By Gary B. Ostrower
We Americans have never, ever witnessed a political campaign like we are seeing in 2016. One candidate is descending to levels that can only be described as rancid.
He promises to make us safe by banning Muslims from our shores. Safe? Might anything be more certain to alienate the 4 million Muslims already living here? Retired Gen. Michael Hayden, the former head of the National Security Agency, said that without the cooperation of Muslim citizens, we simply will not be able to identify ISIS lone (or not-so-lone) wolves who aim to commit the next Orlando. In fact, said Hayden, humiliating Muslims will guarantee only one thing: that many will join the enemy.
Why do so many Americans find Donald Trump’s empty promises appealing?
Politifact.com, a Pulitzer Prize-winning source, evaluates the truth of his statements. It has reported that 91 percent are false – that is “pants-on-fire” false, just plain false, mostly false or half false. Ninety-one percent. Think about that figure.
Hillary Clinton has problems of her own when it comes to telling the truth, but she isn’t in Trump’s league when it comes to duplicity.
Why don’t his supporters understand that Trump’s claim to business success is rendered hollow by his four bankruptcies – bankruptcies that forced thousands of his employees to apply for unemployment insurance?
P.T. Barnum famously said that there’s a sucker born every minute. Maybe that’s why some people believe Trump when he claims that President Obama is a Muslim, or that thousands of Muslims in Jersey City cheered the fall of the World Trade Center.
When a hate-filled terrorist slaughters 49 Americans in a nightclub, Trump tweets not sympathy for the families, but “congrats” to himself for having predicted the massacre. For Trump, Orlando was no tragedy; it was an opportunity. How tawdry.
Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman with plenty of integrity, recently called for Republican leaders to repudiate Trump – now.
Western New York Reps. Chris Collins and Tom Reed were among the first to endorse Trump. Well, maybe they will lead the pack in withdrawing their endorsements.
It’s time to walk away from a demagogue who darkly hints that Obama is connected to the terrorist attack in Orlando, who favors laws to stifle criticism of himself in violation of our Constitution’s First Amendment and who promotes torture in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
In a democracy, voters get the candidate they deserve. We’ll test that proposition in November.
Gary B. Ostrower is a professor of American history at Alfred University and a former Republican mayor of the Village of Alfred.