Why I’m with herSeptember 29, 2016
Unlike Donald Trump, I really was against the last Iraq war before it began. I was furious at George W. Bush, and in 2004 I passed out campaign materials for the Democrats.
Then Bush got reelected anyway, and life went on, and I lost what little political attentiveness and acumen I had. Which brings us to 2015-16 and the rise of Donald Trump.
My life is more complicated now, so I’m not knocking on doors as I did in ’04. But I’m writing this for any on-the-fence acquaintances who want to know where I stand and why.
(Please note: I am NOT aiming to change the minds of strong Trump supporters. I am as powerless to persuade you as you are to persuade me. Let’s not argue.)
I have spent my adult life in academia, largely because I identify with and believe in academic values: intellectual curiosity; careful deliberation and discussion; the imperfect but honest pursuit of truth; respect for others different from oneself; and the humility of recognizing one’s limitations, even in one’s chosen field.
In my view, Donald Trump does not live by or promote these values, but Hillary Clinton does.
Much has been said about Trump’s treatment of ethnic and religious minorities and women: his call for a ban on immigration by Muslims, his “Look at that face!” comment on fellow candidate Carly Fiorina, etc. etc. etc. The September 26 debate reminded me just how bad Trump is on this issue. When moderator Lester Holt turned the debate to the topic of racial tensions, Trump’s main points included (1) African Americans should be happy that he vigorously pursued the Obama “birther” controversy, (2) violent crime in Chicago concerns him because he owns property there, (3) he was able to settle a 1973 lawsuit of racial discrimination without admitting guilt, and (4) he recently opened a club in one of Florida’s wealthiest communities that ISN’T RACIST! It was a performance so bereft of compassion that I LOL’ed with incredulity.
I hesitate to call anyone a liar, especially in the realm of politics, where oversimplifications and spin are a necessary part of the game. A hypothetical candidate who was 100% truthful 100% of the time would be an unelectable bore. But Trump has taken distortion and obfuscation to a whole new level. Clinton, while unfortunately evasive, is reasonably truthful, according to independent fact-checkers.
An important corollary to Trump’s chronic inaccuracy is that, while running for president, he has not boned up on the relevant geography, history, constitutional law, science, and so forth. Instead, he simply asserts that his experience as a business CEO will allow him to “make great deals” that benefit the USA. If only it were that simple.
Clinton, in contrast, has tons of experience (as Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady) in using the levers of government to effect change in the United States and elsewhere. She does her homework, stays lucid and level-headed under pressure, and acknowledges nuances and complexities that Trump cannot be bothered with.
To sum up: as they say in reality TV, Trump is “not here for the right reasons.” He is, I think, taking the ultimate ego trip, in which he gets to bellow his supposed wisdom at not only his corporate underlings but the entire country. He is NOT especially interested in the day-to-day operations of the Oval Office, preferring to imagine himself as a “chairman of the board.” Shouldn’t we vote for a candidate who actually wants to do the work?
[Friendly reminder: This post, like the rest of this blog, reflects my opinions as a private citizen and does NOT represent the position of the University of Washington or any other organization with which I am affiliated.]