For certain personal reasons, I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about and resolving what I can do to be better. How can I be more aware of others? How can I be more considerate? How can I be more thoughtful? What can I do to practice more kindness, listen more closely, live with more empathy, give others more love?
This has to do with the fleeting nature of time; the fact that life is fragile, precious and short, even to those who live a long time. It has to do with what David Foster Wallace called “the really important kind of freedom,” the freedom that involves “attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad, petty, unsexy ways every day.”
I’m a fantastically imperfect person, full of foibles and limitations, woefully susceptible to impatience, privileged assumptions, ingratitude, failures of consideration, failures of kindness. I strive to be aware of these many imperfections, and to improve upon them as much as I can each day.
Which brings me to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. As imperfect as I am, as a human being navigating the waters of tumultuous conscious experience, I couldn’t be more thankful to not be in the existential crisis of Donald Trump.
“Trump doesn’t just offend me politically,” I recently told my grandparents – Kennedy Democrats now both in latter half of their 80s – “He offends me as a human being.”
I’ll not attempt any kind of armchair psychiatry here on what personality disorder or disorders Trump may or may not have. I think we can reduce it to something easier than that.
Let’s take the simplest, most ubiquitous ethical and moral rule known to humankind, advocated across cultures and religions worldwide; the one so universal it’s known as the Golden Rule: Treat others as you wish to be treated.
Who among us can say with a straight face that Donald Trump cares enough to even attempt this most basic construction of ethical human interaction? He doesn’t. Not only will he not treat others as he wishes to be treated, he won’t even try.
I’ll be honest, the hardest part about writing this piece right now is choosing which of Trump’s numerous, atrocious failures of human decency to use as examples.
How about the time he attacked the grieving parents of a fallen American soldier because they (justifiably) questioned his understanding of the U.S. Constitution? (I parenthetically say “justifiably” because Trump has explicitly promised to openly violate the First, Fourth, Fifth and Eighth Amendments.) If Donald Trump’s children served in the Armed Forces (they haven’t), would he wish to be nationally attacked while mourning their death? I’d venture not.
How about the time he mocked a newspaper reporter with a disability? If Donald Trump suffered a congenital joint condition, would he wish to be mocked about it in front of the whole world? Likely not.
If Donald Trump ovulated, would he wish the fact to be used to attempt to discredit him when he tried to close a real estate deal? “Sorry, I don’t do business with Donald Trump; he’s got blood coming out of his wherever.”
If Donald Trump had parents who immigrated from Mexico, would he wish that to be used to decree he was unfit to participate in American jurisprudence?
If Donald Trump had a Kenyan father, but was born and raised in Hawaii and practiced Christianity throughout his life, would he wish for a hypothetical noxious reality TV billionaire to call him a Muslim and racistly question whether he was born in the United States ad nauseum?
Donald Trump is overweight, but do you think he’d appreciate it, or in fact would wish that people would repeatedly, publicly call him “fat” and/or “ugly” because they disagree with him about something totally irrelevant to his looks?
Donald Trump claims to be a presbyterian. If a handful of radical presbyterians flew a plane into the Empire State Building, would Donald Trump wish the same hypothetical noxious reality TV billionaire mentioned above to go on TV and say that “all Presbyterians in New York cheered” when that happened?
I could literally go on with a hundred more examples. That’s not hyperbole; there’s probably well over 100 more examples. Referring to his own wife as a good “piece of ass” in discounting the media; calling all Mexicans drug dealers and rapists; indicating if Ivanka wasn’t his daughter, he’d date her; even weighing in on the romantic life of Robert Pattinson and Kristin Stewart; and, of course, attacking an endless stream of people with schoolyard ad hominem.
Now the wizards in Washington marvel at all of this. “None of it sticks,” they say. There are many reasons for that but the most basic two are that (a) many of his supporters agree with him and actively practice this type of behavior in their own lives, and (b) those of us who prioritize our human decency are losing the “political correctness” argument.
I’ll not bother with Point A: We all know there are a lot of terrible, stupid, selfish, ignorant, and yes, deplorable folks among us. There’s not much we can do about that except to address Point B, which is to say, that despite the fact that there are so many terrible, stupid, selfish, ignorant, and yes, deplorable folks among us, we must be obliged by our human decency to nevertheless attempt to consider them, to be aware of them, to even empathize with them in the ways that we can, and to rise above for the betterment of us all.
But while I’m on the subject, there is nothing admirable about being anti-PC when it prevents one from being a bare-minimum decent person. There is nothing heroic about “taking on the PC police” when the presented alternative is an egomaniacal loudmouth, shit person, showing his ass to the entire country while running for president.
Frankly, it’s absurd. As generous and open-minded as I may try to be, I cannot conceive of Donald Trump spending one day, one hour, one minute, in self-reflection over how he can be better for others instead of what he can do to make something better for himself.
Far from merely indecent, I find the man repugnant. He’s not the type of person I allow in my life, let alone to serve as my president.
D.C. DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure. He has also written for Government Executive’s RouteFifty.com, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS in Athens, Ohio. DeWitt can be found on Facebook and Twitter @DC_DeWitt.