Is America a country in which a majority of those voting condone bigotry, racism, fascism, misogyny and narcissism in the nation’s highest office? That will be determined for the world to see on Nov. 8 when voters elect the next president of the United States.
Consider the dictionary definitions of the following characteristics:
Bigotry — Obstinate or intolerant devotion to one’s own opinions and prejudices, especially one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.
Racism — A belief that race is a primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. (2) Racial prejudice or discrimination.
Fascism — A system of government characterized by forcible suppression of opposition, private economic enterprise under centralized governmental control, belligerent nationalism, racism and militarism.
Misogyny — Hatred of women, especially by a man.
Narcissism — A long-term pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of understanding of others’ feelings.
Does anyone leap immediately to mind?
In his months of political campaigning, Republican Donald Trump has demonstrated every one of those reprehensible characteristics over and over again. Day after day, week after week, month after month, he has revealed his disdain for women, his disrespect for racial minorities, his hyper-inflated ego, his belief that he alone knows what’s best for America and his willingness to heap one outright lie upon another, all with seeming impunity. His total unfitness for the office of the presidency is on display for the entire world to see.
There seems to be no shortage of support for the Trump candidacy. Much or it comes from white, middle class Americans, millions of whom have watched their jobs disappear and their financial well-being collapse while those at the very top of America’s economic ladder — again largely white millionaires and billionaires — have gotten richer and richer. Do those Trump supporters not realize that their candidate represents the very segment of society that they deplore the most? Do they really believe that this self-centered buffoon — a man who was handed a million dollars by his father to launch his real estate career — understands the struggles of working class Americans?
Hillary Clinton’s behavior, especially during and following her tenure as secretary of state, has hardly been exemplary. Her evasive responses to the investigation into her use of a private email server while serving as secretary have raised doubts about her honesty and trustworthiness. And her cozy relationship with Wall Street — a multimillion-dollar speechmaking career and more millions in donations from bankers and investors — even after it became clear that she had her eye on the presidency has been the subject of much criticism. But for all her flaws, Hillary Clinton is not a bigot…or a racist…or a fascist…or a narcissist.
Whatever one’s own views may be, he or she surely can respect the judgment of those who find themselves unable to support Clinton’s candidacy. But it’s far more difficult to respect the judgment of those who willingly climb aboard the Trump train, placing his campaign signs on their front lawns or standing on street corners waving signs of support. It is impossible to endorse such a man as a candidate for president without endorsing the bigotry, the racism and the hatred for entire classes of people that have been, and continue to be, so much a part of his candidacy. Whatever rationale one may choose to justify his or her support for Trump, one cannot separate the man from his character. They are part and parcel.
Bigotry, racism, fascism, misogyny and narcissism.
Are those the characteristics we want in the next occupant of the Oval Office? Before you cast your vote in November, think about that. Think very hard.
Hugh Bowden once served a term in the Maine Legislature and recently retired from a lifelong career as a journalist and observer of all things political. He lives in Ellsworth.