The last weeks of July saw Americans enduring eight days of national political conventions, ending in the selection of the candidates to run for President. As conventions go, they were similar in the pomp that cloaks all national political conventions, but they were historic and unprecedented too. American Democrats nominated the first woman to run for President, ninety-six years after American women achieved the right to vote. American Republicans nominated a billionaire executive and reality television figure to run for President, a man who claims only he can solve the country’s problems.
Despite making history, Mrs. Clinton’s nomination was expected. There was drama, as leaked emails enraged Bernie Sanders supporters, but in the end she was nominated and Mr. Sanders shined as a team player, emphatically endorsing her. The Democratic convention was about the Democratic Party as much as it was about Mrs. Clinton. That was a good thing for Democrats, given how disliked Mrs. Clinton is across America.
In an historical ‘about-face,’ the Republican convention wasn’t about the Republican Party as it was about Donald Trump. There was little public acknowledgement regarding the ultra-conservative party platform adopted at the convention. Mr. Trump’s pronouncements on the evils of free trade and the NATO alliance undoubtedly upset the stomachs of die hard Reagan Republicans. Rather than taking a page from Ronald Reagan’s’ widely successful 1984 “Morning in America,” campaign, Mr. Trump painted a grim picture of America, a country hopelessly caught in the fear and bleakness of night. “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it,” Mr. Trump lectured. He is the “un-Republican.”
Ronald Reagan is revered among Republicans as the measure of what a Republican should be. He is idolized as what a Republican must stand for, and what every future Republican president should aspire too. Mr. Trump is so un-Republican, that former President George W. Bush didn’t attend the convention. Neither did Senator and 2008 Republican Presidential candidate John McCain, 2012 Republican candidate Mitt Romney, former Republican Vice President Dick Cheney, Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Jeff Flake and Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich. Senator Ted Cruz, vilified by Mr. Trump as “Lying Ted,” attended and provoked anger among Trump supporters when he refused to endorse him. All of this makes many staunch Republicans very worried about Mr. Trump, and in particular, what comes out of his unrestricting mouth.
Mr. Trump’s comment that only he can solve America’s problems troubles many. It’s right up there with his comment; “I know more about ISIS then the generals do.” Seriously? His admiration for Vladimir Putin’s methods, invasions, and intimidations make many Republicans scratch their heads. What’s happened to the Grand Old Party; the party of Abraham Lincoln, American exceptionalism, individual freedom, small government, states’ rights, curbs on Presidential powers and the ‘we don’t need Washington to tell us what to do, just stay out of my business’ Republican ethos?
President Obama referenced Mr. Trump’s declaration that only he can solve our problems by saying: “We don’t look to be ruled.” There is a difference between rulers and leaders, men and women who think only they can solve our problems and those that think we are stronger when we work together. To rule is to command. To lead is to guide. Maybe that’s why America is never referred to as being “ruled” by someone and the political party in power is never referred to as the “ruling” party. Contrast that to countries like Uganda, Zimbabwe, Cuba, and others, where Presidents and parties rule for forty years or more, systematically scolding that only they can solve the country’s issues and move them ahead. Geez, how much time do you need?
President Obama is right; we don’t look to be ruled, and we certainly don’t need to be. America fought a revolution so we wouldn’t be ruled and we wrote a Constitution that has checks and balances so that we will never be ruled again. The brilliance of our founding fathers was to construct a democratic process that would allow us to be guided, and if we don’t like it, we can change it, without the recriminations of a ruler, a ruling party and the government apparatus they control.
The very idea of a Presidential candidate pontificating that only he or she can solve our problems should be repugnant to Americans. We have this thing about government being “by the people and for the people.” Yet many Americans are rallying around Mr. Trump as if he were our savior, rescuing us from ourselves. This has to be sickening to many Republicans because it sounds so much like the mantra of progressive Democrats: We know what is best for you.
Republicans have spoken loud. Mr. Trump has defeated every Republican he has faced and is now the un-Republican candidate for President. He may well get the opportunity to rule and save us. He has yet to falter despite his portentous rhetoric. He is a man devoted to the sound of his own voice, but we don’t need a savior and we don’t need a ruler. We need a leader. Despite our failings, America has had a reasonably good run for 240 years, without Mr. Trump.
This is a doubtful proposition, but if elected Mr. Trump may want to heed words variously attributed to Plato, Aristotle and others: “Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.”