This article has been updated: We Must Choose Carefully: Trump Presidency Worst Outcome of 2016 US General Election
In this article, the connection to astronomy and science is made through a theme that I’ve discussed frequently in a variety of articles, the need for improved education, specifically in the STEM fields. In a recently published, related article, I discuss why science needs to be a priority for the next US President; in another article, I discuss how an inspired scientific world view is the antidote for superstition, intolerance, religious extremism and the alarming rise of radical fringe groups who advocate violence and terrorism and who actively seek new recruits to their cause.
Following his 20 point victory in the Nevada caucuses, it emerged that the likelihood of a Trump victory in this year’s General Election was 98%! I write this article because I care deeply about this country, the country of my birth, the country that so many countless, selfless individuals “gave the last full measure of devotion” for. If I offend some readers, then so be it but I must speak as “evil only triumphs if the good remain silent.” My forebears hail from the Green Isle across the sea, Ireland; I come from a lineage of scholars, poets, lawyers, mathematicians, scientists and judges; both my grandfathers were judges. Indeed, it was the writing of my G-Grandmother, while still in Ireland, that sent my father’s family to Ellis Island. To honor these people and all other great, like-minded people of past generations and in the defense of liberty, I must speak here; not to do so would dishonor them and their memory and would be a disservice to my country.
That the individual who is now the leading contender for the Republican Party’s nomination for president, the one whose name appears in the title of this article believes the Great Wall of China to be 13,000 miles long, or one half of the earth’s circumference, is testimony to just how stupid and under-educated we are as a nation and that financial success has very little to do with education, class or professionalism. Whats even more disturbing is that he is the leading contender with such a strong following, having just accepted an endorsement from another individual who talks a lot and says very little, mostly about himself and his supposed accomplishments in public office, New Jersey’s obnoxious Governor, Chris Christie. Donald Trump, through his undisciplined and unchained mouth, coupled with an impetuous nature, could quite easily start the next major conflict in his attempt to “Make America Great Again”. His unreasoned and oft-emotional, intemperate responses during the debates illustrate just how impulsive and undisciplined he is. Sadly, these aspects of his character are what so appeals to the vast majority of his supporters and some notably ignorant public figures who have endorsed him. If he ultimately wins the election, as a nation, we will get what we deserve and what we asked for.
Although Donald Trump touts his memory as excellent, he may not remember the gaff about the Great Wall, one of the many he made during what now seems like an endless parade of Republican debates, blathering on during one of his mindless, incoherent rants about how he will “Make America Great Again”. Many news pundits, whose commentary spans the entire political spectrum, suggest that his strong following is an indicator of just how his message resonates with the electorate and that this is a good thing. If true, how sad that, like the Hollywood actor turned president in 1980 from the same party, we have a disrespectful billionaire loudmouth wannabe president – and 41% of Republicans polled find that appealing! That fact speaks to their character as individuals, the character of their entertainment-value only candidate and the collective character of their party if he is nominated. Although his strong victories in the polls may be a bellwether regarding his “message” and how it “resonates” with the electorate, it is not a good thing as the pundits suggest. His “message” is nothing more than a compilation of repackaged, racist, xenophobic slogans that sound good to the simple-minded. That, in and of itself, should worry an educated, thoughtful person with life experience, perhaps someone who has suffered but in all cases, it will catch the ear of anyone who pays attention to what people say, especially those who are applying for the most powerful job in the world. There are also certain troubling aspects to his personality, evidenced by his bravado, swagger and general arrogance, aspects that suggest a fascist world view.
It’s troubling that his appeal is quite broad, much in the way Hitler’s was in the mid to late 1930s in the run-up to WW-II and his invasion of Poland. Hitler broadly appealed to the downtrodden masses in post WW-I Germany, people in an economic slump, much like the disappearing middle class in this country today – I oft wonder how Donald Trump cares, let alone has the capacity to help the poor and disenfranchised in this country when all he’s done is live a life of wealth and privilege, out of touch with, out of step with and ignorant to the plight of most. Germany in the mid-1930s was broke and laden with [war] debt from WW-I (much like this country is today, except that our debt isn’t war debt, it’s based on failed economic principles, lack of education and the greed of wealthy plutocrats who include none other than Donald Trump). His “message” appeals to the masses much in the same way Hitler’s did for the very same reasons. This is a case where we must learn from history and not repeat the mistakes of the past.
Growing up in post civil-rights America, as a young boy in 1969, the year of the first manned lunar landing and one year before beginning high school in 1970, graduating in 1974 and beginning my undergraduate studies at StonyBrook at the close of the Vietnam conflict, Watergate and all the struggles we endured as a nation during that era, to have this buffoon come along and suggest that America isn’t anything but great is offensive to the bone. His banner “Make America Great Again” suggests that she isn’t great and that we need the likes of him to change that. Both sides of my family have proudly served this country in uniform; my mother was in the Navy and my father, in the Army Air-Corps, both serving during WW-II. One of my maternal uncles was a decorated Naval fighter pilot in that war, was shot down over Guadalcanal and survived. And yet another went to the 38th parallel with the US Marines during the Korean war as many times as they were ordered to do so. With the following comment, on 8 July of last year, in classic foot-in-mouth style, Donald Trump offended fellow Republican, Arizona Senator John McCain with his reference to Senator McCain’s service record:
“He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
As it turned out, John McCain ended up in a Hanoi POW camp after his Navy jet was shot down in 1967. He broke both arms and a leg as he ejected and endured enormous pain and torture during his five years in captivity. Whether or not you agreed with the war or the civilian politicians who sent our young boys to die in the sweltering jungles of SE Asia or not, John McCain is a war hero, unlike Donald Trump, by comparison a coward and hypocrite. While Sen. McCain languished in a jungle prison, Donald Trump used multiple student deferments and his family’s influence to evade the draft. I was always taught to never impugn the reputation or character of a solder as “Wars come and go but [my] soldiers are eternal“. History will judge harshly those who needlessly send the soldier into harms way but who will never walk in his shoes or fight the wars he fights, but has not the courage or conviction to fight himself; such is the person of Donald Trump and he is thus, unfit to be Commander-in-Chief. Donald Trump is no JFK, another war-hero and former president. How is it that the shoot-first-ask-questions-later crowd, the war-mongering 2nd-amendment types, no doubt a major component of Trump’s following, forget this, that a war hero from their own party was insulted by him and yet he still retains such a strong following by them?
His arrogance appeals to those who have enshrined the 2nd amendment to the US Constitution, to the “shoot em all and let God sort them out” mentality, the same kind of mentality that could very easily lead to a major world conflict if he is ultimately successful in his bid for the White House. To vote is a privilege, one that was hard-won in this country and one we should not take likely, nor squandered. If he were to win, chances are that the Republicans would also retain control of the congress. With the current Senate impasse preventing any nominee that President Obama would choose for the now vacant seat left by the passing of US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, to be vetted, per his constitutional purview and duty, the Republicans are attempting a Trifecta, to have sway over all three branches of the US Government for the foreseeable future; with Donald Trump as the country’s leader, this would be a disaster and would quickly set the country on a path to ruin.
That Donald Trump would support the FBI’s insistence that Apple crack now deceased Syed Farook‘s iPhone, putting at risk, through principle and ignoble precedent, the privacy and security of millions of subscribers to possible invasive and illegal searches and/or retention of private data, is quite telling of his character; by his own words: “…they should open it up…”! In fact, in one of his typically inane rants, he advocates boycotting Apple.
For the more-astute observer, the government isn’t interested in cracking that particular iPhone; it’s a Red Herring, a ruse to create a channel, to open up a back door, to gain access to a heretofore protected arena, an arena protected under the first and fourth amendments to the Constitution. What many don’t realize, the Constitution and its amendments trump any Act of Congress, including the USA Patriot Act, something else that Donald Trump supports! I’m not sure why many police agencies or the government have gotten away with this for as long as they have, the vast deployment of cameras recording faces, license plates, cars, etc, and why they haven’t been sued on the grounds that these actions are unconstitutional under the first and fourth amendments, that Principles only retain their moral integrity when, in the difficult cases, when they are sorely tested, that they are upheld. When a nation fails to hold to those principles, when it is difficult or inconvenient for them to do so, such as the FBI’s case against Apple Computer, that nation loses all claim to moral legitimacy. The governing principle has to be applied to all, in every case, even the worst, otherwise it’s a farce. The same crowd who supports Mr. Trump thinks its just fine for the government to have access as they do, just so long as we’re all “secure”. Ben Franklin said, quite famously, that “those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither“. In the case of Apple Computer, as Tim Cook so succinctly stated, the core principle is far greater than the merits of any individual case.
As Pope Francis so beautifully exhorted all of us, to build a wall along this country’s southern border with Mexico, coupled with Trump’s stated desire to build [internment] “camps”, along with the unprecedented number of deportations, occurring even now under this president’s watch and something Donald Trump will expand if elected, was “UnChristian”. How can those who claim to be followers of Christ (as Christians) and who claim that this country is a “Christian” nation support such openly un-Christlike, uncharitable and unchristian practices? It beggars belief! Clearly, these people aren’t deep thinkers and they are the people who support the Republican party, Donald Trump and his ideas.
How is it that the “Party of Lincoln” is represented by these people, everyone so unlike Lincoln in every way, from the pusillanimous Wall Street errand boys who have found a new home in both houses of congress as the majority party to the parade of imbeciles contending for their party’s nomination for the presidency? How is it that one of them, a retired neurosurgeon who, presumably, went to medical school and passed basic Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics, can forget all that training when it comes to religion, and defend the nonsense that humans walked with dinosaurs 6,000 years ago? Perhaps that is because science is an anathema to these people.
I opened this piece up, referencing articles I’ve published about how a thoughtful, inspired scientific world view could be an antidote and now I wonder if it isn’t too late for this country and, indeed, the world. These are the people who want to eliminate the the US Department of Energy, the US Department of Education, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of Agriculture and other agencies as was proposed by ranking Republicans in the US House of Representatives. Donald Trump is in full lock-step with them and I can only wonder what he would do if elected. To get a sense of where Donald Trump stands on climate change, take a quick glance at the following chart. To get a sense of just how important science is to him, how it would fit into a broad national science policy in a Trump administration and how well agencies like NASA would fare, take another look at the chart and extrapolate from there.
As the Nobel Prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg wrote so eloquently in “The First Three Minutes”
The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things which lifts human life a little above the level of farce and gives it some of the grace of tragedy.
How sad and ironic it is that such an openly racist individual as Donald Trump is now the Party Of Lincoln’s candidate for president! That this is so is an insult and affront to the memory of President Lincoln and the countless thousands of gallant soldiers who bravely gave their lives in the civil war so that this nation should endure, that the proposition that all people are equal should remain as our defining principle as a nation and not perish.
I would like to close with President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. What a far cry from the humble, thoughtful, educated leader of this country who guided her through one of her most difficult periods, during one of the bloodiest wars in her short history, a war fought, again quite ironically, defending the notion that all people are created equal regardless of race or skin color and that no one has claim on another, in ownership or in any other aspect, that the state is subservient to the individual, that liberty is an intrinsic and inalienable aspect of the human person and is thus, inviolate.
We would do well to meditate on the following before going to the polls, keeping in mind that the individual who this country sends to the White House will have access to the Nuclear Launch Codes!
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
November 19, 1863
“Imagination is more important than knowledge”
An index of all articles in this blog can be found here.