Super Tuesday has come and gone, we’ve put another Republican debate in our rear view mirror, and Mitt Romney has finally spoken out. It’s becoming increasingly likely that the Republican nominee for President could be Donald Trump.
It’s not certain, of course. The stat wizards at Fivethirtyeight.com suggest that there’s still the possibility of a brokered convention. That’s the result that Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and John Kasich are, by now, basically working for. And it’s not very likely. We are approaching a moment of truth in this campaign, in which voters across American are going to have to choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for President. (I don’t mean to be dismissive of the chances of Bernie Sanders, who I respect immensely. But his path to the nomination is looking increasingly unlikely).
Mitt Romney’s speech yesterday was a masterful, angry put-down of Trump. It was also kind of hypocritical, since, in 2012, he courted and received Trump’s endorsement. We’re supposed to forget that, I think. But the real weakness of Romney’s speech was his unwillingness to offer any real solution. If Romney genuinely feels that Donald Trump is dangerous, that he’s a con man and a phony, that his policies will damage the US economy, and that he lacks the temperment to be President, all of which I agree with, well what does he suggest we do about it? Romney’s solution: vote for Ted Cruz, or Marco Rubio, or John Kasich. Who are losing. Who probably can’t win.
Here’s what Mitt Romney did not say (and it’s really unimaginable that he would say it, especially this early), “I will not, under any circumstances whatsoever, vote for Donald Trump for President. If the choice really is between Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton, I will vote for Secretary Clinton. And I urge my fellow Republicans to join me.”
I am a liberal Democrat, and I have already decided that I support Secretary Clinton for the Presidency. So it takes some chutzpah for me to recommend her to my Republican friends, or to criticize the last Republican President candidate for not publicly supporting her. But if there were a Democratic candidate for President as dangerous as I believe Donald Trump to be, I would consider it my patriotic responsibility to vote for the opposing Republican. I am asking my Republican friends to seriously consider doing something I know you’d really prefer not to do. Vote for Hillary.
Because that may well be the choice. Trump or Clinton. One or the other. And if it comes to that. . . ?
Months ago, I thought Donald Trump was a joke candidate. And I thought his entry into the race wasn’t just entertaining, but also healthy. I thought he was likely to bring a new dynamic into the race, that he might raise issues other candidates avoided, that he might stir things up. He’s certainly done that. But in the meantime, he’s offered policy proposals that would bankrupt our nation. And has demonstrated a temperment that genuinely frightens me.
Trump’s economic plans are completely unrealistic. His tax plan, if enacted, would increase the national debt, as a percentage of GDP, by 39.2%. (That’s close to four times more irresponsible than the George W. Bush tax cuts). That vast majority of those tax cuts would go to the wealthiest fifth of Americans. (It should be pointed out that the tax plans of Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are, more or less, equally irresponsible). He has unapologetically talked about starting a trade war with China, another with Mexico, and a third with Russia. For all his rhetoric about what a successful businessman he is, there is no reason to assume that he knows how to run a national economy. His plans would bankrupt and impoverish our nation.
Trump’s foreign policy is unsound and dangerous. He would, he says, rescind trade agreements everywhere. He proposes to tear up the Iran nuclear agreement, something no President can unilaterally do (it’s an international agreement, negotiated with our closest allies). Worse, he has proposed and defended the commission of war crimes. He would, he said, kill the families of terrorists, and torturing others, all in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions.
He is notoriously thin-skinned and litigious. He has suggested that the FCC fine his detractors, and says that The National Review be driven out of business. He has said that libel laws ‘should be looked at’ for revision. Salon.com, one of the most liberal on-line journals in the country, and The National Review, one of the most conservative, have both published recent articles expressing dismay over Trump’s apparent disregard for the First Amendment.
What’s worse, Trump has routinely given voice to xenophobic nativism and to racist stereotyping. His first speech as a candidate declared that a majority of undocumented Mexicans were rapists, and he has called for a travel ban for Islamic Americans. His rallies are routinely characterized by incidents in which black people in attendance are bullied, physically assaulted, and kicked out by security, including a recent incident in which 30 Valdosta State students attending a Trump rally were forcibly ejected. I do not agree with those who compare Trump to Adolf Hitler. But his views do, in many ways, mirror those of Benito Mussolini.
And yet, here’s the clinching argument against Trump for me. Trump overreacts. He blusters and brags and bullies, yes, but he also is so extraordinarily thin-skinned that he blows up at people. I have seen no sign of the kind of judgement or temperment of a man who should be entrusted with nuclear launch codes.
For all these reasons, I urge every American who reads this to reject the candidacy of Donald Trump. He is, I believe, the first actively dangerous Presidential candidate of my lifetime. Please, do not, under any circumstance, vote for him.
Even if that means voting for Hillary Clinton.