AND THE WINNER IS…ANGER
I went out for a while last night and left the television on for my pug, Gracie. She likes to bark at the dog food commercials and, for reasons I can’t figure out, watches America’s Got Talent with rapt attention. When I got home, I could hear Donald Trump yelling before I even opened the door. I decided to watch it for a while, so I could be informed, even though I knew I could catch up the next day, and also because I was curious if he would ever stop yelling. He didn’t. At least not that I heard. After about 20 minutes I turned the channel to BlueBloods — I like Tom Selleck. He doesn’t yell.
It’s basically how I watched the entire convention — 15 or 20 minutes at a time, and then catching up the next day. I had to consume it in small doses. Watching the rage and the meanness that filled that auditorium was like drinking battery acid. Ben Carson likening Hillary Clinton to Lucifer, Rudy Giuliani coming unhinged, Newt Gingrich sounding like he was reading from Lucifer’s memoir, and thousands of people chanting “Lock her up!” was one of the most depressing and frightening spectacles I’ve ever seen. The chant of “Lock her up” made me think of a huge lynch mob. What would have happened if someone supporting Hillary Clinton had walked into that? It’s frightening to contemplate.
Is this really what all these people want for America? A country walled off and seething with anger? Is the dark and desperate place that Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump described really how they envision our nation at this moment? We are definitely in trouble on many fronts, there is no doubt about that. But I don’t believe you lift yourself out of darkness by creating more darkness.
I kept thinking about a quote of Nicolae Ceausescu’s — the Romanian dictator who ruled for 2 decades before he and his wife Elena were executed in 1989. He said, “You can do whatever you want if you keep the people frightened enough.” This was a convention meant to make and keep people afraid…very afraid. And then anger gets piled on top of that, and whoever is pulling the strings on those emotions gains power.
It was also incredibly alarming to hear Donald Trump say, “I alone can fix this.” Bernie Sanders tweeted an apt response, asking. “Is he running for president or dictator?” Our Founding Fathers constructed an exquisitely balanced government, with the express purpose of ensuring that no one person could seize power, that first-person-singular would not be used as it was last night, that the system of checks and balances would preserve America as being a country run by “We, the people.” Has Donald Trump read the Constitution or the Bill of Rights? Or does he even care what they say?
I would like to believe that not all the people in that auditorium are as consumed with rage as they appeared to be. I would like to believe that many of them got swept up in what was happening and are wondering today if this is really the America they want. I’d like to believe that…