I'm trying to figure out just how long it's going to take before presidential candidate Donald Trump finally says something to turn away every potential voter in this country. Based on his current track record, I'm giving him days, but maybe I'm being a little too optimistic.
I'm genuinely worried about the future of the Republican party if he earns enough support to become the party's front runner in the 2016 election. If so, the GOP might as well pack their bags and wait another four years.
From my perspective, Trump is not only toxic to the party but apparently has no clue how to win over the undecided voters that will ultimately decide the outcome of next year's election. It's these swing voters that don't have an allegiance to either party and vote for the one they feel is the best choice to run this country.
Trump didn't help his political campaign by his off-the-cuff remarks regarding the issues surrounding the nation's immigration laws. I figure if he hasn't disenfranchised the entire Latino vote by now, he probably lost a lot of support from potential voters right off the bat.
But what really set things off, at least from my perspective, was when he considered Senator John McCain -- a decorated Vietnam veteran nonetheless -- something less than a hero. Apparently, from Trump's perspective, someone that is taken prisoner during a time of armed conflict can't be a true hero.
Let's see if I understand this correctly. A U.S. service member gets shot down over enemy territory, breaks both arms and a leg in the process and is taken prisoner. He is then beaten by villagers and taken to the infamous "Hanoi Hilton," where he spends the next five years of his life.
During his time in captivity, the McCain and others like him were regularly subjected to torture by their captors in hopes of breaking their spirit.
In time, McCain is finally freed and allowed to return to the United States where, over time, he publicly forgives those who beat and abused him. Yet, according to Trump, the senator is not a hero because he let himself get captured.
Did I miss something here?
During my years as a photojournalist, I've had the distinct privilege to meet a number of service members that were taken prisoner during various wars, including then-Navy Lt. Jeffrey N. Zaun, who was captured and held captive during Operation Desert Storm. The one common thread I kept hearing from these individuals was the brutal mistreatment they endured at the hands of their captors simply because these prisoners were Americans.
If that's not the sign of someone that has shown some degree of heroism, then I don't know who you would consider a "hero." Granted, we sure seem to throw around that word a lot more often lately.
In some cases, I think that definition is being misused. For example, considering Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner a "hero" for undergoing a gender transformation is nowhere near the heroism undertaken by the men and women of the armed forces that willingly put their lives on the line each and every day in the defense of the freedom that all Americans can enjoy.
But then, I digress.
Simply put, I really wish Trump genuinely understood what it means to serve our country and the sacrifices made soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines each and every day. In fact, just once I'd like to see a presidential candidate spend time on the front lines in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to see firsthand what "sacrifice" really means.
Yeah, I'm not holding my breath, either.
When it comes to candidates like Trump, I'm growing increasingly worried about the number of people that actually support him, which at this point and time appears to be growing. Of course, we've seen this same thing happen during past elections when a candidate got their 15 minutes of fame, rose in the rankings and then fell completely out of the public's eye. I can only hope that people realize that a former reality TV star doesn't necessarily have what it takes to run our country.
Looking to 2016, I think that one of the last things this country needs is another "Ivory Tower" candidate who can't seem to fathom the concepts of duty, honor, sacrifice and, more important, humility. I've had my fill of politicians that claim they're patriotic, but their actions say otherwise.
At the same time, I've also gotten sick and tired of politicians in Washington, D.C., that show no signs of taking responsibility for their actions or even "own up" when they screw up. Once, just once, I'd like to have someone admit that what they did was wrong and move on.
Instead, all we see is countless episodes of the "blame game" where the goal is to find a scapegoat versus taking responsibility. And after seven years of watching the current president play that game, the last thing we need is the next president wanting to do the exact same thing.
-- Brian S. Orban