“She goes around with armed bodyguards like you have never seen before. I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons. They should disarm. Right? Right? I think they should disarm immediately. What do you think? Yes? Yes. Yeah. Take their guns away. She doesn’t want guns. … Let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away, okay? It would be very dangerous.” — Donald Trump 9/16/2016
I’ll give Donald Trump credit for one thing: he absolutely knows how to tap into the underlying desires of his supporters. While his incendiary words are a comfort to those who are a part of his Nixonian “silent majority” (though by comparison they are anything but silent), those same words for the rest of us — liberal or RINO conservative¹ — are nothing short of a disastrous charade.
Let me clarify something at the outset: unlike other commentators and bloggers whom I admire, I am not supporting Hillary Clinton with any sense of excitement, passion, or even a feeling that she represents much of my own core beliefs. Time and time again over the years she has displayed an arrogance which I’ve found off-putting. From her callous “Tammy Wynette” comment, to the mysterious re-appearance of the Rose law firm billing records, to her apparent contempt of State Department civil servants who repeatedly warned her that it was questionable and inappropriate to bypass the agency’s own e-mail system, I have always understood and appreciated the general feeling of mistrust that she engenders.
I also quite frankly have an acute feeling of “Clinton Fatigue” after nearly 25 years of her and Bill Clinton serving at the highest levels in the federal government. Like moths drawn to a flame, both of them are chronically prone to making dubious choices which are later scrutinized in an unflattering light. After years of repeated headlines, whispering campaigns, and congressional investigations, I prayed last year that a worthy (and younger!) challenger in the Democratic Party would surface. I felt the Bern, yes, but unfortunately Bernie Sanders also left me wishing for someone new, exciting, and different. Joaquín Castro, I’m looking to you in 2024.
But for the love of God, I’m asking you what choice do we honestly have this time around? I for one will not drink any of the Kool-Aid that Donald Trump is serving to those who see him as someone who will upend the established order and restore “greatness.” Unfortunately that message is merely code to appeal to the worst of our collective impulses. He is perpetrating a con on not only the Republican Party, but also on those who are placing their faith and trust in him. This is not a man who should be anywhere near the levers of national security.
I admit that my own faith and trust of previous GOP presidential candidates has tended to fall into a typical, knee-jerk liberal posture. Since at least Ronald Reagan, my view of each of their nominees mirrored the prevailing caricature offered by the Democratic Party, labor unions, and the left-leaning publications to which I subscribed. And as the U.S. has collectively become a divided nation of blues and reds, I’ve tended to stay squarely in my own blue corner, feeling safe and smug among my own fellow travelers, tossing rhetorical darts at those red front-runners.
I can do better; we can do better.
Of course, the Republican Party has also not made it easy for me either. Their unhealthy alliance with the religious right, which in turn spawned unprecedented legislative intrusions into women’s health rights and constitutionally questionable voter ID laws, made it all but impossible for me to really give their candidates any consideration. And, of course, there were the neocons of the Bush II era who got us hopelessly embroiled in the Iraq mess. They made it awfully hard for a liberal such as myself to close ranks with them, even when I was at times open to listening to some of their brighter lights (i.e. Paul Ryan) about Social Security and Medicare reform.
But Donald Trump doesn’t in any way, shape, or form come close to the breadth of statesmanship offered by the likes of Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and John McCain. No matter the sometimes strong disagreements I had with each of them (particularly “W”), they were all men of unquestioned integrity who represented their country and party with distinction, particularly on the world stage. Trump not only makes it a point of pride not to emulate those qualities, but he doubles down on it with a glaring disregard for statecraft and statesmanship.
The recent news that George H.W. Bush has decided to vote for Hillary Clinton comes as no great surprise to me. Nor is it a surprise that just today 75 retired senior diplomats signed a letter opposing Trump for president. I assume that this will be part of a growing list of more officials as we speed towards November.
Simply stated, Donald Trump is not qualified, nor does he have the requisite character to be president. What he lacks of any understanding for the minutia of governance and policy details, he more than makes up in bombast, insults, and breathtaking recklessness. The incendiary quote that I’ve included at the top of this post is but one example among a slew of others where he has carelessly made injudicious and outlandish comments. What if as president he made a similarly provocative statement about, say, the Supreme Leader of Iran? I cannot imagine the repercussions, and yet the plausibility of such a moment actually happening no longer seems so remote. In a word, it’s scary to ponder.
For all of her flaws, and I believe she has more than a few, Hillary Clinton brings a wealth of experience and understanding to both domestic and global concerns. She has been a fearless and tireless leader for children’s and women’s rights, civil rights, and for creating a level economic playing field for all working Americans. She is admired by Republicans, Democrats, independents, and world leaders. The choice could not be more stark and obvious.
I’m with her.
Until next time…
¹ RINO = “Republican in Name Only”