A common trope in horror films is to make the audience believe the antagonist is finally dead, just to shock them with one more appearance by a bloodied and angry villain who makes one last attempt to wreak havoc on his (or her) victims.
This is when the protagonist turns around and severs the bad guy’s head with an ax and finishes him for good, unless his name is Michael Myers, of course; then we’re stuck with about a hundred terrible, contrived sequels.
Right now, we are seeing a different – but still terrifying – horror movie play out before our eyes in the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, and it’s up to voters to quash it come November.
The real villain, though, is not necessarily Trump.
Instead, the metaphorical head that needs to be removed is the one that gives oxygen and viability to a campaign like Trump’s – that’s the antagonist we should all unite in destroying this year.
It’s not a clearly defined person, like in a Halloween flick. It’s a set of ideas that have always been inconsistent with American values, yet still manage to occasionally show up in presidential politics.
Like George Wallace in the 1960s, Trump capitalizes on the need of many low-information, angry white voters to blame all of their troubles on somebody else. Jobs going overseas, wages stagnating, retirement funds disappearing – surely, this must be the fault of Mexican immigrants or Muslims.
Trump is loud, talks like a 4th grader, acts as though he is God’s gift to Earth, and adds plenty of fuel to the already-raging fire of minority resentment that exists in some right-wing circles in this country.
His supporters aren’t very bright, but they’re loud and mad as hell that their country is looking less like the cast of The Waltons and more like the American melting pot we were taught to appreciate in grade school.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and that’s what the Trump campaign has been from the very start.
So we can see that this, not just Trump, is the real problem. The desire to go back to a “simpler time,” the animosity toward different worldviews, the need to find a scapegoat for all of America’s problems, and outright racism and bigotry – these are the core attitudes that elevate a person like Donald Trump, and he fans these flames with great skill.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether Trump is pretending to be this person to win votes, or if this is who he really is.
What is important is that no one who acts the way Trump acts and says what he says should be President of the United States. It’s not a job for a 6-year-old child in the body of a 69-year-old reality TV star.
As President Obama appropriately said at a press conference this week, “This is not entertainment. This is not a reality show. This is a contest for the presidency of the United States.”
That’s what voters should remember when they head to their polling places this fall and consider throwing their support behind a campaign that has done nothing but appeal to the worst of human instincts.
America is a wonderful place to where people all over the world flock. We are an increasingly diverse country, with each generation progressing toward a more tolerant and inclusive society.
Donald Trump’s candidacy is a response to that progress; a type of reaction that each generation must face down. It’s the bloodied and angry knife-wielding villain coming out of the shadows after we think we’ve already disposed of him.
In 2016, we must.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.