I thought wrong.
They laughed. They cheered him on. He speaks to them on a third grade level (the lowest of all the candidates), because he knows who the majority of his supporters are, and they ate it up, just like third graders hearing a dirty joke on the playground.
I was ashamed. Embarrassed.
But today? Well, today I crossed over into another plane of negative feelings.
I just watched clip after clip after clip of Donald Trump speaking at his rallies - clips in which he called for violence from his supporters, swearing to pay their legal fees if they injured protesters, clips in which he wished aloud that he could hurt protesters himself, and clips in which he spoke in other vile ways. They were not "liberal media" (HA!) spins. They were his words, coming from his mouth, at his rallies, to his supporters. They were and are words he is PROUD of.
He is not even attempting to speak words that will bring us together as a nation or even to unite a party that's crumbling in on itself; he is doing his best to separate us, to segregate us; he is doing his best to open old wounds and create new ones.
And he is basking in the hatred the way the rest of us bask in sunshine.
I am sitting here shaking with shame and embarrassment, as well as disgust and anger. I am appalled. I am, like so many, utterly incredulous.
I read a PBS poll yesterday which asked the question, "How has your view of America changed during this election?" There were nearly 600 replies. I read about 100 of them before moving on. The two most used words in the responses I saw?
Ashamed and Embarrassed
I know many people who identify as Republican who also find Trump's rise shameful and embarrassing, as well as appalling, disconcerting, and surprising. They thought he was a joke. I believed he was a joke for a long time, too. I simply did not want to believe the Republican party could sink to this level - and that's saying something, given their utterly appalling behavior over the last several years; given how they've accomplished little of significance during their time in power, except finding every way imaginable to disrespect the man in the White House, except actively and knowingly widening the divide in the country, except fully admitted obstructionism (to the detriment of the entire country, their own constituents included). They have behaved like small children. Actually, no, they haven't. That's an insult to small children who can't always control their behavior. They have behaved like a group of petty, entitled, spoiled, disagreeable middle-schoolers, who, unlike real middle-schoolers, will never grow up.
The fact is, the Republican party created this whole Trump situation; they paved the way for this vile attitude spreading across America; they are 100% responsible for this shame - shame that more than half the country is reeling with today and that the rest of the world is simply shaking its head at in complete disbelief. I'm getting tired of my friends and family around the globe asking me, "Diane. What in the fresh hell is going on over there? Is this serious?" I hate that my teenager is ashamed to be American right now. I have no answers.
What I do know is that this is not what America should be. This is not what will make America great.
This is foul, disgusting, shameful, and embarrassing. It is wrong.
I'm sure I know a few people who support him - some wholeheartedly from Day One and some who will because they believe he will be the "lesser of two evils" (and frighteningly, when it comes to the battle between Trump and Cruz, I actually do believe Trump is the better of two, as I see real evil in Cruz, but when it comes to a battle between Trump and either of the Democratic candidates, I simply cannot see how he is better than either of them in any respect [and I will not vote for either of them without significant reservations]). I hope Trump's supporters really pay attention to the way he talks both to and about the people who disagree with him.
I also hope they realize that if he ever makes it to office, there will be people who will disagree with him every single day and those third-grade-level supporters cheering at his bravado and schoolyard bully tactics right now will not mean a single thing then. Like it or not, we live in a global society and peace and prosperity for us has a whole lot to do with how we relate to others. And that requires maturity, diplomacy, and dignity, not childish name-calling and threats.
And if those supporters do pay attention, and the violent, vulgar rhetoric he spews is acceptable to them on any level, if this is the sort of speak they want coming from the White House, to their fellow countrymen and to the rest of the world, then the shame so many of us feel about Trump is duly and rightfully extended to them.
Shame and embarrassment...
...two unpleasant words and feelings which will, hopefully, spur us on as a nation to become and behave better than we are right now. Because if we don't make things better, our shame and embarrassment are going to get so much bigger.
And shame and embarrassment will be the least of our worries.