Republican Presidential Candidates Project the United States Poorly

The United States is a home of knowledge. It is a nation of teachers, managers, lawyers, journalists, accountants, software developers, physicians, technology innovators, and skilled workers in all fields of life. The United States has more than five thousand universities and colleges, many of them highly regarded in the world. Literacy is high. For the most part, Americans are a sophisticated audience and cannot be easily fooled. Yet, the Republican presidential candidates make incendiary statements day after day. Some statements are shockingly pestiferous. Some statements come from presidential candidates who studied law or medicine at premier colleges and universities. Sadly, most candidates compete to excel in extreme speech. If leaders mirror the people, the Republican presidential candidates project the United States and their political party poorly to the world.

The Republican candidates forget that what they say will be aired in all corners of the world. Because the United States is an influential nation, all nations and their media pay close attention to what American leaders say in speeches. On the basis of what they hear, the peoples of the world make judgments, form opinions, and allocate respect to leaders and their nations. Ignoring global dynamics, the Republican candidates behave as they are only talking to American hardcore conservatives or potential voters in key presidential primary and caucus states. Worse, they do not care what the world says. Take Ted Cruz. Son of an immigrant Cuban father and Texan mother, Ted Cruz, also known as Felito Cruz, studied at Princeton University and Harvard Law School. Presumably an erudite fellow bred with cross-cultural discernments, Cruz, one hopes, would be subtle and scholarly in speech acts. Yet Cruz crudity is vivid. If Iran tried to acquire nuclear weapons, tells Ted Cruz to a receptive audience, "we may have to help introduce (Iranian Supreme leader) to 72 virgins."(This means that Cruz would kill the Iranian leader.) The crowd cheers even though Cruz ridicules Islam, a religion of fellow-Americans, and constructs a hypothetical to justify the language of violence in times of massacres at American schools and churches.

Ben Carson, an African-American, the son of a Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) minister, was raised in Detroit, Michigan. Carson studied at Yale and Michigan universities and taught neurosurgery at John Hopkins hospital. Citing various reasons, Carson believes that no American Muslim should be permitted to be the United States president. As an African American, Carson understands that his racial group has suffered slavery, segregation, discrimination, and indignities for more than four hundred years. It is unclear how Carson cuts himself loose from his intimate historical consciousness and behaves as if the language of exclusion is a noble objective. The world might infer that Carson is advocating the views of the SDA church about Islam. Critics of the SDA church might wonder whether Carson's strict observance of the Sabbath is compatible with the US constitution, pointing out that the United States cannot have a president religiously obligated not to work on Saturdays. The people are also surprised that Carson links gun control to the Holocaust. Donald Trump leads the pack of Republican presidential candidates in emitting thoughtless statements. The adage if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail is invented for people like Trump. Author of The Art of Deal, Trump believes that everything in the world is like dealing in real property. "It's tangible, it's solid, it's beautiful. It's artistic, from my standpoint, and I just love real estate," says Trump. For Trump, buying homes and shops at questionable prices from working class people to build fanciful casinos for gamblers is the meaning of smartness and social service. It is no wonder that Trump wants to build a wall at the Mexico-US border to prevent "rapists and drug addicts" from infiltrating into America. "I'm intelligent. Some people would say I'm very, very, very intelligent." (Fortune, April 3, 2000). For sure, Trump has entertainment skills. But the world expects the United States President to be a serious leader. Some other Republican candidates are also making brash policy statements. For example, Carly Fiorina would not talk to Vladimir Putin but employ the Sixth Fleet to speak daggers. Mike Huckabee champions Kim Davis for violating the law even though the U.S. Constitution mandates that the President "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Bobby Jindal, the son of Indian immigrants, issues tough statements against Muslims, reminding Muslims how Hindu extremists rant against Muslims in India. Jeb Bush, a member of the American royal family that manufactures presidents, is a bit restrained in his rhetoric but even he cannot avoid being offhand. "Stuff happens," says Bush to unwittingly de-emphasize the use of guns in the death of nine persons by a shooter at an Oregon community college. In their combined impact, the Republican presidential candidates distort the global image of the United States and project it as a nation where the language of violence is respected verbiage, where killing foreign leaders is openly advocated, where defaming other nations as exporters of criminals is normal, where Islam is openly maligned, and where showing lack of compassion is the high mark of analytical clarity. This is not the America I know and live in.