If Donald Trump committed none of the sexual assaults women claim, he should simply say that he did not and move on to explain how he will accomplish the things he promises to do as president.
That means more than merely repeating his list of easy and obvious aspirations – more jobs, lower taxes, replacing the health care act, etc. – and explaining how he will get them done and how they will “make America great again” in a changing world.
But he apparently is unable or unwilling to moderate his scorched earth mentality or overcome his insecure, childish impulse to strike back at every critic in inflammatory and personally insulting language.
In seeking the presidency of a country desperately in need of cooperative, considered change, he continues to propose blowing up our nearly 250-year, mostly successful experiment in republican democracy. He would put in its place a Trump World in which election outcomes cannot be trusted, political opponents are subject to being jailed by the victors, free speech ceases to exist, and governing means constantly maintaining a feedback loop of hatred, suspicion and disdain for people who do not match the victor’s gender, race, religion and national origin.
If Trump World sounds familiar, it should. History is rife with parallels of kindred demagogues using the rhetoric of fear and hatred to make “our nation great again.” The result is always disastrous for personal liberty.
The closer America gets to Nov. 8, the more frightening and irresponsible Trump’s tactics and words become. His campaign is based not on policy discussions or position papers but on televised images of raw emotions flowing back and forth between a needy Trump and his needy audiences. Chants of “U.S.A., U.S.A.” morph into “Lock Her Up, Lock Her Up” without change in meter or fervor.
Then come the insults about the appearance of the women accusers and his female opponent. The repeated threat to order his attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to “Lock Her Up;” hints that, should he lose, it would be understandable for his supporters to deny the legitimacy of the Clinton presidency, perhaps even violently.
Last week, Trump absurdly declared that he and Clinton should take drug tests because she was obviously on something weird during their second debate. Considering the implications of Trump World, her response should be: Sure, if we combine it with a civics test.
He is creating a nightmare scenario; perhaps – we must hope – an unlikely one. But even if Trump loses and the nation avoids the worst-case aftermath of a Clinton victory, great damage is already done.
Trump’s ethically bottomless methods, the complicity of his political enablers, the misplaced ardor of his well-intentioned, understandably angry voter base, and the cowardice of Republican officials and officeholders have fractured the American political system and poisoned the well of cautious but real trust that has flowed for most of our history.
Davis Merritt, a Wichita journalist and author, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.