I’ll be visiting family in a few days, and would be surprised if the presidential election didn’t come up. I wanted to try and collect some thoughts here in anticipation of that.
The most likely question is probably “What do you think about Trump?” I would like to simply say, “He’s a jackass, a bigot and a fraud, and anyone who votes for him is either a jackass or bigot himself, or a dupe. The only good news is that he’s exposed the Republican party for what it is, a bastion of the same.” Hey, I did that without dropping an F-bomb!
Let me try a more gentle approach. In the United States, the President serves two main roles— head of state and head of government. The way I originally learned the distinction is to think of the United Kingdom, where the Queen or King serves as head of state, and the Prime Minister is the head of government. Trump would be a disaster as head of state, and god only knows what he would say or do on foreign trips. Remember how embarrassing Bush II was every time he went abroad? Trump would be that times a thousand. As head of state I’m sure he would be just as bad, but in a different way. Putting his idiot ideas about walls and banning a quarter of the world’s population from entering the US, he has zero experience (and likely temperament) for what it takes to manage the executive branch, let alone work with Congress. In fact, this part frankly baffles me. Putting Trump in the White House is the equivalent of hiring Kanye West to run Apple. What do you suppose would happen to Apple’s stock price if that were to happen?
Or, I suppose I could just point to what Elizabeth Warren has said about him. Do you know what it’s like having her as your senator? It’s pretty awesome.
Now, a word on Hillary Clinton. There’s no question that I’ll be voting for her in the fall, although I did vote for Bernie Sanders in the primary. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I’ll be doing so with any great enthusiasm. She’s certainly got the experience for the job, and I have no doubt she’ll do fine. My problem is two-fold. First, I don’t find her terribly inspiring, certainly not in the same way that Obama was (although that may not be a fair comparison). She’s campaigning on maintaining the gains we’ve gotten over the last several years and incrementally adding to them, which is hardly a recipe for inspiration. More importantly, she still shows a tendency to want to triangulate, such as when she recently reached out to Republicans. This is the kind of behavior that leads people to think there’s no difference between the parties, and predicts the kind of anxiousness to compromise that was so maddening about Obama at times. I find this particularly galling given what Republicans did during Bill Clinton’s administration, and how they have done nothing but try and block Obama at every turn in his. I had hoped that she would show more inclination to let them stew in their own failure.
Which brings me to my last thought, which is that as much of a shitshow as Donald Trump is, he is only emblematic of the Republican party as a whole. Let me just quote John Scalzi here:
There’s a reason why the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s executive director wants GOP candidates to “be like Trump” even as Graham bleats that Trump doesn’t represent the party. Lindsey Graham, are you shitting me? Trump doesn’t just represent your party. He’s the goddamn Platonic ideal of it. You can’t spend decades preparing the way for someone like Donald Trump and then pretend to be shocked, shocked when he roars down the field, flawlessly executing your playbook.
Given how many Republicans voted for Trump, it would be fair to say that whether party leaders like it or not, it is now filled with jackasses, bigots and dupes. Think back to all the crap about Obama’s birth certificate, “death panels” or the Vince Foster garbage that’s getting recycled again, or the multitude of votes to repeal health care reform that went nowhere. My only hope is that Trump makes the bullshit so inescapably clear that people finally wake up to it and not only does Trump lose, but so do large numbers of others in the party. Maybe then Hillary will be able to push forward more than what she seems willing to do now.