In a year of tough choices, Trump is no choice at all
Life is full of tough choices, including instances where you have to choose the lesser of two evils. But for me, the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump isn’t difficult at all. The Wall Street Journal, a traditionally conservative Republican publication, summed it up for me in their editorial endorsing Clinton.
“Her election alone is what stands between the American nation and the reign of the most unstable, proudly uninformed, psychologically unfit president to ever enter the White House.”
Let me say parenthetically that I respect Utahns who are voting for Evan McMullin. They may, in fact, deny Trump Utah’s six electoral votes, a laudable action. But it’s not for me. I voted for a third-party candidate once, and after the election had an unsatisfying feeling that I’d wasted my vote by casting it for someone who didn’t have a chance.
But back to Donald Trump and why I believe he poses a danger to American democracy.
First, there’s the rhetoric. He has mocked a disabled person, declared that we shouldn’t permit Muslims in the United States “until we figure out what’s going on,” described Mexican immigrants as drug dealers and racists and said John McCain isn’t a hero because he got captured and held as a prisoner in Vietnam.
There was his declaration that he knows more about ISIS than the generals. He claimed Ted Cruz’s father had been with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before Oswald shot JFK. Then there was his whole birther movement in which he claimed President Obama had not been born in the United States. And those are a tiny sample of the man’s outrageous statements.
Trump has based his candidacy on the concept that he is an outsider, a successful businessman who can break through the Washington gridlock.
Let me share something that isn’t really a secret. Trump is not a particularly successful businessman. In the early 1990s, he came within a sliver of being forced into personal bankruptcy. His companies have filed for bankruptcy four times.
In the past 20 years, he hasn’t really owned most of the properties that bear his name. He’s sold his name itself, his brand, to other developers.
He has claimed he is worth as much as $8 billion. But one biographer assessed his net worth at $150-$250 million. As he has done more than 4,000 times, Trump sued.
When he was asked under oath in a deposition how much he was worth, he replied that the figure fluctuates “with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings.” He added that he determined the number based on his “general attitude at the time and the question that may be asked.”
Heaven help us if Trump wins the presidency and starts using such a methodology to denominate the federal budget or national debt.
I have to say, I wasn’t particularly surprised when the Access Hollywood tape came out. People with narcissistic personality disorders believe they have a right to do whatever they want to do. They frequently get into trouble over sexual behavior.
As for the women who have come forward to say Trump made unwanted advances, kissed or groped them, I believe them!
I listened intently as Anderson Cooper of CNN interviewed a woman who had to be in her late 60s or 70s. She described in detail, detail so specific I’m convinced it was authentic, sitting next to Trump in an airplane. Suddenly, she said, without saying anything, he became an “octopus” and touched all parts of her body, including putting his hand up her skirt. She moved.
Some argue that we must set character aside (something I will never do) and focus on public policy. As far as I’m concerned, Trump gets an “F” in that subject, too.
The fact is, most of the time, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He says he’s going to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, a logistic impossibility. And, yes, he’s going to get Mexico to pay for it.
He says he will repeal and replace Obamacare. But his comments after Obamacare premiums went up showed he has no idea how the program, flawed as it is, works.
I wish I had time and space for more examples.
Ted Cruz, a Republican who is way to the right of my political views, summed up Trump when he called him a “pathological liar,” “utterly immoral,” and a “serial philanderer.”
Hillary Clinton is far from perfect. Her use of a private email server was a silly move and a big mistake. I suspect her motive was to be able to communicate candidly without the chance of her writings becoming public or possibly subject to Freedom-of-Information-Act inquiries. It didn’t quite work out the way she planned.
But I balance that against her experience and accomplishments. She is a Yale-trained attorney who established herself as a leader as a very young woman.
She was on the staff of the congressional inquiry into Watergate, worked as a children’s advocate and was a law professor in Arkansas. She was the first lady of Arkansas and the first lady of the United States.
As a U.S. senator, she worked on legislation across the spectrum, including encouraging troop withdrawals from Iraq, raising pay and benefits for members of the Armed Forces, getting funding for redevelopment of parts of New York City destroyed by the 911 attacks, calling for an investigation of the federal government’s slow response to Hurricane Katrina, and getting funding to bring broadband to rural areas. That’s a small sample.
When she left the State Department, according to the respected on-line magazine Politico, she “stepped down to a torrent of praise.” The CEO of Google called her “the most consequential secretary of state since Dean Acheson” and Sen. John McCain described her as “outstanding.”
In fact, I believe Hillary Clinton’s life embodies the Methodist slogan she pronounced in her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention: “Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can.” What a different value system from what we’ve seen and heard from Donald Trump.
In its editorial, the Wall Street Journal summed up Clinton as “experienced, forward-looking, indomitably determined and eminently sane.”
In this most exceptional of elections, that’s good enough for me.