Monday, November 7, 2016

Trump – An Unprecedented Risk to American Democracy

This election should be easy.  There is really only one responsible position to take.  It’s what makes this election so unusual.  There certainly has been no other election in my lifetime where I would make that statement.  Depending on your ideology and issues that matter to you there have been reasonable arguments to make to support each major party candidate the last 3 decades.  Trump is unfit for the presidency in every respect.  He’s a vindictive narcissist, running a campaign by trying to appeal to the worst in all of us. 

I wish this campaign was about more than stopping Trump.  I think Hillary offers plenty to be hopeful of despite her flaws and I’ll spend some time talking about those things, but the reality is it doesn’t matter.  Trump is a risk we cannot take.  With Hillary as president the country will be fine.  With Trump, we have no idea what could possibly happen, but we know he is an unprecedented risk to American democracy, one that responsible voters simply cannot take. 

It is telling that every living United States president opposes Donald Trump.  This includes 2 former republican presidents.  Those who have done the job, have the clearest understanding of why Trump could be such a disaster for this country.  I think the first thing that stands out with Trump is how much his ego drives everything he says and does.  If you say anything negative about him or anything he says he will come at you.  He’ll spend days ripping on the family of a deceased war hero, he’ll mercilessly mock a disabled reporter, he’ll make up inane nicknames for his political rivals (“Lying Ted”, “Little Marco Rubio,”) while defending dictators provided they say good things about him,  he’ll mock women who accuse him of sexual harassment for not being attractive enough for him to harass. 

Just go back and review the amount of lawsuits Trump has threated and then dream about what he would do to anyone who criticized him in any way if he had the power of the presidency behind him.  In an article about the message discipline recently added to the Trump campaign the author notes that Trump still privately muses about how he will destroy his enemies after the election even discussing a super-PAC with vengeance as its mission. Imagine someone like that with the full power of the presidency behind him.  When Hillary Clinton mused that any man who can be bated with a tweet should not have the nuclear codes, this is what she meant.  Trump is about Trump and if you are against Trump he will use whatever means he can to destroy you.  As president, those means at his disposal will be extraordinary. 

Trump’s willingness to lie about anything and everything is also historically unprecedented.  Politicians are often creative with truth, spinning numbers and facts to fit their political purpose.  Trump does not even worry about any aspect of the truth, he literally makes things up or says the exact opposite of what is true.  Throughout this campaign Trump has said crime is at all-time highs (it’s near 30 year lows), he’s said immigrants are flooding our borders (we’ve seen a net decline in illegal immigration),  lied about the number of people at some of his rallies, lied about the NFL writing him a letter complaining about the debate schedule and the list goes on.  Politifact ranks 17% of what he has said as Pants of Fire lies, 34% as false and 19% as mostly false.  That’s over 70% of what he says as some sort of lie.  It’s absolutely insane (For comparison Hillary’s numbers are in line with most politicians somewhere in the 20-30 range).

Two recent stories illustrate Trump’s just utter disregard for the truth.  Recently at a rally for Hillary Clinton a Trump Supporter was protesting while President Obama was speaking.  The President told the Hillary Supporters that they need to respect the man’s right to free speech and his right to protest.  He went out of his way to defend what the man was doing repeatedly yelling at the crowd to stop.  At a rally describing the incident Trump said that Obama spent so much time yelling at the protester it was a disgrace.  It was literally the exact opposite of what happened and it is the kind of bold faced lie that Trump has no care about making.  He trusts that his supporters will believe anything he says and he makes up stuff time after time never caring to correct himself and with seemingly no shame.

Another outright whopper lie Trump made recently was saying that if Hillary is elected we could have 600 million people pouring into our country.  This is the kind of bold faced lie that is impossible to be true and yet Trump didn’t back track, he even expanded on it later saying 650 million people.  That would triple the size of the United States and he’s saying this in an environment where the US has actually seen a decline in illegal immigration.  Trump has understood that we live in a partisan environment where even facts are a political tool.  He understands that most of his supporters will believe something just because he says it.  It has emboldened his lying to unprecedented degrees.
Trump has run an anti-establishment campaign by allowing people scared of shifting demographics to blame minorities and women for any issues we have in this country.  He’s ran trying to build a wall for a non-existent Mexican immigration problem.  He was the lead birther for years, a baseless conspiracy theory appealing to those who were threatened by an African American president.  He has called Mexicans rapist and murderers.   He’s gotten in trouble for tweeting anti-sematic memes and even one of his big closing political ads is full of anti-Semitism.  He has called for a ban on immigration based on one’s religion.  He has taken fears of the unknown, lied about numbers and consequences and made it the center of his campaign. 

On the issues he’s the combination of the worst positions of both political parties.  He has got far left views on trade asking for historic level tariffs, and far right views on immigration.  He’s not suggested one area where he will cuts spending and in fact talks about different things the government will do and yet he’s advocating historic tax cuts for the wealthiest (while his policies would increase taxes on single families  He promises the world with no plan to give it.  When asked about his plan on health care his answer is Repeal Obamacare and replace it with ‘something terrific.’  In fact this general “something terrific” is pretty much his answer to everything over the course of the campaign.  He’s not conservative, he’s not liberal.  He’s running as a demagogue with authoritarian dictatorial tendencies. 

Amazingly I’ve managed to write 1100 words on the insanity of Trump without mentioning his propensity for shipping jobs overseas, his hiring of illegals at his own properties, his scam university, his foundation buying paintings of himself and giving very little to charity, his potential ties to Russia and his refusal to release his tax returns.  The number of utterly disqualifying offenses uncovered about Trump are staggering, but I do want to spend some time on Hillary.  I know 30 years and billions of dollars (often taxpayer dollars) of far right attacks and investigations into Hillary Clinton have people worried about her.  I will point out with that amount of time and money and people claiming her to be a criminal they’ve achieved frighteningly little.  Either she’s the most competent criminal of all time, everyone coming after her are complete idiots or maybe, just maybe she’s a politician with some baggage but nothing at the disqualifying level.  Certainly nothing criminal. 

When she was in the senate many republicans talked about how she was someone they could work across the aisle with and get things done.  Her political pragmatism (often self-interest driven) moves her towards the center and a desire to find common ground in moving forward.  We’ve had 8 years of governing from the economic center under President Obama and we’ve seen a record period of sustained job growth, unemployment drop to 4.9%, continued GDP growth and even have seen recent wage growth in all demographic groups.  Hillary will likely be a continuation of those policies.  While I understand there are people that may want other policies, these have achieved solid results and are by no means a risk to the American people. 

For those wanting to vote 3rd party to send a message I get and respect your choice, and in most elections I wouldn’t fault you for it.  There were clear differences between McCain/Romney and Barack Obama and tangible effects depending on who was elected, but ultimately all of them would like keep America going forward and allow the country to continue to thrive.  If McCain/Romney won we probably don’t see the repeal of don’t ask don’t tell and don’t get the justices that ultimately enforced the Constitutional Right to Gay Marriage yet, though I think it was inevitable long term.   That would have been a real cost, but I’d argue the danger of a Trump presidency is far worse.  Trump has shown open hostility to our democracy.  He’s threatened to jail political rivals, banned press from covering his campaign, threatened removal forces to take out illegals.  He’s given strong indication he’d take unprecedented executive power and given his track record of wanting to destroy opposition for any personal slight, his hand on the powers of the presidency could have disastrous consequences. 

I’ve been incredibly pleased to see the many who have put partisanship aside in this election and withheld their support for this dangerous man.  I’ve mentioned the former presidents, but we’ve also seen the last Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, oppose Trump from the beginning.  Governor Kasich of my own state has done the same.  We’ve seen McCain announce he cannot support him, we’ve seen McMullen launch a conservative campaign in response to the direction Trump is taking the party away from conservative and towards his populist white nationalist positions.  We’ve seen former republican advisors and operatives like Stewart Stevens and Tim Miller vocally opposing Trump and we’ve even seen some far right media acknowledge Trump is a bridge to far. 

Before you vote tomorrow ask yourself if what Trump is offering at all is consistent with what this country should be.  Do we want a country where it is ok to attack women and minorities or do we want a country that stands up for everyone?  Do we want to stifle free trade and potentially cripple the economy or do we want to continue to advancements we’ve seen as the country has continued to grow?  Do we want a vindictive man with no impulse control with his hand on the nuclear weapons?  A man whose campaign literally had to take his phone from him so that he wouldn’t keep sending out insane tweets, a man who picked a fight with a deceased war hero’s parents, mocked a disabled reporter, has had multiple women come forth with sexual harassment allegations, lies unapologetically and in the most blatant possible manner, ran a scam university and the many other examples of his complete inability to do this job. 

This election should be easy.  There is no conservative candidate on the top of the republican ticket.  There is a demagogue with no respect for the rule of law or American democracy.  A man completely about himself who could do real damage to our country.  This should be above petty partisanship.  Too much is at stake and Donald Trump is an unprecedented risk to American Democracy.  A risk we simply cannot take.