In the 1973 movie Magnum Force, Dirty Harry said ‘A man’s got to know his limitations.’ I have found mine. My limitation has been reached in being able to understand any person that has already, or will on Tuesday, cast a vote for Donald Trump. (For the record, the irony that Dirty Harry was played by Clint Eastwood – he who had a conversation with an empty chair at the 2012 GOP convention – is not lost on me.)
I fail to understand how any person can overlook his misogynistic comments and actions. I fail to understand how any person can overlook his xenophobic rhetoric that has drawn the endorsement of white supremacist and nationalist groups. I fail to understand how any person can be so naïve that they think a wall along our complete southern border would ever actually come to fruition. I fail to understand how any person could deny the overwhelming majority of peer reviewed scientific papers showing climate change is a real thing and not a conspiracy propagated by the Chinese. I fail to understand how any person can accept the mocking of a disabled reporter as proper decorum for the would-be leader of the United States. I fail to understand how any person would support a woman being punished for making a grueling decision over her own body. I fail to understand how any person can believe that someone who can be baited into a Twitter war has a reasonable temperament to hold the highest office in the land.
All of that being said, I want to make one thing very clear: I do understand the frustration and disappointment that a large swath of people feel with the relatively sluggish recovery over the last eight years. I do understand the sense of American Exceptionalism that many people believe in (present company excluded). I know the Black Lives Matter movement has made many people uncomfortable. Each of these sentiments, along with several others, have come together in a perfect storm to give us an utterly imperfect Republican candidate.
I do not think it is accurate to call Donald Trump a liar. He is closer to a carnival barker, trying to get more people into the tent by promising a glimpse at the ‘dog faced man’ who is just a dude that hasn’t shaved in a year. Let’s take a quick tour of some of the things he’s said:
- Back in 2011 Trump said “the people that went to school with Barack Obama never saw him, they don’t know who he is.”
- In August 2015, Trump said “The Mexican government…they send the bad ones over”
- In September 2015, Trump said the unemployment rate may be as high as 42%.
- In November 2015, Trump tweeted an image stating that blacks kill 81% of white homicide victims.
- In January 2016, a Trump ad claimed to show Mexicans swarming over our southern border. The footage was from Morocco.
- In February 2016, Trump again dusted off the 42% unemployment number
- In May 2016, Trump says Ted Cruz’s father was with Lee Harvey Oswald before the JFK assassination.
- In June 2016, Trump said ‘crime is rising’
- In June 2016, Trump said “The Obama administration was actively supporting Al Qaeda in Iraq…”
- In August 2016, Trump blamed a local fire marshal for not allowing more people into a venue where he was holding a campaign event
- In August 2016, Trump said “Inner-city crime is reaching record levels”
- In September 2016, Trump said ‘Our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape they’ve ever been in before. Ever. Ever. Ever.”
- In September 2016, Trump said Clinton ‘had not answered a single question’ about her immigration plan.
- In October 2016, Trump said “Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day” (Never mind that the one person currently under arrest for just that was a Trump supporter.)
- In October 2016, Trump said that Hillary “wants to let people just pour in. You could have 650 million people pour in and we do nothing about it. Think of it. That’s what could happen. You triple the size of our country in one week.” (I thought she hadn’t said anything about her immigration plan?)
- In the last couple days, Trump has repeatedly said that Hillary will probably come under indictment pretty soon, the basis of which has been retracted by Fox News.
These things are beyond simple lies. They are absurd. I don’t even think most of his supporters actually believe these things. He spouts them off to get the requisite applause and cheers from the peanut gallery. If he stopped there, many of those things would actually border on the humorous. But he goes several steps beyond. He may not openly incite violent rhetoric toward reporters and minorities (although he has done just that several times during this campaign), but he certainly doesn’t try to contain it in his crowds or surrogates. A few days ago, North Carolina Senator Richard Burr suggested gun owners may want to put a bullseye on Clinton. Another surrogate, Joe Walsh, said that if Trump didn’t win that he would be grabbing his musket on Wednesday morning.
I also want to take a moment to say Clinton is a long way away from the perfect candidate. I think it is unfortunate that name recognition has such an important part of our electoral process. But, I also believe she has the best interests of the American public as her motivation. She has made some mistakes. She has mishandled State documents, but the FBI and DOJ declined to pursue it. To paraphrase Bernie Sanders, I don’t give a damn about the emails. (In case you’re interested, I also don’t give a damn about Trump’s tax returns.)
A while back, I wrote about voting your conscience. If your conscience has brought you to voting for Donald Trump, I frankly don’t want to know. Call it blissful ignorance. Don’t bother commenting your justification – I will not understand. Because when I see a Trump supporter, I wonder if they would be ok with Trump grabbing their daughter by the pussy? When I see a Trump supporter, I wonder if they laughed when he disparaged a Gold Star family? When I see a Trump supporter, I wonder what they would say to my undocumented students that are working hard and only want a chance to be a full member of our great American society? When I see a Trump supporter, I wonder if they support a national registry of Muslims?
Last Tuesday, I took advantage of early voting in Texas and happily chose Hillary Clinton for President and Tim Kaine for Vice President. Will a Clinton presidency be all rainbows and unicorns for the next four years? No, it will not. There is much work and much healing to do. And there will be a need for compromise, both domestically and internationally. There would be no room for healing or compromise with the alternative.