Darryl Paulson: Donald Trump the demagogue: Have you no sense of decency?

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(First of three parts)

With Donald Trump‘s victory in Indiana and the withdrawal of his last two opponents, he is assured a first ballot victory at the July convention in Cleveland.

The good news is that there will be no riots as Trump threatened with a deadlocked convention. The bad news is that Donald Trump is the Republican presidential nominee. Lincoln must be spinning in his grave.

On June 9, 1954, Joseph Welch was testifying before the Army/McCarthy Hearings in Washington. Welch was chief counsel for the U.S. Army while that branch of the service was under investigation for communist activities before Sen. Joe McCarthy‘s Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

During the hearings, McCarthy attacked Fred Fisher, an attorney in Welch’s law firm. While a student at Harvard, Fisher had joined the Lawyers Guild, identified by the FBI as a communist-front organization.

Fisher had notified Welch of his “youthful indiscretion,” and did not participate in the hearings. Nevertheless, McCarthy persisted in his attacks. Welch asked McCarthy not to “assassinate this lad further, Senator.”

McCarthy continued his assault on Fisher. Welch interrupted and berated McCarthy. “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

Welch’s confrontation with McCarthy attracted national attention. It was the beginning of the end for McCarthy and McCarthyism. Within three years, McCarthyism was dead and so was the senator.

Has Trumpism now replaced McCarthyism? Right before the Indiana primary, Trump went on Fox and Friends and attacked Rafael Cruz, the father of Ted Cruz. Trump accused the elder Cruz of being involved with Lee Harvey Oswald in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Trump told Fox viewers that “this was reported and nobody talks about it.” Who reported the story? The National Enquirer, long known for its exposés on Hollywood starlets and their Martian babies.

David Peeker, the CEO of the Enquirer, is a Friend of Trump and has endorsed his candidacy. The Enquirer previously ran a story accusing Cruz of having affairs with five women.

McCarthy and Trump both destroy lives based on little or no evidence and a lot of lies. As long as their goal is advanced, it matters not what happens to the wrongly accused.

New York Times columnist David Brooks has called Trump the “most dishonest person to run for high office in our lifetime.” Trump is “oblivious to accuracy.” In a position that demands the highest level of maturity, we are left with a childish man lacking a moral compass.

Here are a baker’s dozen of reasons why Trump is unqualified to be president:

  1. Trump has called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S.” Forget that means 1.2 billion individuals and that it violates both U.S. and international law.
  2. Trump accuses Mexican illegals as “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” Trump wants to deport all 11 million illegals, but offers no plan on how to do it.
  3. Trump’s proposal to eliminate ISIS is very simple, and I mean that in the worse way possible. Trump says he would “bomb the shit out of them.” Now, that’s a plan.
  4. Carly Fiorina has an “ugly face! Would anyone vote for that?” Megyn Kelly asks a tough question of Trump and he accuses her of being unbalanced due to her period.
  5. Trump accuses Ben Carson of being “pathological” and, thus, unfit to be president. He stretches Carson’s youthful temper tantrums by comparing it to child molesters. Child molesters are “pathological” and “you don’t cure a child molester.”
  6. Trump attacks John McCain as not being a war hero because his plane was shot down over North Vietnam. “I like people who weren’t captured.”
  7. When asked to renounce the endorsement of longtime Klansman David Duke, Trump responded that he doesn’t know anything about Duke. Strange. In 2000, Trump wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times saying he was leaving the Republican Party because of its ties to Duke.
  8. Trump frequently asks participants at his rallies to raise their right arm and pledge allegiance to him. The salute reminded many of salutes to Adolf Hitler when he controlled Germany. Der Spiegel, a German magazine, called Trump “the world’s most dangerous man,” and the leader of a “hate-filled movement.”
  9. Trump encourages torture against terrorists and the killing of families of terrorists. Both would violate U.S. and international law. At his rallies, Trump spoke of wanting “to punch protesters in the face.” After a Black Lives Matter protester was assaulted, Trump said, “Maybe he should have been roughed up.”
  10. Trump’s language seeks to divide Americans rather than unite them. Trump talks about “you” and “we” needing to attack the dangerous “them.” His opponents are branded as “stupid,” “weak,” or “losers.”
  11. Trump often attacks people and then denies doing so. He said he would never “call Megyn Kelly a bimbo because that would be politically incorrect.” He called her a bimbo and then said he would never do it.
  12. Trump consistently distorts the truth, changes positions and lies. PolitiFact called Trump’s collection of misstatements the “lie of the year.” It found that 76 percent of the 77 Trump statements were False, Mostly False or Pants on Fire.
  13. Trump is the first and only presidential candidate to defend the size of his penis in a debate.

I wish reason would be sufficient to sway individuals from supporting Trump, but I know that reason seldom succeeds. Like in most mass movements, Trump’s supporters will deny that Trump ever said or did the things he has done. They will rally to his defense.

Trump is not fit to be president. The sooner Americans realize this, the sooner we can end this national nightmare that is Donald Trump.

Part II on Monday: Democracy and Demagogues will examine why demagogues so frequently emerge in democracies.

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Darryl Paulson is Emeritus Professor of Government at USF St. Petersburg.

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