Don Gale: Thanks, Mr. Trump, for showcasing our weaknesses

Trump’s actions may have been popular to some, but they inflicted long-term damage to the nation and its people.

It’s a month for giving thanks – a good time to thank Donald Trump for doing such a spectacular job of pointing out our weaknesses.

Thanks, Mr. Pop Star, for dramatically demonstrating that populism is a poor way to choose leaders. Voters should pay at least some attention to the moral qualities and intellectual capabilities of those who run for office.

Trump is amoral, uninformed and anti-intellectual. His actions may have been popular to some, but they inflicted long-term damage to the nation and its people.

Thanks, Mr. Dog Whistle, for calling the misfits from their hiding places. We knew they existed, but we did not know how many there are, how widespread they are, or how dangerous they can be.

Your call for them to come to Washington, to attack the center of democratic government and to destroy public property triggered justified responses from congress, from law enforcement agencies and from millions of concerned citizens. The revolutionary groups that hide behind nonsensical slogans and power-starved leaders have surely lost some of the anonymity they desperately need to survive.

Thanks, Mr. Ex, for showcasing the decline of family influence in today’s world. According to published accounts, including his own, Donald Trump grew up in a dysfunctional family where economic success was more important than family values. The same seems true for too many modern families.

Strong families do not produce children who grow up to disregard the rule of law, ignore social mores, destroy public property, and openly defecate on the floors of public buildings.

Thanks, Master Trump, for personally illustrating the inadequacies of American education. Somehow, the education system – from kindergarten through college – fails to teach large numbers of young people about the basics of citizenship, about the history of American democracy, and about the necessity for law-abiding activity. Educated leaders and citizens do not become anti-social, racist, and militant.

Thanks, Brother Trump, for emphasizing the decline of religious influence in the world. You once waved an upside-down Bible as if you had the slightest clue about its contents. That action reflected the waning power of religion.

Morality – the foundation of religious teaching – is turned upside down when adherents support a candidate who focuses on greed, egotism, and belittling others – an individual who violates every social contract upheld by the major religious organizations of the world. Clearly many religious leaders of all denominations failed to guide the faithful against supporting an obvious non-believer.

Thanks, Mr. Divider-in-chief, for showing how close the nation is to anarchy. Lies about the outcome of the 2020 election serve only to increase dangerous divisions in the body politic. Politics is – or should be – about the search for common ground, not about name-calling and blatant falsehoods.

Finally, thanks, Mr. Troublemaker, for exemplifying what happens when this great nation walks away from its responsibility to positively influence world affairs. International treaties and agreements are not the same as time-limited business “deals.” And cozying up to national enemies or alienating friends is not the same as sharing diet drinks with business associates.

The question is: Will we respond to the challenges Mr. Trump unwittingly divulged, or will we foolishly ignore them?

Populism is not democracy. Strong families form the building blocks of a strong nation. Educating young people about social responsibility is more important than teaching them vocational skills. Religious influence – morality – should not end at the church exit door. Politics is not a contest between competing teams; it’s an effort to build national strength through compromise. International influence begins with shared national values.

Don Gale.

Don Gale is a long-time Utah journalist who has watched the ups and downs of world history for 60-plus years.