By Walter Nicklin
SEE ALSO: The case for Donald Trump, by Ron Maxwell.
I’ve been around long enough to have voted in 12 previous presidential elections. So, out of curiosity, I just now scribbled out a spreadsheet to discover that I voted for the Democratic candidate six times, the Republican five times, and an Independent once. The man, not the party, always gets my vote; and this year that vote goes to a woman — Hillary Rodham Clinton. I urge you to do the same — for the sake of the country and the world.
The Republican candidate, Donald J. Trump, lacks the character, temperament, experience, knowledge and judgment to be the President of the United States of America — and Leader of the Free World. Rather, his reckless words and behavior are a never-ending embarrassment, not to mention detrimental role model for younger generations, and threaten the very foundations of the democratic consensus that holds this country together.
To a lot of men Donald Trump’s (and my) age, the most damning thing about his “Grab Pussy” tape is his bragging. Bragging about not only his sexual assaults but also, even more, about the fact that he “gets away with it.” Perhaps just as incriminating is what was subsequently revealed by one of Trump’s victims: His personal financial advice to her to “walk away” from her mortgage, for then she could buy the house back from the lender for pennies on the dollar, thus increasing her personal wealth at the expense of the lender.
Given what we now know about Trump’s blue-smoke-and-mirrors business success, his advice is not surprising. He’s even suggested something similar regarding U.S. Treasury bonds, paying pennies on the dollar — as a way to eliminate the national debt. Never mind the “Full Faith and Credit” clause in the U.S. Constitution. Yes, it’s not surprising that Trump showboats in such a way, but still shocking for a person pretending to be a credible candidate for the highest office in the most powerful country in the world. For trust — as symbolized by “Full Faith and Credit” — is the fabric that holds society together, not to mention the only peaceful glue to hold together the fragile international order among nations.
Yet Trump’s whole career is built on violating trust. His public record reveals a pattern of behavior of not only stiffing lenders but also vendors, often small businesses, who in good faith extended him credit or provided professional services. Not to mention gullible students at his fraudulent “university.” As for the investors who trusted in his business acumen but got wiped out in his multiple bankruptcies, he demonstrates not the slightest remorse or sense of responsibility: “Well, I made out all right,” he boasted, when confronted with the facts of his bankruptcies, during one of the Republican primary debates. Yes, he brags, he’s a winner — at the expense of everyone else.
At the expense of all American citizens is Trump’s candidacy, for he is now asserting that the election results cannot be trusted. The election is “rigged,” he claims in his latest effort to distract voters and preempt damage to his “winning” brand. The media, which created him, he now targets as a co-conspirator. But a functioning democracy, like the marketplace, is built on trust. Trump doesn’t care that sowing such distrust corrodes the fragile foundation on which rests any true democracy. His is a familiar script to despots and demagogues in nondemocratic, authoritarian countries around the world.
“Trust me!” “Believe me!” Trump’s signature sentences follow his most outrageous claims: the telltale utterances, any psychologist will tell you, of a pathological liar. “I have a secret plan to defeat ISIS. Trust me!” “I have a great tax plan. Trust me!” (His tax plan, one of the few policy positions besides the anti-immigrant “Wall” that Trump has actually spelled out, would increase the national debt by $5.3 billion, say independent analysts, vs. Clinton’s $200 million.) And like any well-practiced flimflam man, Trump deflects his own weaknesses by attributing them to his competitors, so his primary opponent becomes “Lyin’ Ted” and the Democratic nominee becomes “Crooked Hillary.”
Trump even lies about his lies. “I never said that,” he says, even though there’s a tape with him saying it. “Trust me!”
This amazing con man tells his audience what he thinks it wants to hear, whatever lies are necessary to close the sale. Thus a voter, no matter how well-informed, has no idea of how a Trump Administration would address critical issues. In foreign policy, for example, matters of war and peace, he’s been all over the map: from bellicose (“Take their oil!” “Obama’s weak!”) to appeasement (“Russia’s not in the Ukraine!”) to encouraging nuclear proliferation (“They’ll get the weapons anyway!”) When asked about his foreign policy advisors, he bragged that he knows all he needs to know because “I watch the [talk] shows.”
No wonder America’s loyal, longstanding allies are frightened to death of a Trump presidency. He’s even sown distrust about the reliability of NATO treaty commitments — that is, the credibility of America’s word. When no one knows exactly where he stands on issues, taking a measure of his lack of character is the only prudent way to forecast his decision-making.
Conservative Republicans who think Trump shares their beliefs are deceiving themselves. Still, he’s better than Hillary, they say. Is he really? With Clinton, at least you know what you’re getting: a centrist Democrat with a lifelong, idealistic commitment to public service and an ability to work across the partisan aisle toward pragmatic solutions. Despite her unfortunate and too lawyerly defensive crouch (no doubt partly due to a lifetime of relentless Republican attack), her public record speaks for itself, while Trump (unlike every other Presidential candidate in recent history) won’t even release his tax returns.
Don’t worry. Tax returns will be released after IRS audit. Trust me!
Amissville’s Walter Nicklin is the publisher emeritus of the Rappahannock News.