Collected Thoughts

October 2016
October 4, 2016

In my reading and conversation, I’m encountering increasing numbers of persons who are close to panic over the thought that Donald Trump might win the presidential race. I agree that the idea of Trump in the White House is a scary thought. But the thing that frightens me the most is not Donald Trump himself. After all, it’s not a novel experience to observe ignorant persons with bad taste seeking political power. The new factor in the political situation now is the possibility that the American people might confer the most powerful political office the nation has to offer on an obvious sociopath. That tells us a good deal more about the people than it does about the candidate. It ought, also, have considerable effect on our thoughts about what we really have to fear.

The great majority of people who will vote in the election next month will have spent their entire lives in the United States. An equal majority will have been the beneficiaries of American public education. So the person they choose will be the best representative of fundamental American thought they can find. And that person may well be -- according to some -- Donald Trump.

I haven’t yet felt any panic about Trump because I don’t think his chances of winning the election are significant. It does bother me that such a person has become the choice of one of our major parties. That bespeaks serious intellectual sickness. But as I say, I don’t think the whole nation is yet that mentally ill.

For the sake of argument, however, let’s suppose I’m wrong. Suppose Donald Trump actually can win the election. Where would that put us? It would place all of us who view Trump as a farce not only in an immediate minority but in a minority that is seriously, fundamentally, divided from the larger portion of our fellow citizens. We might begin to understand what life in the nation has been for native Americans, and blacks, and recent immigrants throughout our history.

We would learn what it means to live in a nation that cares virtually nothing about our most cherished values and deepest concerns. We would learn what it means to raise our children and grandchildren in a nation that would be telling them every day, through all our public institutions, that the people who raised them are not actually acceptable citizens.

That’s how serious the election of Donald Trump would be. It’s not a thing to take lightly. But, as I say, it’s not a prospect I’m really worried about -- yet.

©John R. Turner

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