Ad Hominem

I’ll preface this by saying that I’m not a Trump supporter.

Having said that, I’ll simply note how curious the treatment of Trump is in the media – both social and traditional.  I can’t count how many times I’ve read fear-mongering headlines about him.  He is routinely attacked personally and even morally, and accused of all sorts of things including the traditional stigma of being a new Hitler.  Yet I never hear anything about what he proposes to do as President, and who those proposals are good or bad.

I have yet to hear one reasoned critique of his positions and platforms.  Maybe that’s because he hasn’t put out any, in which case this should be the source of the criticism.  People mock the idea of a wall separating us from Mexico, yet we routinely lament about the flood of illegal immigrants – and drugs – into our country and the impact they have on our economy (both positively and negatively).  Americans who actually live along that border recognize the ongoing threat posed to them personally as well as our country by the fact that it is so easily crossed by both hard-working men and women as well as predatory drug smugglers and coyotes. We spend lots and lots of money on lots of lots of things, or at least try to (anybody else remember an Alaskan bridge issue a decade or so ago?).   Does that automatically make this recommendation silly?  A Canadian wall I think would be silly (if we were the ones proposing to build it).  A Mexican wall?  Let’s talk about it.

Does Trump’s lack of political experience worry you?  There are no legal requirements that he have political experience.  Maybe we should examine his business experience.  I suspect that his lack of political experience – and therefore his lack of debt to the political parties – is one of the main reasons they are so angered and frightened of him, and one of the main reasons he’s so popular.

You don’t like Trump’s policies?  Show me why they’re bad.  Let’s talk about the issues rather than the person.  Is Trump a buffoon?  Perhaps.  However I’m not aware of any law against being a buffoon, nor against being a public official buffoon.  In fact, we make buffoons into celebrities.  We craft entire TV shows around entitled, intellectual buffoons.  We actively create a culture, a society of entertainment that celebrates the very buffoonery which Trump is now being ridiculed for.  You want to know why people can like him?  They’ve watched him on TV for years – he and all the other buffoons striving to outdo each other in their ridiculous, over-the-top personalities and antics.

And, in point of comparison, I think it only reasonable to point out that one of the other major contenders for the Presidency is currently under investigation by the FBI for multiple alleged crimes related to compromising our nation’s security at the very highest of levels.  Another one actively advocates for socialism as a replacement to our somewhat capitalist system.  Why are these issues not being actively discussed?  If you’re scared that Trump might bypass the system somehow to push his personal agenda, what about the candidate who has already done this?!  Why are we not worried about that?!

It’s possible – though by no means necessarily true – that all the hype about Trump is just a convenient smokescreen.  He’s a wonderful foil for changing the topic of discussion.  We don’t need to discuss the actual other candidates on either side of the political spectrum – we can just insult Trump!  We don’t have to actually discuss the policies that are being put forward as a solution to some of the issues our nation is facing – so long as Trump isn’t president, then the country MUST be better off, right?   Let’s not focus on the personal and moral shortcomings of other candidates – we have pictures of Trump supporters raising their right arms like Nazis!

If we acknowledge that our media is not unbiased, that the days of Walter Cronkite impassively conveying actual facts to us are pretty much gone, then we need to consider why it might be that the media would choose to attack Trump, and why it might be so afraid of him.  If we acknowledge that our political system is so calcified that no real change is possible regardless of which party is in power, we should probably give some thought to why both parties are united in their opposition to Trump.

Could it be that he’s as bad as everyone claims?  Sure.  But social gaffes and non-politically correct speech are not necessarily an indication of that.  Both sides need to recognize that it is this rawness, this lack of polish that appeals to people because they think it equates to honesty and sincerity at some level.  Maybe showing why this is not the case would be more helpful than simply running around screaming about how we can’t possibly elect Trump.  It’s obvious that this is possible.  Maybe some reasoned, informed critiques would be more helpful in avoiding this.





6 Responses to “Ad Hominem”

  1. Invisible Mikey Says:

    I think perhaps you aren’t looking in the right places. Here’s a reasoned, informed critique from a major publication which took me less than 10 seconds to find with a search engine:

    There are substantial analyses of each candidate’s policies all over the news and op-ed world. However, for many voters, political contests are more about the adrenaline of competition, not a process of careful thought or reflection. Elections are won below the belt as much as above the neck. So we get memes, cartoons, commercials and soundbites, and panels of pundits talking over each other. It’s kind of an info collage, one that busy people use instead of a more careful, cerebral approach to making voting choices.

    • mrpaulnelson Says:

      Good to see you again, Mikey! Thanks for the link – it was an interesting article, but I couldn’t help but think as I read it that I see the exact same tendencies on the hard-core liberal side of the spectrum as well, a same desire to see government-imposed order to accommodate various fears and worries. The main difference seems to be whether the government is used to enforce change or to enforce the status quo (or a perceived status quo or throwback status quo). And while the author works to sound unbiased, it’s clear that there is a skew against conservatives (redefining marriage is a “minor” social change?!?!). I can’t help but think that similar language and study could be conducted on the liberal side of the political spectrum, with similar results on different issues.

      The article doesn’t have anything to do with Trump’s specific policies, but is an interesting study nonetheless!

      And yes, much of my post had social media in mind – Facebook in particular. Maybe that was part of my goal – to encourage people to seek out real information instead of the lousy tabloid headlines I see on FB!

  2. Lois Says:

    Did you read Max Lucado’s essay on Trump? I’m honestly worried more about his character than his policies ( Most of what he says has very little substance — you can check the transcripts of the debates, or Trump’s own website, but won’t find much with regard to what he actually proposes to do if he becomes president; I’m not sure he knows.

    • mrpaulnelson Says:

      Thanks for sharing. I have read it (now). I tend to echo his concerns, but find it interesting that he doesn’t call into question the decency of any other candidates, on either side of the aisle. Is Trump the only mud-slinger out there? What are Lucado’s personal political leanings?

      I’m just trying to be cautious, less out of a desire to defend Trump (not that he would be asking me to, in any event!), but in a recognition that there are a lot of curious voices aligned against him, and that makes me suspicious. Trump should be held accountable for what he says and does – but so should all of the candidates, and that seems to be getting lost. Thanks for sharing, Lois!

  3. william b Says:
    Here’s some info on one of Trump’s plans. You’ll have to copy and paste as I am not savvy enough to make it a link.
    The thing I find fascinating is how many people act like Trump is the only politician in the race. They are ALL politicians and when they are not kissing babies they are busy stealing their lollipops. Which one of them would not lie straight to your face and never think twice about it?
    The other complaints I hear about him is that he is an “Alpha” male. Have we become that feminized that we don’t want an Alpha male as president of the United States? Or he is too crass. Really? Do we think that most politicians go around saying things like “golly gee whiz” and “aw shucks”? I’m not condoning it but we live in a fallen world people.
    I am hearing that Cruz’s father who I believe is a preacher has some pretty odd ideas about his son. Also Cruz had some interesting “loans” in 2012 with Goldman Sachs his wife’s employer. I’m sure that would not effect any of his presidential decisions.
    I am not a fan at all of the whole WWJD or who would Jesus vote for movement but I heard an interesting line that Jesus’s message is, “I don’t care what color you paint the walls in this prison, follow Me.” I think it applies perfectly to politics.

    • mrpaulnelson Says:

      I think that history will talk about the complicity (or the calculated role) of the media in this election. The headlines constantly focus on Trump to the exclusion – almost – of all other candidates on both sides of the aisle. This is atrocious. If people want to quit hearing about Trump, they need to turn off the TVs and radios and make it known to the media that we’ve heard enough and would prefer some actual news, some actual information and data. It’s out there, but it isn’t front and center for the masses. That’s the *real* crime in this election, in my opinion.

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