An argument against Trump (updated)
Getting things done
One of Trump’s major selling points is that he does and will get things done.
Let’s look at his recent record: His own kids weren’t registered to vote in the primaries. His plane wasn’t properly registered (a simple process that costs $5 and that could cost him about $40,000 in fines and 4 years in jail). Ted Cruz outmaneuvered and out-organized him in almost every state so that if it came to a 2nd ballot, he’d have the win for sure. Not exactly a great record for the first 4 months of the year.
Trump thinks he can get things done because, as the boss billionaire, he’s always been able to, and no one has ever told him no to his face and been able to make it stick. Being president isn’t like being the boss, though. It took Obama a supermajority in congress to get Obamacare passed, it wasn’t the bill he’d have wanted, and it needed every vote it got in the senate. Without a particularly cooperative party behind him, and certainly without a supermajority, Trump will only be able to do the little that the constitution lets him… or he could act illegally.
Good at business means good at government
A government isn’t supposed to be run like a business. The job of government is to balance out the excesses of laissez faire capitalism and take care of things like infrastructure and positive international relations. Not to bring in more money than it spends. A businessman’s instincts would be all wrong. Cutting costs, i.e. not spending money on education or bridges because that only pays off after your time as CEO is done anyway, isn’t something we want the government to do. But let’s say you disagree with me, and like the idea of someone good at business as president.
Trump isn’t a good businessman
It’s really hard to lose money when you start with several hundred million dollars. The deck, at that point, is stacked in your favor. Trump trumpets how good he is at business, but since he inherited his money, he’s done worse than the stock market, if you accept that he’s worth about $10 billion, an amount which includes the ~$3 billion dollars at which he values his name.
Trump’s confidence resonates with many people, but it’s not confidence born of genuine success, it’s confidence born of no one ever telling their billionaire boss that he (the boss) made a mistake. It’s confidence cultivated because it’s good for business to appear confident. Trump rates his own confidence as being worth $3 billion, after all. Like many shady businesses, it’s based on perception, not reality.
Take a look at the art of the deal. He certainly hasn’t been good at it within the Republican party.
There are some things a president can do without congress. Changing trade policy isn’t one of them. Let’s say Trump got congress (led by Paul Ryan who totally disagrees with Trump on this) to start threatening China or Mexico to cut off trade. To get them to pay for the wall, or something similar.
Trump has suggested that he’ll threaten Mexico with a trade war (which means putting up barriers to trade like import taxes). Right now, we have a trade deficit with Mexico and China, which means that they get more money, and we get more stuff. To a businessman like Trump, all that matters is the direction of money flow. But our trade deficit means we’re getting more STUFF than we’re losing. If we stop trade, they’ll have less green papers, and we’ll have less STUFF, and our quality of life here in the USA will fall.
Not having Mexican stuff will hurt us more than not having money will hurt them. With less stuff in this country and more money, the value of the dollar will fall, and we’ll be able to buy less with it. In other words, the US may get some jobs back, but we’ll suffer from severe inflation and falling standards of living.
WTF conspiracy theories.
He thinks Obama is a foreigner, a stance generally taken by racists for no other reason than Obama looks different, and that isn’t the America that they recognize. He Knows Nothing (about white supremacists). He thinks Autism is caused by vaccines. He thinks global warming is a hoax. In short, he’s anti-science and anti-intellectual.
There aren’t government agencies taking care of illegal immigrants. They’re just willing to live 10 to an apartment and work hard for $6 an hour, because going back to their home countries is more dangerous and less pleasant and less lucrative. Rounding them up and kicking them out will be super expensive, and Trump would cut corners in costs like food for these folk. Trump is basically calling for another Trail of Tears, one of the worst atrocities of American history. I don’t support atrocities.
Implausibility of building a wall
Only in the era of video games could people take this proposal seriously. You can’t point, click, and spend, and it’s done. As far as I can tell, cost estimates for building the wall don’t account for how the price of cement is going to spike when the USA orders millions of tons of it. I don’t think the infrastructure to produce all that cement even exists in the US. It definitely doesn’t in Mexico. If we build it, it will be at the expense of building anything else in this country, including repairs to our crumbling bridges, or potholed roads.
Confusing Syrian refugees with ISIS is like confusing German Jews and Nazis. Worrying about the terrorists among the refugees is like worrying about Nazis hiding among Jews. We’re just so far from the conflict here in the USA that many of our citizens seriously can’t tell the difference. They’re all from Syria, see.
Other countries refusing to accept refugees led to the deaths of many Jews in the 1940s, and it will lead to the death of many Syrian refugees who are innocents. These are people who fled the conflict rather than take up arms. These are people who quite simply want to find a way to put their lives back together rather than fight. Why would an ISIS supporter spend years trying to desperately feed and clothe themselves while hoping to win entry to the United States when they could be waging their holy war much more easily?
In short, Trump doesn’t have a clue.
This next appeal is moral, rather than pragmatic.
Minorities, especially Muslims
There are two directions a country can take regarding how it treats its minorities: The path of Canada and the path of Iraq/Sri Lanka. Canada says, as best they can, “hey, you’re welcome here, this is your country”, and they don’t suffer from violent extremism. In Iraq and Sri Lanka, majorities made it clear that the minorities could vote, but they’d lose every election to the more populous majority, and the majority’s parties would blatantly give their ethnicity an advantage. The result in both countries is that the minorities rose in armed revolution. The Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, who were brutally suppressed after a long and costly war in which civil liberties were savagely curtailed. ISIS in Iraq, where many Sunnis came to the conclusion that rule by ISIS would be better for them than rule by a tyrannical Shia majority.
In this country, we’re somewhere between those two examples. Our ideals are in the right place, but our racist attitudes lead to the disproportionate and unjust killing of black men by police in situation where they’d let anyone else live. Our constitution mandates freedom of religion, but discrimination against Muslims is very popular. By speaking it aloud, Trump increases the feeling among minorities that this country doesn’t see them and won’t treat them as full citizens. As a minority, I feel that way, and I’m Jewish. Trump hasn’t said anything specifically anti-Jewish (yet?), but his rhetoric is all too familiar. The founding fathers set up checks and balances precisely to ensure that we would be a nation of laws, so tyranny by the majority would be hard to enforce. Hopefully those checks and balances will hold even if Trump gets elected. But there are examples in history in which dictators overthrew Democracies and ruled popularly by decree. The best examples of this are Jackson, who ignored supreme court decisions, and Mussolini, and you-know-who.
Lack of trustworthiness
Trump said he was going to self-fund. Now he isn’t doing that. Trump had a tax plan. Now he’s talking about replacing that with a different one for the general election. He’ll probably replace it with yet another one after her gets elected. Trump has flip-flopped on so many major issues (health care, pro-choice/life, gun control, immigration), I wouldn’t trust him on any subject. He’ll say whatever’s handy to get himself elected, probably more so than Clinton.