By Sal Bommarito
Donald Trump has dramatically changed the political landscape in America during this primary season. His bare-knuckle approach has been greatly augmented by social media, which increased the ability of candidates to communicate with the electorate 24 hours a day.
Yet, hardball politics is not a new phenomenon. Political competitors have always been ruthless, never hesitating to expose the weaknesses of the competition. However, mudslinging and unabashed attacks have never been as extreme as they are now. Trump has adopted, personified and encouraged this approach in the election process.
In an era of political correctness, Trump is unafraid to label his adversaries as liars, losers and incompetents. But, most disconcerting is the man’s aggressive tactics and tough-guy persona, a demeanor prevalent in business, but less so in government.
Trump has directly and indirectly resorted to xenophobia, racist fears and misogyny when it suits him. He says things that many of us may think about, but rarely discuss publicly because the issues are often deemed to be off limits.
There have been many moments during which Trump has made comments that historically would have ruined a political career. One of the most memorable was a verbal assault on Megyn Kelly of Fox News after she moderated a Republican debate. He said: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever …” It’s doubtful that this topic had ever arisen during a presidential campaign. The comment was horrendous, yet it had no significant impact on Trump’s appeal to voters at the time.
Trump’s negative commentary about women was not over. A few days ago, he said: “Women who have abortions should be punished if the practice were illegal.” Trump backtracked on the comment shortly thereafter. It remains to be seen to what extent this remark will hurt his chances in the primaries. In his zeal to be sensational, Trump stuck his foot in his mouth once again. It makes you wonder, how could a person running for president not have canned answers to obvious questions on one of the most important social topics in America?
Trump has insulted women to an extent that no one ever has before. Does he know that women accounted for 53% of the total votes in the 2012 election? How can you possibly win an election after pissing off such a large percentage of voters?
Trump may or may not resent Hispanics, but it sure seems like he does. Speaking of illegal Mexican immigrants, he said: “. . . They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists . . .” Given that 11.2 million Latinos voted in the 2012 election, why would Trump go out of his way to alienate so many voters? Really, was it to obtain the approval of bigots in America?
Trump’s xenophobic attitude, of course, makes no sense given that America is a melting pot, and almost all American families emigrated from other parts of the world.
An even more serious concern is the potential impact of Trump’s rhetoric on the values of our nation. Ultra-nationalism was a trademark of Nazi Germany. Attacking minorities and blaming them for the problems of the country was the mantra of the most despised leader in history. It’s also shameful that Trump is suggesting that violence may erupt if he does not achieve his goals. This type of oratory encourages the darkest members of our society that thrive on barbarity rather than comity in life.