Intense is a word that has been used to describe various aspects of the 2016 Presidential Campaign. I concur. This campaign season has been intensely racist, intensely misogynistic, intensely xenophobic, intensely offensive and intensely unapologetic. All these descriptors lead one to ask from what psychopathic dark hole did Donald Trump crawl in order to attempt to slouch his way to the White House? This “Trojan Horse” came in through a reality t.v. show named the Apprentice and various t.v. and radio appearances. Many different people knew various aspects of Donald Trump. His most troubling sides periodically emerged with the Central Park Five case in New York City and his leading the Birther Movement against President Obama. Both of these story lines have emerged again during the 2016 campaign. When the Central Park Five case first broke, Donald Trump took out a full page newspaper ad calling from the death penalty of the five accused disregarding their ages. The five boys were later exonerated after spending years in prison. New York City awarded a forty one million dollar settlement to be divide among the five wrongfully imprisoned men. Donald Trump only doubled down on still calling the five guilty. As it pertains to the Birther issue, Donald Trump tried to blame everything on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. Trump says that he did President Obama a favor by putting the issue to rest by getting the President to show his birth certificate. He has never apologized for his behavior. More than likely, he will never apologize.
Jim Jones was the leader the Peoples Temple which began in Indiana before moving to California and ultimately to Guyana. It was in Guyana where Jim Jones and many of his followers came to a tragic end with a mass suicide. Jimmy Swaggart was a southern evangelist who rose to prominence via his music and television ministry. When he was caught soliciting prostitutes twice, his ministry began to crumble. David Koresh was the leader of a religious cult in Waco, Texas known as the Branch Davidians. Koresh had set himself up as the divine ruler of this group which came to a fiery end when there compound burned in the aftermath of an FBI raid. I mentioned all of these individuals not because I believe that a disastrous end will befall Trump and his supporters, but because the rhetorical overkill of Donald Trump reminds me of Jones, Swaggart, and Koresh. Moreover, the fervency with which Trump’s followers hang on to his every word while dismissing all criticism of Donald Trump is very similar to the followers of the men listed above. For example, even though Swaggart was a man of the cloth caught twice for soliciting prostitutes he still had a following. Swaggart still maintained his television ministry. Yet, in the wake of the scandals the audience was noticeably thinner. Such parallels would not be made if Trumps rhetoric was not otherworldly. All the scientific polls indicate that Trump lost the second debate. Yet, win addressing a rally, Trumps begins his talk by stating that all the polls say he won the debate by a landslide. He also insists that he is doing very well in the polls measuring the election. However, polls indicate that he losing ground. Such an alternative worldview is very difficult to defend against given the fact that lies are made up on the spot and presented as infallible truth.
The latest mantra emanating from the Trump campaign is that the election is rigged. Trump has also encouraged his followers to go and monitors polls in urban areas to make sure that things are conducted on the up and up. Such an encouragement mirrors Republican talking points on why it was necessary to pass voter I.D. laws to end voter fraud. Such laws were passed and adopted in the face of overwhelming evidence voter fraud is negligible at best. Jones, Swaggart, and Koresh all had this circle the wagons mentality when things were no going their way. Each leader’s paranoia was legendary. Trump is presenting himself as the most paranoid man in American history. What the candidate fails to do is search his own soul for his failing campaign. Could it be that Trumps alienation of almost everyone accept his most devoted followers is causing his poll numbers to drop? Could it be that his African American outreach program consists of reinstituting stop and frisk? Could it be that his Latino outreach program consists of saying that one of Mexico’s richest citizens is behind the New York Times’s criticism of Trump and the allegations of sexual assault? Could it be that Trump is not doing well with women due to the fact that he even knocks Hillary Clinton based on her physical appearance?
What is regrettable about the 2016 campaign is that the American people are not being educated on the issues. The election has gone beyond the traditional philosophical battles over the size and scope of government. In truth, Trump is not interested in having such policy debates because policy is not his strong suit. Trump has brought the lunatic fringe to the mainstream. We can only surmise this reality when it seems that Trump signs and confederate flags have become one in the same. The Trump campaign is not apologizing. The Trump campaign is not even in the building.
Anthony Neal earned his Ph.D. in political science at Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University). Dr. Neal is an associate professor at State University College, Buffalo. The author of numerous book reviews and journal articles, he has had his work published in the Western Journal of Black Studies, the Journal of Black Studies, and Black Issues in Higher Education. In 2014 Dr. Neal received the university’s Faculty Appreciation Award, was named Instructor of the Year by the university’s United Student Government, and Professor of the Year by the Student Political Society in the Department of Political Science. In 2015, he published The American Political Narrative which is a succinct yet poignant narrative about the development of the American political system and what is needed to maintain it. In 2016, he will publish a book of poetry entitled “Love Agnostic | from 9/11 to Charleston”