I really just wanted to write a tidy little list cataloguing 10 reasons to vote against Donald Trump, by which I mean vote for the only other viable candidate, Hillary Clinton. I wanted 10 reasons, each of which would in and of itself disqualify Trump or would be enough to make the reasonable person vote against him. My bar was high—and yet I still couldn’t winnow my list down to any fewer than 15 reasons that Donald Trump is completely unqualified to be president and would be a disaster if elected.
Ordering the list was a challenge. The Letterman approach of going from least to most important doesn’t apply because so many of Trump’s past actions, expressed beliefs and character traits are so odious and inappropriate in the leader of any country, let alone the world’s oldest democracy.
For every list item, I merely scratch the surface of Trump’s offenses. For example, if I included every lie Trump has ever told in public, it would make a book comprising thousands of pages.
- He is an extreme narcissist whose lack of self-control, overweening self-regard and belief that all things revolve around his own needs makes him dangerously close to sociopathic, if not already over the line. There is no telling when Trump could have a breakdown or in a momentary pique of grandiosity and or anger do something that would hurt the country, such as attack a country or insult an ally.
- He lies in virtually every statement. Where to begin? As of the end of June, 123 out 158 Trump statements checked by PolitiFact were mostly false, false and “pants on fire” false. His “Law and Order” campaign is based on the triple lie that violent crime, police killings and domestic terrorism are up, when they are all down. His most disgusting lie was when he said in an early debate that he knew someone whose child became autistic after being vaccinated; imagine if benighted parents used Trump’s false anecdote as the reason not to vaccinate their children. Trump also has a well-documented history of lying in his past business dealings, too, such as when he promised New Jersey regulatory authorities he wouldn’t float junk bonds to finance a casino, but then did it anyway.
- He failed at the businesses that have an application to governing. Trump failed miserably at his original two businesses, real estate development and casinos, in the process sending four separate enterprises into bankruptcy. Both these businesses can prepare someone to govern. Of business less relevant to running a large bureaucracy, he was a successful television performer and his business as a brand marketer has had mixed results. One analysis found that if Trump had passively invested his inheritance in the stock market he would have twice his current worth as estimated by Forbes magazine, which makes him a complete flopper.
- He is a racist. That can be no doubt that Donald Trump behaves in the way racists behave and says what racists say. His many comments about Mexicans and Muslims take the structure and use the language of racists. As Nicholas Kristoff detailed in a recent New York Times piece, Trump has a long history of racist behavior. The Nixon Administration (!!) sued the Trumps’ real estate firm twice for discriminating against blacks in renting apartments while Donald was president of the company. One casino worker reported that when the Trumps came to visit, the managers would hide all the black employees so Trump wouldn’t know they had any. The man is on record as saying that it’s not their fault that blacks are lazy, because “laziness is a trait in blacks.” Then there was the malicious birther campaign and his reluctance to distance himself from white supremacy groups. Disgusting!
- He is unknowledgeable about issues and doesn’t want to learn. Trump has said on a number of occasions that he is smarter than experts who have studied an issue for years. His narcissism is so great that he not only believes that he’s the smartest person around, he doesn’t think he has anything to learn from anyone else. Some of his most outrageously ignorant statements have been that there is no drought in California that he could make Mexico pay for a wall separating the two countries and that he would keep first-strike use of nuclear weapons on the table.
- He is a misogynist. To quote an article in the Daily Beast, “Donald Trump’s hateful musings about women and his boastful claims of sexual dominance should be reason alone to drive him from polite society and certainly to blockade him from the West Wing.” For one thing, he seems to judge women on looks alone, and his definition of good looks involves a narrow, fashion- and surgery-enhanced look that has for about 70 years communicated a woman’s subservience to and possession by men. He invariably comments on a woman’s looks when discussing her competence.
- He does not carry himself with the dignity of office. His frequent insults, his vulgar language, his tendency to go off script and to fly off the handle, his inability to hide his emotions, his reduction of all issues to winning and losing, his uncontrollable desire to rub it in when he gets the best of someone, his many exaggerations all make him an inappropriate candidate—a bull in a China shop of foreign relations which his immature and coarse behavior will quickly shatter.
- He is not trustworthy, as is proven by the 3,500 lawsuits he and his company are involved in, most having to do with his non-payment to vendors, many small business, for services rendered to Trump’s family or companies.
- He wants to bring back waterboarding and other torture. Like many of his major policy proscriptions, his love of torture is based on either misinformation or lies. All independent studies show torture doesn’t work, but even if it did, it is against U.S. and international law and the morality shared by all major religions.
- He wants to lower taxes on the wealthy. That’s right. The Donald talks a good populist game about the impact of trade and the decline of manufacturing, but like all Republicans, his actual policies tend to help the wealthy and to reinforce the trend of growing inequality of wealth and income in the United States, starting with lowering taxes on rich folk even more than their already historically low levels.
- His election will enable Republicans to pack the Supreme Court with rightwing activists. Anthony Scalia would be delighted if he had taken a look at the list of people Trump said he would consider for the Supreme Court. It’s a litany of rightwingers just chomping at the bit to extend the rights of corporations, expand gun rights, end Obamacare, reduce voting rights and criminalize abortion.
- The Republican platform. If Trump weren’t bad enough the platform he is running on is the most regressive, rightwing set of ideals and legislative goals in at least 100 years. Some platform planks include privatizing both Medicare and Social Security; ending gay marriage; allowing parents to put their LGBTQ children through “conversion” therapy; including Bible study in public education; declaring coal is a clean fuel and encouraging the use of coal; lowering taxes on the wealthy; and opposing a woman’s right to have an abortion.
- His election puts Mike Pence one heartbeat away from the presidency. To a progressive, liberal or centrist, Mike Pence is a disaster—an almost clone of Ted Cruz when it comes to fringe social, economic and foreign policies. Except he may be more unhinged than Cruz, if that is possible. He was the only Republican to vote against the bank bailout. In 1998, he said that smoking doesn’t kill people. As governor, he signed a law that makes it easier for businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples. He signed a law now under appeal that bans women from having abortions because the fetus has a disability like Down syndrome. He has a 22% rating from the National Association of Colored People and a 7% rating from the American Civil Liberties Union. In other words, Pence is another uneducated small-town moralist scared of diversity and wanting to impose his stilted male-centric morality on all other people.
- He could be in cahoots with Vladimir Putin. There have been hints of a Trump-Putin axis for months. Trump has often displayed open admiration for Putin’s strongman tactics. Trump stated that he wouldn’t necessarily come to the defense of NATO allies. His campaign manager used to work for Viktor Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president and a Putin puppet. In a recent column, Paul Krugman points out that Trump has extensive if “murky” involvement with Russian businesses and wealthy Russian individuals that may have ties to Putin. We have already had two presidential candidates—both Republican—make promises to foreign countries to help them win elections. In the first case, Nixon had the South Vietnamese government boycott the Paris negotiations to end the war until after the 1968 election. In the second, Reagan promised Iran arms if it didn’t release the hostages until after the 1980 election. Have Trump and Putin hammered out a similar deal?
- Hillary Clinton is a competent, honest, experienced and trustworthy candidate in the tradition of other left-leaning centrists like FDR and LBJ. Hillary’s competence and caring positions should make reason #15 the strongest on the entire list, but I recognize that Hillary is a hard sell to many after 25 years of unwithering false attacks by Republicans, often financed by the money of billionaires like Richard Scaife Mellon and the Koch brothers. Subsequent columns after the Democratic Convention ends will make what I think will be a very convincing case for Hillary.