Donald Trump isn’t an idiot.
He just plays one on t.v.
My guess is that he’s a pretty smart, intelligent guy with a massive ego and penchant for telling us what he thinks we all want to hear and then praising himself for telling it like it is.
Which concerns me a great deal if what he is telling us is what many of us are all actually thinking.
Especially in light of recent terror attacks in Paris, Beirut, Mali and the downing of a Russian passenger plane over Egypt.
The world is fearful, anxious and uncertain about what happens next when it comes to the violence that radical Islamic terror organizations like ISIS and al Qaeda are prepared to commit.
Where’s the next target? Who are the next targets? What can be done to prevent it from happening and what, if anything, can be done to defeat them so they cannot destroy our world?
So when Donald Trump steps up after each of these attacks and tells America that his solution is to “bomb the *** out of them” and create a database to track Muslims in America it ought to offer us all a pause.
Yet, if the pollsters are to be believed (and, why shouldn’t we trust pollsters?) every time Trump opens his mouth his numbers go up – not down.
Insult a war hero? Trump’s numbers go up.
Insult Iowans? Trump’s numbers go up.
Insult women, Hispanics, Muslims and (fill-in-the-blank)? Trumps numbers go up.
How can this be? Why can this be?
I spent most of my adult life in and around politics and government. From a young kid who was the President of the Campus DFL at St. Cloud State University to a young man on the White Bear Lake City Council to a middle-age man as a United States Senate Chief of Staff I figured I have seen and done it all.
And then along comes Donald Trump.
A man who is willing, and capable, of saying just about anything on the campaign trail if he think it’s going to advance his candidacy in some way, shape or form.
In a day not so long ago some of the things he said would force him to end his campaign in days if not weeks.
In fact, the more outrageous, insulting, rude, misinformed, divisive and hatred the more money he seems to be able to haul in – and the more his polling numbers go up.
We live in dangerous and difficult times. But our current campaigns for President don’t reflect this reality.
I don’t know that we have yet come to grasp the full ramifications of the break-out of ISIS.
This is not a business as usual world anymore.
This is no war against a hostile country with a national capitol and belligerent but reasonable and rationale leaders weighing the risk and reward of further aggression.
This is a war against a hostile ideology whose aspirations for a global capitol cannot come to be without the kind of apocalyptic battle we usually imagine in the movies.
I understand that the American people are demanding “change.” But, once again, if polls are to be believed, it is Republican Primary voters who demanding most of this “change.”
On the Democratic side, despite his impressive collection of money and his affinity with disaffected Democratic primary voters, Bernie Sanders campaign for President may be the most lucratively funded quixotic campaign in recent memory.
Hillary Clinton is still decidedly in the lead and barring her dropping out of the Democratic campaign is likely to be the party’s nominee.
Democratic voters apparently aren’t all that keen with change. They want a 3rd Obama term and Clinton’s a known quantity for them.
For Republican voters however the story is apparently different. Ben Carson and Donald Trump are in a see-saw game of who can say the most outrageous things and raise the most money off saying them and then see how far up they will go in the polls.
Ted Cruz is no slacker when it comes to this strategy, either. Unfortunately for him he is “of” government because of his position in the United States Senate. That he has done nothing in government while being of government except for making it more divided and dysfunctional than ever is his principle claim to fame.
I can’t imagine taking the fight to ISIS with Ben Carson, Donald Trump or Ted Cruz serving as America’s Commander-in-Chief.
There are any number of other Republicans who I think would do a fine job as President of the United States. They may not be the best candidates in the current environment of “shock and awe” political commentary, but I am betting on the long view that they will ultimately prevail over Trump, Cruz and Carson.
Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, Carly Fiorina and John Kasich are the adults in a room currently being held hostage by unruly kids who know how to get attention – not how to lead.
For the time being Donald Trump will continue to say – not what’s on his mind – but what’s in his mouth and what he thinks Americans want to hear.
There’s a difference.
Real leadership would tell you what’s on one’s mind. Real leadership would tell us that ISIS is a threat to the entire world and America must stand up and defend itself and how we can and will prevail against this unprecedented threat to global stability.
Donald Trump’s solution?
Track Muslims. Insult Muslims. Mock Muslims.
There are many frightening things about Donald Trump’s campaign for President. Not one of them has to do with him actually winning.
When all’s said and done that will not happen.
He may, through his words, rhetoric and actions doom a legitimately qualified Republican from winning next November but I do not believe America will elect this huckster as our next President.
Yet for as long as Donald Trump is running for President – either as a Republican or an Independent or as a Donald – he endangers America.
His vile anti-immigrant rhetoric directed towards at least 11 million people living in America without documentation increases animosity and hatred towards people who are here simply to live – make a living – and live the American Dream.
But it also increases fear and anxiety among those 11 million people and their children. Who, in time, will grow up under the glaring spotlight of Donald Trump’s rhetoric saying that they and their families should have been rounded up and sent back to where they came from.
Now, sensing that America’s fear about an expanded battle of theater with terrorist groups is increasing every day, Trump is seizing on that fear to spread his pathological attacks on anyone and everyone.
Syrian refugees. Muslims outside of America. Muslins inside of America. None are safe from a man who cares nothing about anyone’s safety and security other than his own.
By attacking Muslims Trump wishes to lump the overwhelming majority of peaceful adherents with the overwhelming minority of radical Islamic terrorists to further frighten the American public.
America is at war. We are at war with a collection of sophisticated true-believers who are convinced that our destruction is the word of their God, rooted in their radical Islamic view of the world.
It’s time we focus our energy, our resources and our united stand as Americans to fighting those battles and winning that war – with that enemy.
For if we continue to listen to Donald Trump he will turn our energy, our resources and our united stand as Americans against ourselves – making each of us the enemy.
If that happens the terrorists win.