It seems that the more outrageous Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump becomes, the more his popularity skyrockets among an ever-broadening cross-section of hating xenophobic Republican voters – angry white, older, working class crazies. Yesterday, we reported on the bromance that is sparking between Trump and Vladimir Vladrimovich Putin, Russia’s repressive authoritarian overlord. Putin, in an interview, referred to Trump as “a really brilliant and talented person, without any doubt…” in one of the more diplomatically sarcastic pronouncements we have seen in this age of contempt. Yesterday, Trump returned the favor with naive sincerity.
“Sure, when people call you ‘brilliant’ it’s always good. Especially when the person heads up Russia…It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.”
This mutual love-fest between Trump and Putin even caught conservative talking head Joe Scarborough by surprise. Scarborough noted Putin is a notorious strongman and suggested he is a thug: “Well, I mean, it’s also a person who kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries. Obviously that would be a concern, would it not?” Without skipping a beat Trump responded: “He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader…Unlike what we have in this country.”
Putin is notorious for using draconian tactics to curtail the freedoms of speech and of the press. These include the rampant killings of journalists; the most high-profile being the brutal murder of Anna Politskovkaya, but under his rule, there have been a shocking 111 killed journalists over the course of both his terms, which doesn’t count the other twenty-two that died during the brief period he “gave up power” and took the Prime Ministership while his hand-picked replacement, Dmitry Medvedev, took the presidency. In response to Scarborough’s comment about Putin’s penchance to kill those with whom he disagrees or is threatened by, Trump said:
“(T)here was “a lot of killing going on around the world…I think our country does plenty of killing, also, Joe, so, you know…There’s a lot of stupidity going on in the world right now, Joe. A lot of killing going on. A lot of stupidity. And that’s the way it is.”
Yes, unfortunately, there is an unacceptable amount of slaughter taking place in our world every day. But to equivocate those reprehensible murders with the systematic targeting of the champions of free speech and the purveyors of truth represents a far more disturbing crime. Its not uncommon to hear these kinds of off-the-cuff blindly insensitive comments from Republicans. If you recall, a couple of months back Jeb Bush ignited a fire-storm for himself saying of the mass-killing tragedy at an Oregon community college: “stuff happens.” While just a week earlier, he said he would win over black voters with aspiration, not “free stuff.”
But the endorsement of the political assassination of threats to the government is a heinous affront to the first Amendment of our Constitution, an endorsement of which, like many of the other statements Trump has made, should automatically disqualify him from our Presidency.
It finally took Scarborough’s outrage to prompt a less-than-sincere politically correct answer from Trump. When asked “you obviously condemn Vladimir Putin killing journalists and political opponents, right?” Trump said, “Oh sure, absolutely.”
Trump and Putin are two peas in a pod. Their worldviews coincide. They espouse fascist ideology (which includes xenophobic hatred toward minorities), they embrace homophobia and a belief in white supremacy, and share an obvious acceptance and willingness to curtail freedoms to concentrate their power.
Trump may be spouting these extreme views to boost his popularity, but that is a lesser part of the problem. That’s simply the part that reflects on him. The scarier part is that the more outrageous he becomes, the more of a maniac he is, the more his popularity grows with constituents. He is indeed the frontrunner for one of the two historically great political parties in this country – which is deeply frightening. Trump’s values are so un-American that, in fact, top Pentagon commanders said “We’ll Quit If Trump Becomes Commander-In-Chief.”
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.