COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | DANIEL COFFEY

Trump and his appeal to Republican voters

“The New Colossus,” a sonnet written by Emma Lazarus in 1883, was engraved, with tiny editorial changes, on a plaque and made a part of the Statue of Liberty in 1903. The original sonnet ends in these words:

"’Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!’ cries she

With silent lips. ‘Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

In 2015, by way of introduction to the core of his presidential campaign, his “storied pomp," Donald Trump offered his own doggerel poetry about America. He said: "The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else's problems.”

While his words possess no meter or rhyme, no form or substance, they certainly must have been intended to stir a fervor in the heart and lift up his audience of enthusiastic supporters.

After all, Donald Trump does nothing that is not great, wonderful, perfect and deeply considered. Just ask him, he’ll be glad to tell you all about his amazing accomplishments and astonishing wealth.

In a cruel irony, apparently some of his audience were paid a mere $50 to act as extras to form a throng of faux faithful followers. Thus, modern Narcissus was attracted to the water’s edge by Nemesis, the goddess of revenge, only to become fatally enraptured with his own image.

Though Trump is white-hot for golden accouterments and fixtures, apparently he does not lift a lamp beside any of his “golden doors” when it comes to Mexico and its peoples. It seems he imagines them as a people to be easily shunned, defamed and denigrated. As one involved in managing hotels, he lacks a little something, no?

In reflecting upon his verbal treatment of people from Mexico, I could not help wondering if I would prefer a conversation with the lovely Mexican, Salma Hayek, and François-Henri Pinault, her French billionaire husband, rather than Donald Trump and his third wife, Melania Knauss-Trump? The answer is amazingly simple. Consider it yourself.

More importantly, the Mexican culture with which I am familiar in San Diego is steeped primarily in family, work, love, food, school, community and church, with deep commitment to the Christian faith. These notions are entirely absent from Trump’s comments.

Indeed, in what story of the Bible would we find a figure like Trump? What Christian tradition or teaching is reflected in his behavior? Is he Jonah or the whale? Certainly we will know more if he is jettisoned overboard by his party.

Most importantly, what political tradition is reflected in Donald Trump’s candidacy for president of the United States? It seems he has never won elected office!

His approach to diplomacy, international and otherwise, is boorish. His proposals are simplistic and hollow. His actions and words seem shaped by an astonishing isolation, something that likely comes with billions of dollars and diminished contact with ordinary, decent people.

Rich, aloof, isolated, narrow, generally disrespectful, and quick to judge others harshly, Trump would make a delightfully unvarnished contrast in any presidential race.

Is he not the archetypical Republican caricature, engorged with wealth sitting astride a downtrodden nation, whipping it to perform greater feats to entertain one and all? Isn’t he the perfect Republican candidate for the modern era? It would seem so.

Rising popularity and an enlarging acceptance of his thoughts by Republican Party voters will likely encourage even greater diatribes, haughty contempt and a lack of respect for others. What could go wrong?

Overall, it seems we are witness to a “genetic splicing” approach to politics. Among all Republican candidates, at least one will appeal to each voter, and taken together, to a majority. Take a little splice from this candidate and a little from each of the others in order to appeal to the whole constituency and assure recapture of the White House.

In other words, there will be a Republican candidate who will speak to every voter group in America and thus build an appealing Republican brand, irrespective of the actual positions of the candidate who is finally selected as ultimate standard-bearer. Pit that spliced collective against Hillary Clinton and you have a formula for success.

In truth, Donald Trump is merely one odd splice among many candidates positioned at various points on the ultra-conservative spectrum, whose collective verbal barrages will be added to a vociferous chant intended to pile on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Let’s be clear: All aspects of this distracting falderal support the Republican elite winning the presidential election in 2016, gaining control over the White House and utterly closing the loop that will allow a complete and permanent concentration of economic and political power in a relatively tiny population of extremely wealthy families.


Coffey is an attorney based in San Diego. He can be reached at daniel.coffey@sddt.com.

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