I worry more about Donald Trump’s supporters than I do about the president-elect. Perhaps I am underestimating his capacity for malice, but I still want to believe this man would like to be considered a good leader.
However, when you watch video of the alt-right, the neo-Nazi, white supremacist faction of the Trump coalition, any objective viewer can see the potential danger to freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion.
Trump has said he did not intend to energize this faction, yet his political message certainly seems to target that audience.
He has implied all Muslims are evil, or at the very least ought to be viewed with suspicion.
He has stated that immigrants from Mexico are rapists, murderers and drug dealers and those who are law-abiding are taking jobs from U.S. citizens.
And Trump has said that international trade agreements are destroying the American industrial base.
If Trump was not deliberately sending a message to the alt-right movement that he was their guy, he has certainly stumbled his way into the front row of their parade. His selection of former Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon to be CEO of his campaign indicates that this appeal to the alt-right was no mere accident. Breitbart News has been the darling of the alt-right movement and Bannon was that organization’s vocal cheerleader. He is now slated to become chief strategist in Trump White House.
The most worrisome aspect of this pro-Trump movement to date is the powerful voice it has brought to social media, not only shouting down anyone who seems to disagree with the president-elect’s policies, but encouraging others to do the same.
During a recent rally white supremacists shouted “Hail Trump” and raised their arms in a Hitler-style salute.
Speaking about the newly energized alt-right movement, Trump said, “..if they are energized I want to look into it and find out why.”
He can find the answer by looking in a mirror.
Trump either doesn’t understand that his words have the power to move the masses, or doesn’t particularly care.
On the other side of the political scale, however, are protestors who refuse to accept the outcome of the election and are waging war on Trump’s business interests and have targeted his family members in an offensive manner.
The fanatics on both sides might find confrontations beneficial to their cause.
Trump has yet to spend a day in office, sign a single piece of legislation or make any official decision.
Yet, other than the Vietnam War-era during the administration of Lyndon Johnson, I cannot recall a time when the nation was so deeply divided.
Rather than taking actions designed to unify the country, or at least demonstrate that he understands the massive rift tearing at the fabric of the nation, Trump continues to tweet comments designed to widen that gulf.
I suppose those who voted for Trump would say that President Obama was equally deaf and blind when it came to the voices of dissent pleading for attention during his eight years in office.
“You lost. Live with it,” is a statement I have read repeatedly on social media sites by those who supported Trump and now believe any criticism of him is sour grapes. They seem to have forgotten that Obama was denounced as a Muslim, a foreign born imperialist, a black extremist and a socialist when he assumed office (criticisms that would continue throughout his administration).
Trump can choose to use his most fanatical supporters to intimidate his critics in Congress and the news media. He seems to prefer unbridled adulation. If that is the direction he takes (and it appears that he will continue to publicly admonish his perceived enemies), this is just the beginning of a very ugly period in American history.