Will the American people elect Donald Trump?

This article appears in the Election 2016 feature series. View the full series.

Take a look at the cover of TIME magazine for March 14. Donald Trump is checked off as being a bully, showman, party crasher, and demagogue.

But Donald Trump is not the real issue in the 2016 presidential campaign. David Von Drehle in his TIME article makes a critical point. The election is not really about Trump, it is about us: "... [I]s the U.S. the sort of country that could elect him? What does that tell Americans about themselves?"

I know Trump voters give a variety of reasons for their support of him. None of those reasons include bigotry, or support of violence, or looking for a demagogue as a leader.

No, we hear that Trump is a successful businessman and can make America great again. He tells it like it is. He says what I've been thinking. We need an outsider. We need to shake things up.

There may even be some truth in some of these answers.

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Yet, when you ask his supporters about the offensive things he has said, or about violence at his rallies, they don't seem to care. The question is, Can you support a candidate for president who is constantly saying such offensive things? He has insulted Mexicans, Muslims, women, and every single candidate in the race as well as war hero Sen. John McCain.

What amazes me is that even now, when he appears close to the nomination, his behavior has not changed. He cannot hold a rally or participate in an interview without leveling personal attacks and demeaning remarks toward any and everyone in his purview.

It behooves one to ask if this is the kind of person one would want in the White House. Even the question of his temperament arises in regard to dealing with foreign policy issues. A steady hand is needed, and one sees little of that in the Trump performances.

According to Adam Altman, in the same issue of TIME, President Obama said recently that democracy "depends on the presumption of goodness in other people." Yet, Altman writes that Trump "warns of enemies lurking everywhere" which makes him "a fitting prophet for a fearful tribe."

Is that what we have become? A fearful tribe. No one is saying that everything in America is great today. But is destroying the very fabric of this country the answer? A friend of mine used to say that it is only a thin veneer of civilization that keeps us from perpetrating violence on each other. It seems that thin veneer is being ripped off by the campaign of Donald Trump.

We have seen this kind of turn toward a demagogue or a powerful authoritarian leader in many other countries over the years, especially during difficult times. Germany of the Second World War is but one example. Modern day Russia and President Vladimir Putin may be another example. We always assumed that the United States was immune from such behavior. We may be about to find out how true that assumption is.


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