Sunday, November 29, 2015

Are we listening to Trump?

There is a curious situation arising in national politics and it is embodied in a man named Trump. 
It seems that the national media is doing more fact checking on his stump speeches than on any other candidate and the more errors they report the higher he rises in the polls. 
As a journalist who got hooked on reporting as a result of Watergate I think I see some patterns emerging that are worth considering. 
Mr. Trump is a strong leader. Some might argue he is ruthless. His image is that of the TV show where he told contestants week after week, "You're fired." 
That is something that appeals to voters. He is a strong leader and in that regard he stands head and shoulders above others running for President today. 
I am troubled that voters seem to accept the premise, "I don't care if he is correct or not in what he says, he is strong and he likes to win and I'm tired of losing." 
Trump said he likes to win and he has indicated he wants American to win. 
That sounds like situation ethics: The end justifies the means. It doesn't matter what you do as long as you "git -er done" as Larry the Cable Guy would say. 
Some have questioned his ulterior motives. I think he has none. It would appear after he has been in the spotlight all these years that what you see is what you get. 
The question is, do we want to win at any cost? Does it matter to the voters how we win?
If we only care about winning and we don't care how we win, then Trump may be our candidate but I think people who embrace Judeo-Christian values will have a problem with the "win at any price" concept.
I have not heard Trump say in so many words he would "win at any price" but his unwillingness to be accurate when he speaks is troubling and seems to indicate his situation ethics mentality. 
The alternative is to elect a candidate who is not as driven, not as interested in America getting ahead of other nations.
I am reminded of two cartoons I  saw many years ago. 
In one cartoon, the church collection plates were overflowing with money and a deacon said to the preacher, "Think about it! You must have said something!" 
In the other cartoon, a deacon was trying to comfort the preacher. The deacon said, "You might be more influential if you didn't end every sermon by saying, 'But, then, what do I know?'"
Trump is like the deacon in the first cartoon. It doesn't matter what you say as long as it gets you ahead. But then, that idea isn't new in national politics. 
Ever since Richard Nixon left the White House in disgrace, Americans have been dubious about our government. 
They remember his speech when he said, "I am not a crook" and then they remember how hard his people worked to cover up the break in to his political rivals' offices in the Watergate hotel. 
"What are they trying to hide now?" people ask. 
The result has been fairly weak national leaders who spend more time pointing fingers at one another and trying to convince us they are good people rather than leading and people are tired of it. 
The number of people who vote each year is low. The non-voters with whom I speak say, "It doesn't matter who is elected. The country doesn't get better." 

It's no wonder Trump's fellow Republicans and the Democrats are perplexed by Trump's popularity. He is telling people what they want to hear. Now, will they think about what he is telling them?