I am so sad about our country and the discourse around the presidential election coming before us in a short year and a few months. These are serious times, and all I see in the media is that which is beneath the discourse I’m hoping to hear.
So, of course, in my typical fashion, I go to the screen.
Here is the fabulous speech for The American President, written by the great Aaron Sorkin, and performed with presidential stature by Michael Douglas. I quote his articulate response to his political opponent here, but I’ve changed it a bit to fit our times. I hope one of the candidates running will ask Sorkin to write the response to Donald Trump for them. I’m begging.
For the sake of having a voice, let’s present it as if it’s Jeb Bush giving the speech.
President Andrew Shepard aka Jeb Bush:
“For the last couple of months, Donald Trump has suggested that being president of this country was, to a certain extent, about character, and although I have not been willing to engage in his attacks on those that make up this country, I can tell you without hesitation based on my family’s history: being President of this country is entirely about character. America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the “land of the free”. I’ve known Donald for years, and I’ve been operating under the assumption that the reason Donald devotes so much time and energy to shouting at the rain was that he simply didn’t get it. Well, I was wrong. Donald’s problem isn’t that he doesn’t get it. Donald’s problem is that he can’t sell it! We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Donald Trump is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it. Oh wait, there is a third. He’s interested in the fame his inflammatory remarks provide him. And, those things, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle-aged, middle-class, middle-income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family and American values and character. And you say that someone who spent four years in a North Vietnam prison camp rather than leave his fellow soldiers behind, is not a hero. And, you don’t mention you avoided the draft three times. And, you count on the fact that the story will not be about you, but the hero you called a coward. And, you tell them that McCain is to blame for their lot in life, and you go on television and you call him a loser. Senator McCain has done nothing to you, Donald. He has done nothing but serve the military and the country, represent the interests of public school teachers, and lobby for the safety of our citizens. You want a character debate, Donald? You better stick with someone else, ’cause John McCain is way out of your league.
President Andrew Shepherd aka Jeb Bush
We’ve got serious problems, and we need serious people, and if you want to talk about character, Donald, you’d better come with more than character assaults and tasteless quips. If you want to talk about character and American values, fine. Just tell me where and when, and I’ll show up. This is a time for serious people, Donald, and your fifteen minutes are up. My name is Jeb Bush, and I am running for President.
Watch the speech here.
By the way, I’m not a registered Republican, but I’d sure like to see the discourse elevated.