Antiestablishmentism -- the New Racism

Eight years ago, Barack Obama won the presidential election with promises of hope and change. Yet from the very beginning, there were many questions about his inexperience, his radical associations, his far-left ideology, in fact, his overall suitability for office. His policies as president have vindicated many of his early critics. Considering our decline in global stature and floundering economy, Obama is now widely viewed as an ineffective leader. His rhetoric and policies have contributed to the nation’s racial divide, and the public mistrust of our law enforcement agencies, in fact, mistrust of our entire government. He’s been rebuked by jurists for exceeding his presidential authority on matters like immigration, and he’s been roundly condemned for his detached responses to terrorist attacks against Americans at home and abroad. On international issues, he is generally perceived as an unreliable ally and impotent adversary.

But he still has staunch supporters committed to defending his record. They invariably resort to one surefire defense when all other arguments fail. Barack Obama is our first African-American president, so those who oppose his policies must be racist. His supporters can never accept his failures, but neither can they rationally defend them, so the race card is an effective, albeit dishonest, means of deflecting criticism, while avoiding rational debate. 

It’s not the only time red herrings have been used politics. Today, Donald Trump enjoys a solid lead in the race for the Republican nomination, though he’s widely criticized by both Democrats and conservatives within his own party. Like Obama’s supporters, Trump’s defenders try to divert attention from real issues. To those who voice concerns over Trump’s conservative credentials, his fluency with international affairs, the viability of the solutions he offers, or his suitability for office, they have one response: “If you oppose Donald Trump, it’s because he’s an outsider.  He’s going to shake things up, and you don’t want things shaken up.” They believe that the criticisms of Trump are only superficial issues, irrational attacks based, not on his skin color, but his outsider status – his antiestablishmentism.        

Yet there are legitimate concerns over Trump’s candidacy.

Donald Trump calls himself a common-sense conservative. But all conservatives should be more than a little skeptical of any Republican candidate who, in 2004 said, “I probably identify more as a Democrat,” who has contributed heavily to Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton, and who had nothing but unmitigated praise for her, prior to his presidential candidacy. Then there is his support of eminent domain, and his intent to “open up” liable laws, dovetailing nicely with the left’s call for “safe zones” and suppression of free speech. If none of that concerns conservatives, they should be outraged by his recent accusation that the Bush Administration lied about WMDs to justify the war in Iraq. All things considered, the question is not how weak Trump’s conservative principles are, but why he’s not running as a Democrat.

Trump argues that, as a businessman, he contributed to both political parties, perhaps suggesting that currying favor with influential politicians is somehow less onerous than assuming a sham role for political gain. So now, this man with such tenuous political loyalties is calling for all Republicans to pledge their allegiance to him -- in the interest of the party. 

Trump bellows the frustration that so many Americans feel today, but his bombastic rhetoric is nothing but a regurgitation of things we already know.  He offers no concrete solutions, only assurances. Honest men establish their integrity simply by saying what they mean and meaning what they say. They don’t have to admonish their listeners to believe them. Trump does it incessantly. During his recent AIPAC speech, he used the phrase “believe me” 12 times. Those words belie his continuously fluctuating core beliefs and frequent reversals on his outlandish promises -- promises that often prove to be little more than concoctions of wishful thinking and old fashioned bluster. 

That was certainly true with his vow to torture terrorist captives and to “take out” their family members. Even his signature commitment to construct a Mexico-funded wall and to deport 12 million illegal aliens came under scrutiny when he reportedly softened that position during a private meeting with the New York Times, a transcript of which he refuses to release.

Any political party has the absolute right to assess the character, core beliefs, and suitability of the candidate it puts on the ballot. If that candidate is at odds with the party platform, it is right to oppose him as best it can. That is not bias against outsiders, and it does not ignore the will of the voters. It is an obligation to its constituents.                    

There are many legitimate concerns about Trump’s candidacy that have nothing to do with his outsider status, but they are all eclipsed by one issue. It is Trump’s vulnerability in the general election, confirmed by various independent polling data. His supporters mistakenly argue that the party would coalesce behind him after he’s nominated. They are forgetting the media bias and the fact that, even today, we know very little about Donald Trump. The hints we’ve gotten suggest that he stepped on a few toes and broke a few rules to get where he is today. As the media continue to coddle Clinton and finally begin to rattle the skeletons in Trump’s closet, whatever they uncover can only diminish his standing, widening Clinton’s advantage, and assuring her victory.

The primary source of public outrage today is not “the establishment” or “the system.” It is eight years of Barack Obama’s policies that brought us where we are today and spawned Donald Trump’s candidacy. It would be a sad irony if his nomination and ultimate defeat burdened the country with four or more years of those same policies through a Hillary Clinton presidency.

We can only have an honest government, one that listens to the people, by electing the right candidates. It doesn’t matter so much whether they are antiestablishment or part of the system. What is essential is that their character is thoroughly and objectively vetted by the voting public before sending them to Washington. Only that will make America great again.

The writer is a military veteran and retired from the U.S. Secret Service as a Senior Special Agent. His political commentaries have been widely published on line and in print, and he is a regular contributor to renewamerica.com  

Eight years ago, Barack Obama won the presidential election with promises of hope and change. Yet from the very beginning, there were many questions about his inexperience, his radical associations, his far-left ideology, in fact, his overall suitability for office. His policies as president have vindicated many of his early critics. Considering our decline in global stature and floundering economy, Obama is now widely viewed as an ineffective leader. His rhetoric and policies have contributed to the nation’s racial divide, and the public mistrust of our law enforcement agencies, in fact, mistrust of our entire government. He’s been rebuked by jurists for exceeding his presidential authority on matters like immigration, and he’s been roundly condemned for his detached responses to terrorist attacks against Americans at home and abroad. On international issues, he is generally perceived as an unreliable ally and impotent adversary.

But he still has staunch supporters committed to defending his record. They invariably resort to one surefire defense when all other arguments fail. Barack Obama is our first African-American president, so those who oppose his policies must be racist. His supporters can never accept his failures, but neither can they rationally defend them, so the race card is an effective, albeit dishonest, means of deflecting criticism, while avoiding rational debate. 

It’s not the only time red herrings have been used politics. Today, Donald Trump enjoys a solid lead in the race for the Republican nomination, though he’s widely criticized by both Democrats and conservatives within his own party. Like Obama’s supporters, Trump’s defenders try to divert attention from real issues. To those who voice concerns over Trump’s conservative credentials, his fluency with international affairs, the viability of the solutions he offers, or his suitability for office, they have one response: “If you oppose Donald Trump, it’s because he’s an outsider.  He’s going to shake things up, and you don’t want things shaken up.” They believe that the criticisms of Trump are only superficial issues, irrational attacks based, not on his skin color, but his outsider status – his antiestablishmentism.        

Yet there are legitimate concerns over Trump’s candidacy.

Donald Trump calls himself a common-sense conservative. But all conservatives should be more than a little skeptical of any Republican candidate who, in 2004 said, “I probably identify more as a Democrat,” who has contributed heavily to Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton, and who had nothing but unmitigated praise for her, prior to his presidential candidacy. Then there is his support of eminent domain, and his intent to “open up” liable laws, dovetailing nicely with the left’s call for “safe zones” and suppression of free speech. If none of that concerns conservatives, they should be outraged by his recent accusation that the Bush Administration lied about WMDs to justify the war in Iraq. All things considered, the question is not how weak Trump’s conservative principles are, but why he’s not running as a Democrat.

Trump argues that, as a businessman, he contributed to both political parties, perhaps suggesting that currying favor with influential politicians is somehow less onerous than assuming a sham role for political gain. So now, this man with such tenuous political loyalties is calling for all Republicans to pledge their allegiance to him -- in the interest of the party. 

Trump bellows the frustration that so many Americans feel today, but his bombastic rhetoric is nothing but a regurgitation of things we already know.  He offers no concrete solutions, only assurances. Honest men establish their integrity simply by saying what they mean and meaning what they say. They don’t have to admonish their listeners to believe them. Trump does it incessantly. During his recent AIPAC speech, he used the phrase “believe me” 12 times. Those words belie his continuously fluctuating core beliefs and frequent reversals on his outlandish promises -- promises that often prove to be little more than concoctions of wishful thinking and old fashioned bluster. 

That was certainly true with his vow to torture terrorist captives and to “take out” their family members. Even his signature commitment to construct a Mexico-funded wall and to deport 12 million illegal aliens came under scrutiny when he reportedly softened that position during a private meeting with the New York Times, a transcript of which he refuses to release.

Any political party has the absolute right to assess the character, core beliefs, and suitability of the candidate it puts on the ballot. If that candidate is at odds with the party platform, it is right to oppose him as best it can. That is not bias against outsiders, and it does not ignore the will of the voters. It is an obligation to its constituents.                    

There are many legitimate concerns about Trump’s candidacy that have nothing to do with his outsider status, but they are all eclipsed by one issue. It is Trump’s vulnerability in the general election, confirmed by various independent polling data. His supporters mistakenly argue that the party would coalesce behind him after he’s nominated. They are forgetting the media bias and the fact that, even today, we know very little about Donald Trump. The hints we’ve gotten suggest that he stepped on a few toes and broke a few rules to get where he is today. As the media continue to coddle Clinton and finally begin to rattle the skeletons in Trump’s closet, whatever they uncover can only diminish his standing, widening Clinton’s advantage, and assuring her victory.

The primary source of public outrage today is not “the establishment” or “the system.” It is eight years of Barack Obama’s policies that brought us where we are today and spawned Donald Trump’s candidacy. It would be a sad irony if his nomination and ultimate defeat burdened the country with four or more years of those same policies through a Hillary Clinton presidency.

We can only have an honest government, one that listens to the people, by electing the right candidates. It doesn’t matter so much whether they are antiestablishment or part of the system. What is essential is that their character is thoroughly and objectively vetted by the voting public before sending them to Washington. Only that will make America great again.

The writer is a military veteran and retired from the U.S. Secret Service as a Senior Special Agent. His political commentaries have been widely published on line and in print, and he is a regular contributor to renewamerica.com