LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Despite Republican rhetoric, Armageddon not hitting US

America is not descending into anarchy and chaos. Despite what you may have gleaned from cable news and talk radio and the alarmist tone of the Republican convention, the rate of violent crimes committed in the U.S. has declined steadily over the past decade.

America has never been richer and more dominant militarily than it is today. Most of the world has a more favorable opinion of America under Obama than it had before him.

We are not living in the 1960s. Then, our country was afflicted with assassination of political leaders, race riots, huge anti-war protests over an ongoing, increasingly unpopular and unwinnable war which involved hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops. At the same time we were involved in a Cold War with a nuclear arms race against an imposing super-power.

In those dark days, Richard Nixon won the presidency with a call for “law and order” and promise of “peace with honor.” After he was elected, Nixon widened the war and ran the next election with the same promises. In the end, he was demonstrated to be a crook, and the war sputtered out to an embarrassing U.S. evacuation and enemy victory.

Donald Trump’s nomination acceptance speech was a conglomeration of despair and demonization. His acceptance speech reminded me of an old Benito Mussolini performance from a History Channel newsreel, replete with shouting, dramatic posturing (frowning and jaw-jutting), and the claim that only a strongman can save the nation.

It was riddled with false claims and statistics. It included absolutely no explanation of how any of his lofty promises could be achieved, but kept reiterating that everything would be done instantly if he were elected. The entire diatribe came down to “Trust me; I am the only one who can solve America’s exaggerated problems.”

The bright note was the abandonment of the conservative culture wars. Trump did not scapegoat homosexuals, transsexuals or gay marriage. He did not promise to outlaw abortion or demonize Planned Parenthood. He did not promise to “restore God” to public life, or even to lay claim to any religious belief of his own. It can only be hoped that attempts to divide Americans on such issues will not be part of the current presidential campaign.

Interestingly, Mike Pence referred to some of these as “matters of the heart.” We can only hope that they remain so.

We are surely in for the mother of negative campaigns. No doubt, we will hear much about (1) Trump’s aggressive business practices, in which he enriched himself at the expense of investors; and (2) his unfulfilled promises to release his income tax records. It won’t be an uplifting season, but it must end with rejection of appeals to authoritarianism and extra-Constitutionalism.

Mike Apgar

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