It’s probably no overstatement to say that every four years, the fate of the planet hinges on the choice we Americans make at the ballot box. In consequence, I feel it would behoove us to explain ourselves to the rest of the world.
This time around, the contest is between a former Secretary of State, United States Senator and First Lady of the United States on the one hand, and an orange-faced woman-groping bigoted charlatan on the other. One might think that this is not a choice so much as an affliction, and one would be right.
At this writing, we are less than three weeks from election day. Early voting is already happening across the United States, the die is being cast. It is not just our future that hangs in the balance, it is yours as well.
And yes, there is a distinct whiff of Weimar in the air. The charlatan may be reprehensible, risible, not to mention racist, but he has tapped into an anger simmering out there in the country, in the decaying post-industrial wastelands in those parts of it invisible from the gleaming canyons of Manhattan. There are two Americas. Or to quote Matt Taibbi,
“The scene couldn't have been more poignant. Duped for a generation by a party that kowtowed to the wealthy while offering scraps to voters, then egged on to a doomed rebellion by a third-rate con man who wilted under pressure and was finally incinerated in a fireball of his own stupidity, people like this found themselves, in the end, represented by literally no one.”
To be sure, this alienation of a vast swath of citizens and voters from the America that is, not as it once might have been, is a serious challenge for a country with the national motto E Pluribus Unum, Out of Many, One. If so many feel that there is no place for them in this multi-racial, outward-looking and engaged America, then measures must be taken to make it otherwise.
They do not extend to burning the country down so a charlatan can be king of the ashes.
But as things stand today, it seems that the Republic is safe. Because, simply put, while no one ever went broke underestimating the stupidity of the average American, Donald J. Trump has crossed a few lines too many. One does not brag on tape about sexual assault. One does not shame the office of the Presidency with lewd tweets. One does not mock the disabled, single out entire religious groups for exclusion from the commonwealth, or for that matter father five children with three different women or refuse to denounce the most vicious anti-Semites, white nationalists and other assorted pariahs within our borders.
"I call him a charlatan, but that is too kind a word; he is a liar without shame, a serial abuser of women, of workers, of immigrants, of all those he deems of lesser worth than himself."
None of that represents who we are. Yes, the country is divided, yes, it has its faults, quite a few actually, as do all of us as individuals. I certainly do. But this obscenity of a candidacy cannot be borne. Perhaps that’s the underlying reason why the odds now favor a landslide defeat of this walking absurdity.
The President of the United States is not a king, and this by design. He – or after next February, she – is however, still the face of the nation and the one person we all as Americans turn to in times of crisis, of uncertainty, or conversely of celebration and joy.
Donald Trump is inadequate to this role he seeks to fill, too small and vain for it, unworthy to sit in the chair of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. I call him a charlatan, but that is too kind a word; he is a liar without shame, a serial abuser of women, of workers, of immigrants, of all those he deems of lesser worth than himself. He has bragged about the virtues and inherent superiority of his German blood; I have the same blood, though from a better family than his and it does not make me and mine better than anyone.
That’s the lifeblood of America, the idea that we are all born free and equal. And yes of course we fail in the practical, day to day application of this ideal; but we try, and try harder every day. And not because we have to, in some idle p.c. exercise to assuage various supposed malcontents, but because that is who we are, a nation of many colors and creeds bound together by law and fate. We do not turn our backs on each other.
That is what Donald Trump does not and never will understand: that the true genius and spirit of this country is one of generosity, of openness, of acceptance. We have our bigots, sure, and plenty of them; but look to the new generation growing up today, the oft-maligned Millennials. They are a marvel, and will finally redeem the nation that brought the world Jim Crow, My Lai, The Tuskegee Experiment and Hiroshima. The kids, as they say, are alright.
But first, America needs to and will reject Trump and everything he stands for, reject him so decisively that nobody like him can ever arise again. It can be done. In November, it will be done.
Donald Trump will lose for one reason: America with all its faults is better than he is. He has tried to make us worse, cast in his mirror image. He has failed in the endeavor. And he will fail in November, fail spectacularly.
God bless the United States. All will be well.