This is an update of an entry from 11/23/16. Items that are unimportant or no longer relevant have been deleted and marked with […]. Updates are colored purple. Everything else is from the 2016 text:
My reaction to the election of Donald Trump is intensely negative, but some people I respect did vote for him. I want to explain to Trump voters why many of us are appalled by this fellow. […] I don’t expect to convince people that I am right. I just want to explain why I feel so strongly. […] I’ll start with a short list of issues, followed by more details in the “footnotes.”
- Donald Trump loves to brutally humiliate people. “She had blood coming out of her wherever.” “Look at that face.”*1
- He brags almost nonstop.*2
- He changes policy stands repeatedly and erratically.*3
- He speaks impulsively without considering the consequences.*4
- He has encouraged violence against protesters.*5
- He has no experience in government, and it shows.*6
- He is prejudiced against people due to their race or religion.*7
- He was taped bragging about being a serial sex offender, and he has been taped many times saying things about women – including those in his own family – that are absolutely creepy. […]*8
- He has accomplished a hostile takeover of the Republican Party. It looks as if the party will keep its name and lose its principles.*9 […] (Update: During his term I have seen three additional problems:)
- Contempt for expertise. This has damaged America in innumerable ways, most of which are invisible to the general public. But in the pandemic the results are obvious. Many medical professionals are astounded and appalled. The highly respected New England Journal of Medicine, for the first time since its founding in 1812, has taken a stand in the presidential election: “This crisis has produced a test of leadership. … Here in the United States, our leaders have failed that test. They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy. … although it is impossible to project the precise number of additional American lives lost because of weak and inappropriate government policies, it is at least in the tens of thousands … our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.” https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMe2029812 *10
- Authoritarian ambitions. Trump makes admiring comments about strong-man leaders like Putin, and despises our constitutional checks and balances. He even thinks he should be allowed to pardon himself for crimes! His current Supreme Court nominee refused to rule that out. That would mean the president is utterly above the law. *11 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-court-barrett/trumps-court-pick-barrett-calls-presidential-self-pardon-an-open-question-idUSKBN26Z1BP
- Encouraging insurrection. Many Americans who are armed to the teeth seriously contemplate attacking political leaders, police, soldiers, or members of some ethnic, political or religious group they despise. For years Trump has hinted that he could use their help.*12
(Back to 2016 text:) Because he is so unpredictable, I have no doubt that Donald Trump will surprise us in some positive ways. Play roulette fifty rounds and sometimes you’ll win big. But overall, what are the odds?
Update: I haven’t seen the dazzling flashes of brilliance I hoped we would occasionally witness. What seems to impress people the most about his presidency is the pre-pandemic economy and the stock market. But the economy was juiced up by cutting taxes without cutting spending, passing on a big national debt increase to our children. Nothing brilliant here. As Trump knows well, you can make yourself look rich by going into debt.
And now, the gory details:
Do we really want a sadistic bully as President? Here’s an example of verbal sadism and erotic aggression. In front of a big audience Trump calls Miss Universe, Jennifer Hawkins on stage and makes a bizarre reference to an orgasm, implying that he’s talking about her. She is obviously and understandably uncomfortable:
I’m amazed that he often publically humiliates his own appointees. For instance, when he thought Fed Chair Jay Powell wasn’t stimulating the economy enough he tweeted, “Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve Fail Again. No ‘guts,’ no sense, no vision! A terrible communicator!” Ironically, in 2016 presidential candidate Trump criticized Fed Chair Janet Yellen, saying she should be “ashamed of herself” for keeping interest rates low! (He feared that would help the economy and make Obama look good.) But when he became Pres, he wanted rates cut to zero to make him look good. He knows most people won’t notice the flaming contradiction.
Trump evidently thinks it’s fine to make his subordinates hate him as long as they’re also terrified of his wrath. No doubt some future politicians will imitate his example.
#2. Here’s part of Garry Trudeau’s list of boasts by Trump.
“No one is more conservative than me!” “No one respects women more than me!” “No one reads the Bible more than me!” “There’s nobody that’s done so much for equality as I have!” “There’s nobody who feels more strongly about women’s health issues!” “Nobody knows more about taxes than me, maybe in the history of the world!” “I have studied the Iran deal in great detail, greater by far than anyone else!” “Nobody’s ever been more successful than me!” “I’m the least racist person you’ll ever meet!” […]
In the Presidential Debate, October 22, 2020, Trump said confidently that he was the “least racist person” in the room, acknowledging that he could not actually see who was out there in the audience. He makes lots of these absurdly grandiose comments, which should tip people off that there’s something wrong upstairs.
#3. For a truly astonishing number of policy flip-flops: http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/full-list-donald-trump-s-rapidly-changing-policy-positions-n547801
#4. (Moved from above): Example: saying the US might not fully repay those who hold US government bonds! An unbelievably irresponsible comment. […]
#5. For many examples of encouragement to violence: http://mashable.com/2016/03/12/trump-rally-incite-violence/#mFJu282Aciqq I did some checking on these quotes encouraging violence, because internet articles can just make things up. Unfortunately it looks as if Trump really did make these statements.
#6. Just one example: North Korea’s nukes are a gigantic problem. Chinese cooperation in pressuring that country to give up these weapons is incredibly important. […] China props up North Korea’s economy and could force them to disarm if they felt like helping us out, but Trump is busy insulting them about all sorts of things (and some of his gripes are valid). His communications with Kim Jong-un have been peculiar, mocking “little rocket man” and then saying they had fallen in love.
Kim now has many more bombs than four years ago and he unveiled a huge new intercontinental missile a few days ago. It would be awkward if they launched one of these toward us by accident.
#7. Evidence of his prejudice is so widespread and well-known that I won’t bother to repeat it.
#8. For Donald Trump’s sex-abuse admissions see http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/08/politics/trump-on-howard-stern/. Read and listen carefully, because some of these charges against him may be debatable. But there’s plenty of damning evidence in recordings of Trump’s own words. […]
#9. Republicans have emphasized being tough with our adversaries, but now Trump is cuddling up with Russian oligarchs. And Trump tells CEOs how to run their businesses – commanding them, for example, to make their products in the US. In the past Republicans have at least given lip service to free-market capitalism, opposing the idea of a managed economy where government dictates business decisions. If Obama had tried to push CEOs around like Trump does, that would have been “proof” that he’s a Communist. http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/19/if-obama-did-what-trump-is-doing-hes-be-called-a-communist-nouriel-roubini.html
Although I’m not a Republican, I appreciate intelligent conservatives such as George F. Will, who sometimes correct my biases. Will has long protested Trump’s anti-conservative policies, and finally left the Republican Party to protest Donald Trump’s racism. When Trump tweeted insults in response, Will wrote: “He has an advantage on me, because he can say everything he knows about any subject in 140 characters and I can’t.”
Snarky, but we get the point. Trumpism is not conservativism and his authoritarian style is the OPPOSITE of libertarianism. For a conservative critique of Trumpism, see: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/29/opinion/budget-deficit-republicans.html?searchResultPosition=1
#10. Contempt for expertise. There’s too much ghastly information to include here on politicization of the Pandemic. One analysis of the administration’s interference with the Center for Disease Control concludes:
Some longtime senior scientists at the CDC are grappling with whether they are too tainted to lead the rebuilding of trust.
“Many of us who might be viewed as complicit need to decide whether we need to leave,” one of them said, “Or can we be part of the ‘never again’ so that the agency never gets this kind of political interference again?”
#11. Authoritarian ambitions. Trump is pushing Attorney General Barr to conclude his investigation into Biden, Obama, and others before the election — just one of many examples of bending the power of government to serve his needs. His rhetoric about this issue is astonishing, even for him, accusing them of “the greatest political crime in the history of our country.”
#12. Encouraging insurrection. On August 9, 2015, Trump told a North Carolina rally that “Second Amendment people” could take action if Hillary Clinton were elected. He later said he was referring to their voting power. Sure he was. In a recent presidential debate, moderator Chris Wallace implored him to tell violent racists to stand down but the president very clearly and pointedly told them to stand back and stand by.
[…] Back to the original post:
Many voted for Trump so he’d appoint justices who will kill Roe v. Wade. But even if you see this as a high priority, would you vote for absolutely anyone for that reason? Of course not. You wouldn’t vote for Hitler, right? So where do you draw the line? How about a sadistic, impulsive, hostile braggart with no experience in government who makes bizarre policy proposals, encourages violence and bigotry, throws away traditional Republican principles, and brags about being a serial molester? […]
Obviously Trump supporters could disagree with some of these points and add arguments of their own. But I hope I’ve made it a little easier to understand why many us are dreading the next four years.
It’s incredibly dangerous to be led by a demagogic genius with a twisted personality. And there’s a boatload of evidence that this is exactly what we’ve got.