We Cannot Afford a President Trump

Forget about the wild claims that Donald Trump is a fascist or Hitler. I think most reasonable people will recognize that they are little more than hyperbole. Forget the possibility that Trump is sexist and/or racist. Even if these labels are accurate, a cursory tour through the history of U.S. presidents will reveal that these are hardly disqualifying characteristics. We have had plenty of decent presidents who were almost certainly sexist and/or racist. I believe that there is a much more compelling reason to hope that Trump is soundly defeated in the November election, even if it means that we end up with Hillary Clinton in the White House.

The U.S. will almost certainly face a number of significant crises during the first term of our next president. Some will be global crises that will require skilled diplomacy, a working knowledge of the world, and effective relationships with the leaders of other nations. Others will be domestic crises that will require leadership, compassion, an ability to bring people together, and skill in calming tensions. At a minimum, we will need a president who has at least adequate judgment, a willingness to listen to those with more knowledge on various topics than he or she can possibly have, and an even temperament. Intelligence alone is nowhere near enough.

Not only does Trump not appear to have any of these necessary attributes, but the manner in which he has behaved during his campaign for president suggests that he is incapable of making even minimal progress in the needed direction. Again and again, we have seen that he does not listen to his own advisors. There is no reason to think he would suddenly start doing so as president. Again and again, we have seen him run his mouth in ways that are divisive and inflammatory even though this has prompted criticism from within his own party. There is no reason to think this would change just because he managed to get elected. We have also observed considerable evidence that Trump is far from knowledgeable on a vast number of important policy issues and even the manner in which our system of government functions. While he could decide to begin learning some of this, the fact that he hasn't yet should be cause for alarm.

Some of what I have said above is what people mean when they say that Trump's temperament makes him unqualified to serve as our president. I agree with that assessment, but I believe that this is far more than a matter of temperament. Everything we have seen from Trump to this point in the campaign indicates that he is thoroughly unprepared to be an effective leader during a crisis. I believe that the Editorial Board of The Washington Post was correct to describe Trump as "uniquely unqualified." I do not trust Hillary Clinton, and I am extremely disappointed with the Democratic Party for pushing such a flawed candidate on us. And yet, I have little doubt that Clinton would be superior to Trump during the inevitable crises we face. For this reason, I view her as the lesser of these two particular evils.

I have the misfortune of living in a state that is going to go for Trump by a wide margin no matter how I vote. My vote for president in the general election doesn't count in the sense of influencing the outcome, and that means that I can vote for third party candidates without having to worry about taking votes away from the Democratic candidate. If I lived in a swing state where my vote could actually help to influence the outcome of the election, I would vote for Clinton. I have no confidence in Trump's ability to navigate the sort of crises we will face without making things considerably worse. I do not like voting for the "lesser of two evils" one bit, but I would do so here if I lived in a swing state.