The Trumping of America

Donald Trump saying "YOUR FIRED" NBC Upfront for 2005-2006 Fall Line up, at Radio City Music Hall, New Tork City. May 16, 2005. John Spellman / Retna Ltd.

Donald Trump saying “YOUR FIRED”
NBC Upfront for 2005-2006 Fall Line up, at Radio City Music Hall, New Tork City. May 16, 2005.
John Spellman / Retna Ltd.

When Trump threw his toupee into the ring back in June, I dismissed him, like most Americans did, as a pretender grandstanding to satisfy his ego. The latest polls have him more than ten points ahead of the closest Republican contender, and giving Hillary Clinton a serious run for her money in the national general election. How is this possible?

Trump the “straight shooter”

Trump seems to have no filter, and this resonates with Americans sick of politicians speaking from both sides of their mouths. Folks are willing to overlook his faux pas and blunt insults because it appears to be honest, and that’s preferable to business as usual from the beltway. I totally get being disgusted with lying, cheating politicians.

What I don’t understand is how Trump supporters can’t see his bullshit for what it is. He is one of the greatest salesmen in the world, and perhaps that’s why when he makes things up, people swallow the hook. He’s lied about his own draft record, claiming he had a high draft number, when actually he had multiple student deferments, and recently insulted John McCain for being a POW.  He lied about his net worth, claiming that it exceeded TEN BILLION DOLLARS (caps from The Donald) when his net worth is actually 2.9 billion, according to a recent Bloomberg investigation.

He has called global warming a hoax, insulted Mexican immigrants, though he is sure that “some of them are good people,” and laughed off sexual assaults within the U.S. military. He claims that he invented his campaign slogan, when he adopted Regan’s.

Trump the tough guy

Trump presents himself as a tough guy. He’s going to take America back from China. He’s going to stand up to Putin, and challenge him to a knife fight in front of the White House, one shirtless ego against another. He’s going to go to war with Iran, because, well, Iran. He will put boots on the ground to stop ISIS, and the tide of radical Islam will flee before his mighty shadow.

Right.

He says these things, and people believe him because he seems to believe it himself, transmuting his own cognitive dissonance to the rest of a nation hungry to believe.

And that is deadly, end-of-the-world stuff. Saying a thing is true doesn’t make it so. We need a president who is level-headed and has a firm grasp upon geopolitics. Someone who speaks softly, and carries a big stick. Trump is the opposite. He shouts, rather than speaks, drowning out anyone who dares to contradict him.

Smashing the field

He has gutted his fellow Republican contenders, relishing in the insults and meanness, pandering to the cameras. The other politicians don’t seem to know how to fight Trump, and they’re getting kicked in the head while he gloats over them like the puffed up school yard bully that he is. The scary thing is that people like this.

Anyone who consistently refers to themselves in the third person is unfit to lead a nation.

Muddy and Vague

His platform on a wide range of important issues, from immigration to the economy is vague. He makes great claims without the means to back them up, which is typical of politicians, but particularly ironic coming from a man running as an anti-politician.

The 2016 election

Don’t underestimate Trump. He might win. What seems more likely, though, is that he will deliver the election to Hillary. That’s probably why Bill Clinton called the Donald on the phone, encouraging him to run.

Trump’s negative ratings among voters remain high. He’s not polling well among women, and has all but lost the crucial Latino vote. In the vital swing states of Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, he trails both Clinton in a match up. Since 1960, the road to the Oval Office goes through these states.

Republicans have good reason to worry. So does the rest of the  world.

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Faith and Fiction

This is a story of triumph, so please bear with me because it might not sound that way at first. Happy endings aren’t worth a damn if there weren’t tears along the way.

  
I love writing and God. The love of those two intersect, in spite of my passion for other things. I love my wife and my children. I love to play music and dream melodies and yearn to create something beautiful and true.

I love the way the sun breaks when it’s rising over the Gulf of Mexico when I’m so far from land that the sea and sky are the world, and there is that perfect orange light born, glittering on the waves, and the hope of a good fish and that day sings in my chest. The best part, knowing that the next day will be just as good, infused with the same hope. For me, those moments have been few,  and I’m blessed to remember them.

It is easy and dangerous to make the things we love God.

A mentor and friend, a brilliant songwriter far beyond me, convinced me that the only way to succeed was to be willing to sacrifice everything at the altar of writing. I listened to him and to my own demons and learned the wrong lessons. My friend would smack me in the back of my head now if we were sitting next to each other at a bar in Nashville. I have tears in my eyes remembering him and the way he made me a better writer, and I wish I could hear him say something sarcastic and kind. 

Writing is not God, though we make it so.

Writers are not destined for pain unless they choose anguish. Joy is the lyric and the page and the melody and truth beneath. God is God.