Millions of Republicans face a rare dilemma in this election. Will they support their party’s candidate for president, or not?
Many of my Republican friends say they have spent years disliking Hillary Clinton and cannot vote for her. Yet the more they learn about Donald Trump, in good conscience they cannot vote for him. They are conflicted between loyalty to their party, and to their own values.
Democrats do not have the same problem. They have known Clinton for decades, and they embrace her policy plans and personal tenacity while accepting her weaknesses. She has fought tirelessly for children’s welfare, equal pay for women, women’s right to choose, universal health care, minority voting rights, realistic immigration policies and universal background checks for gun buyers.
Democrats may not be happy about the Clinton Foundation’s shortcomings or her private email server, but Clinton’s policy positions unite them in their drive to make her president. She has the temperament and experience to be custodian of our nuclear arsenal, the most important job of our commander-in-chief.
In contrast, Mr. Trump has divided his party. He has consistently fought with respected Republican governors, senators, and the speaker of the House because of perceived attacks on his fragile ego.
He has made outrageous promises, statements and innuendos that are demonstrably false – Mexico will pay for the wall. President Obama was born in Kenya. He will eliminate the federal debt in eight years.
He claims to be both extremely rich and very generous, yet he refuses to release his tax returns, likely because it would show these financial claims untrue.
His tax plan increases the deficit far more than his opponent’s, largely because it contains massive tax cuts for himself and his wealthy friends. He says he is smart not to pay federal income tax, implying those of us who do pay are stupid.
His treatment of women is abhorrent. Focusing on their looks, he has publicly insulted Carly Fiorina, Heidi Cruz, Alicia Machado and any woman who is flat-chested. He described his disgusting recorded conversation about groping women as simply “locker room” talk. I have been in many locker rooms, and even in high school I never heard anyone brag about grabbing women by their genitals.
He says the women who accused him of groping them are all liars. That statement requires a belief in an anti-Trump conspiracy among women who have no apparent connection with each other. One cannot logically believe Bill Clinton’s accusers while disbelieving those who accuse Donald Trump. He boasted he groped women, and they said he groped them.
A consistent theme from Trump’s accusers is that the groping was so unexpected and out of place that it was not about sex, but about power. He had the power to do as he wanted, and his enjoyment derived from the humiliation of his victims, not sex. Trump is a predator.
Peggy Noonan, conservative columnist for The Wall Street Journal, had a recent column titled “Imagine a sane Donald Trump.” She started the column with “Look, he’s a nut and you know he’s a nut.” Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina expressed Trump’s mental state when comparing Donald and Hillary: “Crazy loses to crooked.”
Neither Noonan nor Graham are making a serious psychiatric diagnosis of Trump’s sanity, but we have all frequently questioned his emotional maturity. During the third debate when Clinton said he was a puppet of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Trump was beside himself, and stammered “No puppet! No puppet! You’re the puppet!” It was like watching my 6-year-old grandson.
Thin-skinned, narcissistic, pompous, bullying, insecure, arrogant and whining, Trump is a terrifying prospect to lead the country. Most Republican national security experts say he should not be allowed near the nuclear codes. His winning the nomination of a major political party is a fluke that historians will write about for decades.
Loyal Republicans who cannot vote for Clinton should not feel they must vote for Trump. He has lied to you and split your party, and you owe him nothing. You will fulfill your obligation as a citizen by voting for candidates seeking other offices; or voting for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein; or by writing in a well-qualified Republican on the state’s approved list of write-in candidates at your polling place.
Vote your values, not your party’s unfit nominee.
(The writer is a retired U.S. Navy officer. He lives and writes in Savannah.)