Donald Trump is not the devil. Or the "most despicable person in America" as I heard him referenced by a public figure. While I am not a fan or supporter, he says and does things that are not in line with my values, I also want to be honest about what I see happening here. I really want to believe he is an anomaly, an aberration we can disavow. I looked it up. Even with somewhat conservative numbers, 45% of the participating voters, or roughly 60 million people, feel enough in line with his overall political message to support his campaign.
60 million people in our country feel like Trump is their best representation. 60 million likely voters. And not everyone chooses to vote. Which means these are people who are interested enough in the world around them to take the time to get involved at some level.
It is much easier to dismiss Trump as a demon than face the very unpleasant reality that his approach to politics is reaching people. Trump is a symptom, not the cause, of a very real issue we continue to face in our culture.
While I see Trump as unqualified, as Barbara Res, one of his former executives, commented:
"First of all, everyone knows he has no experience. I mean, the idea that he would be president is just ridiculous. I have other developers I worked for who were just smarter than he is -- and I wouldn't vote for them for president either. And I mean, you need to have some experience and some knowledge of government,"
What seems to fire people up about Trump as a candidate is his bad behavior. His disrespect for women, people of color, Muslims, immigrants, Mexicans, workers ... the list is pretty long. Michelle Obama gave a fantastic speech and outlined the character issues we face with Trump. The example we don't want being set for our children or for ourselves.
I've read two different articles that talk about Trump's appeal, what draws his supporters to him. One slightly heavy academic approach from a Cognitive Science Professor and one using pop culture from a cracked.com blogger. They both, in different ways. remind the reader that Trump's followers are committed to him because they see him as someone who understands their situation and can make a difference they believe in.
In other words, they see him in the same way Clinton's followers see her.
There is a difference between standing up for what you believe; standing against things you see as wrong or dangerous; and dismissing the intelligence and humanity of the people who disagree with you.
When a self-avowed progressive states that Trump is less than human it is not different than Trump saying he wants to close the border to an entire religion. They are both examples of dismissing the humanity of the people involved in the situation.
The Arizona Republic, who endorsed a Democratic candidate for the first time in their existence, shows us a better way to respond to the hatred and vitriol that has become common course in our country.
I am committed to defeating Trump in the election. I believe that how we defeat Trump is also important. I believe that we need to find ways to disagree with one another respectfully. To call out behaviors as wrong, not people as less human. To remember that through our passionate disagreement we can arrive at something better for all of us. To remember that after the election, we are all on the same side, in the same country.