Voting for Trump: Tolerating the Intolerable

The country wants change, but nothing is worth his price

The voices broke through during the primary election season. Twenty-five million people let out a shrieking yell for dramatic change — more than 13 million voters clamoring for Donald Trump, and 12 million more for Bernie Sanders.

But pulling the lever for the Democrat Sanders was a vote for a political revolution with specific prescriptions for shaking up the status quo — repealing the Citizens United decision that lets corporations ply candidates with ungodly sums of money, raising the minimum wage and providing free public college to attack income inequality, and so on.

What is Trump’s prescription? There are no concrete proposals to be found, beyond the concrete he would use to build a wall to keep out Hispanic immigrants and his First Amendment-shattering proposal to ban Muslims from entering America. His is the cult of personality and the disorder of narcissism, highlighted by the harangue at the GOP convention when he said, “I alone can fix it.”

It’s over. The chance for a shakeup based on ideas died on April 19 when Sanders failed to get the primary victory he needed in New York to close within striking distance of Hillary Clinton. A shakeup based on bluster but few facts is nothing but a dance with danger.

Sanders was going to try to break the establishment. Trump can only break the nation.

Trump would pit white against black, white against Hispanic, Muslim against non-Muslim. Trump would subject women to punishment for having abortions, depending on which day you ask him. Trump is chaos and fear and Making America White Again.

Voting for Trump means turning your back on whatever decency you were taught as a child. Who lashes out at parents who lose their son fighting for his country? That’s what Trump did after Khizr Khan, a Pakistani immigrant whose son, Army Capt. Humayun Khan, died in Iraq in 2004, blasted the candidate at the Democratic convention. No sympathy or respect, just retaliation against the Muslim-American who dared to challenge him: “His wife, if you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say,”

What kind of person encourages the nation that took us to the brink of nuclear war to undermine our election system by hacking his opponent? And don’t give me that nonsense he was being sarcastic about Russia. He followed up his remarks in Miami by tweeting about it, doubling down on the foolishness before running away like a child once he finally realized he’d gone too far.

What parent would allow his or her third-grader to name-call as Trump does — “Crooked Hillary” and “Lyin’ Ted,” and the “Pocahontas” label for Elizabeth Warren? So this is what the war against political correctness is about. Kids who bully others no longer would get sent to the principal’s office. In Trump’s case, the bully becomes the principal. Or president.

Trump may have finally gotten around to disavowing former Klan leader David Duke, but Duke and his ilk have heard the dog whistle to white supremacist America all too clear. Democrats lost the South when Richard Nixon let out the same “law and order” dog whistle in 1968 that deftly pinned the nation’s problems on blacks. Do we really want to go down that road again?

You have to sell a piece of your soul to vote for Donald Trump. You have to look the other way and tolerate bigotry and bullying that you would tolerate from no one else, just because you want a Republican, any Republican elected.

Our young people know this. That’s why so many attached themselves to Sanders when they wanted political revolution and that’s why it’s sheer folly to think many would cross party lines to vote for him. They’ve grown up in a country that is growing more and more diverse and won’t engage in this politics of division and fear.

Millions of Democrats spoke for dramatic change. But not enough wanted it Sanders’ way. They will have to rely on Hillary Clinton, the embodiment of the establishment, although one who at her convention gave voice to the words of their cause and, to my ears, after months seemed like she had finally listened to their anguished cries.

The worst you can say about Clinton is that she was reckless with her State Department emails and, like the majority of her Senate colleagues, voted for the Iraq war. The rest is nebulous conspiracy talk.

But Trump is all about conspiracy talk — whether it’s the birther accusations against Barack Obama or Ted Cruz’s father being in on the JFK assassination. He is a habitual liar who, according to Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact, has uttered 30 “Pants on Fire” lies during this campaign compared to 1 for Clinton. (By the way, according to FactCheck.org, he supported the Iraq war before he opposed it, despite his statements to the contrary). And he is singlemindedly dividing our nation and breaking down the norms of society that have held us together.

Republicans, you don’t get to play politics this year. You forfeited that right the moment Trump became the nominee. You can’t look the other way and figure the Paul Ryans and Mitch McConnells can rein him in once he gets into office. Nobody can rein him in.

Think of Khizr Khan and his son when you go to the polls. Think of David Duke. Think of looking your child in the eye and explaining to him or her why it was OK to vote for a bully who doesn’t just want to beat his opponent but jail her.

Come back in four years with a change-making candidate who doesn’t threaten our core democratic values. And then we can pick up the two-party system where we left off before Trump came along.

Larry Hanover is a former reporter who is an adjunct professor of journalism at Temple University.

Follow me on Twitter: @larryhanover.

Postscript: I pleaded for exactly this kind of level-headed thinking and a tidal wave erupted (wish I could claim credit). I believe the tide is turning. Kudos to Jeb Bush’s top adviser, who told CNN on Aug. 1 that she is leaving the Republican Party. “This election cycle is a test,” Sally Bradshaw said. “As much as I don’t want another four years of Obama’s policies, I can’t look my children in the eye and tell them I voted for Donald Trump. I can’t tell them to love their neighbor and treat others the way they wanted to be treated, and then vote for Donald Trump. I won’t do it.”

The next day, Representative Richard Hanna, a Republican from New York, said he would vote for Clinton, calling Trump “unfit to serve” as the nation’s president and commander-in-chief and saying he was “stunned at the callousness of his comments” about the Khans.

But the biggest kudos goes to Maria Comella, the communications guru who made Chris Christie the hot political property he once was. She snubbed Christie by saying she, too, would vote for Clinton. She told CNN that Republicans are “at a moment where silence isn’t an option.”