OPINION: Trump’s history of insults, what it could mean for a presidency

2/14/16 GOP Debate Review- Flickr Photo

Photo courtesy of Flickr

On Tuesday morning, Trump spoke at a campaign rally and offended the last demographic he had left: Baby. In the middle of his speech, the cries of a child were heard throughout the audience. Trump, at first, announced that the baby was welcome, saying, “I love babies. I hear that baby cry, I like it.” He continued, “Don’t worry about it, you know. It’s young and beautiful and healthy and that’s what we want.” His initial reaction was progressively normal, but a few moments later, Trump decided that enough was enough. Possibly suspecting the child to be a tiny Hillary supporter, Donald Trump proudly declared, “Actually I was only kidding, you can get the baby out of here. I think she really believed me that I love having a baby crying while I’m speaking.”

Many onlookers were in disbelief at Trump’s actions, as they are more accustomed to candidates kissing baby’s, rather than banning them. However, others were not so shocked by the tariff on tantrums, as Trump has set a precedent of speaking his mind. The only issue is that Trump intends to be crowned leader of the free world, a position where he will have to confront bigger problems than a crying baby.

Donald Trump has built a presidential campaign on saying his beliefs loudly. These statements have been met with mixed feedback by both members of his party and prominent outsiders. Supporters of the presidential hopeful have stated that he represents the voice of those who are fed up with the current conditions of America. These are the men and women who are frustrated to the point of speaking their mind, no matter the cost. While viewing the instances of Trump’s speeches and interviews, a peculiar pattern seems to form. As an effect of Donald Trump’s thoroughly polarizing beliefs, government officials and citizens alike have publicly criticized him. Predictably and continuously, Trump responds by brazenly lashing out at his opponents. This pattern has become a staple of the primary season, and has, surprisingly, been met with mostly positive polling results for Donald Trump. Despite the success of these violent responses, these statements have spanned from simply insulting to infuriating slander. What is it about this form of political in-fighting that makes Trump such a prominent candidate? I believe that it all comes down to the illusion of meaningful discussion. This sleight of hand and mouth is used to direct the conversation away from the original conflict, and cause viewers to ponder topics that can be easily manipulated, no matter how vile. Donald Trump is a lifelong salesman, and within the election he has been acting as both the sales representative and the enticing product.

In July 2015, the early days of the campaign, Trump entered into a conflict that shocked some and set the tone for his later campaign. It all began when Arizona Senator John McCain and Trump engaged in a back and forth dispute concerning some controversial statements that Trump said at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona. In response to the rally, McCain commented on the Trump’s remarks regarding Mexican immigration and America’s leaders. McCain stated, “This performance with our friend out in Phoenix is very hurtful to me. Because what he did was he fired up the crazies.”  Trump quickly responded by shifting the conversation away from immigration reform and directly attacked McCain’s intelligence and military accomplishments.

Donald Trump took to twitter several days after the rally, saying, “Senator John McCain should be defeated in the primaries. Graduated last in his class at Annapolis–dummy!” A week later, Donald Trump continued his assault on the senator by challenging McCain’s turmoil’s during his time in the military. Trump appeared at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, and took the stage to claim that McCain was not a war hero. John McCain spent five and a half years in a Vietnamese prison, where he was tortured and questioned. Trump continued saying, “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” After he lashed out at McCain, the pattern of positive polling continued for Trump as shown by a YouGov poll taken shortly after the feud. The poll results showed that veterans or those currently serving in the military favored Trump over McCain.

This unusual pattern would stay strong through the coming months as Trump responded to different attacks by giving his political opponents childish nicknames. For example, in separate twitter posts, he called Elizabeth Warren, “goofy”, Bernie Sanders, “crazy”, Marco Rubio, “little”, and Hillary Clinton, “crooked”. All of these nicknames seem to serve the fascinating purpose of attacking the character of his opponents rather than disputing their political beliefs. Despite the inappropriate nature of these backlashes, Trump steadily bounced above all of his republican opponents to the top of the polls, and became the official nominee. It appeared as if the more Trump used these insults and dodges, the more favorable he became in the eyes of the public.

After Trump became the nominee, many speakers at the DNC took aim at the billionaire, and expressed their beliefs that he is unfit to be the nation’s leader. One of the most notable of these speakers happened to be former Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg. Interestingly, Bloomberg was elected as the mayor of Trump’s home state on a Republican ticket, but decided to endorse Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee. During his DNC speech, Bloomberg clarified his allegiance to Clinton, stating, “When I enter the voting booth each time, I look at the candidate, not the party label.” He continued, “We must unite around the candidate who can defeat a dangerous demagogue.” () Trump’s response to this surprise endorsement was, of course, magnificently unsurprising. Donald Trump, again, took to twitter saying, “Little” Michael Bloomberg, who never had the guts to run for president, knows nothing about me. His last term as Mayor was a disaster!”

Another notable speaker was Khizr Khan, a father of military officer, Humayun Khan, who died fending off a suicide bomber in the line of duty. In his speech, Khan used his son as an example of a Muslim American who would do anything to protect his country. He stated that through his son’s patriotism, he could see how dangerous Trump is to America. Khan said, “Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country.”  Therefore, Khizr Khan rebuked Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration, which would have kept Khan out of the country if it had been established years ago. Khan’s passionate statements were later discussed when Trump spoke in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. He talked about the threats of Muslim terrorism, but also touched on a subject that seemed overtly random. Trump stated, “If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably — maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.” This statement appears to have no relevance to the interview and was only interjected to discredit Khan’s opinion. Trump is obviously implying that because of the family’s Muslim faith, Khizr Khan did not allow his wife, who was standing beside him at the DNC, to speak. This is, once again, an example of Donald Trump attempting to manipulate the conversation through insults and slander. Unfortunately for Trump, Ghazala Khan did explain why she did not speak, while being interviewed by MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell. She stated, “And I was very nervous because I cannot see my son’s picture, and I cannot even come in the room where his pictures are. That’s why when I saw the picture at my back I couldn’t take it, and I controlled myself at that time. So, it is very hard.”Ghazala took part in an opinion piece for The Washington Post. She wrote, “Because without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart.”

Donald Trump’s long history of displacing and slanderous comments is troubling to say the least. As the official candidate of the Republican Party, the responsibility of a large portion of country rests on his shoulders. Someone in this position should be able to face opponents and criticisms straight on, without falling back on this type of manipulation. What would these tactics mean for a Trump presidency, where he could be attacked by representatives of many sovereign nations? The more Trump speaks, the more it becomes apparent that he appears unready for these sorts of foreign relations. Considering that through his speech, Trump is endorsing himself as a presidential product, America may need to think twice before their purchase.

This is an opinion, written from the perspective of the writer and does not reflect the views of Sidelines or MTSU.

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To contact the editor, email Sarah Grace Taylor at editor@mtsusidelines.com

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