Total Miles: 566.4
Full Disclosure: this post is a hard right turn, temporarily detouring from trail life into the land of politics. Feel free to skip it if a brief, though impassioned political rant is not your cup of tea. Upon reaching Tehachapi and hearing the news that Donald Trump had essentially become the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party, it seemed high time to take stock of how exactly the state of the 2016 presidential election had come to this....
Mary Shelley could not have written it better.
Meeting the lowest possible standard for consideration as a presidential candidate is uncomplicated: adulthood. Not the 35-year-old minimum age requirement, mind you, but the far simpler test of whether a person is, in fact, a well-adjusted, fully grown adult. Subjective, of course, but we know one when we see one and it is this simplest and most basic of tests that Donald Trump fails to pass. Even his trademark outsized ego, disproportionate to the sum of his accomplishments, is still insufficiently large to supplement what is quite clearly the thinnest of skins. Failing to resist retaliation for even the slightest of slights, whether they be perceived or otherwise, is something I might expect of my 5- and 7-year old nephews if that behavior weren't already so beneath their emotional ability. Failing to pass this lowest of thresholds renders any succeeding discussion of his material qualifications, or complete lack thereof, entirely moot.
The world has been and always will be both gray and complicated, a fact that will forever remain unchanged regardless of Mr. Trump's unsophisticated rhetorical attempts to convince his devotees of the contrary--that the landscape of geopolitics can be distilled to haughty, over-simplistic sound bytes. But the appeal of Mr. Trump's campaign is also based, in large measure, on his peddling of an age-old Republican narrative--a nostalgia for a simpler time, for an America that once was. The trouble with this mythology, peppered with nauseatingly patronizing not to mention offensive turns of phrase such as "traditional values", is that it is a nostalgia for an America that never truly existed, at least not for anyone who wasn't white, straight, affluent and male.
The blame doesn't entirely fall on Mr. Trump, however, for the tenor of his campaign. Nearly equal accountability falls to the party he represents, since he has merely fanned the flames of attitudes that the Republican Party began to seed long ago. That may sound incredible, but when a political party assembles a platform that either ignores or is openly dismissive of issues as far ranging as women's rights, Black Lives Matter, climate change, and the rights of gay, lesbian, and transgender citizens, you can be no more surprised that a candidate emerges to exploit those positions to an extreme any more than Dr. Frankenstein could be that the whole of his creation turned out to be something more dangerous than the sum of its parts.
Those within the Party who choose not to draw the obvious lines of causality from their Party platform to their presumptive nominee are clouded either by hubris, blindness, or the vastly more potent combination of the two. A Party's lack of antipathy towards particular issues should never be confused with tacit support for them, and it is in this respect that the Republican Party is now reaping what it has sown, in the form of a bombastic, offensive, and patently unqualified presidential candidate.
And now back to your regularly scheduled programming....