I am not a “Never Trump” advocate. I can conceive of a Presidential race that would force me to vote for Donald Trump, over, say, a Gorn, frightful Florida Congressman Alan Grayson, “Simple Jack” or Darth Vader. None of those, fortunately, are likely to be running in 2016, however, so the issue is moot. I have stated that there is no rational reason to vote for a candidate as undeniably unfit as Trump when the alternative is a candidate as undeniably as unfit as Hillary Clinton. Unlike Trump, Clinton does have positive features in her resume. As a Senator and former Secretary of State, she presumably has a passing comprehension of how the government works, and she comprehends the importance of public decorum and civility for a national leader, meaning that she knows that boasting about her penis or doing this…
…is not remotely Presidential. Hillary’s positive features are, we all know, buried beneath the avalanche of her dishonesty, venality, incompetence and corruption, but still, she has something. +1 beats – 1,606…even zero beats – 1,606.
Months ago, I challenged Trump supporters, Trump fans, Trump defenders and even Trump “oh come on, nobody is that bad”-ers to present a single, substantive, positive feature of Donald Trump that could justify voting for him as President. I have searched for and read alleged posts by professional pundits and others; I have listened to (until overcome with depression and nausea) Trump’s uniformly idiotic surrogates, and I have invited submissions. The results? Zilch. Nada. Bupkis.
“Hillary is evil!” is not a positive argument for Trump. Other submissions— “He’ll destroy the Republican Party, those collaborating traitors!”—“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more!,” “He says what he thinks!,” “I hate political correctness!,” “He’ll stick it to the elites!” and the ever-popular incoherent grunt—are similarly non-responsive. I don’t think it is too much to ask, and the lack of any entry remotely meeting the modest requirements (the best so far is, “At least the news media might do their job with someone like him as President”) makes me more certain by the day that 1) I am correct to reject him and 2) that Gorn may not be so bad.
Clearly I am not the only one engaging in this quest. The Washington Post obviously searched under every rock to come up with an academic who would put his name on an op-ed last week titled “Why ‘Never Trump’ conservatives are wrong about Trump.”
He is Charles R. Kesler, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, and the editor of the Claremont Review of Books. My heart soared like a hawk when I saw the column: Claremont McKenna is an excellent institution, and finally someone who does not communicate in howls, hocks and memes had written down a substantive argument to vote for Donald Trump!
Here, alas, are his “substantive” points:
1. Trump probably won’t be a fascist dictator: “I don’t see many similarities between “Mein Kampf” and “The Art of the Deal.” Where is that hallmark of fascism, the fanatical political party organization, with its secret or higher wisdom? Where is the glorification of the nation, the collectivity?”
Verdict: Disqualified. “He won’t be Hitler” isn’t a positive qualification.
2. He’s a Jacksonian: “He trusts the American people, not the special interests or the governing elite.”
Verdict: Ridiculous. Trump’s business has been built on catering to the governing elite, and he is a special interest himself! He “trusts the American people?” He has stated his love for ignorant people, as most con men would. He obviously doesn’t trust the American people, as he has derided their choices of Presidential leadership for the past 16 years. And to call Donald Trump a Jacksonian is the equivalent of calling Forrest Gump a Jeffersonian. Andrew Jackson was a lawyer, a military leader, a persuasive writer, a man of unusual courage, and public figure of remarkable integrity. He fought to make government more accessible to average Americans at a time when the national government really was run by a small class of elites—every President had been either a Virginia squire or a Harvard lawyer. Jackson did not, however, advocate mob rule, and did not tolerate fools. He had also acquired the political skills and experience to execute many of the democratic reforms he sought. Trump shares neither his skills, focus, or intellect. “He’s a Jacksonian” is a disingenuous effort to enhance Trump by linking him to a leader infinitely superior.
3. “Unlike Clinton, he does not propose to amend the First Amendment, he defends the Second Amendment vigorously and he promises ‘to bring the executive branch back inside the Constitution’.”
Verdict: Oh, really? Trump has proposed measures that breach the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of religion and assembly, and has argued that the news media needs to be more closely controlled. At least Clinton understands that you have to amend the Constitution; Trump would just defy it. What Trump defends or promises, meanwhile, depend on what gerbil is running circles in his head on a particular day. Nobody has any idea what President trump would do or support.
4. “[“Never Trump “critics say] he is a buffoon, a clown, an overactive third-grader who has gone off his Ritalin, a tawdry egomaniac whose policies are no better than “barstool eruptions” and who by temperament and experience is unworthy of the presidency…His critics give these legitimate doubts an exaggerated spin.
Verdict: Baloney. I’m sorry, did I neglect to post this? I thought I did…
You see, Professor, this is signature significance, as was boasting about his penis, and claiming that a professional news anchor was critical because she was having her menstrual period, and repeatedly calling a shorter adversary “Little Marco,” and basing virtually all of his arguments on childish rationalizations like “Everybody does it,””They do it too!,” and “It’s not the worst thing!”, leading to fatuous and irresponsible statements like this from last week:
“We can’t do waterboarding but they can do chopping off heads, drowning people in steel cages, they can do whatever they want to do. You know, you have to fight fire with fire.”
I think not.
5. “[I]f we were electing the first Sunday school teacher (a job for which Jimmy Carter would have been superbly qualified), their revulsion at Trump’s messy, vainglorious life might settle the matter. But we’re electing the chief executive.”
Verdict: Prof. Kesler is an Ethics Dunce. He is asserting that ethical values, character, the ability to tell right from wrong and personal integrity are not essential qualities of trustworthy leaders, which, in my view, means that he has no business teaching government to impressionable young minds; this is how we graduate political predators like Hillary and Bill Clinton. He is also wrong about Sunday school teachers, who do not need to be ethical to teach morality; they just need to be able to read and convey principles they don’t personally believe in. Leaders have to do things, make choices, solve problems, and all of these tasks require a frirm grasp and commitment to ethics, or what we end up with is “the ends justify the means.” Civility, dignity, respect for the office and a comprehension of a leader’s duty to be a cultural and societal role model are also important, none of which Professor Kesler appears to understand. President Carter was a poor leader in many respects, but in those areas he was exemplary. Here, read this, professor.
6. “Reasonable people can disagree, of course, but millions of Republican (and other) voters have already weighed Trump’s talents, virtues and vices against 16 other contenders and concluded that he is the best guardian of their interests in 2016.”
Verdict: The worst argument of all. To begin with, it is factually false. There were approximately 3 million more votes cast against Trump and for another GOP candidate in the primaries than were cast for Trump. By no interpretation one conclude that a majority of Republican voters “weighed Trump’s talents, virtues and vices against 16 other contenders and concluded that he is the best guardian of their interests in 2016,” even if we assumed that the typical primary voter did much substantive “weighing” whatsoever. Nor did anything close to a representative number of potential voters participate in the primaries, andmulti-candidate contests are notoriously misleading. Moreover, the mere fact that a process chooses a candidate does not make that candidate presumptively respectable or trustworthy.
Reasonable people can and should disagree with unreasonable people who make reckless, indefensible choices that threaten to screw up the nation, the culture and the world.
Finally, Prof. Kesler argues…wait. He has no other arguments! What? How can this be? A professor from an esteemed school gets a chance to strut his stuff on the op-ed page of a major newspaper, and dazzle us with a carefully considered list of the virtues of Donald Trump unfairly ignored by unlettered meanies like me, and the best he can come up with is..
- He’s probably not Hitler,
- He sometimes talks a little like Andrew Jackson if you don’t listen too hard, are gullible enough to believe him and don’t really know a thing about Andy,
- He doesn’t want to amend the Constitution, just to ignore it,
- He’s not as big a buffoon as some people say,
- You don’t need ethics to be President, and
- A lot of people voted for him?????
Imagine getting your big chance to shine, and botching it this badly. However, I am grateful to the professor, because his abject failure convinces me more than ever that there are no good, positive arguments for voting for Donald Trump.
I’m going to keep searching, however.