The election is now five days away and over the past several weeks, Donald Trump’s numbers have steadily climbed. According to poll data aggregator FiveThirtyEight, in the last two weeks, Trump’s chances have almost tripled (moving from about 12% to roughly 34%), making his quest to be the most powerful man on earth much more than a remote possibility. What is increasingly clear is that the Democrats have put forward a flawed nominee in Hillary Clinton. But while Clinton is far from an ideal candidate, we have to remember that this election isn’t really about her. It’s about stopping a deranged right wing demagogue from holding the highest office in the land.
Donald Trump is many things, but perhaps his most salient quality is his authoritarianism. Trump, an unabashed racist and xenophobe, has activated hateful, neofascist, white nationalist factions unlike anything we’ve seen in modern politics. From launching his campaign last June with the cry of “Mexico is sending us their rapists,” to advocating for the removal of muslims, and calling for a nationalization of Stop and Frisk, the Republican nominee has made clear where he stands.
This is not merely rhetoric. They’re demonstrably connected to punitive tendencies that have long existed on the American Right; a desire to discipline “those people,” whether they be people of color, LGBTQ, the poor, or women. It’s no coincidence that the fraternal order of police, the largest police union in the world, has endorsed Trump, as well as the union representing ICE employees (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), institutions that are seen as disciplinary units assigned to deal with the “undesirables.”
And for those that still think there isn’t a discernible difference between the two major candidates, you might want to ask the Ku Klux Klan, whose newspaper published an endorsement of candidate Trump a couple of days ago. In their appropriately titled rag, The Crusader, KKK director Thomas Robb claims Trump to be a God-send, arguing that “as a white genocide seems to be closing its jaw upon our people forever that god will send forth his ministry that will close this disconnection.” Perhaps even more appalling is the letter to the editor section of the paper, where an on-the fence police officer writes the Klan to thank them for convincing him come around to their position.
It has been stated often that two of the biggest threats that we face as a species is nuclear conflict and climate change. Well, “Strangelove” Trump has routinely pondered the idea of using nuclear weapons, nuking the continent of Europe, and the need to be “unpredictable” when it comes to nuclear diplomacy. Are we really comfortable handing the nuclear codes to someone like this?
Trump also believes that Climate Change is a “hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.” This is so absurd, but too different from where much of the GOP sits these days. The climate continues to warm at an unprecedented rate as we carve up the Earth for more energy, and in true Republican form, Trump continues to advocate for heavy fossil fuel extraction, including propping up industries that are all but dead. In fact, Trump has tapped noted Climate skeptic Myron Ebell to be part of his EPA transition team. To be sure, Hillary Clinton does not have a great record on Climate either. However, Clinton acknowledges the science of Climate Change, and is much more capable of being moved on this issue than Trump and the climate denialist Republican Party.
Presumably, if elected, Donald Trump will likely have a Republican House and Senate, giving the GOP complete power over federal government. However, this is not your granddaddy’s GOP, your daddy’s GOP, or even your older brother’s GOP. This is a party controlled by it’s far right flank. This is a party that sees Paul Ryan, an advocate of privatizing medicare, as too moderate. Remember, the party had 16 other options during the primary, and they still picked Donald Trump.
The Republican legislative agenda would include dramatic rollbacks that would hurt lots of people. For one, Obamacare would be repealed in its entirety, leaving millions people that have received access through the expanded Medicaid program uninsured. Tax cuts for the wealthy, higher defense spending, and deep cuts to social services would likely be features of a GOP controlled Congress and presidency, decimating poor and working class communities. Other congressional items would likely include gutting Social Security and Medicare, keeping the federal minimum wage at 7.25/hr, getting rid of existing LGBTQ protections, perhaps attempting to erect a wall, and sanctioning theocratic elements in government.
There’s also that issue of Supreme Court appointments. We are currently sitting at a 4–4 split right now in the Supreme Court, as Senate Republicans refuse to do their job and fill the vacancy. As it stands right now, the next president would select the deciding vote in the Supreme Court, swinging the balance to the right or left. For much of Obama’s tenure, the conservative led Supreme Court had managed to gut the Voting Rights Act, radically transform the nation’s campaign finance laws in favor the rich, undermine the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon, make it difficult to sue corporations, and they were poised to deal organized labor with a crushing blow until the death of Antonin Scalia this past March.
A couple of months ago, Donald Trump finalized list of Supreme Court nominees. The catalog was crafted by the freedom loving folk of the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation. These are two groups that have deep ideological commitments that include eliminating the social safety net, cutting regulations, and drastically reducing taxes on the rich. It would be wise to assume that a Trump Supreme Court would most certainly make it difficult for Labor Unions to organize, people of color to vote, holding corporations accountable, and preventing the right-wing assault on women and LGBTQ.
I understand some reading this will argue that I am playing to a “politics of fear.” The argument goes that by talking about the dangers of a Trump presidency, I am allowing fear to dictate my decision come November 8th. And yet, fear is a perfectly legitimate reason for undertaking a course of action. In fact, fear is often a mechanism of survival. Parents tell their children to stay away from the street when playing outside, out of fear of their kids getting hit by a vehicle. Adults working a 9–5 follow company dress code so they can continue showing up to work and collecting a pay-check. People often make decisions that they don’t necessarily like out of fear of the repercussions that could follow.
Hillary Clinton is far from my ideal candidate. She’s much too hawkish for me, and her embrace of a corporate friendly worldview and policy makers more than give me cause for concern. My politics are closer aligned with Sanders, who I voted for in this year’s primary. But Sanders isn’t on the ballot. And if we are being honest, neither is Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, or the Reform Party. The choice is between a flawed neoliberal politician with hawkish tendencies and a right wing demagogue supported by a resurgent white nationalist bloc of voters and empowered by the lunatic wing of a party moving further and further to the right, my personal feelings on Clinton be damned. And the choice is pretty easy.