Portrait of a demagogue
Demagogue: a person, especially an orator or political leader, who gains power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people
Donald Trump is a demagogue. The Republican presidential candidate says very little of substance; he lies, he feeds the prejudices of his followers, he encourages violence and he seems to enjoy all of this.
Trump makes claims which he never backs up, such as his accusations against Mexican immigrants. When he visited the border, he said he had proof of those claims. When a reporter asked when Trump would release that proof, Trump said, “Soon.” That was months ago; no proof yet.
In April 2011, Trump said he had sent investigators to Hawaii and they “cannot believe what they’re finding” about President Obama’s birth certificate. Trump never released any of those findings because they didn’t exist. When Trump was asked about this recently, he said it wasn’t a concern to him; he’d moved on. That’s because all his claims were lies.
Trump claims that on 9/11, he saw “thousands” of New Jersey Muslims celebrating the attack. This never happened. Even New Jersey governor Chris Christie said it didn’t happen. Trump has enough money to find any tapes or articles about this alleged incident, but he hasn’t provided any proof because there’s no record anywhere. His followers don’t care. They’re happy to swallow his lies.
The Religious Right has flocked to Trump, which is baffling. Trump admitted he committed adultery while married to his first wife. That’s a sin in both the Old and New Testaments. Of course, Trump can be forgiven for this sin, but here’s the catch. At the Family Leadership Summit, Trump was asked if he has ever asked God for forgiveness. Trump said, “I’m not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there…If I do something wrong, I think I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture.” (July 18, 2015)
Here is what the Bible, Trump’s “favorite book,” says about that: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ” I John 1:8-9.
Apparently Trump doesn’t think that applies to him; he doesn’t need God’s forgiveness.
At a Trump rally in Alabama, on Nov. 21, a protestor was knocked down, kicked and punched. During a Fox and Friends interview soon after, Trump said, “Maybe he needed to be roughed up.” Protestors at other Trump rallies have been shoved, spat on, dragged and kicked. A friend of mine wrote me about this, saying, “The black guy had no business doing what he did and he got what he deserved… if more people did this we wouldn’t have so much disobedience.” She’s saying it’s OK to beat up people to encourage “obedience.” Vigilante discipline — great.
Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Obama have all had loud, unruly protestors at times. They handled the situations calmly; no one was punched or kicked. That is how a leader handles these things. A bully encourages other bullies. Trump is a bully and seems to encourage his followers to be bullies too.
Trump has promised to violate the Constitution by bringing back torture, which is unconstitutional. It makes no sense for his followers to claim to love the Constitution and yet applaud when he says this.
He also promises to violate the First Amendment by announcing that if he becomes president, everyone will say “Merry Christmas.” Exactly how would he enforce that? Would he have the Christmas police going around arresting clerks who wished someone a “Happy Holiday”? Is that how we honor Jesus’ birth?
Donald Trump is a demagogue. He mocks and belittles those he disagrees with, and his followers cheer. He proposes unworkable, unconstitutional ideas, and his followers love him. He spreads fear, hate and lies, and his followers adore him.
A Canadian wrote, “I don’t understand the rise of Trump in America … from outside your country we see a man who is grossly uninformed, flagrantly racist, rude, crude and vulgar. He appears to voice nothing but fear and aggression at a time there should be unity and compassion. Is this the ‘face’ and ‘soul’ Americans want representing them and their values?”
Yes, America — is this the face and soul we want to show the world? We should all be ashamed.
Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.