By Anjeli Chapman || Contributing Writer
Watching Donald Trump’s presidential campaign feels a little bit like watching a carnival carousel malfunction. At first, it looks harmless enough. It’s entertaining, and everyone seems to be having a good time. But then, suddenly, it starts spinning out of control and all at once it isn’t entertaining anymore. It’s dangerous. Donald Trump is, to put it bluntly, deluded in countless ways. His political agenda sometimes seems completely devoid of any logic whatsoever. His very persona feels as though it’s been cobbled together out of counterintuitive political views and rudeness.
For a sampling of both those counterintuitive views and that trademark rudeness, here’s a roundup of Trump’s Summer antics: He has essentially portrayed the people of Mexico as sub-humans who need to be contained south of the border, like cattle behind a fence. He flip-flops his stance on abortion, having recently declared himself pro-life after being openly pro-choice for decades. For the majority of the last 20 years, Trump wasn’t even a Republican, but actually a registered Democrat who contributed to the campaign of Hillary Clinton. He’s openly disdainful of women and of any reporters who dare to ask serious, hard-hitting questions about his policies or the methods he plans to use to enact them. He believes that China has created global warming in an effort to sabotage the success of American manufacturers. He seems convinced that he has a fool-proof way of defusing the threat of Iranian nuclear terror, but refuses to even offer the most general outline of what his plan entails.
Even Trump’s very decision to run for political office seems bizarrely random, given his lack of experience and the fact that only a few years ago he actually said, “One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace. Good people don’t go into government.” This quote, coupled with Trump’s general attitude, appallingly poor campaign management, and the deficiency of his political knowledge make it seem as though Trump just woke up one morning and decided to run for president on a whim because the golf course was closed that day.
But as Trump spews more and more of his opinions, it becomes increasingly clear that he’s not just an amusing sideshow. The thoughts that he attempts to pass off as fact (that, for example, a high percentage of Mexicans are rapists) are dangerous and, what’s worse, they’re gaining traction.
It’s one thing for a ridiculous candidate to get his or her 15 minutes of fame and then slowly vanish from the limelight. It’s quite another to watch as Trump survives the 24-hour news cycle and refuses to go away. For such an absurdly racist, chauvinist, and completely unqualified man to be getting this much media coverage and to actually be a front-runner of the GOP pack is, in this day and age, unprecedented. So it’s not just surprising but physically nauseating to watch Donald Trump’s meteoric rise to fame. Because frankly, what does it tell us about our country that Trump, a bigot with minimal political experience and a penchant for belittling women and immigrants, is leading the GOP polls nationwide?
But at this point, you have to remember to step back for a moment and remind yourself of one simple, unwavering truth: Donald Trump will not, under any circumstances, become our next president. Treating him as a serious candidate only contributes to his power and more power is the very last thing he needs. And even if Trump somehow manages to secure the Republican nomination, the thought of pitting him against a truly qualified, competent Democratic candidate like Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton is laughable.
Watching this all unfold, it’s easy to lose faith in our political system, especially as a young voter. But it’s important to remember not to feel so disgusted that you back out of the democratic scheme all together. Like it or not, the political climate is clearly changing. Perhaps Trump’s surge in popularity isn’t indicative of a seismic shift in the ideals of the American voter.
The truth is, many of those who support Donald Trump would actually be negatively affected if the legislation that he proposes is passed. Cuts to Medicare funding and a zero percent corporate tax (both of which Trump proposes) would hurt lower and middle-class Americans while lining the pockets of the wealthiest one percent. Those who think they’re taking their country back may be ironically, inadvertently, voting their country away from them.
So the best advice that I can give you is this: before you vote, research every aspect of the candidate you’re voting for. Before you blindly attend all of their rallies or donate to their campaigns or stick their signs in your front lawn, consider their stances on the issues that matter most to you, such as abortion, immigration, and health care.
Above all, participate. It’s one thing to be informed, but it’s quite another to harness your newfound knowledge and take action. Don’t be a passive observer. Ignorance and apathy can only help sideshow candidates like Trump careen further and further out of control.
Anjeli Chapman’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.