This piece was published in the Pasadena Star-News on October 4, 2020.
Donald Trump started our civil war just as surely as if he had fired on Fort Sumpter himself. He kicked off his campaign with the infamous attack on immigrants from Mexico by calling them “rapists” and criminals. From the very beginning, his pitch to be president was full of hatred towards people from Mexico, millions of whom are part of the American fabric. This hateful speech resonated with the wrong kind of people right from the start.
At first, it was funny to see him pick off all his challengers for the Republican nomination for President, not by debating issues but by hurling personal attacks and ridicule. He was a proxy for everyone who ever wanted to tell someone off but refrained from doing so because they didn’t want to be a jackass. The Republican party failed to eliminate Trump as a candidate and now the Grand Old Party is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Trump organization. The party is basically in a shambles and it will take decades for them to repair the damage.
People reveled in Trump’s anti-political correctness. They say he tells it like it is. Try “telling it like it is” to your boss or your wife. The boss will fire you and your wife will tell you to stop being obnoxious, or worse. When Trump proudly proclaims that he is “telling it like it is,” he is most often lying, praising himself, or demeaning one of his enemies.
One sharp contrast between the hate Donald Trump thrives on and the love of country that we usually see in our presidents is the way he denigrates John McCain. McCain suffered from deprivation and torture for 5 ½ years in a prisoner of war camp. He was offered an early release but refused because he would not leave his fellow soldiers. His sacrifice was for both his men and his country. It is a kind of love that Trump is incapable of and can’t comprehend, but he knows that when he slams McCain he gets a lot of attention.
One of the most despicable things a government can do is separate children from their parents. Trump did that, in the cruelest way possible, to punish people who wanted to become Americans. There are better, more humane, ways to secure our borders. Trump remained fixated on building a wall that was never finished while thousands of families were destroyed. A hatred that breaks the bond of mother/father love is unforgivable.
Bob Woodward’s book confirmed that Trump knew how bad COVID was and lied to Americans about it. Trump often deflects the seriousness of an issue if he doesn’t want to work hard to figure out a solution. He openly hates Democrats, strong women, minorities, and immigrants. He doesn’t care about his base but manages to convince them that he does while exposing them – and, as we found out late Thursday, himself - to COVID in packed auditoriums as he gleefully ridicules people who wear masks.
This presidential election is not about which candidate is the best qualified for the job. Voters will choose between love or hate. A vote for Trump is a vote for gutting Medicare and Social Security, for more destruction of our democracy, for COVID deaths rising while simple measures that save lives (masks and social distancing) are ignored. The list goes on.
Joe Biden exemplifies love of country. He has not uttered one slur, one insult, one childish outburst, or schoolyard bully tweet. His plan to fight COVID is one to save lives, not sacrifice them to attain herd immunity. His historic choice of Kamala Harris for Vice President shows his willingness to work side-by-side with a strong, accomplished woman. Voters will choose to restore the love of our country and our fellow Americans as something to nourish and to strive for, or they will vote for more hate.
These are times of Biblical proportion. From 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Choose love.
Kathleen Vallee Stein