At the beginning of this election cycle, I didn't know a lot about the American Horror Story known as Donald John Trump Sr. I knew that he was a filthy-rich businessman and that he was quite obnoxious, but that's about it. When he announced his candidacy in June, I wasn't paying much attention to the race for the nomination. When I got back from summer camp in mid-August, however, I started watching the debates and paying attention in earnest. I was immediately appalled at how ridiculous Trump was.
Like most, I thought he would flame out quickly. I figured that the American people are too smart for him. What I didn't know was that some of them are not, and that he is a terrifyingly serious candidate. And I also didn't realize that Americans were fed up enough with various shortcomings of our country to believe a nasty demagogue. Trump's slogan, "Make America Great Again," implies that America has fallen into the dumps, which many people who have done so themselves are willing to believe. He kept rising in the polls and succeeding in the debates, and as the early Republican nomination contests in Iowa in New Hampshire are around the corner, I fear that he won't flame out, but will instead catch fire.
I am a young teenager, and so I have a different perspective on many things, ranging from politics to sports. There are still many things that I haven't figured out. I know that I may not be able to understand what exactly happened in the recent recession, though I loved The Big Short. But one thing I do understand is that Donald Trump should not be allowed to hold any sort of position of power in this great country. I want to live my teen years in an America that has a sane president. The teen years are very important in one's life. It is when one decides what he wants to be for the future. It is when he matures from a young, inexperienced child to a mature, responsible adult who has beliefs and manages his own finances and has a job of his own. If Trump were to be president, it would scar America forever. Everyone remotely near my age would acquire an image of America as tyrannical and crazy.
I want people who grow up in America to have an image of it as a fair, strong, and thriving country that can still become better and stronger. I passionately disagree with many of Obama's policies and non-policies, but I am entirely against a change so drastic and ugly as Donald Trump.
His ugliness is so obvious. For example, in May 2013 Trump tweeted: "26,000 unreported sexual assults in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?" That is saying that sexual assault in the military is totally expected, which is completely outrageous. A crime is a crime, no matter the scenario in which it occurs. This also shows that Trump is quite anti-feminist, and has a crude view of women.
He has also said about himself that "Love him or hate him, Donald Trump is a man who is certain about what he wants and sets out to get it, no holds barred. Women find his power almost as much of a turn-on as his money." This egomania is utterly ridiculous. The two reasons I didn't burst out laughing when I saw this was because he was actually serious and I was in the middle of History class. This quite clearly shows his disgusting arrogance, which is more deplorable than his hair. (Like most, I have chuckled at it. It is a perfect symbol of his ludicrousness.)
Many of the policies Trump suggests undercut traditional American values. In The America We Deserve, a bestselling book he wrote in 2000, he talks about how we need to make it hard for legal immigrants to enter the country easily: "But legal immigrants do not and should not enter easily." This defies American values and traditions. For years, people have come here to live the American Dream. The vast majority of people who come to this country are coming here for good reasons, not for bad ones. They want to work. They want to help America thrive. I see no remotely logical reason why we shouldn't allow them to join us in building America. These people should be free to choose where they want to live, and Donald Trump has no right to interfere with their personal (and admirable) decisions.
This leads me to Trump's rhetoric about barring all Muslim immigrants from the United States. Being Jewish, I have learned extensively about the Holocaust and America's shameful response to it. During the Hitler years, America had a minuscule quota for Jewish immigration into the US. After everything was said and done -- or rather, not said and not done -- six million people died. I'm not saying that the situation in Syria is this bad yet, but it doesn't have to be this bad to demand a moral response from us, and it is anyway extremely terrible. People are dying because of evil dictators and terrorists bent on anarchy. Why are we not accepting the people who are fleeing for their lives and their families' lives? Why do we turn away people who would otherwise live happy and productive lives in the United States? Why politicians nowadays don't remember the Holocaust's lesson for America is beyond me. Yes, there is a chance that we will let in some terrorists. But the risk of terrorism is much smaller than the obligation to recognize their distress and their dignity.
I don't want to have to live down a reputation of America as racist and hostile throughout my late teens and early twenties, and no young adult should have to either. But that is exactly the reputation Trump wants to give America. His political success shames us.
Trump would destroy this country from the inside if he were elected president. He shouldn't have been allowed to get as far as he has. He should have been stopped by mass disgust. But instead he profits from his racism and his fear-mongering and his appeals to people's perception of America as a country in decline. He degrades his fellow campaigners (I don't call them his fellow politicians, because that would imply that Trump is in some way a politician, which is absurd). He spits out insult after insult, against individuals and against groups, and is rewarded for this in the polls. Come on, adult America! We're better than this. We shouldn't allow racism, hate, and fear to prosper in this country. That is not the sort of country I, or anyone close to my age, should want to inherit.
As someone once famously said to another purveyor of fear and hatred, "Have you no sense of decency, sir?"
Matthew Wieseltier is a student in middle school at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, MD. He lives in Washington, D.C.