Sunday, October 23, 2016

                                      DONALD TRUMP: AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT

With less than three weeks left before election day the race seems shockingly closer in several states than it should be based on any rational evaluation of the candidates.  One major party candidate, Hillary Clinton, is probably better qualified by experience than any candidate who has been nominated for the presidency since I first voted 56 years ago.  Conversely, the other major party candidate, Donald Trump, is not merely the least qualified such candidate proposed during that span (and well beyond), but is totally unqualified by any measure for the office, or, for that matter, for any other public office.  Mrs. Clinton has served as a Senator and as Secretary of State.  She is totally conversant with the full gamut of both domestic and foreign policy issues facing the country today.  Mr. Trump, on the other hand, has no experience whatsoever in these matters, nor does he have the intellectual capacity to deal with them.  Trump, a self-described super successful real estate mogul, proclaims that running the ship of state is no different than making a real estate deal, which, by the way, it turns out he actually was not so good at, experiencing a half dozen bankruptcies in which his investors and creditors were left holding the bag while he came out ahead.  His successes, such as they were, seem to have relied on, for the most part, his wealthy father's financial backing and political connections, misrepresentation, unethical practices, outright lies and other peoples money.  It is this business "acumen" which he contends qualifies him to be President, but basically, he is a just a con man, someone who perfectly fits the stereotype of the real estate scammer who sells underwater lots in Florida when he's not trying to sell the Brooklyn Bridge.  In short, a fraud.  But at this stage it is pointless to try to enumerate all of his inadequacies. One hardly knows where to begin and the list would be endless.  And this is before one even begins to take into account his personality flaws, which include being a congenital serial liar and probably a sociopath.  By now everyone is fully aware of them (he flaunts them every day).

But the purpose here is not so much to try to convince those that are willing to ignore these flaws and intend to vote for him to rethink their position as to persuade those who under no circumstances would vote for him that not voting for him is not enough.  I am thinking of those who are disenchanted with the political process, or are unenthusiastic about Hillary Clinton, or who are disappointed that Bernie Sanders did not get the Democratic Party's nomination and feel that Hillary Clinton is no Bernie Sanders.  Well, she's not, but she is the closest thing to Bernie Sanders you're going to get this time around.  You don't have to like her - this is not a high school popularity contest. Not voting at all or voting for one of the third party candidates only increase the chance that Trump could pull this off.  Don't be misled by all the polls and prognostications that predict that Clinton is going to win.  Think of Brexit.  Think of "Dewey Defeats Truman", the banner headline on the front page of the Chicago Daily Tribune on November 3, 1948.

If you're unhappy with things as they are now, you're going to be miserable if Trump wins.  Think of it - Obamacare down the drain, privatization of Social Security, more income inequality, Dodd-Frank eviscerated, twelve million undocumented immigrants deported, further tax breaks for the 1% (and not much if anything for the rest of us) and a huge increase in the deficit, institution of stop and frisk, discrimination against Moslem citizens, limits on the availability of reproductive health services for the needy and continued attacks on Planned Parenthood, support for the NRA approach to gun controls, backing off from equal pay for women, family leave and increases in the minimum wage, voter disenfranchisement, trade wars with negative economic consequences, desertion of our European and Asian allies, gutting of all of Obama's environmental regulations, climate change denial, rejection of fracking regulation and other clean energy initiatives as well as the Paris Agreement on climate change, ignoring the failures of our education system and the burden of college education costs, expansion (and perhaps use) of nuclear arsenals; and if the Republicans maintain control of the House and the Senate the implementation of every retrogressive policy in the Republican Party platform.  And don't think that establishment Republicans are going to block any of this.  After all, they are the ones who don't have the moral courage to withdraw their backing for Trump in the first place.

And that's not even the worst part!  If you don't think of anything else, think of the Supreme Court.  There's already one vacancy; there is a real possibility that there will be two or three more in the next four years.  Think of 3-4 Scalia clones on the Court.  That will lock up a reactionary Supreme Court for at least another generation, not just four years.  Forget about Roe v. Wade.  Think expansion of Citizens United to open the money spigot in politics even further, and furtherance of the Heller ruling to totally eliminate regulation of gun ownership.  Expect more attempts to impede voter registration, to eliminate affirmative action and to further weaken labor unions.  The possibility of a Trump presidency as it would affect the Supreme Court is in itself the single most significant issue for this election.  Thus, the existential threat. 

That is why no one who believes in the progressive cause or who is just non-partisan can justify failing to vote or voting for a third party candidate.  For young people who are disenchanted with the current system, I fully sympathize; our political system is dysfunctional.  But it doesn't have to be that way.  If you look at the root cause of this dysfunction, you will see the Republican Party as it has evolved over the last twenty or so years - since the time of Newt Gingrich.  And who is one of Donald Trump's most avid supporters? None other than Newt Gingrich, who may be in Trump's cabinet.  The ultra-conservative wing of the Republican Party in Congress, to which the rest of the Party is subservient, stands squarely in the way of any progressive legislation, or, for that matter, any legislation at all.  In short, its objective is the very dysfunction which you hope to end.  And who are these people?  They are our elected representatives.  So, elections do make a difference; voters make a difference; votes make a difference.  Don't waste it by not voting or by voting for a candidate who has no chance of winning.

Finally, just a word for those Trump supporters who are not racists, misogynists or nativists, but who are planning to vote for Trump because he has promised to bring back manufacturing and other jobs or who believe he will institute policies which will rectify the inequality of wealth in the US today. You have a just cause.  But Donald Trump is not the answer.  First of all, he doesn't care;  second, he doesn't have a clue about economics, trade or jobs.  He is a flim flam man; a snake oil salesman; a megalomaniac who is just selling his personal brand.  Give it another thought.  There was once a great advertising line for the Levy's bread company - "You don't have to be Jewish to like Levy's".  By the same token, you don't have to be a centrist Democrat to vote for Hillary Clinton.  The competing brand in this case is stale and mold infested.

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