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Donald Trump: A Clear and Present Danger

Lee A. Daniels

The danger that Donald Trump — practitioner of questionable business practices, inveterate bully, racist, sexist, demagogue and the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee for president of the United States — presents to American society was never more evident than when he expanded last week on his already-packed “enemies’ list.”

Atop the list now is Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who’s presiding over the court case involving Trump’s ill-fated business, “Trump University.” The evidence and testimony in the case thus far strongly suggest the “school” was actually, as New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman put it, “just straight up fraud.”

So, because Judge Curiel’s parents emigrated from Mexico decades ago (and became American citizens), Trump keeps referring to him as “Mexican” — though he was born in East Chicago, Indiana, took both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Indiana and has forged a sterling legal career in the United States. Last week Trump told his supporters at a rally that the federal court system is “rigged,” and threatened to retaliate against Judge Curiel and curb the independence of the federal judiciary once he’s president. This behavior is unprecedented for a serious presidential candidate.

Trump also last week threatened to curb press freedoms once he got to the Oval Office after reporters began asking him pointed questions about the disbursement of donations he had collected last January and pledged to give to veterans’ groups.

And Trump last week slammed the PGA Tour after its officials told him they were moving its World Golf Championship tournament from his golf course in Miami to Mexico City next year. The reason: Trump’s “brand” is now so toxic officials couldn’t get the commercial advertising and corporate sponsorship deals they needed to make holding the event there profitable.

Trump, characteristically, cast the decision as a personal insult. “Can you believe it?” he later bellowed at a rally in Sacramento. “But that’s okay. Folks, it’s all going to be settled. You vote for Donald Trump as president. If I become your president, this stuff is all going to stop.”

Does this behavior meet the standard of “acting presidential?” Or, is it more an example of acting “dictatorial.” Or, really more like that of a crime syndicate boss?

Hillary Clinton, the Democrat’s presumptive nominee, gave the right answer in a speech last Thursday in San Diego that, effectively, marked the opening of her general election campaign against him.

“Donald’s Trump’s ideas aren’t just different — they are dangerously incoherent,” she said. “They’re not even really ideas — just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds, and outright lies. He is not just unprepared—he is temperamentally unfit to hold an office that requires knowledge, stability and immense responsibility.”

As if to help her make the point, Trump, while Clinton was speaking, sent a steady stream of tweets containing bizarre rants, outright lies and personal insults about her to his followers.

Trump is unfit to hold any office of public responsibility. But don’t expect the Republican Party leadership to say that. They’re all just Trump’s “employees” now. The plaintive tone of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s tepid endorsement of Trump in a column in his hometown Janesville, Wisc. newspaper that he would vote for him made that clear.

Last Thursday‘s developments ended with a violent incident outside a Trump rally in San Jose, Calif. in which an unidentified group of protesters attacked some Trump supporters and, curiously, burned an American flag. Trump’s camp immediately tweeted a notice of the incident, and the Clinton campaign immediately condemned it.

Trump’s outburst of last week was bizarre — but there’s a perfectly rational explanation for it. It’s because he’s facing several significant problems. They include a serious legal case involving Trump “University” that sometime within the next year could produce devastating consequences. And growing pressure to reveal his tax returns, amid suspicion that he both pays very little taxes and isn’t nearly as wealthy as he claims. In addition, Trump may be suffering a serious erosion of his business “branding” power because he’s so politically controversial.

And, finally, as his poll numbers among voters of color and women as a group trend toward historic lows, he’s got to contend with Clinton, a seasoned politician who has long marched through tough political battles at home and abroad.

However, Trump does hold one high card that makes him a clear and present danger. It’s not just that his mob of supporters have so eagerly sold their own birthright. It’s that they’ve done so because they’re intent on stealing ours.

Lee A. Daniels, a longtime journalist, is a keynote speaker and author whose books include “Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America.” He is writing a book on the Obama years and the 2016 election. He can be reached at leedanielsjournalist@gmail.com.