Like most Americans I have been following the presidential race. However, following it from abroad allows me the benefit of tuning out the media circus that has been surrounding it, and to focus only on the facts. None of the candidates are perfect, and each of them have aspects of their policies that I don’t agree with. But no one in this race has distorted facts more than Donald Trump.
Now let me give a bit of a disclaimer. I’m about to say some things that may offend people, but understand that everything I am saying is backed up by historical and statistical evidence. Some people may read this and think I don’t like my own country. I love my country, I’m proud to be an American. Yes, at the moment I am not currently living in the U.S., but what brought me to the country where I am living wasn’t any animosity towards my country. What brought me here was my service in the Peace Corps on behalf of the United States in what I believe to be a mission of peace and global understanding. I’m also going to have criticisms of the military, but please know that I am talking about the ways in which our military has been used. I have nothing but admiration and respect for the men and women of the U.S. armed forces. Their bravery and sacrifice is part of what makes me so proud to be an American. I also believe that our past administrations have done a disservice to our veterans once they are back home, and I hope that is something which will change in the coming administration. So while what I’m about to say might come off as critical of the U.S., it’s information that I believe people need in order to make an informed decision.
Let me start by saying that I believe everyone has the right to vote for who they believe will do the best job as President. I don’t think it is right to push people into voting for someone they don’t want to vote for. However, the misinformation posited by Trump and the policies he hopes to enact are not one’s that I believe are in our nation’s best interest. I wish there was more I could do to dispel some of his bullshit, but seeing as I’m abroad this blog is about the only weapon I have.
Lets examine a few of Trump’s plans for our nation minus the nonsense words he uses. For starters, he is utilizing basic propaganda techniques we all learned about in school. I’m going to list them here in case anyone has forgotten:
Glittering Generalities: Using words or phrases that sound great and are emotionally appealing but don’t really have much meaning. Ex: Lets Make America Great Again.
Name-Calling: Pretty self explanatory, this pertains to derogatory terms meant to weaken credibility and standing. Basically, to make someone look bad. Ex: Who hasn’t Trump insulted? Regardless of how you felt about Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton or any of the other candidates, Trump’s methodology wasn’t to attack their policies but to attack them personally.
Transferring Status: The technique of associating two unrelated things through symbolism. Ex. Trump uses his “success” in business as evidence that he will be a successful President.
Just Plain Folks: This technique is meant to establish a common relationship between the individual (in this case Trump) and the average person. Ex. Ok you got me, Trump hasn’t said a whole lot to make himself relate-able to the average person. Unless you count his *cough* modest upbringing.
Bandwagon: A technique which targets our insecurities and need for acceptance. Like when you feel pressure to wear a certain type of clothing or act a certain way in order to be accepted. Ex: Trump’s entire campaign has played on our most basic fears and insecurities.
I’m a Social Studies teacher and so these techniques are more or less stamped on my memory. What concerns me is that Trump, like a lot of us, doesn’t learn from mistakes. Unfortunately when you are the leader of the free world, your mistakes become everyone’s mistakes.
Trump and his wall:
Trump and his stance on immigration is pretty absurd. I mean yes, illegal immigration is an issue and one that needs to be dealt with. However the measures Trump plans to use to address this issue are ridiculous. Not to mention his numbers are a little off.
He claims that Mexico is sending rapists, killers and kidnappers to the U.S. There are a couple of issues with this claim. For starters a comprehensive study by the Pew Research Center found that undocumented immigrants commit crimes at a much lower rate than Native-born Americans. On top of that, three out of four individuals caught smuggling drugs across the Mexican border are U.S. citizens. But aren’t they mooching off our tax dollars all the while contributing nothing? No, a study done by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that undocumented immigrants paid $11.84 billion dollars in state and local taxes in 2014. On top of that, the same study estimated that granting undocumented immigrants a clear path to citizenship would in turn raise tax revenues by over $800 million per year. The numbers go even higher if you factor in that citizenship would allow immigrants to pay income tax. Given the higher paid wages and job prospects available to a U.S. citizen as opposed to an undocumented immigrant, it’s estimated that the $800 million per year would climb to $2.2 billion. For anyone not paying attention, that is a good thing.
So why is Trump so enthralled with deporting every undocumented immigrant? Well because he needs a scapegoat, he needs a population to demonize. This type of propaganda has been used for decades by politicians looking to create a common enemy which only they can destroy. You might remember one of them from your history class, an individual by the name of Adolf Hitler. Woah! Comparing Trump to Hitler? Fine I’ll compare him to Nixon, who used the War on Drugs as an excuse to attack the U.S.’s black communities by blaming the nation’s heroine use on them. This allowed authorities to raid homes, arrest community leaders, and demonize black people on the news every night. I don’t know about you but that disgusts me. Was Nixon just a flash in the pan? Well no because if you recall during World War II laws were passed to intern Japanese-American citizens. But when the war was over we went back to accepting everyone right? No, a public survey done in 1944 found that 13% of Americans favored the complete extermination of the Japanese people.
Trump’s attack on Muslims:
In line with his views on Mexican’s are Trump’s views on Muslims. He ‘suggested’ that Muslim’s be banned from entering the United States. He has suggested that Muslim neighborhoods should be heavily patrolled. This is a huge spit in the face of our nation’s religious freedom, and does nothing but foster less understanding among people. And let’s be honest, the average American probably doesn’t have the best understanding of Islam. The media would have us believe that the Quran is some kind of terrorist training manual, and Trump is preying on that fear. It’s embarrassing that statistics are needed to convince people that a certain group of human beings isn’t just born evil. What Trump has ignored is that a study by Gallup, Inc. found 93% of Muslim’s reject extremist views. The book The Missing Martyrs examined extremism as well and essentially found the same thing to be true. The book Euro Jihad found that Western European intelligence agencies believed only 1% of their regions Muslim population were at risk for radicalization. I bet 1% of any population is susceptible to radicalization. In the U.S. we have a new mass shooting every week. In 2015 guess who the majority of mass shootings were carried out by. If you’re among the individuals who guessed ‘white men’ then you are correct. White men were responsible for 3 times as many mass shootings as the next closest demographic. Should police be patrolling white neighborhoods? Should whites be banned from entering the U.S.? I didn’t think so.
People aren’t born to hate, they hate as a result of their environment and the information they receive. What the Gallup study also showed was that most Muslim’s have a distrust in the U.S. and their intentions. Who could blame them when we have presidential nominees posing the idea of targeting them based on their religious beliefs. That is not the United States that I love, and it’s not the United States that I believed we were as a kid in school.
Trump wants to rebuild the military.
The first question I ask is why does our military need rebuilding? The United States currently has the most powerful military in the world. The closest nation to rival U.S. military power is arguably Russia where military service is compulsory for all males, and still they have just over half the active personnel that the U.S. Military has. The U.S. has more ships, more airplanes, and more firepower than any other nation on earth. We also SPEND more on defense than any other nation on Earth, roughly 596 billion dollars per year. A pretty distant second is China, which spends 250 billion, followed by Saudi Arabia at 87 billion and Russia at 66 billion. You don’t have to be a mathematician to notice the U.S. is spending more than all three of those other nations combined.
Now you might be thinking, of course we spend more, we do more overseas. That’s true, there is not an inhabited continent on this planet that does not have a U.S. military base on it. It would be tough to even find a country that was out of range of a U.S. military base. But what are those bases doing? Well in Latin America the United States is providing military support in the war on drugs, which, surprise surprise, is failing miserably. What about humanitarian missions? Nothing is done from a purely humanitarian basis, and no I don’t think it should be the U.S.’s job to solve the world’s problems (partially because we’re not particularly great at it). In fact, in many cases U.S. military intervention is damaging. The rise of Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the genocide that followed can be attributed to the U.S. bombing campaigns along the Cambodian border during the Vietnam War. But the bigger issue I have with our operations abroad is that anything can be sold as a humanitarian mission. The U.S. had no issues staying on the sidelines as 800,000 people were slaughtered in Rwanda yet jumped at the chance to invade Iraq and ‘liberate’ the Iraqi people and get revenge for September 11th. I wonder how many American’s today know that Iraq was not involved in the September 11th attacks, and that our leaders at the time committed what the U.N. would call ‘war crimes’ by invading a nation which did not pose a threat to us.
In some cases we’ve even actively supported the mass murder of other nation’s people by their leaders. The mass murder of leftists in Indonesia during the Cold War would not have been possible without U.S. support. The overthrow of Chile’s democratically elected president Salvadore Allende, and the bloody dictatorship that followed under General Pinochet, would not have been possible without funding and support from the U.S. I’m barely skimming the top of the list of countries we’ve helped kill their own civilians (because this post is long and I want people to keep reading). Even now we support Israel as they bomb and demolish Palestinian communities (which also violates the U.N. charter that allowed Israel to become a nation in the first place). ‘But we’re helping them fight terrorism’, you might say in response. I would encourage you then to take a look at how long it took Hamas to gain any kind of footing in Palestine and the circumstances that led up to their rise to power. I suggest reading Palestine: Peace not Apartheid as a means to get a better understanding of the Israel-Palestine situation.
I can go on and on, but my point is that our military is very strong, and our involvement abroad is about as harmful as it is beneficial and needs to be reexamined before any thoughts of increasing the military’s power are considered. Otherwise we’re just shooting ourselves in the foot in our alleged mission to bring peace and democracy to the world.
Trump wants to stop ISIS and terrorism in general:
You aren’t going to get an argument from me on this one, ISIS and any other radical group (not just the ones associated with Islam) need to be stopped. Is it the U.S.’s responsibility to stop them? In this case, yes. My concern however is the means by which Donald Trump plans to stop them, and the fallout that could follow.
Now despite what the media might have you believe, ISIS didn’t just pop up out of nowhere. A bunch of guys didn’t wake up one morning and decide to become murderous monsters. ISIS is a direct result of the invasion of Iraq. When the U.S. invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam Hussein they shifted what was once a nation with secular states into a nation with one predominant ethnic group, Shiites. Sunni’s on the other hand we’re stripped of nearly all political power. Massive unemployment among Sunni’s became the norm after the U.S. closed down factories and tried to implement a free market economy. Now in case this didn’t piss Sunni’s off enough, many of them also had their possessions and property stripped from them. And to make the Sunni living situation even better, the CIA trained Iraqi death squads (spawned from Hussein’s former secret police) which systematically murdered young Sunni men.
Now, I have no sympathy for anyone who chooses violence against innocent people, however if another country invaded your’s and began dehumanizing and murdering your friends and family, wouldn’t you be a little pissed? There is a quote which I can’t fully remember but essentially proposes that if you are drowning and someone sticks a hand out to help, even if you despise that person, you’re probably going to grab their hand rather than sink to a watery grave. The leaders of ISIS (then simply referred to as the Iraqi branch of Al Qaeda) preyed on this, and that is how their numbers and their power swelled. Now please before you get angry and say that I’m defending ISIS, please know that is not my intention. As I said but will say again, I despise them and their attacks on innocent people from all walks of life. My goal is just to point out that sometimes our actions abroad hurt us more than they help us, and sometimes we don’t enact the most far-sighted policies. And by the way, Al Qaeda didn’t exactly pop up out of nowhere either. U.S. involvement in Afghanistan during the Cold War, when the mujaheddin we’re given weapons and support to fight against Russia, is what eventually led to that group coming about.
I don’t know if this is all an act with Trump, lord knows his policies have flipped more times than a McDonald’s hamburger. The American people need to understand who he really is, and what he’s actually done. His business record is abysmal, he’s plunged himself into debt greater than everyone reading this salaries combined. But most of all he can not possibly relate to the average citizen in his current state. What Mr. Trump doesn’t understand is that war should be a last resort, not a type of foreign policy. Most of all he fails to understand that this nation he claims to hold so dear is made of people of all shapes and colors, and that a nation that respects those differences is stronger than one divided by hate. So please, if you’re considering voting for Trump I would encourage you to do a little research. Because if Trump isn’t the type of American who can learn from his nation’s past mistakes, then he is not fit to be the leader of the free world.