A personal reflection on Trump’s election

Mohey Mowafy

The grave, crucial and most alarming reports by our intelligence agencies (the CIA and the FBI) which actually followed a similar report by 17 intelligence agencies earlier, were met by what felt to me as more clear and more present danger than Trump and his followers have been portraying it to be. Most egregious, of course, is the fact that the top GOP leadership, save Senators McCain and Graham, seem to minimize and trivialize the facts regarding Russia’s Putin flagrant interfering in our elections (obviously not only the presidential election). His nefarious and aggressive cyber-attacks also seem to be directed not only at us, but also several other countries, most especially, NATO members).

Like many others, I lived our 2016 presidential election feeling shockingly surprised day-to-day by the Trump campaign, his reckless rhetoric, his childish threats, his total disregard for truth or tradition, etc., as his supporters cheered him on and asserted their devotions to him no matter what.

Like many others, I believe that Mr. Trump does not care much about the country, his party or the American people. I believe that the only thing he cares about is self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment. His strongest allegiance is to his own cupidity and selfish greed. It’s not that I don’t believe that people can/do change and grow. I do and they can. Personal growth comes from accepting responsibility and repenting culpability. Changing your campaign parlance and backing off from your campaign promises is not personal growth. Quoting Charles M. Blow of the NYT “Expedient reversal isn’t growth; it’s gross.”

We all know how dangerous our world is now, and we all know how pivotal our role is as we live in it. When we just take a gander at the military conflicts now raging, let alone contemplate the daunting calculous and keeping abreast of what exactly is developing from day-to-day as casualties mount and alliances shift. This certainly necessitates at least attending daily security briefing (no matter how smart one thinks he is). Our world now is a world of 21 million refugees and 41 million internally displaced people, driven from their homes by war, famine, and tyranny; a world in which more than a half-million Syrians have been slaughtered in front of our eyes; a world with a conscience that can no longer be shocked by human suffering.

It would be naive to ignore these violence casualties and not count them as a major factor as we plan our next moves, at least, in the Middle East, most especially that we face a situation in Syria that will compel us to “deal with” Russia and Iran, if not also Turkey and the Sunni Arab world. We must recognize that Mr. Putin harbors ambitions of restructuring the global order, with an eye to restoring Russia to its “rightful” status in the upper tier.

David Brooks, a most respected conservative columnist wrote “This campaign has been an education in how societies come apart. The Trump campaign has been like a flash flood that sweeps away the topsoil and both reveals and widens the chasms, crevices and cracks below.”

We are a far more divided society than we realized. The educated and less educated increasingly see the world and vote in different ways. So do men and women, blacks and whites, natives and immigrants, young and old, urban and rural.” I recall writing a column for the Mining Journal way back during the 2010 elections, where I described our political discourse at the time as being tribal. So, I ask myself if Trump only pulled the curtain to display what has not stopped since, or did he just irresponsibly benefit from throwing fuel on the fire?

Our partisan divides now menacingly overlap with our racial and class divides, threatening to form a trinity of discord with horrendous consequences. History has proven that nations can and do descend into a savage war of all against all if such tribalism is not remedied.

Again, in David Brooks’ words, “This year Trump has decimated the codes of basic decency without paying a price. With his constant, flagrant and unapologetic lying, he has shredded the standards of intellectual virtue — the normal respect for facts and truth that makes conversation possible. With his penchant for cruelty, bigotry, narcissism, selfishness and even his primitive primate dominance displays, he has shredded the accepted understandings of personal morality that prevent the strong from preying on the weak.”

To nurture America’s greatness, let’s never tear down what makes us so great.

Editor’s note: Mohey Mowafy of Marquette is a retired Northern Michigan University professor.