BOORISHNESS 3.0


My recent observation of Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy isn’t as much about the man, who has been in the public eye for years, but that his behavior has caught fire with a significant minority, some say 20%, who like it.

Trump is rich, powerful, charismatic, says what he thinks, all virtues to many.  To those who have felt “sold out” by politicians, having somebody like Mr. Trump voice their thoughts in public must be refreshing.  At last, somebody can speak the words they so want to speak.  I’d rather a politician tell the truth about our problems with infrastructure, too many unwanted children, decline in public education funding and outcomes, too much culturally ingrained poverty, climate change, health care reform, the changed role of America in the world, but nobody wants to listen to detailed explanations, not in this “give me the bottom line” society.  The public craves simple answers, not measured thought, use of best science, and stating doubts where they exist. Presidents need to embrace complexity, a good definition of which is to keep two diametrically opposite approaches in your mind and still be able to decide what to do.

These 20% have been heard in the public for too long now, thanks to the anonymity and the accessibility of the Internet, which was Boorishness 1.0.  On the Internet one can spew hatred and then leave.  Nobody knows who you are. On the Internet, one doesn’t have to know how to spell or use proper grammar to voice an opinion.  Newspapers have explicit rules for decency and for grammar.  One need not write perfectly to publish a letter to the editor in the paper, but it helps.  Oh, and you have to sign your name, too.  Bluehealer2 doesn’t work.

The Tea Party was Boorishness 2.0; when they took over Congress, rules about civility went out the window, like lack of civility on the Internet.  A member shouted “You lie” when Mr. Obama spoke to Congress.  This sort of rudeness is not how we have behaved or should ever conduct political discussion in Washington.  We negotiate deals, not “my way of the highway”  and shut down the government, hurting people and our credit rating, when we want something.

Boorishness 3.0 is upon us:  use of simple solutions to exceedingly complex problems where decent people may have widely differing opinions.  The idea of sending illegal immigrants back to Mexico or other countries (although I haven’t heard Mr. Trump mention Chinese, Iranians, Cambodians, or Sudanese) makes many on the southern border cheer.  The problem, of course, is in the details.  How are they found? Rounded up? Kept? Deal with laws that we currently have about deportations?  Building a fence and charging Mexico to do so sounds great, but if Mexico says no?  We can “militarize the border,” three simple words, but who is going to pay for it?  Remember the “sequester”?

We might do well to perhaps listen to Mr. Howard Buffett, not Warren, who recently commented about the border.  Buffett, a rancher whose property adjoins the border, separates the issues of immigration and border security, an approach that could bring both sides together.  He sees drug and gun runners crossing the border, cutting holes in the fence with battery powered saws.  These are the real bad guys, and we wouldn’t tolerate them at Niagara Falls, Pembina, or Grand Portage, so why do we tolerate them here?  We need a discussion on border security that deals with the bad guys, separating that discussion from general immigration. If we did that, there would be a healthier discussion and more buy-in.

We additionally have to deal with the reality of labor shortages in California and other places where our food is grown and safely regulated.  We have no laws that state the origin of food, and some of it comes from places not well regulated, meaning there could be biological or chemical toxicity present.  There are not enough Americans willing to do the work that migrants do.  If we separate that discussion from the criminals, we might, just might allow more people in safely, put the coyotes out of business, preventing deaths in the desert and overloaded auto crashes that swamp our medical system.  Perfect?  Nope.  Not one bit.  But Trump missed a huge opportunity to offer positive solutions that address the real need for border security and the real need for a guest worker program, because both are in the national interest.

I haven’t heard many details about Mr. Trump’s foreign policy, although his supporters love the idea of sending troops to  trouble spots—Iran, ISIS-held land, North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan.  How will we pay for it?  Will we finally have the guts to institute a draft and a war tax? What about future real POWs?  Think that is minor?  Then why the decades of black and white flags with no solid evidence we have any?  Saying one will talk tough to Mr. Putin is easy, but backing it up is a hazard I don’t want to risk.  Given the Army is having trouble filling enlistment quotas, given Congress has decided that we must cut government spending, my concerns are valid.  Who takes care of yet more casualties, keeping them from becoming homeless, which has been a national disgrace, and who deals with the influx of yet more refugees from a war?

I am frankly annoyed that while a few countries in the world—the US, Russia, and Germany—take in so many immigrants, other countries, through culture, religion, and thuggery, cause upheavals and people to leave. I ask why Muslims are fleeing in droves to Europe, Australia, and North America, when the third major tenet of their religion is charity, Zakat. The countries involved have the money to care for those who have nothing, yet we support them with money and educational opportunities here.  I speak as a North American man, not a believer.  To say foreign policy must carefully be thought out goes against many people’s wishes, but not having invaded Syria, Iran, or North Korea has been a plus in my opinion, not a minus.

The boors believe that America runs or should run the world.  We don’t and can’t.  The boors make fun of women. Trump’s lack of an apology to a female anchor and curtly ordering a reporter to sit down speaks volumes about his compassion, not a requirement for the presidency but necessary for one who wishes to be a decent human being. Trump is what the Republicans should have expected: a person who despises government, yet used the loopholes for the rich that the government created.

I don’t want a jerk or a boor in the White House. I want a someone smart, a lot smarter than I, who thinks before acting.  I’d like somebody who changes his or her mind when evidence suggests it, apologizing when an error is committed.  It’s easy to be a boor; it’s dangerous when one leads this nation.

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