30 October 2016

Why I Could Never Vote for Trump

First, a bit more about the emails since they're back in the news after I wrote my last post.  This does not change my vote for Hillary.  We apparently won't even know what is in them before the election and I think it's mostly likely that Hillary will still win. I certainly very much hope so. Even if the worst hopes of House Republicans come true after she wins and these emails describe all the bribes and murders Hillary is supposed to have done, I could live quite happily with the consequence of a Tim Kaine presidency, thank you very much.

Anyway, I've already voted and it was and still is the very easiest election decision I've ever made.  Not because Hillary Clinton is my favorite nominee ever (although I love some of the things she advocates for), but because Trump is the worst major-party nominee I have ever had a choice of voting for. In my mind, Hillary Clinton is so much better than Trump that I cannot not vote for him.  I would vote for almost anyone else over him (and if the other nominee were as bad? I.would.not.vote.) Here's why I think that. 

Announcement.  Hillary Clinton's first campaign speech in June of 2015 talked about her life-long advocacy for children and the many different people she wants to help in the US. Trump announced in June and called Mexicans horrible things (except for some that he "assume[s] are good people.") I was in Mexico when he said those things.  I knew I'd never vote for him, but I also though he'd never get through the primaries because of all of the junk he kept saying.  

Primary debates. Trump has never, in any debate, shown any sort of grasp on policy or an understanding of how the presidency works.  He'd run out the clock without saying anything.  He didn't seem to listen if the topic didn't interest him or specifically involve him.  He'd say he'd do things that the president can't do.  He'd make personal attacks that had nothing to do with anything. He didn't seem to understand terms that presidents should understand.

Interviews. As in the debates, Trump has also shown very little interest in or knowledge about a great many topics that presidents need to know about during interviews.  He says even less than your typical politicians when he's trying to avoid a question.  He managed to completely bungle a question about punishing a woman for getting an abortion and spout a view that no one, not even the most ardent pro-life groups, agree with.  Had he never thought about the topic?   When he was asked about Ukraine, it appeared that he either didn't realize that Crimea is part of Ukraine or that he didn't think Russia was involved there.  Either one is highly concerning in a presidential candidate.  His comments about nuclear proliferation, if they can be taken literally, are terrifying. And if he didn't really mean them, why in the world did he say that he thinks more countries should have nuclear weapons?

That takes me on to two related points - the idea that presidential candidates don't need to know everything and that Trump doesn't seem to be trying to educate himself.  Trump supporters often say that Trump will surround himself with smart people who fill in his gaps in knowledge.  That's great- even Hillary Clinton who is one of the most experienced presidential nominees ever can't know everything and needs good advisers.  But throughout the campaign, Trump has shown very little inclination both hire capable people and take their advice.  His first two campaign managers were not great choices and ended up leaving.  Kellyanne Conway, his current campaign manager is brilliant but she has made it clear that he hasn't taken her advice.  I think Trump could have won this thing if he had listened to her for the last two months of campaigning, but he has proven that he is unwilling to consistently listen when there is a smart person advising him.

When The Atlantic endorsed Clinton a few weeks ago, one of the most damning statements against Trump was "he appears not to read."  Now, reading is not the only way to educate oneself, but Trump has shown no evidence that he is any better versed now on important topics than he was a year ago.  If you don't know what the nuclear triad is in a debate, you find out and make sure you can talk about it competently later.  You learn about the conflict in Ukraine.  You figure out what the limits on the president are. And so many other things.

He does seem to have learned to not talk about things he doesn't know about, which made the real debates a little tricky for him, but earlier he spouted a lot of ideas that simply aren't acceptable.

I'm still horrified that he proposed banning Muslims from entering the US.  Yes, he has apparently softened his position, but the statement is still on his website and he refuses to give details about which countries would be affected by his proposed ban and whether everyone from that country would be banned or just Muslims (which would still make it a religious test).

I'm still horrified that he proposed killing the families of terrorists.

I'm still horrified that he would even consider bringing back waterboarding, much less anything else.

And even when he does seem to have a position that appears to have been thought through, he's still really short on detail or understanding how the details would work in the real world.  His plan to get Mexico to pay for the wall would have a seriously negative impact on Mexico-US relations.  We know he's supposed to be pro-life, but his only suggestion is stacking the Supreme Court and that hasn't worked for 40 years.  I have no idea how he's going to make things better for veterans.  And he'll renegotiate trade deals, but what does that mean?  All of them?  Will he  be personally involved in the negotiations?  And what about tariffs?  Does he fully recognize the negative impacts those can have? I'm not at all convinced that he does.  And how in the world can you propose spending increases based on your projections that the economy will have "tremendous growth"?

He tells us we must vote for him because only he can fix the problems he sees in the US even though he cannot tell us how he would fix those problems.  It's the typical strongman appeal.  He also almost never appeals to our better selves, but demonizes people who aren't like him to stoke fears in his supporters.  Immigrants, especially Mexicans and refugees, are the problem.  Muslims are making us less safe.  America used to be great, apparently when it was whiter.  The media is corrupt and out to get him and his supporters.  China is the enemy because it's all about money.  There is almost no altruistic reason to vote for him.

And then I just plain old don't like a lot of the things he says.  Black lives do matter.  Guns are not my thing and I want schools to remain gun-free zones.  Immigration is what has made this country great and I am very opposed to deportation.  I am not a populist or anything like unto it. Cutting taxes for the wealthy is not my thing either.  Climate change is real and it will have serious impacts on all of our lives, but especially people in other countries with few resources to mitigate those consequences and we need to prepare for that. I think the EPA should stay. Stop-and-frisk is wrong, wrong, wrong. What would Putin do is not a wise guiding principle.  A free press is vital in our country.  Eminent domain should be used carefully.

How about temperament?  Yeah, right.

The very few times we've seen him try to do something presidential or altruistic haven't been very encouraging either.  When he raised money for veterans, he illegally used his own foundation to accept the donations and didn't donate his promised million until he was hounded by the press.  Then when he finally made the donation, he admonished the press for hounding him rather than praising him.  His trip to Mexico was not handled well, but he said it was successful because someone in Mexico was kicked out of the government afterward.  Trump, that is not a sign of a stellar diplomatic mission.

And he's continued to attack people in rather awful ways and say things I think are appalling.

I'm still horrified that he even talked about the Khan family after the convention, much less attacked them in any way.  There was absolutely no point in doing so and it was just plain mean.

I'm still horrified that he said a judge who ruled against him didn't like him because the judge was Mexican-American.  Like Paul Ryan said, that's the textbook definition of racism.

I'm still horrified that he threatened to sue all of the women who had accused him of sexual assault after he bragged about sexually assaulting people.

I'm still horrified that he would dismiss bragging about sexual assault as "locker room talk."

And my final reason?  He has lied about the refugee vetting process throughout the campaign.  Straight out lied.  And he is using those lies to make people in the US scared of refugees.  The president does have the power to set the number of refugees entering the country.  Last month he even threatened to deport Syrian refugees. 

I can *only* vote for the person who will keep him from being the President of the United States.  For me, anything else would be immoral.

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