In the middle of a historical presidential campaign that will make or break the direction of this country, it is only appropriate to bring up Mahatma Gandhi’s wise words–“A ‘no’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.” Take it from the leader who led India to its independence and changed the world in unimaginable ways.
As it turns out, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is far from being a contender with conviction. His inconsistent campaign rhetoric and his conveniently evolving views make up what is a highly elusive presidential agenda in an era where information is readily available to most Americans through the internet. First are his ever-changing ideas on immigration reform, which began with building a wall and deporting all documented immigrants; then changed to bringing the “good” ones back and being flexible on deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants; then stated “there’s not amnesty but we work with them” and most recently promised to remove criminal illegal immigrants within his first hour as president.
Trump has also proposed a Muslim ban, which initially included all Muslims, then excluded U.S. citizens and members of the military and now seems to be about people from countries with a history of terrorism–although Trump himself has stated that he’s just avoiding using the word “Muslim.” When it came to border control and refugees, Trump said the U.S. had a humanitarian obligation to accept some Syrian refugees, although he later stated the exact opposite and currently suggests he’s not for closing borders entirely but is against taking in Syrian refugees.
Having been part of a crowd of 5,500 who attended Donald Trump’s rally in Austin on August 23, I experienced first-hand what has been a campaign filled with hatred, mocking and negativity. Trump maintains his egocentric, unsubstantiated language about his undeniable power to “fix the problem” by “restoring law and order, liberating citizens from violence and fear, protecting jobs and wages, reinstating American unity and promoting common culture, values and principles.” By calling his democratic opponent “Crooked Hillary,” he continues to show a lack of professionalism and respect for others. His message of sending back undocumented immigrants who are murderers, rapists and thieves is the kind of message that his supporters want to hear, inspiring them to passionately chant “build that wall” and “lock her up.”
Yet I also watched the “other side” of Trump during his visit to Mexico on August 31. The man I saw talking to the camera referring to Mexicans as “spectacular, hard working people” and stating that “the bond between our two countries is deep and sincere” is nothing like the man at the Austin rally. The tone in his voice changed and he stuck to a script, as if trying to make up for the past 14 months of derogatory comments towards the people whose roots lie in the very soil on which he stood.
This month we celebrate the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, recognizing the contributions of Hispanics to this country. With elections coming up in November, it’s a good time to reflect on the kind of leaders that we want to elect not only at the national level but at the local level as well.