Donald Trump is NOT the problem

Carlyn Schmidgall, Senior Writer

I’ve always been proud to be an American. Though I don’t love all that we’ve done, I love that America attempts to accept and learn from our mistakes, constantly improving ourselves as a nation. This process is certainly slow and mired in gridlock, but I honestly believe that we are working towards fully embracing our founding ideals. The progress that America has made is, mostly, because of citizens who rise up, dare to speak their mind and protest for what they believe is right. The masses have been a source of virtue, correcting the government when it errs.
However, I believe Donald Trump’s meteoric rise represents a step backward in American society’s progress. His proposals stand as the antithesis of the ideals that our nation was founded upon, and that we constantly strive to fulfill. A reoccurring theme of Trump’s policies is that Americans can no longer be “soft and weak”. But compromise is not softness. Humanity is not weakness. Trump wants to erase all the progress we’ve made and venture back to a time when brute force was more valuable than peaceful nonviolence, where equality was only conditional.
Trump states that he doesn’t just want to make America great, he wants to make America great again. So, it begs the question: exactly what version of America does he want to return to? The one that expelled Native Americans from their homelands and attempted to destroy their culture? The one that literally tore itself apart over slavery? The one that only afforded white men a voice in the political process? All of these episodes are stains upon our past that we must learn from—not models for further action. Trump cites the Japanese internment as a precedent for his proposed nationwide ban on Muslims. He advocates for reinstating the Bush administration’s practice of waterboarding— a war crime— and vows to institute even more extreme methods of torture. We cannot afford to allow our country to fall into the hands of someone so intent on defiling our founding principles.
Perhaps some of us are simply entranced by his promises of greatness and bombastic displays of bravado, able to ignore the horrifying policies drowned out by his often incoherent babbles. However, a more real and more terrifying reality is that Trump’s supporters understand the weight of his proposals, and support him regardless. He’s provided an outlet for American society’s latent racism, sexism and xenophobia, giving it a voice in the national media and turning it into an incredibly successful bid for the presidency.
The world is full of megalomaniacs like Trump, and for the most part, they exist quietly and unobtrusively. In a democracy, such as our own, they only come into prominence when the commonwealth agrees. I am saddened by the fact that a hateful demagogue has captured the hearts and minds of the so-called “silent majority” of Americans. I thought we were better than this. If Trump is allowed to ride his wave of hatred for the different and disadvantaged all the way to the White House, it will be no one’s fault but our own. Donald Trump isn’t the problem— we are.