Here’s the thing about Donald Trump
The guy is an asshole.
What that means is up to you.
Some people think that’s horrible, while some think it’s great. When Donald Trump speaks, some people think he’s a tough, tenacious tell-it-like-it-is guy and others hear a loud-mouthed bully. A lot of people interpret his act as strong and authoritative. Many feel it is irresponsible, disrespectful, and dangerous.
I’m not going to pretend that anything I can write here will change any of your minds one way or the other. At this point, you’re either firmly in or out on Trump 2016.1 All I can really do is make you feel better about how you already feel or convince you that I’m an irredeemable idiot for not sharing your viewpoint.
That said, I feel compelled to speak. Whether we want it to be or not, this election and what it has revealed about our nation will be a part of our history. I don’t want my silence to be interpreted as acceptance or indifference.
If you need to unfriend me on Facebook or burn me in effigy in your back yard, I understand. It makes me sad, but that’s where we are now as a society. If our relationship can’t withstand some disagreement, it probably isn’t worth sustaining anyway.
Let’s be clear about one thing: Trump’s now-released comments from 2005 are not “locker room talk.” This is not the kind of “banter” that men – at least decent, honorable men – engage in EVER, much less regularly. It’s sickening, vile, and disgusting. And the fact that some can try to paint those comments otherwise for any reason shows just how deeply the problem of denying and ignoring sexual abuse is ingrained in our society.
Don’t believe it’s a problem? Ask women. Not just your mothers, daughters, and sisters. Ask the other 50% of the humans on the planet who have to put up with it on a daily basis – they matter just as much as the ones you share a last name with.
Sexual assault is a crime. One from which victims continue to suffer long after our justice system deals with the criminals or fails to do so. One which continues to exist because people continue to minimize or ignore it. One that keeps on happening because somehow “boys will be boys” became a valid excuse in the eyes of many. One that often gets swept under the rug because some admire the “skill” of its perpetrators to get what they want.
One which Donald Trump, who unabashedly basks in being the master of getting what he wants, feels is just fodder for bullshittin’ with the boys in the locker room.2
Beyond the misogyny
I share the belief with many that Donald Trump is the least qualified and most distasteful major-party candidate for the presidency in recent history.3 His track record is one of doing nothing except that which would accrue him the most wealth, ruthlessly using and discarding those around him whenever it best suited his needs. He is the last tycoon of the materially obsessed 1980s, still clinging to his cross of greed.4
The only consistency that Trump has demonstrated throughout his career and this election is a complete and total willingness to say and do whatever he feels is needed to get ahead. For the past 18 months, we have watched as he purposefully stoked the fires of our nation’s racial, religious, socioeconomic, and political divides to fuel his candidacy. We cannot afford to pretend that he would do anything differently during a term as president.
Trump’s political career has been built on conspiracy theories piled on top of lunacies. He claims that the media is against him, although they have provided him with far more visibility than any other candidate enjoyed. He casually contradicts himself at the drop of a hat and constantly refuses to accept facts which do not fit within his narrative du jour. When confronted with recordings of his own statements, he dismisses them with a wave of his hand. Now that his ascension to the White House looks increasingly improbable, he has begun seeding the idea of a vast conspiracy of media, government, and financial forces5 which are aligning themselves together to prevent him from claiming his rightful prize.
Accountability for his previous actions and statements is nowhere to be found. In fact, the total lack of accountability itself seems to be an admirable trait to many of his adherents.
A campaign based on nothing
The Trump campaign is based entirely on defining what is not “American” in his eyes, rather than what is. Muslims, Mexicans, immigrants, the media, Democrats, Obamacare, unattractive women, NFL concussion protocols6 – his circle of acceptability has drawn tighter each day, to where it now seems to encompass only himself. He campaigns by calling his opponents names rather than developing policies and articulating his vision for the future. The truth has become readily apparent that he has no vision for America, other than it being ruled7 by himself.
He has shown no interest in learning anything about the great country he wants to lead. His lack of knowledge on domestic and foreign policy issues is astounding; his refusal to familiarize himself with them embarrassing. Fueled by the notion that the slightest bit of ignorance on any subject is weakness, he instead proudly displays his ignorance of every subject, convinced that he can solve everything by being the loudest voice in the room. He has surrounded himself with a small army of advisers and stoked his ego by ignoring every bit of advice they have imparted.
Trump has traveled back and forth across the country hundreds of times during this campaign, but unfortunately has not bothered to listen to the people he sees at each stop. The show is – has it always has been for him – all about Donald Trump and how he can make everything better just by adding himself into the mix. For him, America is just the next product he can “enhance” by slapping his brand on it. Trump, the steak. Trump, the vodka. Trump, the nation.
If he had bothered to look at any of the places he visited and the people he saw during this campaign, he would understand that we aren’t his next bankruptcy court bargain raze-and-rebuild project. We are a nation of families, farmers, workers, soldiers, leaders, dreamers, and doers that has banded together8 to build the greatest democracy in history.
It would be unfair to blame Trump for creating the hate we’ve seen rise to the surface during this election. Racism, sexism, and xenophobia have existed throughout our history and unfortunately will continue to exist long after November 8. Trump, however, has done absolutely nothing to discourage those among his followers9 who see his candidacy as their chance to advance their discriminatory causes from the fringes of society into the mainstream. Whether purposefully or unwittingly, he has coalesced these various groups into a base seeking to “fight the establishment.” With each passing day, it seems more and more that their definition of “the establishment” is a decent society.
We aren’t defined by the divisions on which he has sought to capitalize. In fact, we owe our existence as a country to our unity in spite of them. America is already great. We don’t need Donald Trump to save us from anything.
The pitfall of single-issue voting
I know several people who are steadfast single-issue voters. Those issues vary: abortion, civil rights, the environment, the military, anyone but Hillary Clinton, anyone but Donald Trump. I cannot deny the importance of these single issues to those individuals, and I do not doubt their sincerity or conviction.
I have heard several of those people say that they are voting for Trump only because of that one issue they hold dear. Again, that is their right. But it is something I wish they would reconsider.
The problem with focusing on one issue to the exclusion of all else is that those other things continue to exist. And despite what the parties and pundits would have you believe, there is no one party, no one person, no one candidate who will ever agree with you and your views completely. Every person you vote for is a compromise to some extent.
At what point does your compromise become a deal with the devil?
The greatest of all compromises
Is it when your candidate:
- Displays a lifetime of misogyny and sexism?
- Advocates racial discrimination?
- Advocates religious discrimination?
- Practices racial discrimination?
- Bases the vast majority of his positions on outright lies?
- Propagates a ludicrous, racist conspiracy theory to launch his political career?
- Defrauds thousands with a fictitious “university”?
- Routinely attempts to intimidate his detractors with the threat of legal action?
- Refuses to distance himself from the KKK?
- Embraces and disseminates propaganda from white supremacists?
- Indirectly threatens violence against his political opponents?
- Makes vague threats against opponents’ spouses?
- Gives out the personal telephone number of one of his opponents?
- Publicly ogles ten-year-old girls?
- Accuses his opponents’ family members of being involved with political assassinations?
- Denigrates the family of a fallen soldier?
- Bans media outlets from covering his campaign?
- threatens to sue media outlets?
- Refuses to release his tax returns?
- Demeans people for their ethnic heritage?
- Demeans people for their physical handicaps?
- Demeans people for their physical appearance?
- Demeans people for their mental illnesses?
- Mocks veterans with PTSD?
- Disparages war heroes?
- Violates an embargo on doing business in Cuba?
- Lies about giving to charity?
- Praises Vladimir Putin?
- Praises Kim Jong-un?
- Praises Saddam Hussein?
- Praises the Chinese for how they handled Tiananmen Square?
- Uses falsified propaganda straight from the Kremlin?
- Fosters fringe conspiracy theories?
- Threatens to jail his political opponents?
- Is ordered to stop fundraising by a state attorney general?
- Attacks sexual abuse accusers as liars mere days after trotting other sexual abuse accusers out as political fodder?
- Gets out of being drafted to serve during the Vietnam War five times, then refers to avoiding sexually transmitted diseases as his “own personal Vietnam”?
- Can’t maintain consistency on an issue even over the span of a few hours?
- Can’t agree with his running mate on policy issues?
- Rejects the assessments of national intelligence officials?
- Fails to gather even a single endorsement from a major newspaper?
- Is disowned by his own party?
- Declares war on his own party?
- Accuses his opponent of being on drugs during debates?
- Courts followers who talk openly of assassinating his opponent and inciting rebellion?
- Claims that a vast conspiracy involving “global forces” and the media have rigged the election?
I scoff10 at politicians and pundits who have just now found their consciences when it comes to Donald Trump. There have been plenty of warning signs. This is who he has been for his entire career. His entire persona is based on being the loudest, flashiest, most boisterous asshole in the country. Nothing has changed.
So if you are a single-issue voter who will cast your ballot for Trump based on what he’s said his position is11 on your issue, I ask you to take a look at that list above. What are you willing to accept and who are you willing to become to slay your great white whale?12
There are not “two bad choices”
Perhaps the political sentiment I’ve seen expressed the most (particularly on Facebook) over the past month is that both Clinton and Trump are terrible choices. This line of reasoning is, as the French say, total bullshit.13 Hillary Clinton is probably the most qualified candidate for the U.S. presidency since James Monroe.14
She has worked for constitutional rights, civil liberties, families and children, and the betterment of society in general for over forty years. She has boatloads of both domestic and international experience. No one person has been more acquainted with the workings of the executive branch or our entire government in general for the past quarter-century. If this candidate wasn’t named Hillary Clinton, you’d all vote for her without the slightest hesitation.
But she is Hillary Clinton, and that name brings a lot of baggage with it. Her opponents have been trying their hardest to nail her on something – anything – for decades. Whitewater! Travelgate! Filegate! Cattle futures! Benghazi! Email servers! Wikileaks! So far, nothing has seemed to stick. There’s so much smoke, there has to be a massive fire, according to many pundits.
Maybe when there’s a lot of smoke, though, there’s just a smoke machine working overtime.
I don’t think Hillary Clinton is a saint. I don’t agree with her approach on every issue. I do think she’d be a highly effective president, and is by far the best choice among the remaining candidates. I will vote for Hillary Clinton for president on November 815 and will have no reservations about doing so.
But what about Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, you ask?
Jill Stein is a non-starter. In her quixotic quest to capture disgruntled Republicans and disenchanted Bernie Bros, she’s created a platform of completely impossible policy goals and even thrown a bone to the anti-vaxxers.16
Gary Johnson, on the other hand, is just not qualified for the job. Stoner brain drain aside, Johnson’s biggest accomplishment is being the quirkiest governor of New Mexico. That’s right, New Mexico – the state you didn’t know even had an organized government. The state that’s 80% desert, 10% adobe storefronts peddling lapis lazuli trinkets, and 10% billboards for things in other states.17
Somehow, New Mexico scraped together enough people to have a real, bonafide legislature that tries to create laws and stuff. And Johnson vetoed more than 700 bills that came out of it over eight years, leading one to wonder if he has to ability to work with politicians from the two major parties whatsoever.
I can’t argue that libertarianism sounds great at first: Social liberalism! Fiscal conservatism! What’s not to love?!? Then you remember that you like stuff like libraries and running water, and you don’t want your nine-year-olds to be able to get tattoos and legally marry their Happy Meals. In the end, the lack of centrist realism in the Libertarian Party makes it unacceptable to the vast majority for one reason or another.
What do you want on your tombstone?
You can vote for whomever you want on November 8. I mean, you’re going to anyway, regardless of what I say or write.
But now I’ve said my piece and my conscience is clean. I can rest assured that future generations will not think I voted for the worst presidential candidate in American history.18