The American Crisis of 2016

I feel compelled to write to convey a profound sense of fear for the future of our nation to those who would vote Donald Trump into power. How does one seriously convey the very real terror that so many Americans now feel? It seems all too easy to dismiss it as alarmist or conspiratorial. I write now to do my best to convince readers that it is not. This election is different, and the consequences could be dire.

Our nation has survived centuries and many of its civilians have never dealt with serious political upheaval. Many have benefited from the relative freedom and comfort that our nation allows. I worry that, as a nation, we possess a shared, though naive, sense of invincibility. Over the years, our nation’s standing in the world has shielded many of us from the vagaries of world politics. I worry that the threat of nuclear war has fallen off our collective radar. I assure the reader, that, as a PhD candidate in nuclear physics, I am painfully conscious of this fact. We must not forget that we are in the possession of weapons capable of destroying all of humanity. We have lived in this precarious world since the ending of World War II, though I suspect those who were born into it became desensitized to this technological threat. We entrust the fate of humanity to a handful of world leaders, with our president near the helm. I wish to express the grave concern that, this time, our hope and trust is misplaced.

It is human nature to sustain hope under the most dire and seemingly absurd circumstances. Unfortunately, it is this same optimism of the human spirit that can lead to our downfall; the flip side of hope is denial. Denial is embedded in the human psyche, for better or for worse.

I would hazard a guess that a large fraction of people are prone to denial when faced with imminent trauma, whether that is a life-threatening disease or a natural disaster. Our minds, in desperation, cannot handle painful truths. We block them out, rationalize them, justify them, and strike bargains. I do not pretend to believe that, at this point, providing evidence of Donald Trump’s bad behavior will change the minds of those electors intending to vote for him, or readers whose ardent support is undiminished. Surely they have seen the endless lists of insults he has hurled at everyone from women, to the disabled, to prisoners of war. I only urge them to please ask themselves: Are you rationalizing what Trump says? Do you believe he doesn’t intend to follow through with his plans? If so, why? Do you really believe he will ‘come around’, despite all evidence to the contrary? These are the phrases spoken by domestic abuse survivors in the throes of an abusive relationship. Their struggle is a universal one. It takes conscious effort to identify boundaries that have been crossed and reject an abuser outright. It is most often the case that these personalities are not amenable to change and the only solution is simply to protect oneself, or else risk potentially disastrous consequences.

The most disconcerting news, by far, is that Donald Trump willfully ignores intelligence briefings because, in his own words, he is ‘smart’. Mark my words, there is no man on this earth that is so smart he doesn’t need intelligence briefings. Electors would be jeopardizing the lives of all of us and our children by electing this man to the highest position of power in the world. He has already been engaging in behaviors that put us at risk, such as engaging in a dialogue with Taiwan and disregarding the ‘One China’ policy. I beg of them to ask themselves if they can in good conscience, vote for a man who willfully disregards input from everyone around him, in particular those who gather intelligence.

Furthermore, the president elect has been implicated in fraud, relating to Trump University, having settled $25 million dollars in a lawsuit brought against him. His record suggests, above all, that it is his intent to deceive others to an extreme degree. He is not divesting himself of conflicts of interest. He has put his children into positions of power. He is compelling the Secret Service to extend its reach to Trump Tower so that his family does not have to live in the White House. This is unprecedented. This is the behavior of someone with authoritarian tendencies. The writing on the wall suggests that he will do everything he can to dismantle the government as we know it. He flaunts violations of the norms that undergird our democracy. His uncanny ability to espouse falsehoods with extreme conviction is already undermining our national concept of reality. He frequently contradicts himself and proffers assertions based on no evidence.

Meanwhile, it has become apparent in the past few weeks that US intelligence agencies have grounds to believe that foreign powers, specifically, Russia, influenced this election. This poses a critical menace to our democracy. If Donald Trump has been acting as an accomplice to Putin, he is not suitable for the presidency. Indeed, his responses on this matter have been flippant and absurd at best. He appears to have no qualms in befriending a world leader who has historically been our rival. The implications of this are potentially far-reaching and dangerous. The Cold War is a not-so-distant memory for many in this country.

If the electors do not act to stop this, we will be in uncharted territory. Never before in our history have we handed over the reins to someone so unqualified. Never before have we handed over power to someone who refused intelligence briefings. Never before have we elected someone who was under the influence of foreign powers. The technological prowess of our nation is not to be underestimated at this time. If such technology falls into the wrong hands, the consequences will be disastrous.

Federalist №68 expounds upon the purpose of the Electoral College. It clearly states that candidates who are prone to demagoguery, operating under the influence of foreign powers, and profoundly unqualified are unfit for the presidency. Herein lies the original intent of the Electoral College. To vote against Trump is not only sanctioned, but supported by our Constitution. It is the moral imperative of our electors to express loyalty to our nation and its founding documents with their vote.

This is the very situation the founding fathers predicted. It is their responsibility, as patriots, to protect our nation from this threat by voting against Trump. They have the power to make history by using their unique position of influence in what may be the most critical election of all time.