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If Donald Trump Becomes President, It's on You

If Donald Trump is elected President, it will be my fault. Your fault. Your neighbor's fault. Your co-worker's fault. American voters have the opportunity to do something about this. Instead of rolling our eyes and changing the subject because it seems absurd, local communities need to recognize the hate he is stirring and act now.
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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, in Davenport, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, in Davenport, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Enough is enough.

For months, political scientists have looked at the strange spectacle that is the Donald J. Trump for President campaign and have largely come away with one of two opinions.

For some, Trump is a caricature, a buffoon saying the most outlandish things to get screen time, debasing American politics, and pushing every possible limit of what should be appropriate for a presidential campaign.

For others, he represents a very substantial part of the electorate that has had enough of both parties and the stalemates in Washington. They want change. They want radical change. And they believe that Trump will force that change by waking politicos up to the anger in the country and the risk that comes with maintaining the status quo.

Both groups might have been right a few months ago. But Trump's candidacy has morphed into something different and far worse.

In the past several months, Trump has called Mexican immigrants rapists and bragged about building a wall akin to the Great Wall of China to keep them out of the United States. In mid-November, he promoted inaccurate statistics suggesting that most white people are killed by black people. When a black protester was accosted when disrupting one of his political rallies, he stated that "maybe he should have been roughed up." Last month, he suggested a mandatory Muslim registry. This week, he called for a "total and complete" ban on all Muslims entering the United States.

Words matter. Proposals matter. This man is ahead in every national poll. People are flocking to attend his events. The media continues to give airtime to his antics.

Enough is enough.

Donald Trump is not just capturing the discontent of Americans who are sick of D.C. He's stirring the hatred that lies just beneath the surface of so many of our communities. The kind of hatred that many people want to pretend does not exist. The kind of hatred that inspired Dylann Roof in Charleston, South Carolina; Chris Harper-Mercer in Roseburg, Oregon; and Robert Dear in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

He's not the cancer. He's a symptom, but a symptom capable of aggravating the underlying disease.

It's not just his hate speech that should alarm you. We have had candidates for decades that have based their campaigns on arousing hate and fear. But they have not been frontrunners.

If elected President, Donald Trump has the power to enact policies by executive action to round up people of a specific race and take unilateral action against them. If elected President, Donald Trump really can spend your taxpayer dollars to build walls, tear families apart, and deny federal benefits and protections to people of a specific race.

For those who believe President Obama has overreached during his presidency, imagine those same powers in the hands of Donald Trump.

Next year, silence is acceptance.

Your voice matters. Your dollar matters. Your vote matters.

If Donald Trump is elected President, it will be my fault. Your fault. Your neighbor's fault. Your co-worker's fault. American voters have the opportunity to do something about this.

Instead of rolling our eyes and changing the subject because it seems absurd, local communities need to recognize the hate he is stirring and act now. Elected leaders should identify and address frustrations that are boiling just beyond view (or, more often than not, stop looking the other way when it is in plain sight). Educators should use this moment to teach their students about what responsible leadership does and does not look like. Members of the media should stop being entertained by his hate speech and call it what it is. They should stop making excuses to justify ratings.

Smart people may disagree on policy. Marginalizing, discriminating against, and attacking individuals who may not look like you is not policy. It's hate. And it diminishes us all.

As Jewish people across the globe celebrate Hanukkah this week, I am reminded of Martin Niemoller's Holocaust-era poem:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak out for me.

History has shown us that monsters do not come into power overnight. They do not hide or mask positions and opinions.

Enough is enough.

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