Still against Trump

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I wrote my first anti-Trump column in August. I wrote another in December. It is apparent that many Republican primary voters don’t share my disdain for the man. Trump supporters are gleeful that he appears on the verge of the Republican nomination. I accept that. It’s fun to see your guy win in politics, and it’s more fun when your guy was viewed as a joke by “establishment” types (as a former George W. Bush appointee and longtime Republican, I likely qualify). But as Trump careens towards the nomination, it is time for many Republicans and conservatives to consider whether, although Trump is not their guy, he is acceptable enough to support if he becomes the Republican nominee. He is not.

Obviously, “electability” questions evaporate once there is a Republican nominee. That nominee, not someone who was your first choice, becomes the only chance for Republicans. I supported Jeb Bush in the primary, in part because I thought he had the best chance to win against Hillary. But if, for example, Ted Cruz (who I viewed as having a more difficult road as a general election candidate) becomes the nominee, he’s easy for me to support. The worry for conservatives and Republicans about Cruz was whether he was electable, not whether he would support conservative policies while in office. If he’s the nominee (and he certainly looks like the only non-Trump with a chance), the only choice is to try to elect him. This is typical party politics.

Trump, however, is different. He is manifestly unqualified, by temperament (he is thin-skinned even by celebrity standards) and knowledge (he thinks judges sign bills and appears incapable of passing a high school civics test on the separation of powers) to have the most powerful job in the world.


— A vote for Trump is a vote for a man who openly threatens the First Amendment, promising that he will “open up” libel laws so that he can more easily sue media outlets that give him unfavorable coverage.

— A vote for Trump is vote for a man who promised to have US soldiers commit war crimes — the killing of women and children and torture. When confronted with the fact that the military would disobey order to violate the law, he reluctantly and briefly recanted, but then promised to change the law to allow himself the ability to order such acts.

— A vote for Trump is a vote for a man who played footsie with white supremacists and had to “look into” his views on David Duke and the Klan, prior to issuing a pro forma disavowal. Whether Trump is a racist (I doubt he is) is beside the point – he’s willing to signal tolerance of such groups if he thinks it will help him.

— A vote for Trump is a vote for a man who called the famous peaceful pro-democracy protests in communist China’s Tiananmen Square a “riot” (the same terms the Chinese government used) and praises the slaughter of innocents as a “strong” response – contrasting that with “weak” American leadership.

— A vote for Trump is a vote for a man so vain and desperate for praise that a mere compliment of Trump from Russian murderous thug Vladimir Putin earned Putin praise for his “strong leadership.” When confronted with the fact that Putin is indeed a murderer who has killed political enemies, Trump responded “the United States kills people too.”

— A vote for Trump is vote for a man who brags about marital infidelity, mocked a disabled reporter, suggested that a female reporter’s menstrual cycle was the cause of tough questioning, and who, at a rally, repeated into the microphone a supporter suggestion that Ted Cruz was a “pussy” (for being insufficiently enthusiastic about Trump’s promise of war crimes, by the way).

I could go on (Mexicans and Muslims forgive me for running out of space). Trump’s apologists (who often feign neutrality, or claim to be motivated by loyalty to the Republican party) claim that he doesn’t mean what he says, that he’ll be controlled by a Republican Congress, or that I must love Hillary (I don’t. At all. And I won’t be voting for her).

But voting to make Trump President based on hope that he doesn’t mean what he says, or out of frustration with politically correct culture, or because you need to “send a message,” is folly. It is also dishonest. If you vote for Trump you are voting for all of the above. You are saying what he says is acceptable, and that you are either a supporter of his ideas, or willing to overlook them because, when he decided to run for President after spending most of his adult life as a Democrat, he chose to put an “R” after his name.

The other presidential candidates try to walk a fine line between criticizing Trump and not alienating his supporters, whose votes they hold out hope of securing. I am not a presidential candidate, so I need not walk such a line. Trump is just wrong. If the Republican Party nominates him, the Republican Party is wrong. And if you vote for him, in any election, so are you.

Robert N. Driscoll

Robert N. Driscoll

Robert N. Driscoll is a native of the Boston area who currently practices law in Washington, D.C. The views expressed in this column are his own and not those of his firm. Nor are they the views of his wife, daughters, or greyhounds. Read his past columns here.