Every day, families of law enforcement personnel see their loved ones leave their homes and go to a job to safeguard the public. They know that whether it be their first day or their last on the job, they could die in the line of duty. This is also true for family members of the US Secret Service.
In their service, they may lose their life to protect the President of the United States or some other government principal. The quip of any one of them being willing to step in front of a bullet is often used to describe their devotion to duty in protecting the individuals they are assigned to protect. Having had the fortune of knowing and working with many of these men and women, I’ve never doubted their skill, courage, integrity or readiness to lay down their life for a President or principal.
Their job calls for tremendous sacrifice –and that is just one more reason why Donald Trump’s repugnant remarks insinuating the assassination of his electoral opponent, Hillary Clinton, are way over the line.
On several occasions this campaign season, we’ve seen the Secret Service spring into action for both Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton when protestor(s) came too close or were doing something that could precipitate their physical harm. In those instances, we saw professionalism, courage and attention to duty on display.
Trying to police any public crowd in an era where threats are complex, dynamic and can come from any direction is hard enough. But when a candidate makes remarks as cavalierly as Mr. Trump did in regard to how “Second Amendment people” might deal with Hillary Clinton if she tries to get rid of the right to bear arms (something she has never said or proposed), then he is putting even bigger crosshairs on the lives of those Secret Service agents – as well as the principals and public that go to see them.
Irresponsible rhetoric from politicians, media personalities, religious leaders, or anyone of public consequence has more than set off already angry individuals to undertake such extreme actions. The late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered by such an inspired individual, and there are more than enough international and American names to add to that tragic, bloody list.
The words, tenor and actions of any political leader have tremendous consequences. They can be inspirational as well as confrontational, but when they can inflame an already agitated, angst-ridden individual to do something as catastrophically drastic as an assassination attempt against an opponent, whatever credibility or sense of decency that leader possesses is lost.
Throughout this campaign, Mr. Trump has shown his lack of character, credibility or suitability for a position to lead a freedom loving people. The First Amendment of our country permits him, as well as his followers and opponents the freedom, to express those opinions in multiple ways. Insinuating violence demonstrates none of the wisdom or character of our Founders when they crafted the Presidency, the Second Amendment or any other part of the Constitution that they supposedly revere.
Every time Trump opens his mouth, he makes the Secret Service’s job harder, not only for his political opponent’s protective detail but his own detail as well.
Sowing seeds of disrespect, carelessness and flippancy by carefully using words to plot the dots of an easy to connect deviant message is not the sign of a leader of character and wisdom that the Oval Office should contain.
It’s a sign of an insecure bully that plays to fears, rather than a visionary that seeks a better future.
Because of his recently secured nomination, Trump is being appropriately guarded by men and women willing to step in front of a bullet for him. While he professes his willingness to preserve the Second Amendment, Trump should be smart enough to understand the responsibilities that come from exercising the rights of the First Amendment in his use of free speech.
But that may be too far a bridge for him to cross. My fear is the continued recklessness of his tongue will cost the lives of the innocents that are either around him, the lives of his opponents, or those who are protecting him.
That recklessness is terrifying, and it demonstrates why Trump should not be the 45th President of the United States.