When I was growing up, my mother used to subscribe to “Reader’s Digest.” I always looked forward to its arrival. My favorite feature was “It Pays to Increase Your Word Power.” It helped me develop a decent vocabulary.
Inspired by the recent Republican Convention, I am now paying it forward by offering the following lexicon to help Republicans better understand the man in whom they’ve placed their sacred trust. My source is the “American Heritage Dictionary.” That seems appropriate given that Trump would use the American flag as a straitjacket and a gag.
» Apocalyptic. Adjective. “Portending widespread devastation or ultimate doom.” Such will be America’s fate if Biden is elected, according to Trump and his acolytes at the convention.
» Braggadocio. Noun. “Empty or pretentious bragging.” This is Trump’s stock in trade. Trump, for example, claims he has done more for African-Americans than any president since Abraham Lincoln. President Johnson’s Civil Rights Act of 1964 and his Voting Rights Act of 1965 don’t count?
» Demagogue. Noun. “A leader who obtains power by means of impassioned appeals to the emotions and prejudices of the populace.” In other words, a fear monger. This election, according to Trump, presents a choice between saving “the American dream” or allowing a “socialist agenda to demolish our cherished destiny.” We need to be afraid all right—of Trump and those who take him at his word.
» Empathy. Noun. “Identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives.” Trump dismisses concerns over “racial, economic and social injustice” as “tearing down our country”? Should we just accept injustice as the cost of doing business?
» Indoctrinate. Verb. “To initiate by means of doctrinal instruction; to imbue with a partisan or ideological point of view.” Is this what Trump meant in promising to restore “patriotic education” and to extol “American exceptionalism?” The primary and secondary schools of my day glossed over the displacement and slaughter of Native Americans, the inhumanity of slavery, the embarrassment of the War of 1812, the injustice of the Jim Crow South, the colonial legacy of the Spanish-American War, and any number of other un-exceptional practices and episodes of the American experience.
Add to all that Watergate, Vietnam, My Lai, and the Iraq War. Certainly, some on the far left have gone too far in villainizing America, but we need citizens who can think for themselves and not mindlessly cheer on Trump’s far-right vision of American rectitude and pride.
» Mendacious. Adjective. “Lying, untruthful.” Examples abound. One will suffice: Our new embassy in Jerusalem will cost $21.2 million to complete, not the $500,000 Trump claimed.
» Vainglory. Noun. “Boastful, unwarranted pride in one’s accomplishments or qualities.” No one has ever accused Trump of false modesty.
Either this January or four years hence, Trump will be gone. But the willful ignorance, hatefulness and blind faith of his hardcore supporters will persist. We need a president who will repudiate such people and their support. The man who saw “very fine people” on both sides in Charlottesville will never do that.
Edward F. Palm is a retired Major, USMC living in Forest.
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