I don’t understand how anyone can support Donald Trump for President of the United States of America.
There. I said it. I have resisted saying it, even though I’ve been thinking it for a long time, because people I know and respect support him. But I have a hard time reconciling this in my head. These are reasonably intelligent people, I tell myself. I like them. So what’s going on in their heads? I respect everyone’s right to vote for the person they think would be best for the job, and the country, and encourage them to do so. I support Clinton, and following are some reasons why. It’s important to point out in this volatile climate that I do not think people who support Trump are necessarily misguided, and I hope they allow me the same respect. If you’d like to try to sway me to your candidate, feel free.
I suspect that many Trump supporters hate Hilary Clinton, especially more than they love Donald Trump. Does this mean they’d support anyone who was running against her, no matter how outrageous? I have to believe the answer to this is often “yes.” There is no other way for me to explain their support for an arrogant, juvenile, racist, misogynistic, boastful, hyperbolic, narcissistic buffoon who has little understanding of anything but (arguably) real estate and who constantly flip-flops (an unforgivable sin for most politicians) and denies things that he is indeed on record as actually having done or said. It is as if he has license to create his own reality, say any outrageous thing he wants to, and consistently act like an immature, prepubescent bully and that is just fine with his enablers. Do they have that much hate for Hillary (and Obama), that much disregard for the safety and future of our country? I watch educated, grown pundits and apologists steadfastly stand by Trump and his shenanigans nightly on political talk shows and marvel at their inventive yet ridiculous explanations (spin) in his favor. When pressed, you can sense that even they don’t believe the nonsense they’re spewing.
Trump has some admirable qualities. Like most anyone (including Hillary, I remind you), he’s not all bad. He can be charming. He’s made a lot of money. He projects strength and confidence. He is refreshingly unfiltered and non-scripted, and is therefore authentic (I believe this is the trait he is perhaps most admired for by his supporters – authenticity is good, unless you’re an authentic ass****). He will stand up to people who have been abusing this country and won’t take any bull from anyone. I grant you all these things. But look at the negatives. Look at them! Do you want an anti-Hillary so badly that you’ll accept an endless litany of lies, gross and baseless exaggerations, puerile insults, seat-of-the-pants judgments and decisions, incendiary comments and shameless stoking of racism and xenophobia? Has this ever been acceptable in any modern presidential candidate? Are you really comfortable with an emotionally unstable man, a man who is so insecure that he can’t take any criticism without exacting revenge, being in charge of our military, our nuclear arsenal and our relations with foreign countries? Do you realize that the president is criticized on a daily basis? Trump would spend half of his time firing off angry retorts on Twitter to everyone who dissed him, including foreign leaders whom he would quickly alienate.
I truly believe that many people who are Trump supporters now would soon regret that support once (God forbid) Trump were in the White House. Call it voter’s remorse. I think his presidency would be a disaster (a word he likes to throw around freely when talking about Hillary or President Obama), and I don’t even think he’d like the job. He’d quickly realize that he doesn’t get to call all the shots like he’s been accustomed to his whole life, and he would throw temper tantrums when faced with having to back down or compromise, as any president must. He demonstrates this combative, retaliatory behavior on a daily basis – he can’t let anything go. Rosie O’Donnell. Megyn Kelly. The Khans. Alicia Machado. How long did he drag all of these fights on? Why does anyone think he’d be any different in the White House? What you’ve been seeing for the past year is exactly what you’d get for the next four, but with much more serious consequences. Kim Jong-un has nuclear weapons. Rosie doesn’t.
Could any other candidate for president get away with Trump’s reckless behavior? Hillary called his supporters “deplorables” – once – and was practically burned at the stake, but Trump insults large swaths of the electorate all the time (women, Mexicans, Muslims) and is brushed off because we’re so used to him doing it. I don’t think this willingness to accept reprehensible behavior is particular to Trump. Rather, I think he’s a product of several things that have created a “perfect storm” for his candidacy: the extremely polarized electorate, making anyone who isn’t Hillary automatically acceptable to the legions who don’t like her (which, by the way, is largely the result of decades of Republican smear tactics); the dumbing down of political discourse in this country, thanks largely to political spin that is so out of control that anything a candidate does can be justified; the increasingly fuzzy line between fact and fiction, helped along by “reality” shows that are anything but – we don’t know what truth is anymore; rabid partisans on television (thanks largely to that bastion of false reality, Fox News) who only show people one side of an issue and make them believe it is ture; and a general lack of interest among much of the electorate to do their own thinking and research because, well, there are just so many other distractions in modern life that are more fun. Many of us have become lazy, pliable and politically stupid, just repeating the blather we hear on biased talk shows that have an agenda of doing our thinking for us. They’ve become hour-long campaign ads.
I also believe that Trump is palatable precisely because we’ve just had our first black president, and are on the cusp of having our first female one. These are huge barriers that have been broken in relatively quick succession, and many people (especially in the South) weren’t ready for them. There is still a lot of racism and sexism in America, and it is no coincidence that Trump embodies both of these. Anti-Obama sentiment is largely rooted in his race, not his policies. After all, he is a highly intelligent, caring, thoughtful, non-judgmental, decent man of considerable integrity, the likes of which we haven’t seen in the modern presidency since Jimmy Carter. If he were a Republican, they’d be naming an airport after him. But our black and white thinking (pun somewhat intended) demonizes people whole-hog and leaves no room for more moderate assessments.
As for Hillary, she’s no saint, I readily admit. She has done things I wish she hadn’t. But on the whole, she strikes me as smart, capable and rational, three qualities that I highly value in a president. I also believe that very few who have inhabited the White House have been free of scandal – but most of them were not pilloried for it unless their name was Clinton (remember Reagan and Iran-Contra?). Anyone who has been under an electron microscope for as many years as Hillary Clinton has and has still come out relatively unscathed is probably not nearly as unscrupulous as she is accused of being. The fact that she has been able to weather this kind of scrutiny proves she is infinitely qualified to withstand the rigors of the presidency, and has the temperament and stamina to do the job, and do it well. Most experts on the presidency agree that Donald Trump would be one of the least qualified persons to occupy the office in modern times. It’s a serious job, and so is your vote.
The ultimate example of Trump’s attempt to throw anything at the wall to see if it sticks was when he accused Hillary during the debate of having a poor temperament. Are you serious? This from the man who spent half the debate shouting and interrupting? Does this man think he can make up anything he wants to and people will believe him? That if you say something often enough it becomes the truth? Ah, Trump knows people all too well. He can indeed say anything and create reality, and his followers will embrace it. They already have. Obama not born in America? Check. All Muslims are threats to national security? Check. All immigrants (which we all are, by the way) are freeloaders? Check. Giving someone this much license with prejudice and conjecture, voters, is very, very dangerous, ten times more dangerous than the worst thing you think Hillary is guilty of. It’s how Hitler got started, stirring up the masses with fear, scapegoating and xenophobia. It is the behavior of a demagogue and a dictator, and it is not impossible for it to happen here. We’ve already taken the first steps by creating a welcoming environment.
Turned off by Hillary? Think she’s a bit dishonest? Probably, but Trump is even more so. Think the private email server decision was dangerous and stupid? I agree, but she has apologized for it, something Trump isn’t man enough to do. Am I advocating a choice between the lesser of two evils? No, because I don’t believe Hillary is evil. I believe she has been very effectively painted that way because she is a strong woman, and we don’t like that in America (can you name a strong American woman who is widely admired? Didn’t think so). If she were a man, she’d be far ahead right now. Thinking of not voting? Then you better not utter one peep of criticism once the election is over. Voting for a third-party candidate? That is your right. Just understand that it has its own consequences, and you may not like them. So vote for Hillary, for the country’s sake. Even though you may not like her, she’s the best choice you’ve got. She just may surprise you. And even if she’s as terrible as you think, she’ll be blocked at every turn by Congress and get voted out of office in four years. The nation will then do a redirect and most certainly elect a (normal) Republican, and the country will be no worse for the wear. I can’t be confident of the same scenario after a Trump presidency. The damage a loose-lipped, reactive, vengeful President Trump could do after four years on the world stage is far worse than anything we would see from our former secretary of state.