Thursday, October 20, 2016

An open letter to some of my Trump supporting friends...

I love you and value your friendship and nothing, not even your choice of presidential candidate will change that. You may interpret what I have to say as an attempt to deny your right to voice your opinion. Trust me, it is not. You have every right to your opinion about the Democratic candidate for president as well as to express it. For what it's worth, my opinion about her opponent, the guy with the goofy hair is just that, an opinion, nothing more, nothing less.

The other day I heard a woman on the radio asked this question: "As a woman, how can you possibly justify supporting Donald Trump, given the recent airing of comments he made about making unwelcome advances toward women?" Her answer was this: "Well I'd rather be groped by Donald Trump than killed by Hillary Clinton." The sad thing was, her answer did not surprise me one bit, as I've been hearing the same kinds of things for months from you.

From your comments, it is clear that like that woman, your opinions about Hillary Clinton are based upon hearsay, innuendo, right wing spin factories, stories of non-existent damning videos made up by some guy named Anonymous, selectively edited YouTube clips, juvenile internet memes, and Trump's own half truths and outright lies. All this is fueled by your own unbridled hatred (wherever that comes from) of President Obama and the Clintons. As an article of faith you believe, and more troubling, you pass on every negative story you hear about Hillary Clinton, regardless of the credibility of the source.

Hillary Clinton is far from a perfect candidate. She has not always been transparent, she has changed her stances on issues over the years (something I have no problem with), sometimes out of political expediency (something I do have a problem with), she has accepted money from unsavory groups, and she has at times acted carelessly and irresponsibly. She has also been far and away the most scrutinized candidate in our nation's history. Holding any other candidate to the same standards we hold Hillary Clinton to would expose the same or perhaps far more grievous faults. On the other hand, holding Donald Trump to ANY standard of competence, ethics, honesty, respectability, and decency, exposes what most certainly has to be the least qualified major party candidate for the presidency in anybody's memory.

My opinion of Donald Trump is based upon what he has to say, nothing else. Every word that comes out of his mouth proves to me in no uncertain terms that he is entirely unqualified for any position of public trust, let alone president, and that he is a reprehensible human being to boot. He is arrogant, spiteful, incapable of even the slightest hint of self-reflection, and shamefully ignorant of the US constitution, especially those parts of it concerning the duties of the office of President of the United States. Trump, who had every opportunity to serve his country in the military but chose not to, publicly attacked a Gold Star family for their un-patriotism, then had the absolute gall the next day to accept a Purple Heart from a veteran saying: "I always wanted one of these." He mocked a handicapped reporter and threatened if elected, to put his opponent in jail. Presidents do not put their opponents in jail, dictators do that. No, he is not currently under scrutiny for making lewd, politically incorrect comments, but for openly bragging about criminally assaulting women. Trump’s propensity for turning criticisms leveled against him back on his opponent, (she's a racist-misogynist, she must be on drugs, she’s a liar, she’s crooked, she has a bad temperament, she started the birther movement, her husband is a cad, etc) is childish and laughable. Unfortunately, you willingly buy into his retorts, repeating them as if they were facts.

Whether we like it or not, Clinton and Trump are our only realistic choices for president. Few people actually like Trump but see voting for him as the lesser of two evils. But the idea that Hillary Clinton is just as bad or worse than Donald Trump is ludicrous. Through his own words and deeds, Donald Trump has proven himself to be a clear and present danger to this country if he is elected president. He has openly questioned his advisers about our government's policy of restraint regarding the use of nuclear weapons. Combined with his legendary thin skin, one can only wonder when, not if, he would employ nukes should he gain access to the Oval Office. He has shown dangerous judgement by expressing admiration for brutal world leaders such as Vladimir Putin and Saddam Hussein. He is a divisive figure who has taken advantage of and has exacerbated the tremendous ideological rift in this country, making reasonable public discourse between folks of differing opinions, all but impossible.

Even if he is not elected, Trump poses a threat. Perhaps his single most egregious and dangerous stance, is the completely unfounded notion that if he does not win the general election in November, the election will had to have been rigged. By itself, that notion is laughable. Donald Trump by his own doing has alienated himself from every single American who is not an angry white male. Since we no longer have a plurality of angry white males in this country, and a only trickle of equally angry white females, a Donald Trump victory is highly unlikely. Contrary to what Republican officials in their attempts to disenfranchise certain groups of voters have been claiming for years, voter fraud is not a serious problem in this country, if it is a problem at all.

However you my friend, yourself an angry white person, buy into the nonsense that the election is rigged in Hillary Clinton's favor. This is not only preposterous, it is dangerous. Saying the election is rigged against your candidate with absolutely no evidence to back it up, is tantamount to saying that the results of the election (if your candidate loses) are null and void, therefore you feel no obligation to recognize the winner as the legitimate president. Our fragile democracy is based upon the idea that the minority accepts the will of the majority in elections and in return, the majority accepts the rights of the minority, as defined in our constitution. Please don't tell me that under the Obama administration, and a potential Clinton administration, your Second Amendment rights are and will be violated. As guns become ever more efficient and deadly, never in our history have so many guns been available to so many people for so little effort. That is unlikely to change no matter who becomes president, My point is this, if enough angry white people decide the election is null and void, there are unfortunately enough of them in this country to cause some real trouble, perhaps even to the point of destabilizing our democratic republic, something we claim to value and treasure, to its core.

This may not be a problem for you. You have said what this country needs is change and as an outsider, Donald Trump is the man who will no longer do business as usual. But think about it, if you're having health issues and are unhappy with the team of medical professionals working for you, to whom would you turn for a change in your health care, a real estate developer turned reality TV star? Ah you say but Donald Trump can turn the country around because he is a very successful businessman who understands how the economy and politics work. His leadership skills would make him fit right in with the demands of head of state and commander-in-chief. That rhetoric plays well in a campaign. But candidates talk, presidents govern. It's foolish to assume that someone who is completely green when it comes to the machinations of government can walk into the Oval Office and run a country. And let's face it, Donald Trump's success as a businessman is highly suspect; true he's done very well for himself, but as another successful businessman said about him, "you don't fly away from four bankruptcies in your own private jet."

As I said, my opinions of Trump stated here are nothing but opinions based solely upon my observations of the man during the campaign. You can take them or leave them. Like you I have been exposed to spin from the other side, juvenile anti-Trump memes, highly biased pro-Clinton websites and vitriolic anti-Trump comments from friends on social media. Even though as you know, I have a very strong negative opinion about Trump, I try to put my personal feelings and the feelings of like-minded individuals in their proper context. As I pride myself on being fair and open minded, I'd love to hear from you if you think I'm misguided about Trump, or missing something important.

In return I'd like to ask a favor. I'd like to ask that you as well put all the extraneous stuff aside, including your own personal feelings about the Clintons and President Obama, We're voting for president, not our drinking buddies. If you do feel compelled to post opinions on Hillary Clinton, please try to stick to rational facts based on personal observation, not opinions of others whose ideology happens to jibe with yours.  On occasion, read as I do, publications you wouldn't normally read, and try to see where those writers are coming from, rather than automatically dismissing them because they have a different ideology from you. On the same token I'd like to ask all my Clinton supporting friends to do the same. You may be surprised that people on the other side aren't as different from you as you'd like to think.

Or you might not. But whatever you do, please vote with your head and not your heart. I agree with Donald Trump on one point, this election is probably the most important one you'll ever face in your life. No matter whom you vote for, please base that vote on intelligence, rationality and insight, not on fear, anger and hatred.

Thank you for your attention.

your friend,

Jim