Donald Trump's campaign has over the past six months changed from a bad joke into a nightmare for Republicans, foreign leaders and moderate American voters.
How can a man with such a shocking financial and personal history have such a strong showing in the primaries? The Economist last week decried Trump as "unfit" to run his party, let alone an entire nation.
Yet many Americans don't care what The Economist and the Pope say, but after decades of dumbing down the American public, why is anyone at all surprised?
Many factors underlie the attention in which Trump is wallowing. These conditions have produced rebellious anger, thus making the Trump Phenomenon possible.
- Anger arising from funneling money to the super-rich and a negative economic growth for everyone else. Real incomes, health services and social safety nets nearing collapse.
- The backing of large corporations, supported by the State Department's maintenance of world economic domination through manipulative trade treaties that raise prices and cost us jobs, plus costly continuous wars that draw money away from infrastructure and education.
- Sound-bite mass media, with news as entertainment, thrives on emotionalism and lacks journalistic judgement, resulting in "hype without reason."
- A dysfunctional government controlled by corporations and their lobbyists catalyzes a feeling of helplessness among many people.
- An educational system that avoids any question that can have multiple answers and is evaluated by standardized tests. Ever since Nixon introduced the Back to Basics program, children haven't learned to decide about multiple solutions for complex questions; they are taught that there can be only one correct answer.
- A government relying on armed force, instead of diplomacy, precipitates a national mind-set that believes all compromise is inherently a mistake.
People are angry and upset, causing a revolt against governmental Establishment. Trump plays on emotions, incites fears and promises the impossible, like exporting all the undocumented Hispanics and barring Muslims from entering the country. His hostile madness is capped by promises of an idealistic economic future. For the many disenchanted, emotion-driven, uninformed and unreasoning voters looking for a charming guru to lead them, Trump fits the bill!
The conditions helping Trump are based in profound problems facing the nation. These problems are frightening even to face, so voters accept the promises of a charismatic, forceful leader claiming to have simple solutions.
There are three distinct directions now open to voters: 1. A neo-extreme right represented by Trump and Cruz; 2. An economic status quo with variations represented by Rubio and Clinton; and 3. A newly revitalized left, represented by Bernie Sanders.
Neither Trump nor Cruz present a viable leadership for the nation. Rubio and Clinton range from right to left within the present establishment.
Sanders offers a vision for changing the economic structure to address the fundamental problems facing the nation and the world.
Economics determine our nation's culture and social values. Pope Francis has delivered a moral imperative that is diametrically different from Trump's and our nation's current values systems. Morals guide behavior, but economics are the engine that establishes the system of values. We may tweak our national priorities, but problems go unanswered. If the Trans Pacific Pact (TPP) and its corresponding Atlantic Treaty are installed, the problems and the anger will intensify.
Only one presidential candidate demands economic change: Bernie Sanders offers us a humanistic political direction moving away from corporations as the most significant powers toward restoring a Democracy of the people and for the people. The next elections are critical to maintaining our nation's democracy.
Maurice Webster is a blogger and resident of Santa Fe. He is 89 years old and is retired from a long career teaching Mathematics in the public schools in and around Chicago. He is active in the Green Party and so far has backed many winners on the municipal government level. He was born in Evanston, Illinois and worked for theEvanston Record in his first job at 16.
(Article changed on March 5, 2016 at 11:30)