You know who you are, those of you are seriously considering voting for Donald Trump – my friends and family that are a) staunch Republicans right down the line, no matter what; b) Bernie Sanders supporters who feel betrayed and/or cast adrift; c) people of either party/neither party who’ve spent the past thirty years convinced that Hillary Clinton MUST be guilty of something; and d) those that supported Trump all along because he was somehow outside the system – but not a “socialist” like Bernie.
You are unlikely to actually like and respect Trump, but if you do, then I suspect this post will be of little interest (and possibly just plain annoying), but stick around, anyway, if you want an open dialogue.
First, the mandatory disclaimer: I am not here to sell any one candidate – or party. We all have our own views on the party platforms, and that’s fine. Differences, and working out compromises, are how representative government is intended work. My opinions regarding the differences between the platforms of the DNC & RNC are for a different post. But on the subject of parties, I will eventually get around to why third parties matter (yes, there really are more than two).
Second, in the interests of full disclosure, I do not like Donald Trump. Have, in fact, disliked him through over 30 years of near constant media bombardment. Living in the New York metro area has increased that exposure to toxic levels. So yes, like everyone else, I have my own biases. I try hard to work through them, and push them to the side, but they certainly are there. It is also worth noting that I’m not a member of any party – which in New York also means that I kept well away from the primaries except as an observer. That may surprise some of you, but really shouldn’t – I don’t like feeling bound to any one view, and I lack the patience for most party politics.
We all suffer from confirmation bias – we naturally surround ourselves with information sources that present things as we already see them, and recent studies of social media show that their internal algorithms reinforce this bias for us. After all shouldn’t Facebook or Twitter recommend based on what we already like and respond to? But the Wall Street Journal has shared demo that provides a graphical representation of what this looks like. Showing a side by sad comparison of a “liberal” page vs. a “conservative” page on Facebook, you can choose from a variety of topics to see what a ‘typical’ user sees. No matter where you stand on the issues, this should give you pause. It clearly demonstrates why so many people have become incapable of discussing things in a reasonable manner. We’ve eliminated critical thinking – and of looking outside our own bubbles for news and opinion. We have allowed ease of input to replace a search for knowledge. It goes along way toward explaining the nearly irrational level of anger – and the conviction that those that do not see the world as we do must be stupid (spoiler – they’re not). And it should scare the hell out of us. If you haven’t checked it out already, it’s still active here – and the news items are always current.
And now, to borrow a phrase from the late, great Joan Rivers: “Can we talk?”
I’m starting with the passionate Bernie Sanders supporters in my life, because it is here that I struggle the most to see the appeal of a Trump presidency. In my experience, there seem to have been two main types of Sanders supporters – those that truly embraced his policies; and those that were hoping for a progressive solution to a corrupt system. For either group, Trump would not seem to be a solution, so I’m at a loss. For those that truly embraced Bernie’s policies – surely the 2016 RNC platform would be the antithesis of everything that you believe in? For those that think that a Trump presidency will shake things up so badly that that the progressives can sweep to victory in 2020, please think long and hard about the potential repercussions of that choice. For the many that feel that the Democratic primary race was rigged? There is no question that the party leadership favored Clinton, but there is no indication that the Clinton campaign played dirty – in fact there is evidence in the emails that would indicate that the opposite was true, and quite frankly, Bernie endorsed Hillary because Trump is the polar opposite of everything that Sanders stands for, and Jane Sanders, herself, has noted that the difference in primary numbers were simply too great to have been the result of fraud or decent. Like it or not, expected it or not, Bernie Sanders lost the primary.Supporting Trump is, perhaps, a bigger betrayal to Bernie Sanders than anything else you could do. Totally disillusioned with the DNC? There are third party options that might make more sense: Stein is closer to the cause overall, if less-connected, and Johnson, although better connected, and socially progressive, is less economically in tune from a progressive perspective.
My Republican friends might think that their trust in the party – and the belief that Trump will moderate – or is controllable if he doesn’t – leaves me with little to offer, and perhaps you’re right. But I hope not. I grew up in a very conservative, Catholic, virulently anti-communist (based on my father’s personal experiences), deeply Republican household. No matter how many times you try to tell me how how great the history of the Republican Party is, I have to remind you that this is emphatically not the GOP that I grew up with. That Republican Party supported things, like a meaningful minimum wage, that this iteration actively opposes. But this really isn’t about the platform, it is about a candidate that is truly ‘Republican in name only’. The RINO slur, for surely that what is is, has most frequently been used in recent years to describe moderates, and the “old guard”. Clearly your chosen candidate is neither of those things, but he undeniably is a Republican of convenience – the party allowed him to run, so he did. His endless free press allowed him to the dominate the party and the primaries, and gave voice to some very extreme followers. But, make no mistake, his comments regarding Russia are in direct opposition to the party’s platform, his economic and foreign policies views are dangerous (and at odds with most of the things that Republicans, as a party, support), and there seems to be very little indication, based on his behavior up until now, that he is going to give you the presidency that you are hoping for.
Ah – but what about how evil Clinton is? Yes, this is thornier, and I don’t have the space in this post to elaborate on the simple reality that there is little substance behind most of the twenty-odd years of allegations. I will ask, though, that you read this and this when you have the time, and do some additional research of your own using widely varied sources. Realistically, the email scandal is what sticks best, and that is both less, and more, than it seems. But again, all I can say is please research beyond your usual sources – the truth here seems to lie somewhere in the middle, and it is Clinton’s distrust of the press, more than almost anythings else, that keeps her a target for allegations. Transparency is not her strong suit. And I can certainly see why a lack of transparency would be an issue. I can’t decide for you whether a Clinton presidency will signal the apocalypse, but I do wish people would stop sharing stories and allegations that have already been proven to be false – and quit assuming that just because several sets of Benghazi investigations have turned up nothing against her, that we just need one more to find the truth. Sometimes the truth simply is what it is. An allegation can never be proven false if you choose to ignore the rebuttal because you assume its a lie.
One thing that Clinton does have, that is sorely lacking in Trump, is an ability to maintain composure under pressure, and while dealing with criticism. Just watch her during her very long Benghazi hearing testimony. And this is something one expects in a world leader. And that, for those that stuck with me this far, is what brings me around to to my position that Donald Trump is wholly unqualified to be president. In most election years I assume that it doesn’t matter in the long run who wins. Balance of power, pendulum swinging left & right, etc. But I can not find a way to be comfortable with that view this time. I’d been working on a dystopian satire novel that I started last year and put aside for school, but now I feel it may be coming t0o close to reality to finish.
In spite of evidence to the contrary, many people are convinced that President Obama has over-used executive orders and has been running an imperialistic presidency (anyone recall Dick Cheney’s views on presidential authority when he was VP?), but Donald Trump is a man that is very used to getting what he wants, when he wants. Based on his frequently juvenile behavior on the campaign trail when things aren’t going his way, and his stated intention to try to change the libel laws if he’s elected, leave me very worried that, no matter what Paul Ryan may hope, Donald Trump is going to declare himself the new “decider” if elected. At the very core of our country’s spirit has always been a free – and oftentimes not so polite – press. They are referred to as the fourth estate (or sometimes the fourth branch of government) because their role is critical to the checks and balances that define our three branched form of government. They are necessary to help keep the branches honest and accountable- and to keep the citizenry informed. It is, in fact, so important, that freedom of the press was specifically included in the Bill of Rights. Donald Trump, who has often said that there’s no such things bad press, has banned individual reporters, and entire media outlets, from his rallies because they have in some way offended him (or his family). So apparently some press is bad press, but the press you get for banning the press is still good. Does anyone have any doubts that this will carry forward to White House press briefings? Perhaps the State of the Union Address? Taken in conjunction with his disdain for the libel laws, we may be looking at the most underreported upon government outside of the old Soviet Union – where the only governmental news will be good news about how great things are. And the changes that he wants made to the libel laws will make it easier to sue – and possibly make media outlets more reluctant to bother with investigative journalism if they don’t have deep enough pockets.
The thing about Donald Trump is that I don’t even need anyone to spin the news about him, or dig too deep for hidden problems – his love affair with the media has kept him well lit by that spotlight for decades. There is very little that has not been a matter of public record because he clearly thrives on the attention – but the investigative stories are out there too if you feel inclined – Newsweek had a very comprehensive piece earlier this month on his business dealings through the years – you can read it here, and the New York Times recently ran an investigative piece on the history of the Trump family’s real estate dealings with minorities – and the federal charges they faced (which you can read here). But the takeaway from the Times’ piece is not so much the early history of racial discrimination – sadly that was all too common then. It was actually that when the government sued the Trumps for violating the Fair Housing Act, they chose to countersue rather than come to some sort of agreement (as others did). And that tendency to sue (first or as a countersuit) seems to define Donald Trump. He and his businesses have been party to over 3500 suits – 72 of them federal suits against Trump personally in the past 16 years. Yes, I’ve heard the logic that he gets sued a lot because he’s famous and doesn’t back down. And how does that make this look good? Or presidential. If the libel laws were changed enough, I could be sued for this post. Perhaps not successfully, but since I couldn’t afford to defend the suit, I’d pretty well be screwed.
He has remarkably thin skin – actually wasted valuable time during the debates countering Marco Rubio’s comments about his small hands by informing every one that he was well-endowed. Seriously? In the time since I first though of writing this he only seems to have gotten worse – and he’s dragging the GOP down into the mire with him. His almost never-ending war of words with the Khan family never should have happened. A better man, a true leader, someone more presidential, would only have said something along the lines of “I, and the country, appreciate your son’s sacrifice, your family’s sacrifice. I respect the values that you taught him.” Then he could have found a way to neatly swing around to his concerns about terrorism and illegal immigration. And it likely would have blown over with barely a ripple. Instead, he launched into a bizarre set of defensive statements – including the inanity of discussing business sacrifices in the same context as a solider’s line of duty death. For many, this was the last straw in a chain of weak support. For me, it was the straw that broke my resolve to avoid pushing my anti-Trump views too hard. I am now very firmly in the #Never Trump camp.
I don’t care who you choose to vote for in November, but I sincerely hope it is not Trump. You have choices – use them. Certainly the Democrats seem more likely to win, but the Libertarians aren’t entirely out yet, and although far weaker (& not on the ballot in all 50 states), the Greens may not win but would be advantaged by a good turnout. For those of you complaining about a corrupt system, but viewing your choice as only between Clinton and Trump, I’m asking you to consider the notion that the system you dislike cannot change if you continue to perpetuate it. Political parties come and go, and they change even when the names stay the same. Look at the history of political parties in this country. A third party is only a third party until it becomes a second party. The voters are the only ones that can change that power dynamic. Throwing up your hands, and voting for someone you don’t like, or trust, merely because you dislike the other guy even more is not a reasonable position. No one is going to change the system for you. Even if you protest a lot and vote against your interests to prove a point. Quite frankly, sitting it out and not voting is just as bad.
For anyone that sincerely believes that Trump is the right choice, please help me to understand why – without telling me that Hillary is a liar, a fraud, the antichrist, a murderer, corrupt, or whatever I’ve missed. Or that Trump is not Hillary. I want to understand which of his views and few policies resonate with you, and what leadership qualities that you see in him that I never have.