OPED: Trump is no longer a joke; he's seriously scary
The first time I contemplated a Donald Trump presidency, after he won the first debate on browbeating tactics and crass antics, I joked: He could be our first Chusma-in-Chief!
A chusma is what we in Miami call a vulgar person with no manners, no filters, no self-control.
It's no longer a joke. The coronation of a gruff reality star whose demeanor fluctuates from clown to bully is now part of American history.
The brash New Yorker — who launched his candidacy with so much carelessness and offensive diatribe that pundits thought he was a Hillary Clinton plant — is, officially and irrevocably, the Republican nominee for president of the United States of America.
Just saying those words feels like an offense against a country that has been for more than a century a respected world leader.
Just contemplating the would-be president's claim to fame being the barking of "You're Fired!" on a television show feels like a farce is playing out. This is the nation people turn to for wisdom and refuge in times of trouble, isn't it? Hearing a triumphant Trump boast that he brings a one-man show of "law and order" to the model of due process, justice and freedom that has characterized the USA is frightening.
The tenor of his campaign served as warning that he was tapping into a sinister and powerful force. But how could one, in the age of information, anticipate that standards could fall low enough to render Trump electable by the party of Lincoln?
But this is not even Ronald Reagan's GOP. This party belongs to people like Sen. Ted Cruz, runner up in the Republican primary. Don't cry for Cruz, instigator of the extreme right-wing thought that brought us the Trump candidacy.
He may not endorse Trump, but Cruz and most of the GOP members of Congress laid the groundwork for this nomination and support its platform. They sowed the seeds of white supremacy and hatred of others that Trump harvested. They took their disrespect of a historic Democratic presidency way too far. And now, there's not only a Trump candidate, but a GOP that looks exactly him.
For anyone with doubts, the Republican National Convention offered a smorgasbord of opportunities.
Legendary Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz's racist rant portrayed immigrants as an "invasion." He repeated the fallacy that they don't want to speak English as he imitated them.
"I don't want to become you!" he railed at a Republican National Coalition for Life lunch. "I don't want to speak your language. I don't want to celebrate your holidays. I sure as hell don't want to cheer for your soccer team!"
That's how thick the hatred runs: A sports hero doesn't care how he smears his own legacy. His audience rewarded his bigotry with cheers and applause.
Congressman Steve King of Iowa reached deep into the well of ignorance for his contribution to the national display of prejudice.
Asked during an appearance on MSNBC if this might not be the last time whites control the platform and public face of the Republican Party, King used the moment to question the historical contributions of non-whites, which he dubbed a "subgroup."
"Go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you are talking about? Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?"
Incredulous, host Chris Hayes asked, "than white people?" King dug himself deeper: "Than Western civilization itself that's rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and the United States of America, and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world. That's all of Western civilization."
He obviously hasn't taken a world history class, read a book, or paid attention on the Spaceship Earth ride at Disney's Epcot. Or he'd have experienced at least a visual run through the history of humankind and learned, for starters, that the Egyptians invented papyrus and that Semitic peoples adapted Egyptian hieroglyphics to represent the sounds of their language.
A newly made-over Trump — cleaned up for general-audience consumption and cast this week as tough but understanding (he didn't fire the Melania speech plagiarist), collegial (he let Cruz speak even though mean Cruz didn't endorse him) — glowed a little less orange.
But I'm not laughing anymore.
After November, Miamians may have to bow our heads and whisper: Hail to the Chusma-in-Chief.
Fabiola Santiago is a columnist for the Miami Herald.