Dear friends, please stop explaining to me my own motivations.
A number of my friends have repeatedly suggested that that my opposition to Donald Trump is based on his abrasive personality. These friends (and they are still my friends) think I oppose Trump because he’s rude, arrogant, and bombastic. They assume that I’m naïvely voting my conscience, and assign my motives to a holier-than-thou attitude that selfishly puts my pride above what’s pragmatically best for the country. They tell me we are not electing a pastor in chief, as if I only dislike him because he calls people names and uses naughty words.
They misunderstand. It’s true that I detest these things, but there’s much more to it. It’s not just his personality that bothers me. It’s so much more.
It’s his policy proposals. His ideas regarding trade, immigration, economics and foreign policy are in direct opposition to mine. He promises to make enemies of our trading partners, imposing tariffs that would almost certainly plunge us into a recession, if not a depression. His protectionist, merchantilist economic platform is based on restricting your freedom to buy what you want from whom you want. He’s not and never has been a fiscal conservative. He has barely mentioned entitlement reform, in fact promising to keep spending more and more. He says he will repeal Obamacare, but in the same breath promises to replace it with something else.
It’s his authoritarianism. He rightly criticizes Obama for wielding too much executive authority, but promises to wield that authority even more strongly himself. He admires dictatorial leaders, including Vladimir Putin, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong-Un, and Muammar Qaddafi because of the way they dealt with their political opponents. He threatens to jail his political opponent if he wins. He has suggested widening libel laws in a way that would blatantly infringe the freedom of the press. He’s vowed to shut down houses of worship and ban people from entering the country based solely on their religious beliefs. Such disregard for constitutional protection points to a dictatorial mindset.
It’s his nationalism. He promises to wall off our country off from the rest of the world, both physically and symbolically. In Trump’s combative, zero-sum view of the world, America can’t win unless everyone else loses. His language is the language of battle and violence, illustrative of his war-like mentality.
It’s his dishonesty. Trump lies. Yes, Hillary lies, but she lies in carefully crafted political statements. Trump lies impulsively and compulsively. He lies with ease in the face of cold, hard facts that can be easily refuted. Everyone knows he’s lying, but he believes he is above the truth. He does so because he knows his followers don’t care. They are convinced that Hillary is evil, so the end justifies the means. Those willing to scratch below the surface, to read more than just fake news stories posted as BREAKING NEWS on Facebook, can see him for what he is.
It’s his recklessness. Trump is a high-rolling gambler who loves to take huge risks. (Although when Trump loses, he uses the courts to get out of paying his debts). How will this play out in his foreign policy negotiations? Geopolitical strategy is hugely complex and requires a leader with a steady hand and a good grasp of the facts. There are no do-overs or bankruptcy escapes. The person who controls the nuclear codes should not be motivated by personal vanity and one-upmanship.
It’s his abuse of the legal system. Someone lives in a house where he wants to build a casino parking lot? No problem. He just uses his bought politician buddies to take the house using Eminent Domain laws. He sues at the drop of a hat, his team of lawyers intimidating opponents into submission. He uses bankruptcy laws as a business practice to avoid paying people what he owes them. He uses highly questionable tax avoidance strategies to avoid paying legitimate taxes. He claims this is all just part of being a good businessman, as though one can separate being a good businessman from being a good man.
It’s his bigotry. Trump’s unnecessarily divisive statements stoke the fires of hatred and anger. His use of veiled (or not so veiled) threats of violence at his rallies and among his followers is sickening to watch. His slowness to denounce violent racist supporters is revealing. Please note: Most Trump supporters are good people. Most are NOT ignorant racists. But among ignorant racists, Trump is hands down the favored candidate. He may not endorse KKK leaders, but KKK leaders enthusiastically endorse him. That should tell us something.
It’s his sexism. Of course not every insult he’s hurled at a woman is sexist. He’s an equal opportunity name caller, and I’m sure he’s referred to men as fat pigs as well. But it’s clear that Trump objectifies women. They are trophies to be possessed. He purchased the Miss Universe Pageant. Nuff said.
It’s his narcissism. This is a man who says “I alone can fix it”! He appears unable to apologize for his behavior or even recognize that he’s done anything worthy of apology or repentance. He’s not just greedy; he feels entitled to take what doesn’t belong to him. He’s not just rude; he’s mean-spirited, and actually seems to take pleasure in belittling others. He demonstrates no capacity for empathy, as evidenced by his childish, school yard bully tactics. Unable to discuss the substance of the debate, he resorts to calling people stupid, fat, ugly, and weak. He revels in the meanness, taunting louder and longer as he is cheered by the other mean kids in the crowd. He appears unable to listen to anyone or accept any advice, with the possible exception of his own kids. (Because they are his progeny, they must be worthy of respect). Such unnatural obeisance to nothing beyond his own inflated ego is annoying in a friend, worrisome in a powerful businessman, and very dangerous in a commander in chief.
Some politicians are motivated by money. Some are motivated by power. Trump is motivated by something much more capricious: a depraved desire for ego gratification.
That’s what’s wrong with Donald J. Trump.