Whenever I make the case against Donald Trump, I am subject to a barrage of, “what about Hillary” comments. As a Jewish American and strong supporter of Israel I’ve often been asked by those who oppose Hillary Clinton how I can choose her over Donald Trump. Even if I am to accept that she is not a friend of Israel, something I do not necessarily accept and another discussion irrelevant to my point, my answer has always been as follows. A weakened American democracy is something that puts the whole world in danger and is something far more perilous for Israel than a president that does not support her.
This is no longer about which candidate you prefer to win on November 8th. This is now about the future of democracy in the United States of America. It is dishonest and irresponsible to put Donald Trump’s answers in convenient vacuums. When the Republican nominee for president indicated at the 3rd and final debate that he would decide after the election on November 8th whether or not he would accept the outcome, this was not an isolated answer. This was an answer from a man who is pushing a populist movement based on discontent, scapegoating and anger. This is an answer from a man who has mocked people from almost every ethnic group. It’s a man who has fired up the extreme right wing of the country. In his answer about the importance of the Supreme Court he honed in on the 2nd Amendment while once “joking” about how supporters of the 2nd Amendment could take matters into their own hands in stopping Hillary Clinton. I take umbrage with the comparison of Trump to Hitler, simply because you can’t compare a man who makes volatile and irresponsible statements to a murderous dictator guilty of the murder of millions of people including the slaughter of 6 million Jewish men, women and children. However,that being said, that doesn’t mean any of this is good for democracy. That doesn’t take away from from his glib suggestion that his supporters take out his major opposition.
Trump is a high stakes gambler. He personally has very little to lose by his effort to be president. The problem is he’s been playing with house money, which in this case means the future of the country. The only way what Trump has done turns out to be good for the country is if he wins and does a phenomenal job. Two things that are seen as highly unlikely to a large segment of the American population. For argument sake however, let’s play this out. Trump wins, appoints the best advisers, defeats ISIS, stabilizes the Middle East, strengthens relationships with our allies, and orchestrates an historic economic boom. If this were to happen, not only would American democracy be strengthened, the Republican Party would survive their organizational catastrophe. As an American, should the unexpected happen and Mr. Trump does win, I hope and pray it plays out this way. Problem is, I am quite certain it won’t.
Of course as most polls show, it is unlikely Donald Trump will win. But even if we allow that to be considered as a possibility, the demeanor and temperament he has displayed throughout this campaign has to be concerning to anyone looking at this with a level head. I know his surrogates and ardent supporters will make excuses for everything he’s said and allegedly done, but that doesn’t change any of the facts. Corey Lewandowski and Kayleigh Mcenany can spend all day saying “what Mr. Trump was saying is….”, but that will never actually change the candidate’s words. And words hold power. Not everything can be blamed on political correctness and not being a typical politician. Most significantly, telling a debate moderator that “I’ll keep you in suspense” as to whether or not he will accept the will of the people and respect the peaceful transfer of power has nothing to do with being a New Yorker or an anti-establishment candidate. It has more to do with an inability to accept defeat as an option. That happens to be quality I love in an athlete and to some extent see as a positive in a political figure, but that does not mean Mr. Trump’s inability to accept defeat supersedes the will of the American voter or a political system that has worked for 240 years. And let’s be honest and say what is on everyone’s mind and is everyone’s ultimate concern. Trump’s refusal to agree to accept the outcome until he sees what happens is just short of incitement to riot and undermines the very core of American democracy. His supporters have already shown that he can say anything he wants and they will still listen to him. What happens if he loses, claims the election is rigged, and tells his supporters to take to the streets in protest? The United States of America may face a problem greater than any it has faced in its history.
How is that possible you may ask? Simply put, even in the face of the greatest threats, the most incompetent leadership, or the greatest discontent of the populous, America has always been able to rest its head on one basic fact. It has, at least functioned on the perceived principal of democracy. It’s impossible to give full credit to a nation that once considered slavery legal, but even then it was a country that respected its system. That respect held it together and allowed it to grow from a place where black slaves helped build the White House to a place where a black man resides in it as President of the United States. Politics aside, I believe any reasonable and decent person has to see the beauty in a system that allows for that kind of growth.
I fear that Donald Trump’s America has a danger of damaging that freedom to grow. I don’t know what is in the man’s heart and what his true intentions are. There are people I like and respect who think he is doing this for selfless reasons. Others believe he is doing this to attain the greatest power, either for personal benefit or at worse, anarchy and destruction. I don’t know the answer, but I do know that his words have put a dent in our democracy greater than any put by any of our external foes, because the more Mr. Trump falls behind the more he pivots from challenging the establishment to challenging the system. He does this in what appears to be an effort to mold the system to his liking and his benefit, something that terrifies many for one very important reason. Even a system with a corrupt establishment within its ranks is better than a country running on one individual’s idea of what the system should be. A system running the way only one person wants it to run is nothing short of a dictatorship.
This election has transcended Republican against Democrat, Conservative against Liberal, or Trump against Clinton. This election is now a referendum on the democratic system that has held this country together for almost 2 and a half centuries, and regardless of the outcome, that is something that should concern and disturb many American citizens because it should never have gotten to this point in the first place. When this election is over, if the democracy remains in tact, the challenge of leadership, media and all concerned citizens is to find out why. Otherwise it will only get worse.
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