Thursday, October 20, 2016

Unprecedented


When historians write about the 2016 campaign, they will likely look back on this third debate as the moment Donald Trump hopefully committed political suicide on national TV. His answer to one of the easiest and simplest questions ever posed by a moderator wasn’t just beyond the pale, as one Republican called it; it was unprecedented in American politics.

Donald Trump stood before the American people Wednesday night and not only reiterated that the election is rigged against him, he said he might not accept the results if it doesn’t go his way. His exact words were: “I’ll keep you in suspense. Okay?”

No, it’s not okay. It’s not okay for a grown man to behave like a four-year old who needs a time out, gin up centuries of racial bigotry for political gain, encourage violent outbursts at his rallies, scapegoat others for his own depraved conduct and, above all, cast into doubt a pillar of this Republic regarding the peaceful transition of power that its leaders have accepted for 240 years. And it’s certainly NOT okay to draw a false equivalence to the 2000 presidential election to justify such an absurdly offensive answer. That election came down to a Florida recount and a Supreme Court decision that many have questioned but that Al Gore ultimately accepted for the good of the country. To suggest that the two are similar is to add insult to a profound injury.

The truth is that there is only one presidential candidate who, from the moment he entered the race, has complained about the process being rigged against him. Throughout the Republican primaries, he railed against a rigged process whenever he lost a primary or caucus, but then praised it when he won; he has ridiculed the media for holding him accountable for his outrageous accusations, while at the same time conveniently forgetting he has received over a billion dollars of free advertising from that same media; he has attacked his opponents in the most juvenile of ways, belittled leaders in his own party - leaders he would need in the event he actually won the presidency - and managed to offend virtually every voter demographic in the country with the exception of white males.

He has made a mockery of the political system of this country, threatened its alliances throughout the world and so deeply divided the electorate, it will take years to repair the damage. Even now, a majority of his supporters, following in his footsteps, have vowed not to accept the results of the election if he loses. Some have thrown around words like revolution to describe what they'd do in that scenario. Such a prospect should frighten all of us.

Michael Tomasky's piece on Trump's "concession" speech, at first read seems humorous. And if this were simply the case of an ignoramus ascending to the top of his party's food chain, I might've chuckled along. But this isn't some Sarah Palin or George W. Bush spoof on Saturday Night Live we're talking about here. This man is the greatest threat this nation has ever faced, and now is not the time for lighthearted - you'll pardon the pun - banter. This is the time for responsible men and women, regardless of party of political predilection, to rise up and collectively reject his hateful and destructive rhetoric.

I cannot think of a time when the resolve of this country was so thoroughly tested and strained by the antics of a compulsive lying, race-bating, xenophobic, sexist, thin-skinned, narcissistic sociopath. How he won the GOP nomination is a question Republican leaders will have to grapple with in ernest if they ever wish to be taken seriously again as a national party. How the general electorate grapples with him November 8 may well determine the very future of the Republic itself.

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