Take a deep breath, I tell myself, it’s only campaign hyperbole. We’ve witnessed election-year spin over and over through the years.
But last week’s remarks by Donald Trump are breathtaking in their intended deception. It turns out, Trump declared after years of fanning the flames of the “birther controversy,” that President Barack Obama was born in the U.S. after all.
That in itself is a noteworthy reversal, but it wasn’t what got my blood boiling. That came when Trump added that the whole issue was Hillary Clinton’s fault to begin with, that she and her campaign started it all back in 2008.
There is no record or reason to believe that—Clinton’s never questioned Obama’s citizenship—but Trump laid the matter at her feet anyway.
The only thing more incredible than Trump’s mistruths is that some people actually believe what he says. The man has no respect for the truth and yet people believe him anyway.
“Crooked Hillary,” he calls her, but when it comes to truth bending, she pales in comparison. His words are an insult to the intelligence of people who actually pay attention to the facts. The birther issue was always baseless, but the accusation that it was Clinton’s creation is beyond spin—it’s a bold-faced lie.
Yes, Hillary has taken liberties with the truth, too, especially when it comes to the thousands of emails she sent and received as Secretary of State. But Trump’s latest sidestep exposes him as compulsive and calculating in his revisions. How can anyone believe anything he says about Clinton after last week’s fabrication?
If this latest Big Lie doesn’t make his more reasonable supporters think twice about his legitimacy as a presidential contender, I don’t know what will.
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Not that I’ve decided to vote for Clinton, because I haven’t. I still like Gary Johnson, New Mexico’s former governor who is running on the Libertarian Party ticket. He’s a long-shot candidate at best, but he’s speaking real truths to power.
Unfortunately, however, Johnson is looking less and less like a viable alternative—especially now that the Commission on Presidential Debates has decided not to include Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein in the upcoming debates. That decision was pretty much the nail in the coffin for these candidacies.
Still, both Johnson and Stein will be on the New Mexico ballot, and I’m thinking a protest vote has merit.
As long as it doesn’t tilt the election to Trump. Therein lies my indecision.
This is an election cycle in which voters want change, and status-quo Hillary doesn’t fit the bill. Trump offers change, but not the right kind of change. As president, I’m convinced, he would be a disaster for this nation and the world.
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And before Trump supporters write this opinion piece off as just another example of liberal media bias, consider this: A big reason why so many pundits, like me, object so stringently to a Trump presidency is that, for all our faults, we still feel an obligation to basing our views on the facts. And the fact is, Trump lies.
That said, the national media are indeed part of the problem. They created this reality-show star by making him a lot more impressive than he really is.
And the public, bless their “deplorable” little hearts, bought it.
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If there’s one good thing to come out of Trump’s campaign, it’s this: Politicians can’t just outspend their opponents to win during this election year.
That’s right, a billionaire is teaching us that money matters less than message when running for office this year. The Clinton campaign is throwing millions of dollars into campaign ads; Trump, zero. (It should also be noted that some pro-Trump political action committees are buying ad time in the battleground states, but they’ve spent less than a quarter of what the pro-Clinton forces have thrown into media buys.)
Bernie Sanders, the failed Democratic Party contender, also put message over money. He didn’t take a dime from Wall Street and yet he still gave Clinton a run for her money in the primaries. Now, Trump is driving the point home.
Moreover, Trump is demonstrating that the message doesn’t even have to be based on the facts. It just has to resonate with voter sentiment.
Heaven help us all if, come Election Day, that sentiment gets the majority vote.
Tom McDonald is editor of the New Mexico Community News Exchange and editor of the Roswell Daily Record. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.