We’re a Better Society Than You Think, Mr. Trump

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

As predicted, President Trump brought his message of division and hatred to Montana last week in an attempt to rally what he calls his “base” — or about one-third of the nation’s citizens. And of course he did so in the fashion he prefers, which is hurling insults, celebrating violence, and trying to turn people against those who don’t support his views. The truth, though, is that we’re a far better society than the picture Trump paints at his taxpayer-funded rallies — and far more accepting of our fellow citizens’ right to hold their own political views.

That far more people reject his policies and presidency than support him has never seemed to matter to Trump. But most Montanans are probably having a tough time taking seriously a six-time bankrupted New York real estate scammer who is trying to get us to hate our fellow Montanans. This is nothing more than cheap, albeit dangerous, theater from someone who should be leading, not degrading, our nation.

Trump likes to project a tough guy image that he tries to enhance by celebrating such atrocities as U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte’s unwarranted assault on a reporter last year. But there is no great pride in body-slamming a defenseless and unsuspecting reporter with a recorder in his hand. It’s about as much to crow about as kicking someone’s crutches out from under them and claiming it was a brave and noble deed.

One has to wonder if Trump has ever actually been in a real fight in his entire lifetime. As the pampered child of a New York real estate scammer, he was raised far from the realities of normal life and protected from ever having to face the consequences of his words or actions.

But for those who weren’t raised in an isolated bubble of wealth and privilege, the story is much different. If you want to play the bully and go looking for trouble, you’re going to find it. And sometimes it comes on the end of a fist as most schoolyard bullies eventually find out.

By the time we’re adults, most of us realize there are no real winners in a fight. You might come out on top, but are almost certain to wind up with scraped knuckles and bruises, if not worse. Hence, most adults with any sense seriously try to avoid physical altercations as a way of solving disagreements. Our society has long left behind the cave mentality that the one with the biggest club should rule by pounding those who don’t agree into submission.

That Trump continues to praise violent actions brings into question his understanding that keeping 325 million Americans living together in peace is the one true mission of the presidency. It also shows, along with numerous other incidents from his past, his disdain for the law, which he somehow considers not to apply to him or his corrupt cohorts.

But we are better than Trump’s ugly incitements. Montanans live close to Nature and know that sooner or later, we’ll require help or render it, be it digging out of a snowdrift or lending a hand to those less fortunate or in need. We also know “what goes around comes around” and in that regard, compassion will always be its own reward.

So good-bye and good riddance to your message of dissent and division, Mr. Trump. Now Montanans can get back to their lives and treat each with the civility for which our state and citizens have long been known — no matter for whom they vote.


George Ochenski is a columnist for the Missoulian, where this essay originally appeared.