My uncle, Ed Luce, was a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division who dropped into Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands some months after the invasion of Normandy.
He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, where he was shot and captured by Germans. A humble man, he did his duty without complaint or fanfare. He never considered himself a hero. Everyone who knew him did.
Donald Trump, who dodged military service with four draft deferments, mocks prisoners of war like my uncle and Arizona Sen. John McCain as losers.
An iniquitous coward, Trump’s star is rising within the Republican Party. Even after belittling McCain’s years as a POW in Vietnam, Trump’s poll numbers among Republicans doubled. Another way of looking at it is that only 25 percent of Republicans favor Trump, whereas 75 percent don’t. This simple math doesn’t get much attention by craven national media aroused by conflict and the vulgarity of vitriol politics.
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The danger Trump poses isn’t that he’s an ill-mannered, rich punk. It’s that he’s flamboyantly disrespecting institutions essential to our democracy. He derides U.S. senators and governors as “losers,” the president as foreign-born, immigrants as rapists and everyone else as fools. He’s proving that contempt of others brings media attention and temporary public adulation.
Trump is bestowing an evil legitimacy on every kook and crank in the country. It’s now open season on the kind of behavior Christ advocated: “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.”
Jesus who? Wasn’t he crucified? Loser.
Trump’s offensiveness — and reward for it by lovesick media — gives license to every angry, ignorant bigot in America to spit venom at society.
This isn’t new in American history, nor is it limited to the national stage. It’s been going on in San Luis Obispo County for years. Like Trump, his local wannabes use personal attack and insult as political speech.
For example, several weeks ago a few attention-seeking souls — whose antics dominate nearly every meeting of the county Board of Supervisors and other public bodies — opposed a nonbinding resolution calling for civility. The Trump-lites claimed “the public” was being disrespected, even muzzled.
These people aren’t “the public.” They’re individual members of the public. There’s a difference.
Contrary to what they may fantasize, they don’t represent anyone. The poisonous invective aimed at disfavored elected officials and others within their scope of scorn comes from them alone. While they claim to represent a larger point of view, they don’t.
“The public” didn’t vote for them. The only people who legitimately represent the public are the men and women who stood for election and won.
This mean-spirited animosity aimed at their targets betrays a profound contempt for democracy, election results and voters. It’s breathtaking in its hypocrisy. These Trumpettes demand respect for their democratic rights while trampling the right of voters to have their duly elected representatives do their jobs unfettered by a constant barrage of derision, harassment and worry for their personal safety.
What is it about democracy — the will of voters — these carpers hate so much that causes them to disrupt the public’s business so frequently?
We’re not alone in having our public squares commandeered by attention-craving “activists” whose ideas fail at the ballot box. Apparently, it’s happening all over California.
In a report titled “Conversations for Workable Government,” issued in June this year, the Little Hoover Commission found the state’s Brown Act is being misused to shield the abuse of public comment periods before elected bodies throughout the state. Among signatories to the report was Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, a commission member.
In the report, former state legislator and current Los Angeles City Councilman Robert Blumenfield described “repeated abuse” at council meetings by “a group of the same commenters” who larded some 14 hours a month onto meetings with commentary not related to public business.
“The Brown Act has created a circus atmosphere and disrespect to the public process,” Blumenfield told the commission, which is pushing Brown Act reforms to better balance the right to public comment with the need for elected bodies to function. “This unbridled public comment is creating less public input. The real public gets disgusted and leaves.”
It shouldn’t take a law to require relevance and graciousness in our public discourse. Even if some are lacking in grace, you’d think pure self-interest would motivate moderation .
“The most practical kind of politics is the politics of decency,” Theodore Roosevelt once said.
Trump and his local impersonators might want to study what TR actually meant when he’d say “Bully!”