On Election Eve, after months of political combat, I think about climate change as wrought by our win-at-any-cost President, who cares little about the effect his overheated words and bombastic manner have on our verbal environment and basic decency.
Donald Trump has mastered the art of stirring a surge of bigoted passion by focusing his silly but destructive talk on immigrants. They are his scapegoat for all that he thinks is bad with our nation. His sense of wrong is a false reality.
He sows bias and loathing because it serves his purpose to bring attention to himself.
How dare we admit people yearning for democracy and seeking safer lives, as waves of immigrants have done in our nation’s history since our founding?
Better to characterize Central Americans as criminals and awful people in the shallow, conniving mind of Trump than appreciate what new and past immigrants have brought to our once respected country—and then seek to influence mid-term election results by inspiring fear and hatred on the part of his base and protect his presidency against potential impeachment by a Democratic House of Representatives.
He cares little about the damage he is wreaking on our country.
He takes no responsibility for his actions and the violent reactions they might wrought.
It makes me want to vomit.
When a Jew-hating shooter killed 11 people in a Pittsburgh, PA synagogue, Trump expressed sympathy and then opined that security might have prevented the terror. He also condemned anti-Semitism. That was commendable.
I’ve noticed that when Trump expresses empathy, it’s usually through a TelePrompTer. Not his words. Genuine empathy is not one of his strengths.
Amid election hysteria, despite my revulsion at our stunted President, I don’t blame him for the synagogue murders. That’s a road too far for me. As I said at the outset, I do hold him responsible for hastening the degradation of our verbal climate.
His CO2 level is off the charts.
While Trump might dispute scientific evidence of global warming, he cannot simply claim rationally that the media is the culprit for our corrosive national discourse and divisive environment.
Trump has the pulpit. He shrewdly and malevolently manipulates the media to ensure he is on center stage. Then he fires away with comments and claims that make sense only to him and his base. It matters not that truth is a casualty.
He cares little about inciting violence though his support of pugnacious behavior. He’s in the boxing ring fighting imaginary enemies. His conceit is strength, rooted in deep insecurity.
What would I like to see in our public arena? Words that come readily to mind are unity, tolerance, and rationality.
When President George W. Bush spoke about 9/11 on the site of the unimaginable destruction, he sought to unify and boast our terror-stricken country. He hit the right note.
When President Obama spoke after the Sandy Hook school tragedy as if he were a father who lost his children to a crazed shooter, his words expressed the anguish felt by all of us.
Both Bush and Obama spoke for the country. They found words of unity and compassion.
They understood that occupying the Presidency means claiming the high ground.
A few weeks ago while attending Christ Church, Easton, a scripture passage drew my attention. An excerpt follows from the Book of James:
“And the tongue is fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”
These words seem rather appropriate in today’s America. Unfortunately so.
When voters in Talbot, Queen Anne’s and Kent counties fill out their ballots tomorrow, November. 6, I urge them to vote for decency and civility, for use of the tongue to spread goodness, not gracelessness. I know that sounds vague and mushy. I know it sounds mired today in fantasy and make-believe thinking.
Trump has traveled the country telling his followers that this election is about him. His record and rhetoric are stamped on the ballots. In this one instance, I think he might be right, despite his obnoxious narcissism.
Granted the veracity of Trump’s assertion, I think then that public servants such as Gov. Larry Hogan, Sen. Ben Cardin, Congressional Candidate Jesse Colvin, Attorney General Brian Frosh, State Sen. Addie Eckardt, Del. Johnny Mautz, Talbot County Council Candidate (and Easton Town Councilman) Pete Lesher and Orphans Court Candidate Phil Foster deserve readers’ votes.
These people are good, worthy people. There are others. They represent all that Trump doesn’t: they seem driven by the public good and selfless service. Words matter to them.
Elections have consequences. The misguided, race-baiting presidency of Donald Trump illustrates that truth, painfully so.
We can do better as a nation, state, region, and county. Vote for a kinder, more tolerant way.
Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.