I’ve avoided writing about Trump over the past year, because so many more intelligent people have said things so much better than I have. But I fell into a trap on Facebook, and felt compelled to respond. A friend of mine from high school, now an officer in the United States Air Force, stated the following when I asked if he was supporting Trump (he posted a pro-Trump video).
“I watched the Debates, Ive heard both platforms and I know what each president intends to do. I’m looking for a president that thinks deeply on economics and knows how to fix the current economy. Withholding mudslinging of each of the presidents [sic], why are you voting the way you are?”
This is frustrating, on so many levels. He’s treating this election as if both presidents are equally qualified, and they are not—not even close. My response is below (note; I cleaned up a couple of phrases, but the intent is the same).
“There’s a plethora of reasons, really.
The most important is his character. He’s a demagogue. A cheater, who’s been a cheater for his whole life. He’s a racist (Mexicans are “bringing drugs” and “rapists”), sexist (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/politics/donald-trump-sexism-tracker-every-offensive-comment-in-one-place/), and is clearly against ideals of immigration that serve as the foundation of America as a melting pot—the ban on all Muslims/having a religious test/having Mexico build a wall. The entire premise of his campaign—”Make America Great Again”—implies that America has somehow fallen. I can’t think of too many demographics for which that is true. Manufacturing jobs in the midwest and rural areas, sure. But on the whole, it’s simply not the case.
He has no understanding of foreign policy (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/29/opinion/mr-trumps-dangerous-babble-on-foreign-policy.html). He has shown he has little understanding of balance of power, free trade agreements, nuclear deterrence (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/05/science/donald-trump-nuclear-codes.html), and even an understanding of how military operations are carried out (from the second debate: “why can’t they do something secretively, where they go in and they knock out the leadership?”
He clearly has no respect for free speech, given his myriad comments on libel laws and the media. (https://cpj.org/2016/10/cpj-chairman-says-trump-is-threat-to-press-freedom.php)
He is of the belief that the system is broken. He may not like it and it may not work in his favor, but that isn’t the case. Stating that the election is ‘rigged’ makes no sense—this isn’t ABC’s Scandal. Large-scale voter fraud isn’t really possible. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/08/03/one-reason-to-doubt-the-presidential-election-will-be-rigged-its-a-lot-harder-than-it-seems/)
Perpetuating that Obama isn’t American is foolish at best, and insidious at worst. To even suggest that a sitting president isn’t American would generally be grounds for everyone to discount whomever said it, but not in Trump’s case.
He’s a liar. It’s not that he has simply misspoken a couple of times, but that he is a serial liar, who doesn’t care that he lies and is of the belief that if he says something enough times, it is true. There are literally too many examples of this to count, but one obvious one is his insistence that “I didn’t support the war in Iraq”, when the clip has been played for ages that he did. Or the instance that he saw Muslims celebrating on the tops of buildings in Jersey. That just didn’t happen.
More than all of that, he’s temperamental and unrestrained (e.g. the Twitter rant at midnight on Sunday). And frankly, he’s unintelligent. Look at a transcript of what he says. (Debate 2: http://fortune.com/2016/10/09/presidential-debate-read-transcript-donald-trump-hillary-clinton/) Multiple interviews I’ve read have stated that Trump doesn’t read regularly. When you read his words, he doesn’t sound like an intelligent person, because he isn’t. Look back at that debate. He isn’t someone that inspires hope, he incites anger. He doesn’t provide a way forward, only a call to go back.
The most harrowing thing about all of this is that I’m not mudslinging. All of these are facts. And nothing I said above is something he said once. He’s restated each one, multiple times. We’re talking about someone who wants to throw his political opponent in jail, when the Federal Bureau of Investigations didn’t find anything. That’s what dictators do, not American Presidents.
Now, let’s be clear, Clinton isn’t perfect. She’s got some of her own demons, but I don’t think she’s “Crooked Hillary”. Let’s be honest. As far as candidates go, she’s almost overqualified. She’s been closer to the President than almost anyone else. Lawyer. First Lady of a state and the country. Senator. Secretary of State. You may not like some of her policies, but you couldn’t argue that she wouldn’t know what she’s doing. I’m not sure if Trump knows anything of what he’s doing. Trump hasn’t stayed consistent on any topical matter this past year, and to argue that he has would be impossible. On the other hand, Clinton has a campaign booklet. A little much, but I’d rather have someone who is inexplicably maligned for being over-prepared.
The argument that his business acumen has given him an innate understanding of economics and how to fix the economy (which has recovered) isn’t borne out in reality—this is a guy that managed to lose 1 billion dollars in a year, and use it to cheat his way out of paying taxes for 20 years. He admitted as much, and yet still won’t release his tax returns, breaking 40 years of precedent.
At the end of the day, we’re both going to have to salute whoever gets selected. I want to salute someone who represents American Values, and Trump represents only himself.”