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Don’t let disgust lead to apathy

Irv Randolph | 10/31/2016, 10:59 a.m.
My barber seemed genuinely puzzled and asked me the question that is on the minds of millions of American voters.

My barber seemed genuinely puzzled and asked me the question that is on the minds of millions of American voters.

How could Donald Trump be taken seriously as a candidate for president?

Are people that stupid?

My answer was too flippant.

Yes, I said many people are that stupid.

But I was wrong.

Irv Randolph

Irv Randolph

Even though I believe that a combination of poor education, superficial and sensationalized-focused news media and sound-bite oriented politicians have contributed to the dummying down of American voters, Trump’s political success is attributed to more than a mis-educated and ill-informed American populace.

Trump has exploited some real problems: the wage stagnation of millions of Americans who have been hurt by globalization and unfettered illegal immigration, trade deals and technology changes that have led to the disappearance of some working class jobs.

Trump has also tapped into voters’ dissatisfaction with dysfunctional Washington politics and the outsized influence of big money donors in political campaigns

Trump’s populist anti-Washington message is reflected in the Tea Party movement, which preceded him.

Trump supporters feel the country is too politically correct and that the brash businessman tells it like it is.

But Trump is the wrong messenger. He is unfit to be president.

Trump has built his campaign on appeals to bigotry and xenophobia.

Throughout his presidential campaign, he has attacked his political opponents with juvenile name calling and insulted whole groups of Americans including Mexicans, Muslim Americans, African Americans and immigrants.

He has mocked a disabled reporter, and criticized women for their facial appearance and weight size. He criticized Gold Star parents who lost a son in Iraq.

Trump fanned the birther movement that falsely questioned the legitimacy of the nation’s first black president.

He has gained the support of white supremacists who believe he will put minorities and women in their place.

Numerous Republicans revoked their support for him following the release of a 2005 video in which he is heard bragging about how his fame allowed him to "do anything" to women.

Trump has done little to ease the concerns of voters appalled by Trump's words. He denied he had kissed and groped women without their consent, dismissing and minimizing his comments as "locker room" talk.

Clinton correctly tweeted: "If Trump stands by what he said about women as 'locker room talk,' he's clearly not sorry."

But Trump's intensely loyal supporters are likely to be energized by his aggressive attack of Clinton. Sounding like a dictator, Trump promised during the second presidential debate that if he was president he would instruct his attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to put Hillary Clinton in jail because of her email practices at the State Department.

During the Republican primaries and in the general election, Trump portrays his opponents as all being either corrupt or ineffective. He portrays himself as the champion of the people. America does not need an egomaniacal demagogue as its leader.

Offering little specifics on policy and a great amount of bluster, Trump is a con man.

But my fear is that in addition to his big con he has coarsened the national dialogue to the point where many voters will be so turned off that they will not bother to vote.

We cannot afford to let apathy set in. We must vote.

As the Irish statesman Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Irv Randolph is the editor and publisher of South Jersey Journal. You can follow him on Twitter @IrvRandolph.