Donald Trump is not fit to be president. There, I’ve said it – and, at this point, I do not understand why more Republicans have not been willing to also speak up.

Considering a Trump presidency shouldn’t be about party loyalty or political ideology. Instead, it’s become a question of who we are – and who we want to be as Americans.

As a character recently put it on the Netflix series “House of Cards,” “When bigotry gets confused with patriotism, America is in trouble.” Unfortunately, life is beginning to imitate art.

When you think about it, we have seen this too many times before.

The formula is all too familiar – a populist orator recognizes the sometimes legitimate fears and economic anxieties of a dissatisfied population and offers a simplistic diagnosis of a complex problem: it is “their” fault.

We lived through it here in Maine in the 1920s when the Ku Klux Klan rose to power by blaming a poor economy on the Catholics – those Franco-American heathens swarming over the Canadian border – along with the few Jews and blacks they could identify in their spare time.


This kind of scapegoating reached its most horrifying pinnacle, of course, in Europe before and during World War II. Charismatic but demented leaders skillfully tapped into the worst of their national psyche to blame the Jews in terms that portrayed them as barely human.

The rabble-rousing vitriol spoken in their native languages brought out the worst in their countrymen, and we all know what followed.

Sadly, it is hard not to see the parallels with Donald Trump.

According to Mr. Trump, Mexicans are rapists and murderers and unqualified to sit as judges, even if they were born here. Anyone identified as a Muslim, no matter how long they or their family may have been here, can’t be trusted and must be “watched” – spy on their places of worship, make them register with the government, enforce a loyalty oath or leave the country – all ideas so chillingly reminiscent of Nazi Germany that it should make our skin crawl.

Mr. Trump doesn’t stop there: Deport 11 million immigrants – a suggestion as logistically impractical as it is inhumane. Don’t tear down a wall, as President Reagan suggested, build one.

And, most recently, Trump made it personal for Mainers: Fear Lewiston’s Somalis – they are dangerous criminals – even though Lewiston’s crime rate has been in steady decline.


And nothing is sacred: Denigrate a true American hero, John McCain, and then insult the parents of another – this one, a fallen Muslim Marine. Suggest we should ignore the Geneva Convention and torture prisoners in blatant defiance of international law. Insult women and threaten them with “punishment” if they have an abortion.

What Donald Trump has done, in a most calculated way, is to empower others to come out of the woodwork and spew their own dark vision of America.

He has appealed to and encouraged the worst of our collective instincts. This is not “telling it like it is” – it is giving permission to others to legitimize bigotry, racism and hate. John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech once inspired a whole generation to think beyond their own self-interest. Donald Trump’s polarizing rhetoric inspires former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke to run for office again.

Some nationally prominent Republicans, while speaking critically of Mr. Trump, still tepidly endorse him, reserving final judgment to see if “he can get back on message” or “stop making these mistakes.”

I just don’t understand that. What they are really saying is that Trump will have their support if he will just agree to listen to his handlers, stop speaking his true feelings, and stick to the teleprompter.

That makes no sense to me – as if a disciplined speech can whitewash his cruel and bitter ideas. By now, we all know who Donald Trump is.


And, sticking to a script handed to him by advisers will not change who he is and who he would be as president.

Donald Trump does not represent the party of Lincoln, of Dwight Eisenhower, of Margaret Chase Smith. But even that misses the point. We are Americans first, and our shared values go far deeper than any party affiliation.

Our view – or defense – of one’s character and soul cannot and should not be justified by how we feel about Obamacare or global warming or the stock market.

In short order, we will collectively select someone to become our leader – and the most powerful person in the world.

Donald Trump is not fit to hold that office, nor does he reflect the deep diversity and tolerance of what it means to be Americans. Deep in our hearts, I think most of us know it.


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