It goes without saying that the topics of national policy and political affiliation are controversial and contentious – it’s a country that has long since lost the true meaning of big government liberalism vs. Small spending conservatism and replaced it with party-affiliated beliefs in social issues. The Democrats have only recently been revitalized as the party closest to the Democratic Socialist form of government, but the two parties are still known to the larger part of the population as the anti-gun, pro-choice hippies vs. the homophobic military strongmen of the GOP. They’re reputations that are nothing if not earned after years of pandering to their respective bases.
In 2016, however, something changed. The rise of outsider candidates changed the national discussion from a Bush vs. Clinton reprisal to something else entirely – it was a battle of celebrity personalities. Donald Trump ruled the airwaves and Bernie Sanders ruled the internet – campaigns built on fundamentally different objectives with similar means to an end. Their insurgent campaigns rocked the GOP and the Democrats to their core and left both parties distinctly different in their wake.
Unfortunately for the Republicans, their champion may ultimately be the end of their party – in fact, it may have already happened. Both conventions were incredibly different from years past, but the RNC in Cleveland showed no true conservative values, it showed no clear message, it showed no consolidation of small government and family values. It was a week-long love affair with their newly appointed leader, Donald J. Trump. With no recognizable ties to true conservative agendas, the Republican party is left essentially belonging not to the people, but to one man.
Therein lies the problem. Trump has offended, insulted, and generally proven incompetent to many people, but he still garners partisan support simply because of Elephant vs. Donkey politics. Marco Rubio once said he’d “hold his nose and vote for him.”
This brings us to Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the now famous Muslim couple that spoke on the final evening of the DNC. Khizr is an American Harvard Law graduate, a man who lived the American dream by immigrating here for a better chance at life. His son grew up to be an American soldier who lost his life in Iraq. His speech was that of a man who clearly did not often speak in front of raucous crowds – his wife winced against the bright lights, and as he reached for the copy of the constitution, he trembled out of nervousness. He didn’t use a teleprompter, he spoke from the heart and challenged a man a few steps away from the most powerful individual position on Earth.
It was, for all intents and purposes, a strategic political move by the DNC to use a sympathetic figure. The convention was actually full of them – Trump’s infamous mocking of the disabled reporter immediately preceded an appearance by a disabled young woman, his rant about Mexican rapists and murderers introducing a family of undocumented immigrants. A better man would have expressed his condolences and condemned the obvious political gain the Democrats attempted to gather.
Donald Trump is not a better man, and he is not a good man. It should come as no surprise at this point that he has no love for anyone but himself, no sympathy for any but his own interests – but somehow, he continues to further enhance the narrative to prove himself a veritable monster, this time doing all that he can to insult and marginalize a Gold Star family. His response that “some people are saying that his wife wasn’t allowed to speak” is just the latest in a string of ignorant, racist statements – he’s openly implying that all Muslim men control their women and keep them silent (never mind that Khan’s home nation of Pakistan elected a female Muslim Prime Minister, twice). He then follows this statement up with comparing his sacrifice of paying for his employees’ health care and wages to losing their son. His self-absorption knows no bounds.
Khan has become an overnight celebrity, and he does not attack, he does not incite, he does not even take a clear pro-Hillary stance – he preaches peace and acceptance, he begs his fellow Muslims to band together with their communities and unite. He is a testament to the goodness in this country – and Trump continues to attack him. As Khan appears on CNN’s “New Day,” Donald tweets about Radical Islam. As Khan tells all who would hear him that he only wishes for the potential next leader of the United States and free world to exude empathy, Trump plays the victim and says he is being attacked.
Paul Ryan, the highest ranking true member of the Republican party, posted a picture of himself today holding the Constitution, the same pocket-sized copy that Khan presented at the DNC. While he and his representation won’t admit to it, the image is clear – the Republican party does not want this man any more than the Democrats do. They know that he is a disaster, a hateful and delusional demagogue unfit to hold office. It seems that an attack on a Gold Star family is the final straw – you can almost hear Trump saying “but they’re just Muslims!” in the background.
Hillary Clinton is one of the most polarizing figures in the history of American politics – but the Democrats have united around her and presented a progressive platform littered with the left-leaning demands of the Sanders campaign. There is solace in that she will do the party’s bidding and push that agenda, whether the top of the ticket is preferred or not. When a party abandons its morals and presents a man as the showcase of their convention, then there is nothing to stand on but the figure itself – in this case, Donald J. Trump. He has shown time and time again that he doesn’t understand domestic policy, is not a true conservative, and can’t comprehend international and military law. Despite countless opportunities to prove otherwise, he has proven to be a racist and a bigot. He is quite possibly the most self-absorbed man to ever grace the public eye. There’s no such thing as bias when one option is so, so wrong.
At the RNC, Ted Cruz infamously declared to “vote your conscience” in November. It is my firm belief that no self-respecting man or woman could possibly cast a ballot for the lying, repugnant, twisted mess of human filth and evil that is Donald J. Trump.