Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Loneliest Liberal: Anyone but Trump

By James Knudsen

Despite my efforts to avoid this moment, I must weigh in on the story of 2016, Donald Trump. His baffling rise to become the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party has left many scratching their heads or, alternatively, gouging their eyeballs out. My explanation follows that of many who trace it back to the elevation of Sarah Palin to be John McCain’s running mate. To those in the establishment, the GOP is no longer recognizable.
    I know what it used to look like. It looked like me, sort of. I recently had my picture taken for a new set of headshots – 8x10 glossy photographs, the calling cards of actors. I chose to have myself photographed in two “looks.”
    The first one is the look that I have since reproduced on shiny card stock to be mailed out to casting directors and agents. It’s my casual look, a green corduroy shirt, tousled hair, and jeans. I also call it my “Democrat” look. This is the guy who drives a Prius and taps away at his iPad at Seattle’s Best. He drinks gluten-free coffee and only buys organic, free-range apples. And he votes the “progressive” ticket right down the line: pro-choice, anti-gun, LGBT equality, and whatever/whoever the uber-hip progressive of the moment is championing.
    And then there’s the other guy. For this look I don a striped, navy-blue suit, white french-cuffed shirt, and red power tie. I part my hair, neatly, to the side, take a deep breath to expand my chest and look into the camera with a look that says, “You can trust me. I am strong, stoic, stable and straight...looking.” For decades this was the uniform of the Republican Party. The person inside it worked in finance, law, medicine, or manufacturing (white-collar), drove a Cadillac (now it’s a BMW), smoked, drank scotch, and died relatively young. That may be why they’re so hard to find at Trump rallies, besides the guy on stage, who wears ties that are too long.
    In the audience, the uniform is a “Make America Great Again” cap and a Ted Nugent concert T-shirt. Now, whenever “Cat Scratch Fever” comes on the radio, I change the station. I’ve also given up on Hank Williams, Jr., and I always hated Lee Greenwood.
    But it is none of these things – nor Trump’s aesthetics, nor his complete disregard for facts – that has me committed to voting for anyone BUT Donald J. Trump. It’s something I take personally.

My military record is the epitome of unexceptional: four years active duty, two years inactive, honorable discharge, reenlistment code 1A, Good Conduct Medal, Overseas Deployment Ribbon, two meritorious masts, letter of appreciation, Rifle Sharpshooter’s Badge. I fixed helicopters, slept, drank, ate, marched, and marked time. That’s pretty much what the entire U.S. military was doing during my time in service, marking time. There were a couple of dust-ups – Granada, Lebanon – but for the most part things were quiet and that was the whole point. I’m a Cold War veteran, and during that decades-long stalemate the name of the game was to keep things cool, cold. If things got hot, they could get as hot as the sun and then cold again, maybe forever. I’m not beyond saying, with a bit of cockiness in my tone, “the Cold War, we won that one.” Of course, at the end of that struggle it wasn’t the military that won the day, it was the U.S. economy, its ideals, and the people of the Communist Bloc saying, “we’ve had enough.” NATO just held the line for as long as it took.
    And if there was one iconic symbol of the Cold War, it was The Wall. Be it Churchill’s figurative Iron Curtain or the very real Berlin Wall, man-made barriers to separate people were what defined that era. And now a man who would be Leader of the Free World wants to build a wall. I served so that walls might one day come down. I will vote so that walls do not rise up again.

Copyright © 2016 by James Knudsen


  1. James, there is, however, much more than The Wall to condemn Donald Trump (and his followers). From today's NY Times: "The Nazi Tweets of ‘Trump God Emperor’." Excerpt:

    "Beyond journalism, stories of Muslims assaulted by Trump supporters are piling up. Hispanic immigrants are lining up for citizenship, eager to vote. Groups that have been maligned over centuries at different times in different regions now share a common tormentor, the alt-right, a militant agglomeration of white nationalists, racists, anti-Semites and America Firsters that have been waging war on the Republican establishment for some time. Their goals: Close the borders, deport illegal immigrants, pull out of international entanglements and pull up the drawbridge.
        "I retweeted the choicest attacks for all to see, and with each retweet, more attacks followed, their authors gleefully seeking the exposure. Some people criticized me for offering it, but I argued, perhaps wrongly, that such hate needed airing, that Americans needed to see the darkest currents in the politics of exclusion animating the presidential election.
        "An official at Twitter encouraged me to block the anti-Semites and report them to Twitter, but I have chosen to preserve my Twitter timeline as a research tool of sorts, a database of hate, and a shrine to 2016. The only response I blocked and forwarded to Twitter was a photo of my disembodied head held aloft, long Orthodox hair locks called payot photoshopped on my sideburns and a skullcap placed as a crown. I let stand the image of a smiling Mr. Trump in Nazi uniform flicking the switch on a gas chamber containing my Photoshopped face."

  2. Without question, the reasons that disqualify Trump are myriad. I think a Constitutional case could be made, if the 35 year age requirement included emotional age, he struggles to reach 5 years old. And I failed to expand on his aesthetics which would prompt Dad to utter his favorite line, "Good Lord, where do you spit?"

    1. Right on! And I would love to hear your dad comment on Trump.