Montel Williams: America loves a reality show so much that we're irresponsibly letting Donald Trump make his candidacy into one
He says GOP candidates must challenge him; he offers an opportunity for them show Latino and other diverse Americans that the party is better
Editor’s Note: Montel Williams is a graduate of the Naval Academy and served 22 years in the Marine Corps and the Navy. He hosted “The Montel Williams Show” for 17 seasons and is now an activist on a variety of issues. He is a registered independent. Follow him on Twitter @montel_williams or on Facebook at Facebook.com/montelwilliamsfan
Americans love a good reality show, and the 2016 presidential election has become just that, especially after the Republicans cast a perfect lead character in the cartoonish, larger-than-life Donald Trump.
It might be fun to watch if the stakes weren’t so high. Our world is growing more complex and dangerous by the day, and choosing the person best suited to steer us through these turbulent waters is no joke. Yet Trump is making it one, and we’re letting him.
Our craving for entertainment has begun to outweigh our concern for the future. What a sad reflection on our society. We’ve become like the Romans, cheering for colorful gladiators in the Coliseum while the barbarians climb our walls.
I’m sure Donald Trump is a decent guy. I don’t know him particularly well, and I try not to judge an acquaintance. But how ridiculous and inane and reckless to imply that undocumented immigrants are largely murderers, rapists and drug dealers. That’s like saying all black people are gangbangers or all white people are rednecks.
Trump was obviously wrong: undocumented immigrants pose no greater public safety risk than anyone else in our population. Most are hardworking folks who came here in search of a better life, at great risk to themselves. Maybe they came here without papers, but it’s still a bald-faced lie to suggest they did so to commit crimes.
We learned Tuesday that Trump might employ undocumented immigrants at job sites. He acknowledged it might be true in comments to CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Well then, Donald, if these are murderers, rapists and drug dealers, why employ them instead of U.S. citizens or permanent residents?
If his inane comment serves any purpose, it is to highlight that the country badly needs a guest worker program, which the recent Senate compromise would have created. Immigration reform is not only important from an economic perspective, in that we can’t deport 11 million people, but from a human perspective, in that we shouldn’t deport individuals who wish to raise their hands and be counted, pay taxes and live by our laws.
Trump has had every opportunity to walk back his comments, but instead, like a sixth-grade bully, he’s doubling down. And it’s not just his Latino comment. Look at his apparent swipe at commentator Charles Krauthammer, who uses a wheelchair; or his now deleted quote-tweet about Jeb Bush’s wife.
Are those the remarks of a president or a reality show character? Either way, it’s hardly going to “make America great again,” as he promises to do.
We all know Trump’s primary motives – to fuel his ego and get attention. But the presidency isn’t a yacht. It isn’t a flight of fancy for the wealthy. Will he still want to be president when he finds out he can’t put his name on the White House?
The good news here is that Trump’s childish performance has given the Republican field an opportunity to reach out to Latino (and all diverse) voters and make clear this isn’t what the party stands for.
The Republicans lost the last election, in part, by failing to appeal to diverse voters. How does it propose to win in 2016 if it allows Trump – unchallenged – to continue spouting bigoted falsehoods about the Latino population, a population that historically has been more open than any other population of color to the Republican message?
We can do better than Donald Trump. Let’s cut his mic, start focusing on serious candidates, and save our reality show half-hour for the Kardashians.