Tuesday, September 27, 2016

If Donald Trump is elected, it won't be the end of the world

In my first year of teaching, in the fall of 1999, I had an unusual opportunity, though I did not realize it at the time.

I taught a writing class called Creative Language Arts at Diamond Middle School. The man who previously taught the class had moved to the high school, which was located on the same campus, so I asked him where I could find the curriculum for the class.

"There is no curriculum," he said. "You make it up as you go along."

For a beginning teacher who had not been in a classroom since my student teaching, also at Diamond, in 1981, those were not words that were welcome to my ears. I needed structure and if there was going to be any structure, I had to be the one to provide it.

My initial lack of structure turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me. I was able to write a curriculum that embraced everyday writing and examined issues that were in the news.

I did not have folders filled with old lesson plans. Another teacher taught the traditional English class, so I was able to concentrate completely on improving students' writing skills and much of that was done through the news- everything from personal essays to compare-contrast papers, to research papers. The class featured frequent discussions and occasionally a video recorded from a news program.

In the late fall of 1999, the 2000 presidential race was well underway. There was no secret as to who would be the Democratic candidate. Vice President Al Gore had that wrapped up.

The Republican race was another matter. A dozen candidates had thrown their hats in the ring, with the best known names belonging to former Texas Governor George W. Bush and Arizona Senator John McCain.

The list also included a businessman with no background in politics, Steve Forbes, an African American conservative who also had no background in politics, except for a stint as an ambassador, Allan Keyes, Sen. Orrin Hatch from Utah, and some others.

I recorded an early debate and inflicted it on my classes. At first, they were upset that they were having to sit through a bunch of old men talking, but as the hour moved along, they were beginning to get into it.

The debate occurred before George W. Bush hit his stride and he performed poorly. It was not one of McCain's best either.

However, when it came time for the class discussion and papers on the debate, it was no surprise that many of the students thought Bush or McCain had done the best. After all, those were the names they had heard the most often. A surprising number thought the best candidate was Keyes, who was on the far right of the far right. Keyes was well-spoken and struck a chord with those students.

One girl, Melissa, was steadfast in her support for Orrin Hatch during the discussion and I had a hard time figuring out why. Though he had considerable experience, he did nothing to make himself stand out. To Melissa, no one but Orrin Hatch would do.

The next day, the students wrote a paper in which they were to provide examples from the debate on why they supported their favorite candidates. It came as no surprise that Melissa wrote about Orrin Hatch. As it turned out, she had an excellent reason, in addition to his qualifications, to support the senator- Melissa had grown up in Utah before moving to Missouri and she was familiar with Hatch.

The students' papers offered insight into their thinking and often, the thinking of their parents, as well.

 The following year, Orrin Hatch, Allan Keyes, and even McCain were long since gone and the only two remaining were Al Gore and George W. Bush. I showed a portion of one of their debates to my classes and in their papers, quite a few of them wrote something in the line of "Couldn't we come up with anyone better?"

It was a question I had heard before.

How in the world did we end up with Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey in 1968, a year when an obscure senator from Minnesota, Eugene McCarthy, developed a strong following among young people and another candidate, Robert F, Kennedy, the brother of a former president, and the governor of a large state who appeared to be far more qualified than Nixon, Nelson Rockefeller, were in the race? There was even a Romney in that election, Mitt's father, George, who dropped out before the race really got underway.

And we ended up with Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey?

But it wasn't just 1968. I remember hearing the same thing four years later when the choice was Nixon and George McGovern and four years after that with unelected President Gerald Ford and obscure former Gov. Jimmy Carter.

Now that I think of it, every four years comes around and we end up with two people that we wonder how they ever wound up as their party's presidential nominees.

Come on. An actor named Ronald Reagan. The next thing you know some reality television star will be elected president.

If someone had suggested 20 years ago that the general election presidential candidates in 2016 would be the First Lady and someone whose television experience had consisted more of WWE than C-SPAN that person would have been considered to be someone in serious need of psychiatric help.

How do we end up with these people?

One of our problems is that no one lives up to the picture we have in our minds of what a president should be. No one thought Abraham Lincoln would turn out to be Abraham Lincoln when he first ran for president and history shows even George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had their critics.

So we end up once more with a choice that is far from perfect, but what can we do about it? Some are talking about staying at home on election day and that is their choice. If those people don't want to take the time to study the candidates we do have and their stances on various issues and their personal qualities that could either make them great presidents or poor ones, then I would prefer they stayed at home and leave the voting to those who care enough to take the time to study the candidates and the issues.

If we elect Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton and it doesn't work out, it won't be the end of the world. The Republic will survive. In two years, we can make changes at mid-term elections in the House and Senate, and two years later, we will select two more candidates to run for president.

And once again we are likely to ask the same question. How do we end up with these people?

Our candidates, just like everyone else in this country, are not perfect, but as long as we involve ourselves in the process, research, vote, and speak out for what we believe, our system will continue to work, maybe not always the way we want, but there's always the next election.


Anonymous said...

I do not share your opinion that Trump could do our nation no harm. His temperament is that of a child, and he has unquestioned access to the nuclear football. Trump doesn't care if Korea, Japan, or others attain nuclear weapons, or if they are used against our "non-paying" allies. Trump's advisers have ties to Russia, and Trump thinks Putin a "good leader". Sarah Palin is more qualified for the Presidency than Trump, and she can see Russia from her house.

Randy said...

I don't recall saying that the next president might not do harm, but we do have a system of checks and balances in place and there is always another election right around the corner.

Jonathan Dresner said...

Based on Trump's own stated policies, and the Republican Party Platform (and a Trump victory would almost certainly come with a Republican controlled Congress), it would be more or less the end of the era of American dominance (or even competence) in global affairs, education, technology, and civil society. It's a coin flip whether Trump would be impeached, resign in disgust at not being able to get his way, or declare some form of martial law and amend the constitution. It's a near certainty that the filibuster in the Senate would be eliminated, so there's one less check.

I'm not saying the world would end immediately, but it would be the beginning of the end, without question.

Anonymous said...

and he has unquestioned access to the nuclear football.

but we do have a system of checks and balances in place and there is always another election right around the corner.

Indeed, does 1:08 PM assume the US military with blindly follow an order out of the blue to nuke some country? If if you think they're the lowest of the low, do you also think they're so stupid they don't realize they'd get hanged or lynched for such a crime against humanity?

Trump's advisers have ties to Russia, and Trump thinks Putin a "good leader".

This is one of the very best things about Trump, he doesn't want to start WWIII with Russia, whereas the desire to do so is all but palpable from those currently running the country, which included Hillary not that long ago, and she's still for it as far as I can tell.

A nuclear war with Russia is the single external existential threat the US faces today, modulo some lessor power managing a three warhead EMP strike on the CONUS, and what we're doing now in e.g. Syria is stark raving mad, and Trump has credibly promised to end up.

[An actress playing Sarah Palin claimed] she can see Russia from her house.

Fixed it for you. The real quote is that at the extreme west of Alaska, on a rare good weather day, you can see Russia. Which, you know, we actually bought Alaska from....

As for Korea and Japan going nuclear, I don't know if he "doesn't care" if this happens, but now that we've allowed North Korea to get them, it's the least insane option. No one believes we'll protect them any more from such a threat, and note that North Korea is still in an official state of war with the South, the US, and no doubt Japan.

Anonymous said...

If Trump responded to a "false flag" attack on the nation by Russia, but appearing to come from Iran, with thermonuclear weapons, (he has that authority, there are no checks and balances in war) then it could very well be the end of the world.

Anonymous said...

I generally agree with you, but not this time. The final issue for me is the fact that there are no checks and balances in place to stop Trump from starting a war - the end of time type war. He lacks such insight that I believe this is a very real possibility. I am, as so many of your readers love to call, a DemoRat. Had the Democratic party put up a nominee like Trump I would not hesitate to vote for the opposition. While I'm not excited about Clinton I would trust her with the nuclear codes over Donald Trump and pray for better candidates next time. I can't imagine a single candidate from either party that you referred to in your post ever making such a statement as Trump's - If the Iranians make an offensive hand gesture to our sailors, we'll blow them out of the water. And he might just do that depending on whether someone makes fun of his small hands or orange hair that day.
I've always recognized that this is a Republican stronghold and will forever remain so. But the hatred spewing forth from the right is chilling. There's good and bad in both political parties and it has become frightenly clear to me that unless we put this hatefulness down and work to make things better in a bipartisan way we will destroy ourselves.

Anonymous said...

But the hatred spewing forth from the right is chilling.

Kinda sucks when the other side gets pushed too far and starts fight back, doesn't it? I suppose you should have thought about that earlier.

we will destroy ourselves

Speak for yourself, my side certainly plans to win, there's nothing mutually destructive baked into the cake, not that things won't get very ugly for a while.

Getting back to Trump, perhaps you didn't read my comment that there's checks and balances in the chain of command? Going further, there's such a thing as an unlawful order, and a responsibility to not carry it out.

Your example of the Iranians is, well, cite me the "offensive hand gesture" bit, since that's not what I read of his remarks, but our current policy of taking everything they do to us without a counter-response besides flying them millions in cahs is beyond stupid, it just leads to escalation until we have to respond really forcefully or leave that part of the world in their hands, including its oil supplies.

You want to worry about a real nuclear threat? The Saudis financed the Pakistani bomb, if we let things continue, especially with the new Saudi leadership, we will truly see nuclear war return to this world there, or the Saudis will destabilize Pakistan when it fails to fulfill it's end of the bargain and then who knows if their nukes will be up for grab.

Trump has had more than enough power for a long time to use it for ill, if he was that sort of guy we'd know it by now. Your problem with him ultimately lies somewhere else. Meanwhile No Drama Obama and his first Secretary of State have left the world in flames, and you want more of the same. Again, a different sort of problem lies here.

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of panty wearing liberal whiners. You need to put on your big boy pants and think of America would be like with Hillary the Commie. Do you idiots think you'll be safer with her in the White House. Unless your all Democrats then I am wasting my time.

Anonymous said...

If Trump responded to a "false flag" attack on the nation by Russia, but appearing to come from Iran, with thermonuclear weapons, (he has that authority, there are no checks and balances in war)

The latter statement is so breathtakingly false words fail.

then it could very well be the end of the world.

Please outline out how this might come about. Who's on the side of Iran who'd get so upset they'd even start to bring about such an outcome? (When your best allies are Syria (or now it's rump) and Hezbollah, it says something about your statecraft?). Or are you a Twelver?

Anonymous said...

All this talk about Trump starting WW3,SMH WHAT FOOLS! If Hillary is elected, we will be at war with Russia inside of two years. MaO-bama and Shrillary have been beating those war drums for a while now. Russian hackers, Russian interference in Syria, Ukraine and Crimea blah blah blah, war war war, profits for my donors!

Anonymous said...

The President is not required to notify or consult Congress prior to a nuclear launch! Period. Anyone that refuses to follow an order of the Commander in Chief is guilty of treason, punishable by death in wartime. Period. If you think any nuclear launch personnel would question the President's order, perhaps you need to educate yourself to protocol.

Anonymous said...

Somehow, I have to take exception to the idea that if we don't like the person elected we do not need to worry because there will be another election in four years. That ain't necessarily true. Once in power, should the person in power decide to stay in power, election can be cancelled and all it takes is a national emergency, either real or imagined. At some point in time, the inner cities are going to have to be cleaned up and that will take a military operation (illegal unless Martial Law is declared) and there will be a lot of dead people on both sides. Whoever does this will be considered a hero by the population and probably declared to be "President for Life". If you need a good example of where we are right now, just take a good look at where South Africa was thirty years ago and draw your own conclusions. Just remember that repression of the masses cannot happen without compliance of the masses. To my way of thinking Clinton (yeah, I think she is rotten too) will keep a lid on things for maybe another four to eight years and Trump will trigger the social explosion in maybe two years because he really is too stupid to realize that there are such things as unintended consequences.

Anonymous said...

From what I hear Trump has a real problem with people he considers to be unattractive and overweight. (Trump Miss Universe housekeeping)

Billy Long ought to start worrying. After he pushes back from the buffet.

About 15% of Joplin actually.

Anonymous said...

The President is not required to notify or consult Congress prior to a nuclear launch! Period. Anyone that refuses to follow an order of the Commander in Chief is guilty of treason, punishable by death in wartime. Period.

You're full of sh*t, ignorant of even the concept of unlawful orders. And note that it has to be wartime first for such a punishment to even come into play, and only the Congress can declare war.

This trope has been trotted out for every Republic presidential candidate since Goldwater (the Daisy commercial), with the possible exception of G. H. W. Bush, much more strongly for "warmonger Reagan" (who indeed believed we were fighting a war, and was the first President to decided to end, not contain the USSR, and did just that with remarkably little blood split).

Try crying wolf again to those who don't know or have lived through this history, most of us aren't buying it for a second.

Anonymous said...

Once in power, should the person in power decide to stay in power, election can be cancelled and all it takes is a national emergency, either real or imagined.

You don't realize that the Uniparty, the establishments of both the Democratic and Republican parties, hate Trump with a burning passion? There won't be any trouble impeaching, convicting, and removing him from office if he goes that far out of line.

Anonymous said...

Right wing nut jobs think the military can refuse an "unlawful order" given by his commander. Ha,ha,ha ..,this nut job has never served except maybe at McDonalds. The POTUS can launch without congressional approval, moron. If you don't understand, look it up, or are you too ignorant to even do that. Obviously, you have never been in the service, but you don't get to pick which orders you "feel" unlawful. To do so in time of war is treason, genius, look it up. I

Anonymous said...

I doubt that they will go to that much trouble. I seriously doubt that he will serve out his first term but I expect he will either have an "accident" or "extreme medical problem". One thing is for certain, when the alphabet agencies consider you a threat, you had best be constantly be looking over your shoulder.

Anonymous said...

Wow! 6:47, 6:55 and 7:00 proves my point. Instead of a thoughtful response on policy you get things such as; we've been pushed too far and are fighting back. Pushed too far how? Health Care (granted we needed something better) but I have yet to hear of a Republican alternative. Social Security - it was pushed on you - then give it back. Medicare/Medicaid - we don't need no health care - don't participate. Minimum Wage - we don't need it - then work for whatever your employer wishes to pay. Family/Medical Leave - those demoRats forced it on us - then don't claim it. You have a Republican Congress, a Republican state legislature and total Republican control in SW Missouri, I don't see much to complain about.
In response to citing the offensive hand gesture - I did change the wording slightly. Trump's actual quote was: "And by the way, with Iran, when they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats and they make gestures that our people - that they shouldn't be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water." Maybe Trump was referring to mooning rather than a hand gesture. His statement appears in the LA Times, Wall Street Journal and others on September 9. It was also broadcast on CNN and FOX40 as well as others.
The "liberal whiners" comment is amusing considering all I've been hearing from DT since the debate is how unfair he is always treated, his microphone caused him to make the statements he did. It's all the media's fault. Kind of the pot calling the kettle black. Maybe you need to put your big boy pants on as well.
The you're full of ---- is also helpful. I would trust Goldwater, Reagan and GHW Bush not to launch a nuclear weapon without cause chiefly because they lived through a world war. Trump has not, nor has he or any member of his family served in combat.

The comment about whiney liberals - I didn't hear

Anonymous said...


This post was noted and addressed in "The Erstwhile Conservative" blog. He doesn't seem to agree with your assurance that a Trump presidency could not end the world. I agree with his assessment. The danger of our country's fate at the hands of a narcissistic, misogynistic, racist, sociopath such as Trump cannot be dismissed. Russia wants him to be elected, enough said.

Anonymous said...

No matter how many paragraphs, the slacker message is the same: we can just be lazy, do nothing, and there are no consequences to our actions. Someone else will pick up the slack and rescue us.

Meanwhile, the GOP has had a plan for decades to gerrymander and restrict voting rights. It's been very successful. Trump will ensure the Supreme Court will be on board.

All a President has to do is say something, and markets move. This President Trump says we need to abandon relationships. South Korea destroyed by war? No biggie. Japan hit with a North Korean nuke or two, meh. China pushed over the economic brink - we'll just ignore it. What, me worry?

The military will question his orders; they did that so well with 100% lies that caused the Iraq War. THIS time, they'll do it. Trump emboldens, or provokes, N Korea, and - take your pick Los Angeles, Hawaii, Tokyo, Seoul nuked - the military wouldn't respond? Trump says to nuke their ass and take their gas, responding to a minor terror attack - just one small nuke! - the Generals will revolt. Don't worry; the Generals would remove or otherwise nullify the President, what could possibly be bad about that? Things would just go back to normal the next mid term election!

A bit more mundane, 40,000,000 or so would loose health coverage. Social Security would be in question. Medicaid redesigned, via block grants, into a twisted system of band aids, with no real care, and/or unobtainable standards for care. The Free Market will dictate care based on payment ability, worse than before.

The pliable Supreme Court upholding criminalized abortion, roll backs of civil rights laws, expanded privatization, and a plethora of other policy issue previously reserved for the fantasies of the far right.

Tra la la, people are basically good, things work out by themselves, the consequences of our actions can be reversed in 2 years. It's all so simple, rule by platitudes will save us.

Anonymous said...

The Dallas Morning -News, Cincinnati Enquirer, New Hampshire Union Leader,, and the Arizona Republic are all respected newspapers that have never supported a Democrat in over 100 years are not endorsing Trump, and all but the Union Leader are supporting Clinton. The Union Leader supports Gary Johnson, not Trump. These journalists do so because they realize that Trump is unfit for office.

Former Presidents G.H.W. Bush and George Bush do not support Trump. Over 50 current and former intelligence officials have written a letter condemning Trump's bid for the Presidency. Any thinking individual cannot support Trump, these local S.W. Missouri commenters are Trump's chumps.

Anonymous said...

6:03 AM: You're most certainly right, for we all remember how airtight the defense of "I was just following orders" worked at Nuremberg.

7:57 AM: You lied, by your own admission. I don't see why we should listen to anything you have to say.

I'll close by saying I too am of around the age as our host, about 4 years younger as I recall, and his message from the history we've observed over the years of Don't Panic is spot on, as all the bed wetters will find out next year after Trump wins by a landslide this November.

Anonymous said...


I'm older than you or Turner, and as I recall the saying is "Keep calm, and carry on". This referred to the German bombing of Great Britain, not electing a sociopath to the White House. Former GOP Presidents, over 50 intelligence officials, Ohio GOP Governor John Kasich, former GOP Senator and Govenor and husband to Elizabeth Taylor, John Warner and numerous other GOP officials have refused to support Trump. Not one self-respecting Democrat or Independent will vote for Trump, so I'm unsure of how you can perceive him to win in a "landslide". One thing is certain, should Trump, with an assist from the Russians, should somehow win the election, panic and bed wetting will be the least of your problems.

Anonymous said...

11:03 AM pointed to a former Globe blogger's comments about Randy. Here is part,

"A voter’s job in this election is not, as Turner suggests, deciding whether Clinton or Trump will make a “great” president or a “poor” one, in terms of how history might judge either in the future. The job in this utterly unique case is to make reasonably sure there is a future in which historians can make such judgments! The voter’s job is, and has been since June of last year, deciding whether an unstable reality TV star is a man Americans should trust with the world’s most powerful military and nuclear arsenal, with weapons that could very well mean the end of the world, at least as we know it today. And unless Turner has some evidence that the cartoonish con man we have been watching for over a year now will somehow transform himself into a stable, steady, solicitous president, he should spare us the “there’s always the next election” nicety and stop trying to convince voters that they are not making an existential decision. With Trump in the race, that’s exactly what they are doing."