My husband Glenn and I were in the restaurant business in Lanesboro for thirteen years. The White Front Café provided a stage where customers played out their lives and shared their experiences over a cup of coffee.
One day a couple came through the doors , smiling and made themselves comfortable in a booth halfway along the wall.
They had just moved onto a piece of land about three miles out of town where there was an old farm house and a barn which would provide shelter for the young woman’s two horses.
The two years that followed were full of surprises. It turned out the husband was a con-artist. This presented his new wife with a dilemma once she realized she had been lied to.
Watching him in action was an education. He was an expert at singling out people who were vulnerable. He made a point of being a good listener. They were soon convinced that here was a man who understood them and shared their dreams. Once he had their trust he would offer to help them solve their problems including conducting business deals for them. Somehow the money from the sale never got back to the owner.
Our Con-man particularly liked people who were religious. With one couple, he went to church with them on Sundays and sat beside them singing hymns. Then he offered to sell some cattle for them. In that deal he managed to walk away with sixteen-thousand dollars of their savings! (As reported to me at the time.)
While he spent some time in prison at Stillwater it appeared that he enjoyed considerable success separating people from their money. I fantasized that if “I was him” I would have invested my “wealth” and lived on the residual income. Then the realization struck like a bolt of lightening. It wasn’t about the money. It was the “Game”! What he lived for was the feeling of empowerment that came from manipulating people. He took pleasure in bombarding his constituency with a stream of lies and outrageous behavior and watching them struggle with the impact.
What was most remarkable our “Hero” had a fan club, a group of followers who were faithful, unwavering in their support! He told them that “He was a good person who was misunderstood!” They seemed to be impervious to the lies and outrageous behavior and were prepared to follow him “to the gates of hell!”
And so it was, when Donald Trump made his bid for the nomination to be President of the United States, proclaiming that President Barack Obama “was born in Kenya”, a warning bell went off loud and clear in my mind.
Donald Trump’s presentation was strangely familiar. He never needed to pay for advertising. A barrage of lies streamed from him and his outrageous behavior stunned the public. The Media couldn’t keep up with him. The Pundits fell over themselves as they eagerly embraced the explosive dialogue that unfolded at a breathless pace in front of them. He manipulated the Press while deriding them for producing “fake” news!
He pursued the greatest “con” of all time to an astounding conclusion as he took the oath of office and became President of the United States! He understood Voters frustrations and fanned the flames of their anxiety and discontent. “I too am a victim! An “Outsider! You can’t trust the establishment, the FBI, the CIA, the courts, our Allies abroad. Everyone is ‘out to get us’! I alone can save you! Believe me! “ Those who voted for him didn’t seem to notice or care that he abandoned truth and facts and made up his own reality and that he had no experience in governing or knowledge of the Military. His one claim for credibility was his experience in business. He told us he was “a deal maker”. H e was never willing to show us any of his financial or tax records as evidence of his expertise. He just said “Trust me!”
If we in this country are to emerge from the present chaos we must employ reason, patience and hopefully abstain from violence. As voters in a free society we must insist that those who run for office show us evidence of their experience and dedication to truth and moral integrity. If we rely on faith and wishful thinking “we will inherit the wind!”