Three scariest words: President Donald Trump

Story highlights

  • The Iowa caucus takes place Monday night
  • Dean Obeidallah: Trump's words have real-world consequences

Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM's weekly program "The Dean Obeidallah Show," a columnist for The Daily Beast and editor of the politics blog The Dean's Report. Follow him on Twitter: @TheDeansreport. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)"I'm glad my parents are already dead and buried so they don't have to hear what Trump is saying," said Juan, a caller to my SiriusXM radio show, on Saturday. "They would be in a state of depression.

"Trump's words scare me for my children and my grandchildren," he added.
Dean Obeidallah
And he was by no means alone. Another caller explained, "I'm thankful my grandparents aren't alive, being Jewish immigrants," to have to witness Trump's attacks on immigrants and Muslims. "As a Jew, I don't like to invoke Nazi Germany lightly, but I do see parallels with Trump, making this the scariest election I've ever seen."
I've never heard people say they were grateful a loved one is already dead because they don't want him or her to hear what an American politician is saying. So you have an idea about the palpable fear many Americans have of a Trump presidency.
Such criticism is not just coming from the left.
Conservative radio host Glenn Beck recently said it would be a "gigantic mistake if this country chooses Donald Trump" as president, warning that Trump would probably use government agencies like the IRS "against his political enemies."
Just last month, meanwhile, one of the marquee conservative publications, The National Review, enlisted a group of 22 well-known conservatives to contribute to its cover story headlined "Conservatives against Trump." The criticisms included that Trump was not a true conservative because he supported "the stimulus, the auto bailouts, and the bank bailouts" and that Trump demonstrated an "emotional immaturity bordering on personality disorder," which should disqualify him from "being a mayor, to say nothing of a commander-in-chief."
Even people in the "middle" have voiced concerns. As CNN's Brian Stelter noted Sunday on his show "Reliable Sources," the group Reporters Without Borders, which typically focuses on freedom of the press issues under dictatorships, has expressed a growing concern over Trump's actions. The group noted, for example, that Trump's personal attacks on journalists and his revoking of press credentials for media outlets that he believes are too critical are "extremely dangerous" for "freedom of the press."
But are we all overreacting? Is this just all part of the rough and tumble of the campaign? Are we blowing Trump's rhetoric out of proportion? The simple answer: no.
During this campaign, Trump has served up a cocktail of extreme language that goes from alarming to chilling. A few examples: his claim that Mexico is sending "rapists" to America, his mocking of a disabled reporter and his numerous sexist comments, the most recent being his tweet last week calling Megyn Kelly a "bimbo."
Remember that this isn't just talk taking place in a vacuum; Trump's words have real world consequences, emboldening people with extreme views and sometimes inspiring them to act. After Trump called Kelly a bimbo, there were reportedly more than 80,000 tweets directed at the Fox News host, many of them containing sexist slurs. And in August, two Trump supporters allegedly beat up a Latino homeless man in Boston, telling the police, "Donald Trump was right. All these illegals need to be deported."
But the story that stands out to me as the most disturbing was from November, in Birmingham, Alabama, when a black protester interrupted Trump several times. Trump bellowed to the crowd to "Get him out of here!" On command, the Trump supporters appeared to assault the man, with some allegedly calling him a "monkey" and the "n-word."
Even more shocking was Trump's response the next day when asked about the incident: "Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing."
What does it say about a presidential candidate that he would defend his supporters assaulting a person simply for interrupting him?
Such incidents raise the specter of a country whose civil liberties would be under siege under a Trump presidency. After all, Trump has refused to rule out warrantless surveillance of Muslim Americans simply because of their religion. Trump is effectively telling us that he would like to suspend the U.S. Constitution in support of his agenda.
It is also important to remember that this is not just about the rights of American Muslims. What about the civil liberties of Latino Americans when he sends out his "deportation force" to round up the 11 million undocumented immigrants, as he has vowed? Or gay Americans, after Trump told Fox News on Sunday that he would "strongly consider" appointing Supreme Court justices to overturn marriage equality?
Waiting for the day the court overturns the decision to legalize gay marriage, would Trump sit idly by, or would he use the powers of his office to make life more difficult for gay couples?
Of course, there are some who will tell you that Trump is just playing a political game, that he doesn't really mean what he is saying and that he will be less extreme if elected president. But isn't that a big risk to take? Wouldn't it be safer to assume that Trump actually means what he's saying and that his actions as a candidate are indicative of what he would do if he won the White House?
If you think that the American presidency is too important a job to take a chance that a candidate doesn't actually mean anything he says, then it is difficult to think of three more frightening words than these: President Donald Trump.