When the South went to the polls earlier this year, the Republican ballot showcased a field of candidates who offered a variety of conservative views. In this region, a give-them-what-they-want-to-hear political newcomer from New York instantly grabbed voters’ attention.

Donald Trump’s mantra – “Let’s make America great again” – struck a favorable chord among Southern conservatives in response to headlines dominated by terrorist attacks and endless discord among the Washington elite. Primary voters overwhelming sided with an outsider promising change. As they said at the downtown coffee shop, Trump was speaking our language.

The New York real estate tycoon definitely knows how to play a crowd and bring it to a frenzy. His campaign tactics have drawn comparison to former Alabama Governor George Wallace, who in his prime delivered campaign fire-and-brimstone from the back of a flatbed truck better than most.

Like Wallace, Trump’s bombast is too often loaded with frightening statements contradicting fundamental American values. Central among those values is respect and support for our military community, including active troops, POWs, veterans and their families.

The Trump evidence is plentiful – such as characterizing our current military force as a “disaster;” pledging to withdraw U.S. troops from Japan, South Korea and other foreign posts where they’ve honorably served for years to foster peace; nonchalantly accepting a Purple Heart medal from a recipient who supports him, and declaring that Sen. John McCain, a former Navy pilot who spent 5 ½ years in captivity during the Vietnam War, is not a military hero. “I like people that weren’t captured,” said Trump.

But the most egregious disrespect Trump has shown for our military occurred when he belittled the Gold Star parents of an American Muslim Army officer who died heroically in Iraq in 2004. Trump showed lack of human decency by comparing the sacrifices made for his business ventures to the loss of a U. S. soldier’s life in war. And also with his cultural innuendo that Captain Humayun Kahn’s mother stood silently by her husband’s side during his moving speech to the Democratic National Convention because of their Muslim faith – a cruel aspersion the mother powerfully refuted.

Trump’s tendency to attack anyone who questions his raw rhetoric or his self-loving personality raises serious questions about his temperament. He can’t seem to restrain himself and that’s scary. What happens if as the commander-in-chief something does not go his way? Trump’s quick, off-the-cuff lack of diplomacy in this nuclear era might result in an unfathomable decision impacting hundreds or thousands of innocent victims

We understand both major party candidates carry unwanted baggage as they campaign for the White House, but Trump’s constant badgering of our military – again, including active personnel, POWs, veterans and their families – is insulting and disrespectful to a core American value. Trump is not speaking the South’s language or upholding its rich tradition of honoring and respecting those who proudly serve our country.

This is an opinion piece, published on the editorial page. We welcome letters to the editor regarding this or any topic. Those letters can be submitted to editor@njeffersonnews.com or P.O. Box 849 Gardendale, AL 35071.

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