Today the people of the United States may, after two hundred and forty years, choose a woman for President or they may also choose the Orange Menace, kill American democracy, and end the world as we know it.
I know, it sounds melodramatic. Unfortunately, it is.
You may not like Hillary, but on every issue of consequence, including economic policy, the environment, and foreign affairs, she trumps Trump.
Not only that. Donald J. Trump is manifestly unqualified and unfit for office. He exhibits scant interest in or familiarity with policy, favors conspiracy theory and fantasy over facts (the candidate’s conspiratorial catchphrase is “There’s something going on.”), has never held office or otherwise served his country, and has abused every privilege that has come his way.
Worse still, he rejects everything America is supposed to stand for. He wants to eliminate freedom of the press, infringe on an independent judiciary, ban Muslim immigration, deport undocumented immigrants without a fair hearing, institute the practice of torture as a fair and legal way of interrogation and, has even threatened to prosecute and imprison his opponent.
As President, Trump would command the armed forces of the United States, control its nuclear codes, appoint judges, propose legislation, and conduct foreign policy, all in the service of his erratic, empty, cruel, intolerant, and corrupt vanity.
If you don’t want to vote for Hillary, then don’t, but please vote against Trump. You’d be among conservative company you know and share values with. More than a hundred and sixty Republican leaders have declared their refusal to support Trump, among them Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, ex presidential candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain, and both Bush Presidents.
Fifty national-security officials who served in Republican Administrations have done the same. The Cincinnati Enquirer, the Arizona Republic, the Dallas Morning News, and the Columbus Dispatch—all conservative newspapers, which have endorsed only Republicans for between seventy-six and a hundred and twenty-six years—have endorsed Clinton as have The Atlantic and The New Yorker magazines. USA Today, which has never endorsed a candidate, has declared Trump “unfit for the presidency.”
Trump is a bully. He’s also a liar who, somehow, has conned people into thinking “he tells it like it is”. He was once pro-choice; now he says that women who get abortions should be punished. Ronald Reagan, he once wrote, could “con people” but couldn’t “deliver the goods.” Now Reagan heads the list of the Presidents he admires most. Asked just last year to name the best of the previous four Presidents, Trump chose Bill Clinton, having once lauded him as “a great President.” Now Clinton, like his wife, is a criminal. Three years ago, Trump remarked of Hillary Clinton’s work as Secretary of State that she was “probably above and beyond everybody else”; now, of course, her term was a “total disaster.”
He said he saw “thousands and thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey cheering the attacks of 9/11. When he was told that this never happened, he repeated the claim, mocked the disabled reporter who exposed it on video and then denied having done so. He maintained that he saw a picture of Ted Cruz’s father “having breakfast with Lee Harvey Oswald”; no such picture exists. He boasted of conversations with Putin that never occurred; he said that Putin had not invaded Ukraine. He described climate change as a Chinese-perpetrated hoax, then said that he hadn’t.
Many Trump supporters are G.O.P. stalwarts who would support the Party’s nominee no matter what. At the same time, to deny the racist and nativist component of Trumpism is to shy from a fundamental truth about American social history. There really are Trump enthusiasts who resent President Obama because he is black, and because his being black is symbolic of all the other ethnic groups and recent arrivals who threaten their place in the social hierarchy. To follow Trump, in an effort to secure justice and respect, is to deny justice and respect to those he insults and disdains—particularly African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, women. In Donald Trump’s pinched and fearful vision, politics is a zero-sum game.
The most important reason to vote against Trump may be the matter of the Supreme Court. A Court of Trump appointees could fail to check him or any future demagogue. In the notorious Korematsu decision, in 1944, the Supreme Court acceded to President Roosevelt in allowing the internment of Americans of Japanese descent, an action that Trump recently refused to denounce outright. As Justice Robert Jackson, who dissented in Korematsu, noted, a precedent like that remains a loaded gun.
Even if he looses, Trump and his basket of deplorables won’t go quietly into the night. To think this would be to ignore the nativist backlash that has gripped other parts of the world. It would infinite, too, the reckoning that is due in the party that nominated him, with Ted Cruz as the more primly demagogic also-ran. (Cruz also talks about patrolling Muslim neighborhoods and about Clinton’s criminality.)
Now, as he trails in the polls and declares the election “rigged,” thanks to a collusion of the media, political élites, and inner-city “communities,” he seems to be preparing the ground for an unlovely and prolonged assault on a Clinton Presidency. Even some Republican leaders who have withdrawn their support for him have adopted his maximalism.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has said that Clinton wants to strip away all color and joy from the lives of Americans. Senator John McCain has sworn that he will work in the Senate to block any Supreme Court nominations that a President Clinton might make. Neither has come to terms with the ways in which his party’s rhetoric and tactics have enabled Trump’s rise. If anything, their hope seems to be that the swell of passions he has brought together will not dissipate but propel their own ambitions.
To witness Trump’s behavior these past weeks has been to watch a man preparing the outlines of his own martyrdom. It is unclear how he will go on making his political mark. Will he run for office again? Will he fan the calls for “revolution” among his most outraged supporters? Will he build a new alt-right media platform?
There is no predicting the actions of a man who prides himself on his unpredictability. But, beyond Trump, there is Trumpism: a profound hostility toward political professionalism; a strong antipathy toward technocratic élites; a disenchantment with liberal values. Whether it gathers behind a Ted Cruz, or a Ben Carson, or some candidate yet unsummoned, it indicates a seam of disaffection that any successful Administration must address.
So please, pretty please, with sugar on top, VOTE AGAINST TRUMP.