By Mitchell Blatt*
Donald Trump isn’t unqualified to be president just because of the latest video released on him bragging about sexually assaulting women. He’s already been rendered disqualified for the office of the presidency for multiple other things he has said and done. This video would be enough to disqualify him if it was only the first disgraceful thing released about him. As it stands, the video emphasizes and crystallizes the personality aspects that already disqualify him—his entitlement, his arrogance, his uncontrollable narcissism, his extreme sexism (which already had him spending a week attacking a Miss Universe winner for her alleged weight gain), and his general loutishness and hateful demeanor.
Republican Congressmen who had already put up with him spreading racism, attacking POWs, attacking the families of dead soldiers, attacking female reporters, attacking the profession of journalism, and attacking anyone who ever said anything halfway critical of Trump are starting to finally jump ship. Some have called for Trump to drop out and his vice presidential candidate Mike Pence to be promoted to the top of the ticket. Others have said they will not vote for Trump for president.
Bombs + Dollars has been against Trump since before he won the nomination. We pointed out the very things that made Trump deplorable before much of the GOP finally appeared to realize the problem (or, more likely, before they realized the political problem was so great they could no longer whitewash it). On January 24, I wrote, as a representative of this publication:
Here we have a candidate who threatens to sue newspapers for reporting on his bankruptcies, who said he would “certainly” create a government database of Muslims in America, who incited his fans to physically assault a non-violent protester and said that they were right to do so, defended Putin from charges that he kills political opponents by equivocating the United States with Russia (“Our country does plenty of killing, too”), and his personal account tweets racist messages about “white genocide”. This is all fact. He has done it all. No amount of politically correct denials from Team Trump can change the reality.
Since then, Trump has only added to the list of disqualifying actions.
When Trump won the Republican nomination, Bombs + Dollars reiterated our opposition: #NeverTrump means never Trump. In that editorial, we did not endorse a candidate, instead opting for an anti-endorsement of Trump. We will maintain our policy of not endorsing a candidate as a publication, but we will be printing endorsements of individual Bombs + Dollars writers and editors. As such, this functions as my personal endorsement.
First, the Republican Party doesn’t deserve to have Trump replaced on their ticket. Any attempt to replace Trump this close to the election would result in a three-way Syrian-style war of legal fighting that would make Bush v. Gore look boring. The Republican Party would be fighting both the Democrats and the Trump campaign. But aside from practical considerations, the GOP just doesn’t deserve to have a mulligan after having lost this election.
There have been many principled conservatives who knew Trump was a terrible person and an unelectable candidate. #NeverTrump had been saying loud and clear for months that the same man who insulted John McCain early on in his campaign for being a POW would implode. Imagine the surprise when he did!
Trump lost almost all of the public polls in the spring—and Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz won most of them. So now, one month before the election, when Trump is losing badly and a video just came out that would guarantee he couldn’t turn it around, much of the party’s elected Congresspeople finally wake up to the realization?
Sorry, Republican Party, but your denouncements at this moment look more opportunistic than principled. You should have let the #NeverTrump delegates vote at the convention on whether they could vote against Trump when they gave you an out. The party leadership didn’t even let them vote on it, and they even appeared to break party rules with arm twisting or outright fraud when they withdrew the petitions of three states. The Republican Party made its bed, and now it must lie in it.
My endorsement, and why the “burn it down” crowd is wrong
There’s only one reason to vote for or against a candidate, and that is because one candidate is preferable to the other(s) on the basis of her or his positions on the issues, qualifications, character, values, or other rational reasons. Many Trump supporters, as I have documented, don’t give a damn about policy. Instead many are voting for Trump because they say they hate politicians, the “establishment,” or “political correctness,” and because of cultural grievances. The Globalists don’t respect us! Let’s burn the party down!
Some long-time right-wing/conservative/Republican (pick your describer for the Trump faction) bloggers are even saying they will go back to being Democrats out of anger towards the #NeverTrump crowd. Well, thank you, Ace of Spades, for admitting one thing #NeverTrump has been saying all along: that Trumpists aren’t even conservatives or Republicans.
If someone really does think that deporting 12 million illegal immigrants, banning Muslims, building a wall, and cracking down on international trade is good policy, then I would strenuously disagree with that person, but by all means it would be logical for them, based on those beliefs, to support Donald Trump for president. Voting for him in order to “send a message” or because you hate the GOP leadership or whatever just isn’t logical. Your vote for Trump or Clinton will have a real impact, not symbolism, on how America is governed.
So the question is, which candidate is preferable? Based on policy proposals, qualifications, character, values, and almost any other rational reason, it is no contest: Hillary Clinton is preferable to Donald Trump by any measure.
Hillary Clinton is better for the economy, stronger and smarter on defense, and more conservative.
Donald Trump has said he would consider raising tariffs on imported goods to 35 or 45 percent. Although Hillary Clinton has come out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership after facing pressure from Bernie Sanders and the left, she appears to generally be relatively pro-free trade in her actual views, and in her professed views she has never come near expressing as much opposition as has Trump.
Trump has released a tax plan that would blow up the budget deficit and increase the national debt by more than $5 trillion in ten years (versus current projections), according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Clinton’s plan would increase the deficit by $200 billion. Trump has furthermore proposed to pay off the entire $19 trillion national debt in 8 years, despite having little revenue come in. When asked how the hell he thinks he could do that, he suggested the U.S. could default on its debt, much like how Trump defaulted on hundreds of millions of dollars of business debt he has personally guaranteed. Trump has also promised to spend “twice as much” as Clinton on infrastructure spending, to continue funding Social Security and entitlement programs at unsustainable rates, and to do nothing to cut spending. Thus, Clinton is the better choice for those who want an agenda of economic growth and fiscal responsibility.
On defense, Clinton has promised to keep NATO together, to defend NATO allies if Russian were to invade, and to maintain America’s present alliances at a time when China is becoming more aggressive in asserting vast claims to most of the South China Sea. In most election years, this would be the default position for both sides, but this year the Republican nominee has suggested he might not defend NATO allies from invasion and that he would consider withdrawing troops from South Korea and Japan and letting those nations develop nuclear weapons.
Finally, it should also be noted that Clinton is more likely to defend the civil liberties of Americans. Trump’s disturbing tendencies towards authoritarianism go beyond his proposals to torture foreign POWs and kill civilian relatives of suspected terrorists, proposals which are both immoral and illegal as is. He has also disparaged the constitutionally-protected rights of American citizens, bracketing “freedom of the press” in quote marks when whining about newspapers reporting negative stories on him and proposing to ratchet up libel laws such that newspapers could be threatened for reporting accurate stories. He even said that he would be open to trying American citizens suspected of terrorism at military tribunals in Guantanamo Bay.
Hillary Clinton is more qualified and has better judgment.
Clinton has served in multiple functions of government—from first lady to Senator to Secretary of State. One can take issue with certain of her decisions. As first lady, she failed miserably to build support for President Bill Clinton’s healthcare plan. She has admitted that voting to give President George W. Bush the authority for the Iraq War as Senator was a mistake. As Secretary of State, she presided over the terribly mismanaged Libya conflict. Still, she knows how government works. She understands the practical and tough choices that she will be faced with, between diplomacy and military might, between compromising to move forward and sticking up for American values. She even appears to have basic knowledge about things like the difference between Hamas and Hezbollah and what the nuclear triad is. (Her campaign issues detailed policy papers, and she speaks comfortably about the issues.) That cannot be said of Trump, who appears confused on any specific issue he is asked about, including the above mentioned questions. Again, this should be a very simple and easy question that both the Democratic and Republican candidates pass, but in this case Trump didn’t pass.
So Clinton already surpasses Trump on qualifications just by having any qualifications, but what’s more there are also some positive things she has done as Secretary of State that display good judgment and abilities. Her focus on “pivot[ing] towards Asia” indicates that she has a smart vision as to where the biggest foreign policy challenges will take place in the coming years. Her pressure on the government of Myanmar to work towards becoming more democratic has produced positive results. The country, which borders China to the southwest, has held its first (semi-)democratic elections. Beyond being a win for human rights, the fact of a more democratic and open Myanmar has allowed President Obama to nominate the first ambassador to Myanmar in two decades and lift some sanctions and thus improve U.S.-Myanmar relations, putting pressure on China.
When it comes to judgment, Trump has a tendency to say crazy things. “Bomb the shit out of them.” “He’s a loser.” “…blood coming out of her wherever…” You get the point. Clinton is more even-keeled and would do a better job thinking about the consequences and complexities of her decisions.
Hillary Clinton has better character and values.
Donald Trump’s constant depraved attacks on ordinary Americans are an indication of his character. He has a poor character, and his values include sexism, racism, and unlimited greed. His treatment of his creditors, investors, and the Americans who do pay taxes to fund the government while he brags about having “used the tax laws to my benefit,” by paying little to no taxes, are yet another example of his lack of regard for anyone but himself. That he used money donated to his personal charitable foundation to purchase personal items, like an autographed Tim Tebow helmet, and settle personal legal bills should that he is irredeemably corrupt and without moral standards.
Once again, Hillary Clinton leaves much to be desired on the area of character, too. She shades the truth like a lawyer on certain issues. But she doesn’t lie anywhere near as frequently or as brazenly as Trump, who says outright falsities to serve whatever fake position he is trying to create. Her family’s use of their own foundation creates perceived conflicts of interest, but there is little indication that the Clinton Foundation engaged in actual corrupt behavior approaching that of Trump.
Just like how -10 is greater than -100, Clinton has stronger moral character than Trump.
Why not a third-party candidate?
There are two questions here: who is the best candidate on the ballot, and engaging in what action will do the most to bring about a (more) favorable outcome? Even if there were a third-party candidate on the ballot whom I thought was better than Trump and Clinton, I would still not vote for him or her if I thought that my vote for him would have less impact in bringing about the outcome of defeating Trump. That being said, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is also himself a worse choice than Clinton in my view. That he fumbled a question about Aleppo, can’t name a single foreign leader he respects, and doesn’t even appear to know who the name of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un. Moreover, his “non-interventionist” foreign policy ideas are dangerously similar to the half of Trump’s views that align with “non-interventionism,” which could result in the U.S. pulling out from the world and not supporting allies.
Clinton is the best choice to elect a sensible president.
As I said, my choice ultimately comes down to this: What action can I take to have the most influence in bringing about a preferable outcome? Given that I don’t think Gary Johnson is a preferable outcome in the first place, I wouldn’t even want him to be president. Given that a vote for a third-party candidate would almost certainly have no influence in electing that candidate, and that there is an action I could take that would have more impact in electing a candidate who is preferable to the other choice, I wouldn’t vote for a third-party candidate. The action I could take that would have the most impact in electing a sensible candidate—one with whom I disagree on many issues, but who fits into the safe confines of historical American presidents—and stopping the election of a world-historical terrible candidate is to vote for Hillary Clinton. So Clinton is my choice and the choice I would encourage others who support a strong, conservative, and pluralistic America to vote for.
About the author:
*Mitchell Blatt moved to China in 2012, and since then he has traveled and written about politics and culture throughout Asia. A writer and journalist, based in China, he is the lead author of Panda Guides Hong Kong guidebook and a contributor to outlets including The Federalist, China.org.cn, The Daily Caller, and Vagabond Journey. Fluent in Chinese, he has lived and traveled in Asia for three years, blogging about his travels at ChinaTravelWriter.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @MitchBlatt.