The Ethics Arguments For Voting For President Trump And Joe Biden, Part 2

2020 election

Part I is here.

At the end of this post, I will repost, from the archives, my Ethics Alarms essay from November 7, 2016 titled, “Donald Trump: A Pre-Election Ethics Alarms Character and Trustworthiness Review: 2005-2016.” I’m going to comment on how and why my assessment now is different (and how it is not) before the piece, because it’s long, and to some extent out of date.

Reading over the essay below, I had two thoughts immediately. One was that it was more vociferous than I remembered, and the other was amusement, looking at it again, of how many times I have been accused of being a “Trumpster” and a “Trump supporter” over last four years.

My assessment of Donald Trump has changed over that period in the following respects:

  • I am now almost convinced that he was not, in fact, mocking the disabled reporter’s malady, in one of his more disgusting campaign breaches of good taste.
  • I do not argue that he is unfit to be President, since he has been President, and managed to perform well enough to meet a minimum fitness standard.
  • As for character, I saw no admirable character traits a year ago, and I do now. The President had had to fight for his job, his office, and the institutions of government under the most unfair and unrelenting personal attacks any President has ever had to endure. He has shown resilience, determination and courage in this, and deserves respect for that. For better or worse, he has found himself placed in the position of being the nation’s firewall against a conflagration seeking to consume the nations pride, self-respect, historical foundations, values and institutions. The President has not shirked that role. He has performed it the best he could, and he has refused to give up.

The ethical argument for re-electing Donald J. Trump finally comes down to this: with or without a personal ethics compass, he has done some things I believe needed to be done, accomplished them in the face of unfair  obstacles, and has kept more of his campaign promises than most Presidents in my lifetime. I believe Presidents and leaders should be trustworthy, and Trump is not, but if a President is effective, the public can live with that queasy feeling, especially if there is no more trustworthy alternative, and there isn’t.

One of the main marks against him in 2016 was that he had no political experience or a relevant and applicable leadership background. Now he’s been President for four years, so that is no longer true. Normally I might argue that he deserves a second term because he never was given a chance in his first; that is true, but he’s not going to get a chance in his second term either, unless, as they richly deserve, the Democrats are swept out of power in both Houses of Congress.

Unfortunately, voting for the President requires a particularly pragmatic, the ends justifies the means rationale. He was, and is, the means, a very ugly and infuriating one, but the ends, many of them, were and are crucial. It was crucial to get out of Obama’s incompetent and deceptive Iran deal. It was crucial to oppose illegal immigration. It was crucial to cut back on the regulations suffocating recovery from the 2008 collapse. It was crucial to expose the dangerous news media bias seeking to manipulate elections and public policy. It was crucial to have the President condemning statue-toppling and attacks on the Founders and other figures who deserved to be remembered. It was crucial to make disengagement from hostile military campaigns around the world a priority, and to achieve energy independence from the Middle East, once a major liberal agenda item.

As for his character and ethical bearings, well, this post still is accurate….

Donald Trump: A Pre-Election Ethics Alarms Character and Trustworthiness Review: 2005-2016

Donald Trump has no character or trustworthiness. Next question?

Oh, all right, in the interests of equity and fairness, I’ll submit The Donald to the same process as I did with Hillary Clinton, though in his case the verdict is res ipsa loquitur. Trump’s lack of ethics and his unfitness to fill the shoes of Washington, Lincoln, Teddy, FDR, or Millard Fillmore is, or should be, self-evident. Those for whom it isn’t self-evident are either ignorant, devoid of values themselves, or intentionally seeking to harm the United States.

I’ve been writing about the awfulness that is Donald Trump since 2005. He was noted for his dishonesty on my Ethics Scoreboard when I called foul on his marketing “various ‘get rich’ products, including tapes, seminars, and “Trump U,” an on-line delivery system for more of the same.” I wrote in part

There are thousands upon thousands of Americans who started with meager resources and made themselves rich through talent, hard work, creativity, inventiveness, and some luck. …Not Trump. The success of his pitch to the desperate wannabes and clueless is based on their erroneous assumption, nurtured by Trump but not explicitly supported by him, that he can teach them to do what they think he did…make himself rich through hard work and a business savvy. But what Trump is best qualified to teach is how to make yourself richer when you inherit an established business and have millions of dollars plunked into your waiting hands after your Dad has sent you to Wharton.

The fact that Trump doesn’t lie outright about his background but simply allows his marks to jump to the wrong conclusions puts his “get rich like me” marketing efforts in the category of deceit…but deceit is still dishonesty. Trump undoubtedly has useful wisdom to impart about building a successful career; it’s not as easy to stay rich as some people think. Ask most state lottery winners. Still, the most vivid lesson of Donald Trump’s successful campaign to sell himself as a self-made billionaire is the lesson that 19th Century con-man Joe Bessimer pronounced more than a century ago: There’s a sucker born every minute.

So we knew, or should have known, that this was a con artist at least back eleven years. In 2006, I posted on Trump’s misogyny and incivility, writing about the first outbreak of his feud with the equally vile Rosie O’Donnell, and their public name-calling…

Rosie set off the exchange by suggesting on ABC’s “The View” that Trump’s recent assumption of the role of moral exemplar by chastising and threatening to fire the reigning Miss USA for being a party-girl was more than a little ridiculous, given his own well-documented penchant for fast women and extra-marital affairs. Sometimes Rosie’s full of beans, and sometimes she gets it right; this time she was right, but spoiled it by concluding her commentary with some unflattering name-calling. Trump, no girly-man he, immediately said he would sue O’Donnell, and then launched into an extended riff on how unattractive and fat she was, including the charming phrase, “pig-face.” Classy as always, Donald…. Yes, anyone who admires either of these two annoying characters already has a problem, but there is no escaping the fact that both are celebrities, and as celebrities they contribute to establishing cultural norms of civility and conduct. This is especially true of Trump, who despite his low-life proclivities is a successful business executive. Resorting to personal attacks on an adversary’s weight or appearance is disrespectful, unfair, cruel and indefensible. Doing so on national media is like firing a shotgun into a crowd. There are a lot of fat or unattractive women out there, Mr. Trump, who are smart, generous, productive, loving, intelligent people… Golden Rule, anyone? How are we to convince our children not to ridicule the personal traits of others, when those they see as rich, famous and successful do the same openly, shamelessly, and even gleefully?

You can imagine my continued amazement that ten years after writing this rather obvious assessment, without Trump having undergone a complete transformation, and indeed with his conduct and public statements becoming worse rather than better, we are on the eve of a day that may live in infamy as the moment democracy  completely failed the United States of America, inflicting on it, and the world,  as unstable and unqualified a leader of a great power as history has ever witnessed.

How this could have happened will be debated by scholars and other for as long as civilization stands, one hopes with the result that it never happens again. That is not the topic at hand however. No one can accuse me of not sounding the alarm, early and often. As with Hillary Clinton, I reviewed all of the Ethics Alarms posts regarding Trump. There are a lot of essays that criticize false, biased or dishonest criticism of the jerk, a circumstance that did not occur with anything close to such frequency with Hillary Clinton. That’s a news media bias issue, and nothing that reflects well on Trump.  Still, the news media has helped Trump cry victim because it intentionally seeks to interpret everything he says and does in the worst light possible, just as it substantially covers for Hillary Clinton. Removing these posts from the mix, I was surprised to find the volume of damning Trump analysis less than I recalled, and certainly less than the Hillary archives.  This is because Trump character deficits are so crude and obvious, as well as constituting signature significance.

No responsible candidate for high office mocks a disabled reporter in public, or boasts about his penis in a televised debate, or makes a menstrual reference while insulting a female journalist. Ethics Alarms’ mission is to raise ethics issues and assist the public in acquiring skill at analyzing ethics problems. How many times should I have to point out that an inarticulate, ignorant and crude narcissist is an inarticulate, ignorant and crude narcissist?

You will see that by 2016, I am just aghast that I should have to write such posts at all. Almost every one has a sentence like this one, from this post, titled, A Donald Trump KABOOM! How Can A Creep Like This Be Running For President?.

Who thinks like that? Who says things like that on TV if they are sick enough to think it?

With Hillary Clinton, I have to analyze syntax and intent, include background and context, what is heard and what is being said. With Trump, it’s mostly, “Oh, for heaven’s sake, what’s the matter with this idiot?”

You can review the posts here.   I do not advocate trigger warnings, but I do worry that too much Trump combined with the specter of his winning tomorrow may send more sensitive souls to the edge of madness, so here is a representative sample. I confess, I could only get through about half of 2015 before I was overcome with disgust and grief. This does not include the much-linked “A Nation of Assholes,” but if by some miracle you missed it, here it is.

Here is a sample that makes the case against Trump without, I hope, causing too much panic and despair:

August 16, 2015: 40 quotes that reveal Trump’s ethics

In selecting the 199 juiciest and most provocative quotes from any prominent American, wouldn’t you expect at least one that was articulate, thoughtful, wise or memorable? I’m not looking for Samuel Butler here, or even Barack Obama, but for someone who is at least for the nonce a “serious” candidate for the highest office in the land, it would be reassuring to find some evidence of wit, perspective, reflection, or a vocabulary beyond that of a typical 8th grader, and it just isn’t there. Has Trump  read any literature? Has he ever seen a play? Is he capable of a relevant famous quote or a cultural reference (saying that Bette Midler is “grotesque” doesn’t count, though “grotesque” may be the most sophisticated word that appears on the list)? If so, there is no hint of it.”

October 25, 2015: Trump tries some religious bigotry.

“Earlier I suggested that one of Trump’s debate opponents could take him down with a deft Joseph Welch “Have you no decency?” (unfortunately, the attempt was made by Rand Paul, and hardly deftly), and now I have to ask his supporters, “Have you no decency?” What more evidence do you need that this blustering bully and fool degrades his party, nation, gender, species and the office he’s seeking  by his presence in the 2016 Presidential race? Or more bluntly, What the hell’s the matter with you people?”

November 26, 2015: Trump ridicules a disabled reporter.

One theory is that Trump has chosen this week to go all out to see if there is anything he can say or do so beneath the dignity of the office he is seeking and so repugnant to core American values that the idiots supporting him will finally wake up and say, “What was I thinking?” If so, his experiment is working well.

And yes, it is fair to identify anyone who supports Donald Trump at this point as an idiot.

December 1, 2015: Trump Big Lie, as he makes up an anti-American Muslim demonstration that never existed

“Trump, however, is using a Big Lie to impugn the patriotism and trustworthiness of a group of citizens based on their religion and cultural heritage, and attempting to stir up purely group-based hate. To hell with Hanlon: this is Nazi Propaganda 101, and deserves to be identified as such directly to Donald Trump’s face.”

December 10, 2015: Trump being Trump.

“When asked about comparisons with Hitler, Trump instead argued that what he was proposing was more like FDR’s imprisoning Japanese-Americans, as if this was a rational defense. Trump, I have long noticed, literally cannot make an argument without citing a rationalization or six. He apparently thinks all of them are genuine justifications for unethical conduct. He can’t argue any other way, except that he sometimes throws in logical fallacies too, like constantly citing his poll numbers (Appeal to Authority) as validation of his positions.”

February 15, 2016: The GOP’s obligation to dump Trump

Finally, it is now undeniable that while there are many irresponsible, values-deficient, ugly and ignorant fools poisoning our culture and society, and while many, especially criminals, may do more tangible damage, none are more deficient in intelligence, judgment and character, and none are worse citizens,  than those who continue to try to put a wretched human being like Donald Trump in the White House, where he can do more harm than any criminal in U.S. history.”

February 27, 2016: Trump vows to gut the First Amendment

“So what does Trump’s ridiculous vow mean? As I said, it could mean that he is a Constitutional ignoramus, that he is pandering to those uneducated voters he loves, that he is lying,  that he plans a military take-over, or all of them: Who knows what diseased rats are running around in that skull?”

I still can’t believe I have to write this post..

God save the United States of America.

26 thoughts on “The Ethics Arguments For Voting For President Trump And Joe Biden, Part 2

  1. Jack,

    It seems that you presaged the freak-out, though I suspect that, in the excerpt below, you meant the “edge of madness” to apply to the hypothetical pondering of Trump’s election, not to the reality of it afterward.
    “…I do not advocate trigger warnings, but I do worry that too much Trump combined with the specter of his winning tomorrow may send more sensitive souls to the edge of madness…”

    Four years ago, your explanation of your vote to write-in Mitt Romney (if I recall correctly) inspired me at the last moment to write-in Marco Rubio. I reside in California and so I considered a “hold my nose for Trump” vote to be a fruitless exercise. I had no love for candidate Trump and thought Sen. Rubio represented a case for civility and decency to set a path for future conservatives four years after a presumptive Hillary Clinton presidency.
    In retrospect, since one of Clinton’s arguments was that she “won” the popular vote, I have reconsidered and slightly regretted that position.
    Today, I share many of your opinions above regarding now-President Trump’s leadership and determination in the face of relentless mischaracterization, hostility, insurrection, and downright sedition by the AUC.
    I do not love President Trump, but I respect him, and I will be voting for him on Tuesday.
    I’ll be eager to hear your thought process as you decide whom to vote for.

    Thank you for all you do; you inspire me to think carefully about how I view and analyze the conduct of myself and others.

  2. Sorry, the 2016 objections to Trump are “milk under the bridge,” as one of Mrs. OB’s addled bosses was fond of saying. These are not ordinary times. The Republic is under a withering and relentless attack. I’m supposed to be put off by Trump’s character and vote for a now demented guy who’s done nothing but sit in the Senate since he was twenty-nine and finger fucked a staffer and told her she was nothing so he can be replaced by a bimbo who slept her way to the top? Sorry. Ethics shmethics if it means I’m not supposed to vote for Trump to keep out Biden and the Squad and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and Jerry Nadler and Adam Schiff and Joe Scarborough and Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon and The Harridan.

    • Who is advocating any of that, OB? Of course you should be “put off” by his character. That doesn’t mean you have much choice other than to vote for him. Part I states that there is no argument for voting for Biden or the Democrats. Part 2 states that the argument of voting for Trump is based on pure balancing, essentially what you are saying.

          • Maybe a reposting of the “Nation of Assholes” thread would be in order. Remember? Trump was an asshole and emblematic of a nation of assholes. And it turned out his election unleashed a nation of assholes on the left and in the swamp!

        • Why re-publish 2016?

          Because it’s honest. It is presented without apology or rationalization.

          Trump was a jerk and an opportunist. He still seems like a jerk, but, for an opportunist, he sure is putting up with a hell of a lot of thankless bullshit. It might almost lead you to think he actually wants to serve the public and that he thinks he has the temperament to do it.

          He has done a convincing job.

          I refused to vote for him (and her) in 2016; I remember leaving the polling place with a profound sense of dread ocasiones by my certainty that one of them would win.

          This time, I gladly voted for him. (Hang in there, Kanye! There’s always 2024.)



          • I didn’t vote for him in 2016 either, Jut. I held my nose and voted for Hillary. But against all odds, he’s done a remarkable job. Who knew? And in the last four years, the left has pushed the entire country over a cliff. I think not voting for Trump is unethical. Republishing a post from 2016 is just inviting disaster.

            (What’s the obverse of Trump Derangement Syndrome? I may be suffering from it. I’m convinced Biden winning will be catastrophic.)

            • I held my nose, voted for Hillary and cried all the way to work. The next morning, when I saw Trump had somehow managed to win, I cried again.

              Now, I refuse to cry. I’m just angry. I may never vote for another Democrat again after what they’ve put this country through and what they will continue to put it through.

  3. Query: What does it tell us that cities around the country are boarding up their downtowns and setting up extra staffing for the anticipated riots following an expected (?) Trump victory next week? Two things: the polls notwithstanding, some people in municipal and state governments appear to think there’s a very substantial possibility Biden and The Harridan will go down to a decisive defeat. Two: the left will go berserk. And please don’t tell me they are anticipating rioting by conservatives if Trump loses.

    • Not really, but they’re doing their best to pretend that’s where the threat is coming from.

      To the Democrats and their allies in the news media and the entertainment industry, anyone that doesn’t support them – QAnon jerks, anarchists, – are right-wing White Supremacists and are the ultimate danger to our country.

    • There are plenty of people on the left trying to claim it’s the “far-right” and the Trump base that’s the danger. Robert Bowers, the Jewish Synagogue shooter, was an avowed anti-Trumper. So was Patrick Crusius, who shot up the El Paso Wallmart. Yet the MSM is regularly trying to tie both to Trump.
      Now they’re up to the same with the Michigan kidnap suspects. They’re boogalo boys, strongly libertarian. Ditto with the guy just arrested for driving from Texas to shoot up the Minneapolis third precinct right before it burned.

  4. Another reason to vote for Trump? There will be less than zero chance of Joseph Robinette & fils facing any consequences for their corrupt self-dealing otherwise.

  5. Jack, thank you as always for the continued effort that you make to produce Ethics Alarms.
    I took some time to reread a dozen or so of the Trump posts from 2016, and was reminded of how many have come and gone from this commentariat over the years that I’ve been reading the blog (back to Ethics Scoreboard!), some I miss, some I don’t, but all (except a very few) were confidently predicting a Trump election would bring catastrophe, Fascism, World War, and perhaps worst of all, Nancy Grace being appointed Attorney General. Certainly emotions ran high then, and many would probably revise their estimates with the benefit of hindsight, some have in fact become convinced to vote for Trump this time around.
    I was particularly struck by an exchange you had with charlesgreen on the May 7th 2016 post, where you were… not generous with your assessment of the voters who supported Trump, and elected him. I voted for him then, and will vote for him now. He is the only tool at hand to save this country, as he was then. (Yes, I intended the “tool” pun to be inherent.)
    You were harsh in your words: “Trump supporters may warrant sympathy, but not respect, and calling them anything but ignorant fools or, in the case of political and journalist allies of convenience, cynical betrayors of their own nation.” ; “…the class that includes “moron,” “dupe,” “mark” and “ignoramus.” I don’t care if this “angers” them, and nobody should be afraid to tell it like it is to the clods who think that’s such a virtue in someone show doesn’t.”
    I’m not certain where the line is drawn between a supporter and a voter.
    Has your opinion changed about Trump supporters/voters in the 2016 election? For this election?
    Is there now an ethical case to be made for voting for Trump? Is it moral luck that he is an option, and he should not have been elected in 2016?
    I often reflect on the words of the great Scottish poet Sir Roderick David Stewart, when I find myself certain of my intellectual, spiritual or ethical rightness:

    “Look how wrong you can be”

    • Sure. The ethical case is to not vote for the Democrats and Biden, and the only way to further that objective is to vote for Donald Trump. I think I made that clear: I did write there is no case for voting for Biden, and essential that the effort to destroy an elected President not only fail, but fail spectacularly. This paragraph is as much of an endorsement as I can justify on an ethics blog…but it is still an endorsement:

      Unfortunately, voting for the President requires a particularly pragmatic, the ends justifies the means rationale. He was, and is, the means, a very ugly and infuriating one, but the ends, many of them, were and are crucial. It was crucial to get out of Obama’s incompetent and deceptive Iran deal. It was crucial to oppose illegal immigration. It was crucial to cut back on the regulations suffocating recovery from the 2008 collapse. It was crucial to expose the dangerous news media bias seeking to manipulate elections and public policy. It was crucial to have the President condemning statue-toppling and attacks on the Founders and other figures who deserved to be remembered. It was crucial to make disengagement from hostile military campaigns around the world a priority, and to achieve energy independence from the Middle East, once a major liberal agenda item.

    • I still believe that anyone in 2016 who watched and listened to Trump and was aware of his past who thought, “Wow! This guy is GREAT! I can’t wait to see him in charge of the nation!!!” was nuts, or too ignorant to be let out of the house without a leash.

      A voter makes a selection among the choices he or she is given. A supporter is enthusiastic and satisfied with that choice.

  6. Trump is still a jerk, and, if nothing else has become more unhinged during this campaign then he ever was before. He is still the hardest president to defend since Nixon. On the other hand, he is also probably the president to do the most of his promised things since Nixon. He is probably also the most hated president of the modern era, surpassing George W Bush, who was roundly hated for his poor handling of the Iraq war once initial victory was achieved, surpassing his father, who was hated for failing to keep his promise about new taxes, surpassing Clinton, who many still are angry at for his disgusting and deceitful behavior including his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky Reagan, who the left still hates and calls senile, surpassing Carter, who many people loathe for his incompetence, surpassing the clumsy Gerald Ford, surpassing Richard Nixon, who was a criminal, surpassing the cynical and in some cases brutal LBJ. The last president who was unquestionably popular was JFK, and part of that is only because he suffered the horrible fate he did.

    Some of the hatred is probably justified. Trump is not a likable person, and although he is not prone to dumb mistakes the way his opponent is, he is prone to saying what he thinks, when he thinks it, without any filter. He probably was not in fact mocking that reporter during that early speech, nonetheless, it was perceived that way and many people said that was it once, they saw that there was no way in hell they would vote for him, because they knew people who were disabled, and mocking the disabled is a disgusting thing to do. Some of the things he has said we’re never meant for public ears, nonetheless they have found their way out into public. He did not intend for the world to hear him refer to certain third world countries as s*** holes, however, he should have known that the politicians who were absolutely opposed to him would leak that. He never meant the world to hear him talk about grabbing women, nonetheless, someone made a recording on the sly, it leaked out, and many other people said that they could never support someone like that. I remember someone I was once friends with writing something to the effect that a lot of people had said they couldn’t support him because they had daughters, but she could not support him because she had sons, and she did not want those sons looking up to a President who did not know how to treat women properly.

    I am guessing that a lot of those people are unmoved by any achievement he may have made. I myself did not vote for him last time, because I was almost certain he would not win, and I knew for a fact that he would not carry my state. No Republican presidential candidate has carried New Jersey since 1988, and no Republican presidential candidate ever will again, the cities make certain that will never happen again.

    The fact is that even the most effective person is less effective if he is so despised that no one wants to work for him or with him. Like Woodrow Wilson, this president has plowed through friends and associates to the point where he has a lot fewer than he should have, and a lot more bitter or vengeful former friends and associates who are out to get even at this point. Say what do you want about George W Bush, but he only managed to get two former appointees or high profile employees who were bitter enough to be out to get him.

    Even with all of this, if you had said to me last year that the president would be anything other than re-elected handily, I would have laughed. Incumbents tend to be re-elected if the economy is doing at all well, and it was then. However, fairly or not, the president is now perceived as a racist who has the blood of George Floyd and a lot of other innocent black people killed by the police on his hands, and an incompetent who did not see a pandemic coming, did nothing to prepare for a pandemic and in fact made the United States less prepared for one, and now has left the US facing a dark winter with no potential end to this pandemic in sight. The fact that Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and he moved to very swiftly replace her, was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back for a lot more folks. There is just no way that a lot of people are going to be all right with Obama being prevented from replacing the towering conservative Antonin Scalia with a liberal while Trump gets to go ahead and replace the supreme Court’s liberal legend, the greatest woman ever to sit on the supreme Court, and an icon that every young girl has a picture of between her pictures of Sally Ride and Megan Rapinoe, with a conservative who is perceived as someone who wants to take away women’s reproductive freedom and stuff them back in the kitchen.

    Is any of this fair? No, none of it is. Unfortunately, Americans have shown something really ugly. When enough of us want something destroyed, we make damn sure that it is destroyed, fair or not. It is not fair to topple a statue by mob action. It is not fair to attack and burn a police station. It is not fair to campaign against a president with lies and hatred. Unfortunately, no one seems to be interested in stopping any of these things from happening.

    I have to say, that the idea that seems to be somewhat prevalent here, that in the end the president is more likely to eke out a narrow victory than not, because the pollsters are all getting it wrong, is a pipe dream. The president may not have a path to victory at all, whereas his opponent apparently has several. The president is also pressed for money, while his opponent is flush with cash. The race is not always won by the swift nor the battle by the strong, but that’s the way to bet.

    This should not be, and the nation should not be facing the very strong probability of a term of governance under someone who is clearly not competent to handle the position. The nation should also not be facing the possibility of governance by a woman who her own party rejected, and who was chosen because she was a woman and had the right skin color. Unfortunately, enough people in this nation seem to have been swayed by anger at and hatred of the president that it’s not even going to be close. A lot of people may say that this election may come down to Pennsylvania, and, to a lesser extent, Ohio and Florida. I was thinking that this election could become 2000 repeated, but I think there’s also a very good chance that the door will slam hard, fast, and early on the President. I could do without Nancy Pelosi taunting him to take it like a man, which should be beneath someone of her office, but eh, she’s 80 and probably starting to enter the “what the hell” phase of life.

    That said, I also remember what happened the last time this nation elected someone (Carter) because it was just SO angry at the other party. It wasn’t pretty. Carter was at least with it, Biden is not.

    • the president is now perceived as a racist who has the blood of George Floyd and a lot of other innocent black people killed by the police on his hands

      One question is how many of the “right” people perceive Trump ” as a racist who has the blood of George Floyd and a lot of other innocent black people killed by the police on his hands”.

  7. Albert Mohler makes a good summary statement, I’ve modified it because for him, there is a single overriding policy position, but I think the statement is as good a guide as any. The part I’ve modified is in brackets:

    “Let me be as clear as I know possible: President Trump’s behavior on Twitter and his divisive comments and sub-presidential behavior are an embarrassment to me. Constantly. His arrogance and ego and consistent need for adulation drive me to distraction. But character is some strange combination of the personal, the principled, and the practical. Let me put it another way. I cannot accept the argument that a calm man who affirms [divisive and destructive policies antithetical to the American republic] has a superior character to one who rants like Genghis Khan but acts [in ways that increase American well-being and liberty]. In my ideal world, I would get to vote for a candidate in whom the personal, the principled, and the practical all earn my admiration. I do not live in that world. I live in this world, and I must act and vote accordingly.”

  8. Unfortunately, voting for the President requires a particularly pragmatic, the ends justifies the means rationale.

    In my opinion, this is, in the immortal words of the late, great Frank Zappa, the crux of the biscuit.

    In general, I am gravely opposed to an ends justifies the means argument as such, but I’m not convinced a decision to vote for Trump falls under that rubric. In your expositions, there are more positive reasons for voting for Trump that for Biden, all of them either ethical per se or non-ethical considerations. Further, both men are ethically compromised, and as such a rational person must weight the balance of the equities to determine who to vote for.

    Trump is a horrible person, but he has not been a horrible president when it comes to doing his duties as memorialized in the U.S. Constitution. It is the soft traditions of the presidency that he has damaged — things like honesty, forthrightness, candor, fairness, and the more general concept of being a leader the USA can be proud to have. He flunks all those tests badly, but honestly, I can’t see where Biden passes them either, except perhaps he will be more acceptable to foreign leaders and won’t abuse our vision with absurd, childish, misspelled tweets all day. I will also stipulate that this may be because he is cognitively impaired enough at this point to ask someone else to speak on his behalf. Not very encouraging, but there it is.

    Even if we conclude that Trump flunks them worse and Biden, on balance, is a better human being, Biden has also signaled support for dismantling the spirit of the US Constitution and replacing it with something else, and engaging in all manner of legislative activity destructive (in my view) to the republic. To me, that is signature significance of unsuitability and weighs mightily in my personal decision.

    But even if we stipulate that Trump flunks that test as well, we have four choices as voters:

    1. Enter a meaningless protest vote for some other person or name, as I did last year;
    2. Refuse to vote for either on ethical, moral, or personal grounds;
    3. Hold our nose and vote for Biden;
    4. Hold our nose and vote for Trump.

    That’s it. That’s the limit of our individual impact on this election. I know what I’ve done, and everyone else is on their own. But for my money, the devil we know has significant advantages over the devil we don’t, particularly given the totality of the above. Voting for the lesser of two evils is not, in my view, an ends justifies the means decision. Rather, it is a rational one. It is totally rational to prefer less evil over more when they are your only two options, regardless of the ends ultimate ends.

    Personally, this is a kind of ethics zugswang — it is impossible for me this time not to vote for one or the other, and either decision is probably wrong.

    • “Voting for the lesser of two evils is not, in my view, an ends justifies the means decision.”
      That was what I was going to say. Voting for a president is, of itself, not an unethical act. Facilitating installing the one who would do more harm is.

  9. Jack,

    ” Donald Trump has no character or trustworthiness. Next question?”

    Is Nancy Pelosi more trustworthy and have greater character if she delivers on a promise to make the opposition look bad at every chance even if it includes lying about the other side? What about John McCain, the “Maverick” who campaigned on ending Obamacare but changed sides just to humiliate Trump. What of Romney who so many put their trust in 2012 who of late stands far too often not on principle but on what he believes will make himself look good?

    How is trustworthiness or character defined? Does it depend on the relative importance of that in which we place trust in a person to accomplish such or does it depend on the number of times a person does not live up to the promises they make? How can we say in one breath that Trump is untrustworthy and later say “. . . and has kept more of his campaign promises than most Presidents in my lifetime.”

    Can it be said one is of good character if he or she puts on a show of being of “good” character – even if you hide the fact that you are a duplicitous sadistic bastard from the public. Many say that President Obama was a man of great character but he used his rhetorical skills to hide the fact he was purposely creating camps of us versus them. Do you know that the “Character Counts” curriculum pushed by public education all the way through the sophomore year at community college includes a requirement to be a “global citizen”? Should not wanting to be being a global citizen be a character defect. And, If I am a global citizen why can I not vote in any election in any country on earth? Is someone trying to deceive me into believing I am a global citizen? Why exactly is sharing, volunteerism, and helping people in need good character traits? Why are limits not also defined ? Are we pushing an agenda duplicitously here?

    “Character Counts” defines it this way: The Six Pillars of Character®
    Be honest • Don’t deceive, cheat or steal • Be reliable – do what you say you’ll
    do • Have the courage to do the right thing • Build a good reputation • Be loyal
    – stand by your family, friends and country

    Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule • Be tolerant and accepting
    of differences • Use good manners, not bad language • Be considerate of the
    feelings of others • Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone • Deal peacefully with anger,
    insults, and disagreements

    Do what you are supposed to do • Plan ahead • Persevere: keep on trying!
    • Always do your best • Use self-control • Be self-disciplined • Think before you
    act – consider the consequences • Be accountable for your words, actions, and
    attitudes • Set a good example for others

    Play by the rules • Take turns and share • Be open-minded; listen to others • Don’t
    take advantage of others • Don’t blame others carelessly • Treat all people fairly

    Be kind • Be compassionate and show you care • Express gratitude • Forgive
    others • Help people in need

    Do your share to make your school and community better • Cooperate • Get
    involved in community affairs • Stay informed; vote • Be a good neighbor
    • Obey laws and rules • Respect authority • Protect the environment • Volunteer

    How does Trump and other recent President’s ( Or Congress) measure up to these elements of character? I suggest that each recent President excelled on one or two area but failed in others.

    You referenced the Trump U in prior post. I suppose the $64,000 question when it comes to “fraud” is whether or not the perpetrator had a good faith belief that the proposed or implied benefits will accrue to the buyer. Is Tony Robbins any more duplicitous than Trump when he sells his “secrets” for being successful or Carlton Sheets who got thousands of willing wannabe real-estate moguls with very few resources to plunk down hundreds of dollars for his get rich in real-estate courses. In large measure success and failure depend heavily on commitment from the buyer to follow the techniques to the letter and one’s success is based more on the number of tries rather than skill.

    Because I am well versed in the requirements of being a “qualified investor” I wonder if all those claiming to be dupes of Trump U because they each spent thousands of dollars on Trump U if they were actually duped or did greed just get the best of them. If we compare Tony Robbins or Carlton Sheets who might take the last $500.00 from a desperate unemployed person to Trump who marketed his University to those with sufficient resources to plunk down 10’s of thousands because they think the association with the Donald will elevate them to riches I will say the former are far more unscrupulous than Trump. The negligence to perform one’s own due diligence should come into the equation at some point.

    I believe character and trustworthiness or honesty and virtue are hard to measure when those of us doing the measuring are hardly the epitome of those qualities. As you say we are a nation of assholes. It may just be that we are evaluating others on what we think should be and not what is.

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