Trumped up anger?

Donald Trump

Businessman Donald Trump on the campaign trail. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

I don’t recall the exact date. But I remember the moment approximately six years ago that I was standing around at a Tea Party rally on the Statehouse grounds to see whom I could see, when I noticed something.

A candidate for public office in South Carolina had said it again. “Republicans aren’t much better,” or some similar expressed affectation.

Right there, in that second, it struck me. I was hearing that expression a lot in those post-Obama victory days.

And I was hearing it from candidates who said they wanted to see the debt and spending—state and federal—reined in, but who weren’t proposing any significant cuts that would do so.

These candidates had struck a cord with voters who knew something was wrong with the direction the country was headed in, but couldn’t quite decipher what it was. They had condemned establishment Republicans for ushering in the disastrous No Child Left Behind Act, among other missteps.

Saturday wasn’t all that different.

After businessman Donald Trump raked in 32.5 percent of the vote, winning South Carolina’s Republican primary. Some Republican voters were beside themselves with embarrassment. Some of them are friends and acquaintances who shared an insipid diatribe written by Matt Walsh on Facebook.

Walsh commented that those who supported Trump have lost the right to have their anger taken seriously. I’m afraid that denying them that so-called right sets a dangerous precedent.

And it misses an opportunity to have a productive debate about how and what we need to change in this country.

I didn’t vote for Trump. His tenor strikes me as dictatorial, feeding on the fears of the masses, though he may, in fact, not rule as a dictator. Or he might. Who’s to know?

I need my candidates to say something more than let’s build a wall a gazillion feet high. That candidate—Rand Paul—dropped out after a poor showing in Iowa.

But I do agree with Walsh on one point, as I often do.

He wrote

“According to exit polls, Trump fans don’t necessarily think he’s electable and they don’t believe he shares their values, but “they want change.” Dear God, we are really doing 2008 all over again. People voting for ambiguous, non-specific change in spite of the avalanche of red flags. We are really doing this again. I am so disgusted at the stupidity in this country.”

 

Something is terribly wrong with the direction of the country. And we do need someone to tell it like it is. But I’m not convinced voters are ready for a candidate who does so. In my opinion, we had the opportunity with the Pauls to have a candidate who tells it like it is during the past three presidential races.

But I’m not convinced voters are ready for a candidate willing to do the painful work associated with actually reining in national debt and defending liberty.

Still, the anger is there. It’s real. And it’s justifiable. And Trump—that juggernaut who has touted in the past a variety of liberal positions that suited his agenda at any given time—has figured out how to access it.

Let’s not miss this opportunity to take a step back and ask where we’ve gone wrong in this country. Because that’s a conversation worth having.

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