We read the other day about a vicious little bird, the Greater Honeyguide in northern Mozambique.
The devious Greater Honeyguide lays its egg in another bird’s nest and flies away. When the egg is hatched, the unsuspecting foster parents raise the chick, which is always a problem child. It kills all the other chicks in the nest to eliminate competition, then cries out relentlessly for food and attention. The foster parents, understandably, are bewildered and exhausted.
Forgive us, bird lovers, but we cannot help but think of Donald Trump and the Republican Party.
Trump has always been less a Republican than an intruder in the nest, but in the course of the Republican and Democratic national conventions it became clearer than ever that he is no Republican at all. Certainly not on matters of policy. And even less so when it comes to character and the party’s best values. Like the Greater Honeyguide, The Donald is out for himself.
Two speakers in particular at the Democratic convention really brought this home to us: Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and President Barack Obama.
In his speech on Wednesday, Bloomberg, a political independent and brilliant businessman, excoriated Trump as an unethical and miserable businessman. The sense one got, listening to Bloomberg, is that while he leans left on things like gun control and sugar taxes, he leans proudly right — Republican right — on matters of business. Faith in the free market, healthy competition and, above all, ethical conduct in business are, to his mind, bedrock Republican values.
But they are not Trump values.
“We’ve heard a lot of talk in this campaign about needing a leader who understands business. I couldn’t agree more,” Bloomberg said. “Throughout his career, Trump has left behind a well-documented record of bankruptcies, thousands of lawsuits, angry shareholders and contractors who feel cheated, and disillusioned customers who feel ripped off. Trump says he wants to run the nation like he’s run his business. God help us.”
For a century, the GOP has called itself “the party of business,” with the honest brokers of Main Street in mind, not the robber barons of the Gilded Age. How that self-image squares with a candidate like Trump is beyond us.
In his own speech on Wednesday, Obama conjured up an image of the Republican Party as folks who value hard work, humility and kindness — American individualism at its neighborly best — and asked where Trump fits into this picture. Obama said he was thinking of people like his own Kansas grandparents.
“They were Scotch-Irish mostly, farmers, teachers, ranch hands, pharmacists, oil rig workers,” Obama said. “Hardy, small town folks. Some were Democrats, but a lot of them were Republicans. My grandparents explained that they didn’t like show-offs. They didn’t admire braggarts or bullies. They didn’t respect mean-spiritedness, or folks who were always looking for shortcuts in life. Instead they valued traits like honesty and hard work. Kindness and courtesy. Humility, responsibility, helping each other out.”
Remember how farmers used to gather to raise a neighbor’s barn? An awful lot of those people were conservative Republicans, especially here in the Midwest. If Trump had been around, he would have ridden over in a gilded carriage to put his name on the barn.
When it comes to a long list of issues, Trump is a joke of a Republican. He favors protectionism, not free trade. He admires murderous dictators, adores Vladimir Putin and turns a blind eye to continued oppression in Russia. He derides the American military as “weak” and says he knows more about ISIS than the generals do. He would, as president, disregard the First Amendment and “open up the libel laws” to sue the media who hurt his feelings. He would order the military, if he could, to engage in torture. He would single out the people of one religion, Islam, for special punitive treatment, patrolling their streets and barring them from coming into the country.
He would censor the internet in the name of national security.
“Somebody will say, ‘Oh, freedom of speech, freedom of speech,'” he said mockingly back in December, when asked if that would be constitutional. “These are foolish people. We have a lot of foolish people.”
A President Trump would be a walking contradiction, the thin-skinned iron man. He would lash out in all directions at any provocation, and he would roll over laws and principles to shut up his critics.
This is not the American way or the Republican way, or so we believe.
It is a wonder the GOP didn’t kick him out of the nest a long time ago.
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