UPDATE: This post by Matt Brennan was originally published during the Republican primary. Now that Donald Trump is actually the Republican candidate running for president against Hillary Clinton, we feel it is even more timely. We cannot urge you enough: Do not to vote for Donald Trump. – Editors
By Matt Brennan
The 2016 Republican primary race used to be a joke. It used to be jaw dropping, alarming, and sadly humorous that an organization of this historical magnitude could not organize a three-car procession, let alone a national primary. The joke is over. No one is laughing.
It is time Americans look at modern political events in this country with a critical eye. We need to understand this is how power-hungry hate-mongers come to power. This is a moment of national significance, and we need to say no to those who attempt to appeal to the basest levels of humanity. It is time to truly figure out who stands on the right and wrong sides of history.
Donald Trump is on the wrong side.
You can easily forgive those who previously viewed the Trump candidacy as some sick, Andy Kaufman-esque joke. But the Republican primary stopped being funny on Dec. 7 (Pearl Harbor Day), and shifted into dangerous [Editor: We would also accept an earlier date.]. The humor ended when a leading presidential candidate called for a halt to all Muslims entering the country. In that moment, with those words, it became more dangerous than the very terrorists we are trying to thwart by creating these extra precautions.
Donald Trump’s suggestion came in South Carolina to a raucous cheer. It followed suggestions that the United States needs a national registry for Muslims, and that we need to shut down Mosques. Trump has also made a number of inflammatory comments directed at women and the black, Asian and Mexican communities, respectively, over the course of his short campaign.
In the era of the 30-second sound bite and sharply partisan news, there is support for these dangerous ideas. With social media prevalence, there is an easily accessible platform for these ideas to spread without fact or reason. Critical thinking, apparently, is a skill sorely lacking in the general population, and that deficit is placed under a global microscope every four years via American presidential politics.
Facts used to be things people researched in order to become well-informed citizens, and only after that step was completed were opinions formed. Now, apparently, facts get in the way of a good campaign speech and obstruct the average American’s take on any given issue. We used to evaluate facts based on the merit of their source. But today, if it is on the Internet, it must be true.
If we evaluate the credibility of Trump’s assertions, we know there is nothing of substance behind his claim to have witnessed thousands of Muslims cheering in New Jersey as the World Trade Center buildings fell on 9/11. We know that he cited information from a hate group to bolster his arguments about African American crime. And because a rich, white man running for president said them, they must be true.
What happened to the idea of being able to place this new policy item in historical context? That is an important critical thinking skill. How can we not recognize the parallels with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882? Why can’t we see these this derogatory campaign for what it is—history repeating itself. This is what happens when we are not allowed to teach what really happened in America during World War II, but rather the polished, whitewashed version that makes the country feel good.
I stopped laughing at the clown car, and I pride myself on being someone who gets a good joke, but this joke has run its course.
Personally, I have always been a bit of an idealist, and while we may no longer be the greatest nation in the world, we are far better than this. Democrats are better than this. Republicans are better than this. We have to be. It is time to stand up and use our critical thinking skills. Let us limit the conversation to candidates who espouse ideas that aren’t distinctly un-American. Let us not fall for hate.
Matt Brennan is the author of the parenting blog, Spiraling Upwards. He had something to say about the alarming recent turn in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, and asked if he could say it on Dads 4 Change. We welcome compassionate, thoughtful commentary, and are pleased to present Matt’s D4C debut.