When Thomas Jefferson was noodling around for a device to explain the British colonies’ reasons for declaring independence, he settled on the direct approach: yes, he got all fancy with his language, but that was scattered around a simple recitation of “the causes which impel them to the separation.” He went with the straightforward airing of grievances, a tactic later employed by the founders of Festivus and now by a prominent Republican political pro in making the case against Donald Trump.
Mark Salter’s essay in Real Clear Politics is the piece I wish I had written: a string of declarative sentences which plainly and damningly gather the indictment against the man who is about to win the Republican Party’s nomination for president. Read the whole thing, and then try to excuse your way to voting for Trump…especially you, Paul Ryan and other Republican leaders who condemn Trump’s actions but still profess support for the nominee of your party. What kind of party unites behind this:
He’s an ignoramus whose knowledge of public issues is more superficial than an occasional newspaper reader’s. He casts his intellectual laziness as a choice, a deliberate avoidance of expert views that might contaminate his ill-informed opinions.
He’s a charlatan, preposterously posing as a business genius while cheating investors, subcontractors, and his own customers. He’s rich because his father left him a great deal of money. He couldn’t turn a profit with a casino, for crying out loud.
He possesses the emotional maturity of a 6-year-old. He can’t let go of any slight, real or imagined, from taunts about the length of his fingers to skepticism about his portfolio.
He doesn’t appeal to a single honorable quality or instinct in our society. He exploits fear and incites hatred. They are the emotions that impel him. He wants us to make our way in the world as he does: selfish, insecure, angry, scapegoating, small.
There’s more; please read it. On issues both foreign and domestic, on the economy and national defense, from personal to professional, Salter reminds us of things we should consider when choosing a candidate to support and to vote for, and notes how Trump fails to meet the standard.
None of this makes it easier to vote for the deeply flawed candidate of the Democrats, but Salter notes of Hillary Clinton “she’s not ignorant or hateful or a nut. She acts like an adult, and understands the responsibilities of an American president.” Well, it’s a place to start.