Tuesday’s Choice

I’ve tried to write my feelings about this election many times.  After each episode in futility, I metaphorically wad up my post and throw it away. This is my 10th presidential election, and I’ve never experienced anything that spawned the feelings this one has.

I’ll just be straight. I don’t like Donald Trump.  I actually considered an article entitled 100 things I hate about Donald Trump.  But that seemed foolish and vindictive.

However, I appreciate that he has inadvertently drawn attention to those left behind by the Obama recovery.  His proposals wouldn’t do a damn thing for them, but clearly, whoever is the next president needs to pay attention to the issues of those the economy has displaced.

I say inadvertently because Donald Trump is nothing like the legions of “fans” he has attracted. He is a mega rich guy.  That’s not bad. Don’t get me wrong; there are lots of very wealthy men in our history who have become president. Both Roosevelts, Herbert Hoover, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, both Bushes were all extremely well-to-do.  The difference between them and Trump is they all paid their dues with years in public service long before they evinced the experience,  self-confidence and vanity needed to make a successful run to the presidency.

Donald Trump held no public office, elected or appointed that serves the interest of the people.  Theodore Roosevelt was a police commissioner, a state assemblyman, and governor before he was McKinley’s vice president.  Herbert Hoover led relief efforts in Europe and was a very successful Secretary of Commerce before he ran for president in 1928.  They knew what it was like to ask people for their votes, to take unfriendly questions in town meetings, to work a rope line. They knew the lesson I teach my students: in a representative democracy, an elected official must represent ALL their constituents, whether they voted for them or not.

But Trump always lived a life of privilege and exulted in all that fabulous wealth has bought. Penthouse apartments, the best clubs, the most beautiful wives. It is a life of isolation from the problems of real people, leaving him unable to speak or think except in the most glittering of generalities about those unlike himself. Undocumented immigrants are murderers and rapists.  Muslims are coming to destroy the country. Blacks live lives of hopelessness, poverty and violence.  No, Trump surrounds himself with lawyers and lawsuits, intended to jealously guard an image and brand he has cultivated for himself as the best, a winner, while all of us, leading our daily lives of work and family, are simply losers. The darker one’s skin, the bigger the loser in Trump World.

Leave aside, for a moment, that Trump has a repulsive relationship with the truth.  Forget that, according to his words, women are merely walking, talking sex toys. Ignore, if you can, that Donald Trump has likely paid less in federal income taxes than I have the past two decades, despite the fact the $14 million he received from his father to start business is many times more than the total wages I’ve made in my 34 years as a teacher. Pretend, for a moment, he hasn’t spewed racist, misogynist epithets, urged his followers to violence and vigilante action to intimidate voters at the polls. Imagine, for just a moment, you didn’t know Trump was a radioactive businessman who stiffs contractors, imports foreign construction workers for less than minimum wage, and encouraged investors to sink money into his foolish Atlantic City schemes, only to fail spectacularly, declare bankruptcy and leave those who trusted him holding the bag.

Ignore it because even though they are hateful and disgusting and true, his biggest lie is at the core of his candidacy-his claim to be a change agent, an outsider.  That is a preposterous assertion only possible for one as utterly self-deluded as Donald Trump. The only possible claim he can make to outsider status is that he isn’t of Washington.  Instead he is of Manhattan. Instead of the halls of Congress he haunts the paneled offices of banks and Wall Street. Instead of lobbying Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, he’s offering “incentives” to local politicians in Florida and Scotland. He admits to paying off both political parties to get what he wants. If you believe that somehow he is purer than those partying with K Street, I’ll bet you Fred Trump’s $14 million you’re wrong.

And let’s just be clear, based on the policies Trump has proposed, do these seem like the politics of an outsider?  Let’s start with his tax plan the country and its citizens can’t afford that is right out of the Republican playbook. It will cut taxes for the poor, cut taxes for the mega-rich to the tune of about $1.9 million a year per taxpayer, and will likely raise rates on middle class families, the very folks Trump says he’s standing for.  “You always hurt the one you love,” right Donald? A change agent doesn’t rip health care away from the twenty million Americans, including my son, my daughter in law and my granddaughter and replace it with the same Republican boiler plate of providing tax credits, letting the market work and allowing insurance companies to sell across state lines.  That’s not a plan, it’s a slogan.

Make no mistake, if Donald Trump is elected he will likely accomplish a great deal.  He will likely have a Republican majority in both houses to pass his legislation.  He’ll be able to appoint conservative Supreme Court justices who will put a woman’s right to choose and LGBT rights in jeopardy.  President Obama has acted on a number of important issues, such as climate change and participation in the Paris Accords, granting rights to DREAMers and DACA, and protecting federal lands from development. But he who lives by executive order will see his efforts die by it. Trump can single-handedly undue immigration and climate protections. He can withdraw from trade agreements, even though most of the country supports free trade, especially in my trade-dependent home state.

None of Donald Trump’s policy proposals are those of an outsider. The tax plans, the immigration proposals, the bombing of ISIS, this is all standard Republican crappola. The newly isolationist foreign policy is straight out of the Ron Paul playbook.  The Wall is strictly bread and circuses for the masses. The only new thing about Donald Trump and his politics is his willingness to wrap them in a nauseating, vulgar, repulsive package, that reduces the election to an UFC cage match. Throw in Breitbart, the Klan, and a host of other white nationalist supporters for the Trump campaign, wanted or not, that’s what makes Trump different, nothing else.

There are thousands more words to write, but I would be remiss if I didn’t speak to Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton. She has thirty years of public service.  She is smart, and her record as a senator demonstrated Clinton was an effective legislator and a respected colleague. But there can be little doubt Hillary and her husband are shrouded in a perpetual cloud of, at best, unseemliness, and, at worst, scandal.   Clinton is not a good campaigner.  A good campaigner would not have hunkered down and hoped the bad news went away.  They would become an explainer, who told the public clearly the need for a separate e-mail server, rather than provide trite brushed-off answers.

Complaints about the Wikileaks e-mails are ridiculous.  I don’t see Reince Preibus or the Trump campaign offering to make public all their e-mails.  I would love to see what were in the RNC e-mails in February or March as their presidential campaign was subverted by this artificially coiffed Philistine. Trumps private e-mails would be a hoot.  Think of all the enemies and threats against enemies real and imagined they would contain. Are there no equal opportunity hackers? This is simply a conspiracy between Julian Assange and Russians to embarrass Democrats and Secretary Clinton to get what they want-vengeance and a Trump presidency.

As to the Clinton Foundation, they’ve released tax records; where are Trump’s?  We know nothing of this man’s business dealings and who he is beholden to. The claims by Trump and others, that Clinton has broken the law and will immediately be impeached is simple speculation based on decades of hatred and wishful thinking, a sign the short-fingered vulgarian bought the line of establishment Republican loons.  But it is a fact there will soon be a Trump University trial.  It is a fact that a woman is suing Trump in New York for sexual molestation of a minor two decades ago.  It is a fact that eleven women came forward and accused Trump of sexual improprieties and have legal representation by Gloria Allred and other prominent lawyers. It is a fact that Trump has said he will not put his fortune into a blind trust, and stands to make his presidency one that enriches him and his family.

If anybody actually reads this, you will vote on Tuesday. Maybe you’ve already voted.  If you are considering a vote for Donald Trump, think carefully.  I believe he can shake things up, but not in a positive way.  His government will favor the rich and the privileged, because he is rich and privileged. Trump’s economic policy will not improve an economy that is making progress in GDP growth, employment growth and wage growth. He will sacrifice our relationship with our allies, carefully cultivated since 1945. However, he will give America a new face, and not a pretty one.

The world will remember what we do on November 8th.  I urge you to make the right choice.

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