By Ralph Nader
Let’s say you’re inclined to vote for Donald Trump largely because you dislike Hillary Clinton and are fed up with government messing up and serving Wall Street over Main Street. You’ve heard all the things said about Trump and it doesn’t make any difference because he says with absolute confidence that he is going to shake up Washington and “make America great again.”
Why not try this experiment to bring matters down to earth where you live, work and raise your families? Suppose you’re souring on your two friends, who have been increasingly disrespectful. Along comes a person who wants to be your friend and protector and make your life great again. He reassures you because he says he’s quite well-to-do and always tells you how smart he is in all ways.
Day after day, he tells you about his successful life, his determination to address many of your concerns about health care, safety, uppity newcomers, and he promises to lower your taxes and get your neighborhood roads fixed. He emphasizes that he’ll stop the closing of a factory where you work that is planning to flee to China and make sure no more jobs in your community move to low-wage countries. He never says how, but that’s ok because you believe him. He’s like a father figure ready to make life better and more secure.
All this sounds just great to you. But then you start hearing people cautioning you about the man. He bankrupted his gambling business, while taking government subsidies. He doesn’t pay taxes. He regularly says things that are not true – about himself and about the country, about safety regulations in your factory, and about immigrants.
He harshly goes after anyone who takes him to task for his behavior, his false statements and his sneering descriptions of other people, especially if they are overweight (like he is) or on hard times, or they want a living minimum wage.
Worse still, you start noticing that he is a freeloader – cheating his own employees, small business suppliers who aren’t getting paid, gouging customers and that he doesn’t pay any taxes, unlike you. After a few drinks, he even brags about his “competitive advantage” over the people he’s stiffed.
Sometimes he’s even made vicious comments about people you like and even about you, as if he thinks he is better than you. Although your neighbors have pointed out these rough edges, you keep forgiving him because of the many ways he’s promised to make your life better. But after a while, you see that he never apologizes for his falsehoods and never takes responsibility for any of his failings, always blaming someone or something else. He bullies weaker people in his business dealings.
Like a schoolyard bully, he knows how to dish it out but can’t take it. You’d better not give him some of his own medicine because he’ll lash out at you with uncontrollable rage. You admire people who can control their temper and ego. He seems unable to control his own explosive impulses.
Other remarks bother you. He is too rough on women and minorities. He jeers about people’s physical features and thinks he’s perfect. For all his assurances about what he’d do for you, he doesn’t know very much about anything or how he’s going to get anything done. You’ve never seen him pick up a check. He takes everything personally, and goes berserk when criticized or corrected.
But somehow, he talks your language, thinks your thoughts and, oh, how he can describe your resentments about “other people.” What you might be thinking to yourself, he says out loud, afraid of nobody.
Over the years, your friend has moved away, built and lost bigger gambling casinos, gotten into much debt but managed to always personally escape his creditors. He’s anchored big-time television shows as the hero-decider, decided to run for president against all odds and stunned the country by getting people like you to make him the Republican Party’s nominee.
If he wins, he is still the same person except he has huge power over everyone. Unfortunately his disturbing characteristics and temperament will only get worse if he is elected.
He can impose his will on you with all the power of the White House. Already, you’ve noticed he’s siding with the big oil, gas and coal interests, asking for campaign money from the very fat cats he vigorously denounced for a year to get your primary vote.
He can dictate, start wars and make life very unpleasant for people like you and turn little protests into big time retaliation from Big Brother in Washington.
You know, a wise philosopher 2,000 years ago said “character is destiny.” I would add “personality is decisive.”
We all confront these traits in our neighbors, co-workers and other friends. Do you really want the traits you yourself have noticed in your friend lodged in a secretive presidency having the greatest power to betray his supporters, lashing out in all directions?