth is that CEOs are little dictators. Some can be “insanely great” like the late Steve Jobs. However, they can also be ruthless and controlling à la Jobs. Parking cars in places meant for handicapped people and denying paternity of their daughter can be par for the course. More importantly, CEOs are monomaniacs who focus on just one goal: profit maximization. After all, Enron was run by “the smartest guys in the room” who came out of Harvard Business School.
There is another little matter. If underpaid and overworked employees of Foxconn commit suicide creating fancy iPhones, that is not the Apple CEO’s problem. If mining companies ruin the environment to supply metals for iPads, that is immaterial for the Apple CEO. Interestingly, like lunch, taxes are for wimps. All that matters is the success of Apple products, rising sales, soaring profits and increasing share prices. Those who ran the British East India Company would approve heartily. So would Trump who prides himself on shortchanging his contractors, being smart enough not to pay taxes and for filing bankruptcies for personal gain.
The idea that a successful CEO is the right person to run a country is downright ridiculous. Some CEOs can be decent political leaders, but democracy is all about people functioning collectively. It involves institutions, laws, customs and, above all, values. Individuals and interest groups in societies often have divergent and conflicting interests. Managing conflicts and balancing interests is an essential part of leading a nation. A nation in crisis needs better discourse, creative ideas and civic participation—not another decider-in-chief. Besides, a micromanager like Steve Jobs runs the risk of turning into a Joseph Stalin. Thankfully, Trump is not a tenth as capable as Jobs and is more likely to be a Benito Mussolini, but that is scant consolation.
This slavish celebration of CEOs is only a manifestation of the far more perverse Americano cult of success. It is best summed up in that iconic Louis Jordan song, “If You Are So Smart, How Come You Ain’t Rich?” Anyone rich is deemed smart in this country and anyone sans Mammon lacks intelligence. By that logic, Thomas Jefferson was not that smart because he died deep in debt. Therefore, the author of the Declaration of Independence did not deserve to be president. By contrast, the rich Donald Trump is just the right man to “make America great again.”
Since Trump predicates his claim to the presidency on his track record of success, it is important to note that he has not exactly been as successful as he claims. Forbes, a magazine that is in the wealth estimation business, reported that Trump “magnifies his assets, overlooks his liabilities and obscures his ownership stakes to arrive at sky-high valuations.” In 2006, Trump sued a journalist who estimated his worth to be $150-$250 million and, in a 2007 deposition, famously declared that his net worth fluctuates “with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings.”
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Assuming smartness equaled richness, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg are better candidates to be president. Michael Bloomberg is another obvious candidate with experience in government. Compared to Gates, Buffet, Zuckerberg and Bloomberg, Trump has not been that smart. The magazine Rolling Stone has catalogued Trump’s multiple business failures, with Trump University perhaps taking the cake. This so-called university failed because it was “so bad” that people felt they were being ripped off by a con artist. As The Washington Post uncovers, this for-profit university was a predatory venture that preyed on the vulnerable in a manner that was almost downright fraudulent.
Trump’s business ventures include the Miss Universe Organization, which is a business that profits from commodifying the bodies of young, slim and pretty women. Trump himself once said that when he bought the organization, “the bathing suits got smaller and the heels got higher and the ratings went up.” It turns out that Trump not only made money by exploiting impressionable young women, but he also sexually assaulted them. In a 2005 video that was released recently, Trump gleefully crowed about his conquests, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
God-fearing Republican leaders are finally feigning outrage, but this is sanctimonious dishonesty at its finest. Trump’s record of lying, bullying and exploiting women is common knowledge. On May 14, The New York Times chronicled Trump’s predatory behavior with numerous women. In fact, Trump is a hero to misogynist pick-up artists, one of whom aptly declares that “a vote for Trump is a vote for self-preservation.”
In a story on May 14, The New York Times chronicled the billionaire’s reputation as a “ladies’ man” since his boarding school days. Moreover, unlike a gentleman, Trump likes to kiss and tell. On September 18, this author pointed out how Trump brags about his “experiences with women, often seemingly very happily married and important women.” Yet the party of family values that opposes abortion and millions of American voters march on under the spell of this portly and pathetic Pied Piper.
Why? Some of this author’s acquaintances, including tenured professors at the famous Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and PhDs from the fabled Stanford University, take the moral relativism argument. On September 18, this author outlined some reasons why many decent Americans are voting for Trump. They say the political class is incestuous and corrupt. Even among such crooks, Bill and Hillary Clinton are the worst of the lot. So, a boorish outsider like Trump is the perfect person to clean up the Augean stables of Washington, DC.
This is short sighted and self-serving delusion. This author continues to hold that “Trump personifies all that he rails against.” He is a spoilt rich brat who was born into wealth and has used his political connections shamelessly. Not too long ago, he was quite chummy with the Clintons. In fact, Trump is the ultimate insider who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
When it comes to Trump, the moral relativism argument no longer holds water. Yes, most human beings, including this author, are flawed human beings. We do or say things in private that are not quite proper. We suffer lapses in judgment. We make mistakes. Yet there are limits to bad behavior. Generally, killing babies and assaulting women are unacceptable in most societies. Boasting about doing so even in private evokes disgust. The world is imperfect. Many French presidents are known for their mistresses, some African leaders for their multiple wives and a few American politicians for their steamy affairs, but no politician in recent memory has as yet been as uncouth, uncultured and uncivilized as Trump.
The fact that Trump still has supporters demonstrates something rotten in American society. In the US, the girl child might not suffer from selective abortion as in India or China, but she is socialized in a pernicious culture of Barbie dolls and Hollywood stars. Maria Alejandra Osorio, a Colombian who studied on a scholarship in Yale, believes that women in the US can sometimes be more vulnerable than those in many traditional societies. Her logic is that because women supposedly have liberty, they have less protection. Furthermore, the veneration for the mother figure in cultures like Latin America or South Asia gets thrown out of the window.
Osorio takes the view that Trump and his comments are representative of and not outliers in American culture. Even as political correctness has come to rule the roost, there has been a corresponding coarsening of culture in the land of Manifest Destiny.
Sadly, Trump is no longer a laughing matter for those who do not have extraordinary Buddhist detachment. He is now a bigger American supervillain than the Joker.
Interestingly, Trump dismisses his comments as “locker room banter” and many like Rudy Giuliani agree with him. After all, the US is the country that has skimpily clad cheerleaders jumping up and down before macho men hurl themselves into each other in that wonderfully edifying game of American football. It is also the land of Kim Kardashian where, according to some, “moral, spiritual and cultural decay” is killing the nation. Is it then a surprise that Trump, another unsavory reality television star and a scam artist who even steals from his own charity, is now aspiring to an office once held by Abraham Lincoln?
In the rest of the world, real football is not kicked off by nubile women performing titillating acrobatics. Furthermore, athletes or jocks, as the Americans term them, often get away with rape as the infamous but underreported recent case involving a Stanford swimmer demonstrates. Osorio argues that far too many American men end up disrespecting women, often unintentionally and unconsciously.
Despite American penchant for preaching to the rest of the world on human rights, the US is no Scandinavia. Culturally, it is a developing country without malaria where one in five women report experiencing sexual assault and one in four report beatings by an intimate partner. Trump personifies the worst of American violent sexism and perpetuates it.
This author has long maintained that Trump has a point. Some of the issues he raises are real. Globalization has led to both winners and losers. The former have been selfish and not compensated the later. Washington, DC is broken. Even Trump’s mad rants against political correctness have an element of truth. Yet Trump has made a habit of saying one outlandish thing after another and doing things that are unacceptable in most democracies. This narcissist inflames passions but offers no solutions to any of his nation’s longstanding problems.
Trump has declared that he is willing to kill families of terrorists, which is a war crime and goes far beyond the torture that cronies of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney advocated. In the resonant words of the Americano Caligula, Mexican immigrants are rapists and he will build a wall to keep them out. Of course, Mexico will pay for it. Trump’s love for Muslims is far too well documented to even bear repeating. Most fittingly, this chubby tycoon with terrible skin has proved notoriously thin-skinned and has blacklisted numerous news organizations that have the temerity to hold his feet to the fire. Note that this preening progeny of privilege has no record of public service and dishonorably wriggled out of serving in the military during the Vietnam War on the spurious grounds “of bone spurs in his heels.”
One could go on but there is just one simple reason that Trump must not be president: He is a unique and unprecedented threat to American democracy.
Clinton may be hypocritical and may skirt close to the law, but Trump is a domineering rich bully who has most likely broken the law and gotten away with it so far. This lying braggart has a worrying fascination with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a modern day tsar who rides horses bare chested, rules autocratically and dips his hands in blood with chilling sangfroid. Unlike Putin, Trump is a draft-dodging flabby celebrity with little idea of geography or history and even less of geopolitics or the global economy. He can rant and rave but not think or lead. The Kremlin will run rings around him and inspire him to be a petit Putin.
American institutions are far more fragile than most people think. Executive privilege has expanded dangerously since the presidency of “Slick Willie” Bill Clinton. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama have led administrations that eavesdrop enthusiastically and prosecute whistle blowers forcefully. Trump is already threatening his opponents such as Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon and the owner of The Washington Post, with presidential retribution long before ascending the throne. Trump’s 3am rants on Twitter against former beauty queens attract attention, but his mafioso-style promises of vendetta against those who criticize him are a far more sinister.
Democracy is all about trust in electoral processes and peaceful transfers of power. Already, trust in the US is at an all-time low. Many Americans believe that global warming and climate change are conspiracies by the liberal media, big banks and politicians like the Clintons. Now, Trump is poisoning American discourse and democracy with yet another toxin. He is casting doubts on elections themselves. On August 18, Trump declared, “the only way we can lose, in my opinion, I really mean this, Pennsylvania, is if cheating goes on.” This is stark raving mad. It is a selfish, deceitful and disgraceful subversion of democracy.
As if this was not enough, the unstable and irresponsible Trump has gone on to suggest that “his supporters could stop his rival Hillary Clinton by exercising their gun rights.” Unsurprisingly, the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke supports Trump. Even if this fearmongering braggart were to lose, right-wing extremists instead of Islamist terrorists might unleash violence in the US. If nothing else, this should set alarm bells ringing for Americans.
Trump is a dangerous demagogue who presents a grave threat to the political system, the economic prospects and the social fabric of the US. Come November 8, voters must consign the fat fool and the ugly American named Donald Trump to the dustbin of history. Hillary Clinton is far from perfect, but Americans have no choice but to vote for her to save their democracy.
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