For nearly 80 years—the surprising defeat of Dewey by Truman to the meteoritic rise of Ronald Reagan—I have been an intent observer of national Presidential elections. Never have I found myself as alarmed as I am this year!
I will be clear. I find the candidacy of Donald Trump to be a great concern. I hope I am always supportive of the right of any individual to seek elective office. It is our way! But Mr. Trump’s demeaning and sarcastic approach is offensive to me. I have listened with jaw wide open as he has labeled anyone who disagrees with him as “stupid” and “liars.” His implied lack of tolerance for women and for other races and religions is frightening. His sarcasm strikes me as belittling when he speaks of those overweight or in some way handicapped. Personally, I would be embarrassed if he were our leader and I doubt his ability to deal maturely with people of the world. I cannot support his candidacy to any degree.
Beyond Mr. Trump, I am also troubled by other candidates who resort to name-calling instead of logical analysis. As far as Republican candidates are concerned, I would support John Kasich. I have listened to him speak and appreciate his forthrightness and considerably lower degree of rancor.
Even greater than my disapproval of specific candidates, I am extremely troubled by some of my fellow citizens whose demeanor seems more appropriate to a sideshow carnival than an important decision-making process.
When I read descriptions of crowds shouting epithets of intolerance and hate, using foul language, even using violence to demonstrate their disapproval of those who disagree with them, I am appalled. I long for the day when neighbors can disagree intelligently and with controlled emotion.
I am extremely apprehensive of the mob behavior exhibited at some rallies. Recently, a friend called my attention to a remarkable article published in The New Yorker: “Abraham Lincoln Warned Us about Donald Trump.” (Philip Gourevitch, March 15, 2016)
The article described the bigoted and hateful behavior of crowds of people in 1836 who took the law into their own hands: burning and torturing Francis J. McIntosh while they sang Christian hymns. Newspaperman Elijah Lovejoy spoke out vigorously against such “mobology” and ultimately was himself shot.
Gourevitch explained saying Lincoln recognized the dangers of such behavior and concluded that far greater than the fear of foreign attack was the fear of mob-rule within America: “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” Lincoln spoke out against lawlessness and the “mobocratic spirit.”
Gourevitch wrote, “ Donald Trump personifies the mobocratic spirit; he fuels it and is fuelled by it…” He lists a litany of examples of this appeal to the mob concluding by saying modern mobs demonstrate “an all –encompassing animosity toward the government and its institutions; in short, an ever-intensifying lawlessness.”
“Lincoln,” Gourevitch explains, “described the coming of a figure startlingly like Trump as all but inevitable: someone whose singular ambition and genius for power so ‘thirsts and burns for distinction’ that he will pursue it any cost.…Lincoln said, there is only one solution: ‘it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs.”
I believe the American people must and will stand up to Trump and his mobocracy and that the rule of law will survive.