On the EDge: It’s not a matter of politics, it’s about morality, decency

OPINION – One of our boldest iconoclasts, H.L. Mencken, once wrote: “No one in this world, so far as I know – and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me – has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.”

Mencken, who had keen insight into the American mind and spirit, could very well have been talking about the present day, when anger and violence and ignorance are the prevailing elements of a presidential election cycle that is, arguably, the most bizarre in the nation’s history.

We have become accustomed to smoke-filled rooms, chicanery and lies as part of the political system.

We benefited, of course, when the graveyard vote put John Kennedy over the top. We lost when faulty ballots that confused voters and were tossed because election officials were unable to recount them as a result of a design flaw, gave the White House to George W. Bush.

Election 2016, however, is turning out to be another thing altogether.

It is, predictably, encumbered with lies of grand proportion.

But, it is also being fueled by an unprecedented level of anger and violence, prompted by the vulgarity and flammable discourse of the Republican frontrunner.

It is on track to become a coup rather than an election as Donald Trump is propped up by a pack of ill-mannered enthusiasts who have succumbed to a mob mentality that has left a trail of bruised and battered people – mostly people of color – in its wake as Candidate Trump exhorts them to rough up anybody who doesn’t raise their right hand in Hitlerian salute during one of his campaign sideshows.

And, that is what is giving the rest of the world pause.

Each time Candidate Trump snarls, squints his eyes hard and demands that a wall be erected between two peaceful neighbors, suggests that he will break other nations financially and threatens carpet bombing as a solution to the terrorist threat created by an administration that invaded Iraq because of its alleged complicity in the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the United States (later proven to be untrue), switched its reasoning to stockpiling weapons of mass destruction (also later proven to be untrue) then flipped its justification to one of instituting a regime change (which has proven to be a failure) the crowd roars.

Candidate Trump knows how to pander to the basest instincts of a nation unhinged.

He knows which buttons to push, whether it is immigration, women’s rights, foreign policy or establishing himself as the outsider who can reassemble the broken pieces. We have yet, however, to hear a cogent plan on how he would fix any of our supposed problems.

He hammers the nation, calling us all losers, stupid, lazy.

He has slandered the world’s greatest military, calling it ineffective and claiming that it is underfunded. The military is far from ineffective, and spending? Well, without the caps placed upon it by a Republican-dominated Congress, it would have been much higher. The defense budget is still $200 billion more than the Bush administration funded through the height of the war.

He has spewed a brand of racism equal to that of George Wallace when he was stirring hatred back in the 1960s when he set his eye on the White House. For the record? More undocumented aliens are now leaving the country than entering it. Why? They miss their families, the job market south of the border is improving and they are tired of the abuse they have received in the United States.

Candidate Trump also lies. And, they are not the little fibs that are the fabric of every candidate who ever sought office. These are whoppers.

How can you tell if he is lying?

His lips are moving.

He has repeatedly claimed that he has funded his own campaign. Fact-check this and you learn that he is putting a lot of his money into his run, more than any other candidate is putting into theirs. But, about 34 percent of his campaign funding has come from private donations, according to Politifact. Go a little deeper and you’ll find that he is soliciting campaign contributions by placing a “Donate” button on his website. Of course, to get to his website you must go through a security check to prove you are not a computer “bot” up to some cyber mischief.

He plays sleight of hand with the facts, thumping a fist on the podium about how jobs are being stolen and shipped across borders, which is a fine position to take until you realize that his clothing line and accessories are manufactured in China and Mexico. When confronted, he chalks it up as a result of doing business in today’s economy and that he is just doing what other companies are doing. While politics is perennially the realm of hypocrisy, this rockets to the top of that list. I mean, what penalties would he impose on the Trump Organization if he were president?

Having seen some dirty tricks campaigns over the years, I’m not shocked by the lies, the posturing, the hypocrisy.

I am, however, shocked and very concerned about the rising violence, prompted by the increasingly incendiary speech of Donald Trump.

“Go home and get a job,” Trump snarled to a group of Missouri protesters. “Go home to Mommy.”

 “Out, out, out!” he squealed at a group of Warren, Mich. protesters.

“I’d like to punch him in the face,” he said at a Las Vegas casino last month when one protester was ejected.

He has said, on numerous occasions, how he longed for the “good old days” when protesters like those showing up at his rallies – who we must add, are exercising their First Amendment rights – are carried out on stretchers.

For the longest time, I believed that the Trump persona of arrogance, narcissism and misogyny he put forth on his reality show, “The Apprentice,” was a ruse, a caricature created by the show’s producers.

Alas, it is not, which is why it is important to remember that “it is a sin to believe evil of others, but is seldom a mistake,” as Mencken wrote.

There are two very “yuge” primaries today. Trump will probably get a comeuppance at the one in Ohio, while the jury is still out on how well he will do in Florida. I hope Mencken’s “plain people” – you and I – will come to see, before it is too late, just what kind of man Candidate Trump is.

It’s not a matter of politics, it’s a matter of morality and decency.


Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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  • BIG GUY March 15, 2016 at 8:30 am

    Much of what Ed says about Trump is true but a number of his supporting facts are demonstrably false and he whitewashes all Republicans with the Trump brush when many oppose Trump. Recall that George Wallace and Strom Thurmond were Democrat candidates for President. I was especially startled to find Ed acknowledging and applauding the election fraud that brought JFK to the White House. Do the ends justify the means, Ed?

    • Bender March 15, 2016 at 5:43 pm

      The R party’s march to insanity is almost complete BIG GUY. You staying on board?

  • ladybugavenger March 15, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    Trump for President!

  • IDIOT COMMENTERS March 15, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    The bush crew had planned destruction of middle east countries from even before they came to power, and Obama has been a good boy and continued this plan with the complete destruction of Libya and the attempted complete destruction of Syria. This is why 9/11 was done by elements within our own gov’t with the aid of the Israelis–to lure us into supporting never ending wars. The is also why our own gov’t has been arming ISIS and using them as a proxy army to destroy the legitimate Syrian gov’t, while pretending to be fighting them (the are photos of John McCain with the leader of ISIS). Russia intervened in the US plan to destroy syria though, and because of this it appears the Obama-syria plan may have been shelved for now.

    Also, Obama has probably been the worst president for race relations that we’ve ever had, and has promoted the rise of racist movements like “black lives matter”. People are angry with Obama’s failed economic policies, people are tired of the lies. People are tired of our cities being overrun by foreign nationals from the south, and tired of the huge rise in crime and poverty because of it. The whole Trump movement may very well be completely fake and a fraud, but people are finally becoming aware of how corrupt, self-serving, and evil our “elected leaders” are. hopefully that counts for something…

  • 42214 March 15, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    I’ll vote for anyone who I think will honestly blow -up the status quo and undo everything Mr Obama did.

  • eddantes56 March 15, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    It is very funny to watch the Deconstructionist Democrats and the Status Quo Republicans both exagerate, cry, whine and outright lie regarding violence, lunacy, hyperbole, et al.

    The real moral and decent thing to to is two-fold: Dems, stops trying to decontruct our constitutional republic with the demographic flood and ‘self-loathing’ indoctrination. Repubs, stop capitulating to everything the Dem party asks for…..and yeah Repub businessmen and women, stop the treason by hiring illegals.

    Sorry Ed, it may be too late for all of us. You, the Dems and the Repubs refused to balance the budget, rejected the founding principles of our nations (which happen to be based on Judeo-Christian values), rejected our inspired FFathers, have taught our children that the U.S.A. Is evil unless there is absolute equality to any whim that comes to your fevered mind…….and the list goes on and on.

    One thing is clear, those of us who do not agree with you, the Dems or the Repubs have every right to speak up, defend ourselves and fight for what we believe. You are not the arbitor of the country.

  • Common Sense March 16, 2016 at 7:01 am

    Aren’t opinions amazing? How is it possible that people have such different opinions…. I liked the part about a wall being erected between two peaceful neighbors and the part where they are leaving because they are being abused. Abused? Yah… free housing, healthcare and no danger from cartel…that’s really abusive.

    • mesaman March 16, 2016 at 12:28 pm

      Opinions are not only amazing they are necessary to maintain the balance of information already stored in the brain. They offer proof that what they think is acceptable, at least to themselves. But there is the problem. One’s opinion rarely changes or modifies the opinions of another. Regardless of which side of the political fence one postures themselves, there will always be differences in the interpretation of events and this interpretation will always reinforce opinions already in place. Attitudes may shift with the wind but opinions go much deeper.

      • 42214 March 16, 2016 at 7:49 pm

        Finally, Mesaman wrote something worth reading. Good job old timer.

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