The ongoing spectacle of the presidential primaries has proven to be a never-ending source of consternation and disbelief. The candidates for the Democratic nomination are fighting over which of them can most emphatically promise to ignore immigration laws and give away the most “free stuff,” and it would of course be absolutely awful if either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders were to follow Barack Obama as president and lead this country even further down the path to left-wing oblivion. And yet, I really haven’t been able to spare much time or attention to even worry about the dangers posed by the Democrats because of the more immediate crisis on the Republican side, where an absolutely unfit and unconservative candidate is on the verge of becoming the nominee and supposed leader of the party. It may be a hopeless cause, but, until this officially happens, I believe that working to stop Trump and to secure the nomination for a far-better candidate is absolutely imperative.
We hear a lot about the anger and frustration with the government and the direction of the country that is supposed to be driving many people to support Donald Trump’s candidacy. Well, I also believe that we need to change course in many ways, including by moving away from the liberal policies that have increasingly been adopted by our government. One of the most important steps necessary to allow this shift to happen is to stop electing liberal Democrats to the presidency and instead choose someone with conservative principles and ideas. The opportunity to select a new president obviously only comes along every four years, and, unfortunately, Republicans seem to be at a disadvantage in these national elections, as a majority of voters prefer to elevate people like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama to the highest office in the land. This year’s presidential contest, though, seemed to offer a much better chance for Republicans, as they could expect to face a Democratic nominee who does not enjoy the (undeserved) adulation and personal popularity of these men. In addition, the large field of Republican candidates entering the race was incredibly impressive, filled with many admirable current and former officeholders. And yet, at this crucial time, a sizable contingent of voters has decided to do its best to throw away this real opportunity to send a conservative to the White House by giving its devoted support to a completely unqualified and unconservative demagogue who has himself agreed with liberals for most (if not all) of his life. As a result, it would be difficult for me to overstate how dismayed and frustrated I am with them. If they are so convinced that Republican politicians are unwilling or unable to work toward solving any problems and have “betrayed” them, they were free to form their own Trumpophile party to try to win the election. They have chosen instead to try to take over the Republican party while abandoning many of it’s core beliefs, and it is up to those of us who do not approve of this transformation, including whatever really exists of the party structure itself, to resist and fight back however we can.
Much of the conversation lately has focussed on what might happen at the national convention this summer if no candidate has secured a majority of delegates. Donald Trump and his team have been complaining about the rules and processes when they don’t work to his advantage, as well as asserting that the nomination should be his if he simply has the most delegates, even if he doesn’t reach the total required for a majority. This self-serving bluster, along with the threats and intimidation that Trump and his supporters are also attempting to use to pressure delegates and the party to hand him the nomination, should be dismissed and should certainly not influence anyone to decide in Trump’s favor. If anything, these tactics are more evidence that Trump would not be a deserving nominee -- I can’t see how making a whining bully the standard-bearer for one’s party could possibly be the best option. It should constantly be reinforced to the public and the delegates that a decision to select someone other than the frontrunner as the nominee would be perfectly legitimate at a contested convention, and I would urge them to make another choice should that situation arise.
Before any of these discussions can be relevant, though, the results of the entire slate of primaries and caucuses need to conclude with Donald Trump still short of the 1237 pledged delegates that he would need to secure the nomination. With his big win in New York last week and more friendly-state primaries this Tuesday, I worry that media coverage and public perception, along with Trump’s inexplicably devoted base of support, may give him the momentum to keep racking up victories the rest of the way and to, as a result, gain the delegate majority required to become the nominee. Whether or not this happens is up to the voters in the upcoming states, who will have to make better choices than their counterparts in many of the prior contests in order to give Republicans any chance of escaping the gloomy fate of a Trump nomination. There are so very many seemingly obvious reasons that Republican voters should reject Donald Trump that it is baffling for approximately 40% of them to have embraced him instead. One can only address a fraction of the problems with Trump at any one time, and it often seems that the public may not care to consider these factors, but we have to at least try again to convince voters in Pennsylvania, Indiana, California, and all of the other places that have yet to vote to turn away from Trump and select a true Republican instead.
So, let’s review just a sampling of Donald Trump’s fault’s in a few categories, shall we?
Character Flaws/Ethical Issues
Perhaps we’re not supposed to care about many of these things, but I do, so we’ll get them out of the way first. Trump is a rude, obnoxious man with an extremely overinflated ego who resorts to insulting everyone from his opponents to party leaders to even the voters if they do anything he doesn’t like. As a presidential candidate, he has mocked war heroes, disabled people, his rival’s wife, journalists, and many others. Voters should not fool themselves into thinking that he truly cares about them and their interests -- Trump does what is best for himself, even if it results in negative consequences for others. (I guess I shouldn’t mention the way he treated his wives and bragged about having many affairs with married women, but I think these are relevant examples.) Trump thinks the bankruptcies in several of his companies are not a problem -- after all, he used the laws to make sure that he didn’t come out of tough business situations too badly, and it’s just tough luck for the creditors, contractors, and other “little guys” that were hurt in bailing him out. If Trump can use his famous name to get people to pay lots of money for very little information from Trump University or to get involved in a supplement-selling pyramid-type scheme like the Trump Network, why wouldn’t he? And, what could be wrong with trying to use eminent domain powers to take an elderly woman’s property for a casino parking lot? While Trump now tells us that he blames illegal immigration, foreign workers, and companies that move jobs overseas for many of the economic struggles and concerns of Americans, he himself has been fined for using illegal labor and even now brings in workers on visas for his resorts and has his clothing products manufactured in other countries rather than employing Americans. In addition, as mentioned above, Trump and his campaign have been trying to use intimidation to ensure that he gets the Republican nomination, suggesting that riots might break out if he is denied and that the hotel rooms of delegates who might not vote for him should be revealed so that Trump supporters could “discuss” the issue with them. None of these personality traits or behaviors seem to be things one would particularly want in a president, and many polls show that much of the public views Trump very unfavorably. All things considered, this disfavor is richly deserved, and it is just unfortunate that a sizable segment of the Republican-leaning electorate seems willfully blind to all of Trump’s character flaws.
Donald Trump lacks any real qualifications to be president of the United States. (Reality TV hosting doesn’t really provide the requisite skills.) Many of his supporters want an “outsider,” but I think it would be very unwise to treat probably the most important job in the world as a position requiring no prior related experience. Trump has shown throughout the campaign that he lacks even basic knowledge about the workings of our government, suggesting, for example, that judges “sign bills” or conduct investigations and that he would order cop-killers executed by executive order. He is also unfamiliar with many important aspects of national security and foreign policy, among other issues, and has said that he’d be able to learn everything he’d need to know if he were elected. (I guess he doesn’t want to waste his time on this stuff if he’s not going to get the job.) No one should feel confident about what actions or policies to expect from a Trump presidency, because the candidate changes his positions with great frequency, sometimes within the same day. He will make statements indicating that what he believes or intends is different from what is contained in the proposals issued by his campaign or posted on his website, even on the issue of immigration that supposedly propelled him to the front of the pack in the race, and he has declared that he would be “flexible” about issues and make great deals to get things done. Trump has said before that he could become a completely different (“politically correct” or “presidential”) person if he had to, and his new campaign advisor said a few days ago that Trump has so far been projecting a persona, is someone very different in private, and will now evolve into a candidate that will be more acceptable to a wider portion of the public. Do people really want someone who does not stick to any core principles and has been presenting a false image to gain primary votes but will now try to transform into something different for the general election? Isn’t this the type of thing the “angry grassroots” supporting Trump are supposed to despise in politicians? And, what does it say about Trump’s view of the primary voters if he thinks the way to win them over is to pretend to be a vile, ignorant, loudmouth? Really, though, I think it’s quite clear from what we’ve seen of Donald Trump in the public eye for decades that he has only partly been putting forth a false image during this campaign. He really is an offensive jerk, but he’s only recently been pretending (badly) to be some sort of Republican or conservative.
So, perhaps Trump will soon be even more open about the fact that, to the extent he does have views on issues, most of them are more suited to a liberal Democrat than a Republican presidential nominee. He has a history of liberalism throughout his life, but even while running for president he has taken many liberal positions. For example, he has spoken in favor of affirmative action, government-provided or even “single-payer” healthcare, and raising taxes on “the rich.” (Actually, in Wisconsin, he even criticized Governor Walker for not raising taxes to deal with budgetary issues.) Like the Democrats, Trump is opposed to any efforts to reform entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, and he said he would be neutral in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. On social issues, Trump has praised Planned Parenthood, and just last week he both took issue with North Carolina’s law regarding single-sex bathroom use and suggested altering (weakening) the Republican party’s platform language regarding abortion. While Donald Trump has displayed a remarkable lack of constancy during his campaign, his basic instincts about a great many issues are pretty consistently liberal. I’m not sure why he even chose to run as a Republican, but I find it even harder to understand how he’s been able to find support among Republican voters and the (previously) “conservative” media.
In addition to all of the problems already mentioned above, there are other things about Donald Trump that are deeply worrisome. Trump has shown himself to be very rash, impulsive, and reckless. He lashes out when he is upset or angry, and this could be extremely dangerous in the leader of a nation, especially when combined with some of Trump’s rather unorthodox views on international affairs. He seems to think that the status of our relationships with other countries should be based on the types of deals that we can make with them, and he appears to focus too much on whether the U.S. benefits monetarily from an alliance or action. I think there is a risk that Trump might hastily take actions that would alienate allies like Japan, South Korea, and the NATO countries or create serious conflicts with nations like China with which we might have disagreements. I am also concerned about what Donald Trump’s view of the presidency may be. He has said quite a few things that indicate he envisions a very powerful role for himself in the office, which is especially problematic when you also consider the positive comments he has made about authoritarian leaders, such as Vladimir Putin. Republicans have, rightly, accused Barack Obama of exceeding his authority as executive and abusing government power. But, if Donald Trump says openly during his campaign that he wants to change libel laws so that he can more easily sue newspapers that say things he doesn’t like, that the Speaker of the House will pay a big price if he doesn’t get along well with Trump, that the military will go along with orders to do things (like torture or the execution of terrorists’ families) that would violate international law if he tells them to, and so on, and the people then elect him, how empowered will Trump feel to go even further toward a dictatorial administration than the current president? Now, maybe the mythical “new, improved, presidential” Trump wouldn’t be scary in any of these ways, but why on earth would we take such a chance??
The list of reasons Donald Trump should not be the Republican nominee is practically endless and growing all the time, yet Trump seems increasingly likely to win the nomination. This can feel rather like a traumatic nightmare, but it is all too real. To people in states that still have upcoming primary contests, I would make the following appeal: If you really want to vote for a liberal candidate with some questionable past dealings, please make sure that you are eligible to vote on the Democrat side and cast your ballot there. Let the rest of us have at least some chance of having our views represented on the ballot in November. If, on the other hand, you do want to support a candidate on the Right side of the spectrum, please vote for Ted Cruz. The senator actually holds Republican views, will not constantly say things that cause embarrassment or need explanation and correction, and actually is knowledgeable about government, law, and politics. He would be a far better choice for the nomination and the presidency than the celebrity billionaire who claims to “tell it like it is” and to represent the people while actually lying to them and taking their support for granted in his quest to attain power and more attention for himself. Please, voters, make the right choice: reject Donald Trump and rekindle a spark of hope that we can yet start moving the country back in the right direction with a conservative election victory this fall.