No one likes to take the blame, even when it is their fault. It is uncomfortable and sometimes humiliating. We like to be able to at least share the blame. Right?
So who do we blame for the phenomenon called Donald Trump? I occasionally hear people who say they support him in his bid to be president apologize for this support with the assertion they have to support him instead of Hillary Clinton.
And former secretary Clinton is no bargain when it comes to presidential candidates. She has enriched herself at the hands of corporate interests. She claims to support and understand the needs of the poor and middle class, yet she is beholden to those special interests that enrich themselves at the expense of the poor and middle class.
And it seems a foregone conclusion that Bernie Sanders will not achieve the Democratic nomination for president.
Having said all that about his opponents, why am I assuming someone must take the blame for Donald Trump? Except for his supporters and those who would vote for anyone but Hillary, I have found few who find him even minimally palatable.
Yes, he garnered enough votes to win the Republican nomination for president. This will be fodder for generations of political and social scientists’ studies.
So what about Mr. Trump is so objectionable to me and so many others? The man has denigrated women, a variety of racial and ethnic groups and has a habit of saying things that defy explanation other than he is a racist, and he seems intent on inflaming the basest characteristics of people.
He also says things that frighten or anger our allies. He wants to build a wall across our border with Mexico. Many of our European allies have expressed dismay and fear about a Trump presidency. For one thing, they cannot believe the American people are voting for this person, and for another, they fear the damage he could do to international relations with his bombastic rhetoric toward those he does not understand.
And he displays very little understanding of anyone outside his closed circle.
The reaction of Mr. Trump to the shooting in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando is but one demonstration of his lack of understanding of what it means to be president.
Instead of condemning the shooting and then urging patience and calm as the investigation unfolds, Mr. Trump immediately called again for closing our borders to Muslims.
What we have learned since is this person was a home-grown terrorist with no particular ideology. As with Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City, no amount of blocking immigration for a particular group of perceived threats would have stopped the shooting.
So why is Mr. Trump and his ascendancy to a front-runner for the White House my fault? Because, like so many, I did not take his ability to garner the support of a disaffected group of people seriously.
I would say the Republican Party failed at these two things and failed to find a candidate who could effectively win the hearts and minds of the party faithful. I blame the American people who did all of the above things and then failed to seriously look at what Mr. Trump was doing and saying.
And I blame Mr. Trump, who has callously looked at the election for the presidency as another reality show. His run for office is one more reality show starring Mr. Trump in boosting his own ego ratings.
And that is a huge failure for us all.
Jim Matthews is a long-time resident of Greenfield. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.