Charlie Adler of Attleboro, Massachusetts, is on a personal campaign to warn the public of the risk to the country of electing Donald Trump. He has been traveling by car from one state capitol to another, holding a sign expressing his concerns, and aiming to visit 48 states by November 8, Election Day.
Adler has grown increasingly troubled by the Trump candidacy over the past year. Trump has denigrated women, ethnic and religious groups, and prisoners of war. He seems to have no respect for the dignity of other human beings. Trump responds to criticism by making up humiliating names for his opponents and even threatening to put them in jail. He skillfully manipulates the media and public opinion by making shocking statements, then by keeping us in suspense as to what he will say or do next.
Trump is the textbook example of a demagogue, which is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a political leader who tries to get support by making false claims and promises and using arguments based on emotion rather than reason.” He addresses rallies of his supporters in a way that is designed to amplify the anger that they may legitimately feel and to direct that anger in service of his own aims.
It would be dangerous to have Donald Trump in the White House–in control of the entire Executive Branch of the United States government. If he decided to abuse or even exceed his authority, what could Congress, the Supreme Court, or the Republican Party do to stop him? We know he doesn’t even listen to his own advisors.
In August, former National Security Agency (NSA) director Michael Hayden said Trump was “a clear and present danger.” In September, columnist David Brooks, reacting to Trump’s perpetuation of falsehoods surrounding Obama’s citizenship, said “we’re in a reverse, Orwellian inversion of the truth with this… And so what’s white is black, and what is up is down, what is down is up. And that really is something new in politics.”
In mid-September, hearing these comments and seeing Trump rising in the polls, Adler felt he had to do something.
First he thought of speaking out in his home state of Massachusetts, but realized that he would have to go to a “red” or Republican-leaning state to have more of an impact. It was then that he had the idea of going to the capital cities in every state except Alaska and Hawaii. Online he found a route worked out by a scientist at the University of Pennsylvania. It looked possible to complete the route in the 48 days leading up to the election. He floated the idea with his family on September 21, got their approval, did a trial run in Providence and Boston on September 22 and was encouraged, spent two days preparing and packing, and set out in his Yaris, headed for Maine, on September 25.
As of October 24, Adler had visited 32 state capitals in 33 days and was on track to achieve his goal of visiting 48 state capitals by Election Day.