There are many candidates running for president. Anyone make an argument for why one is better than the rest, and Americans will have that chance starting February 1 when Iowa caucuses. But almost all of the candidates who have a shot at winning pass the very basic test of being competent enough to govern. Almost all of them know about the policies, try to understand how to fix the country’s problems, and care to even a minimal degree about being respectable, discussing the issues, and working with all Americans. All but one.
This week the esteemed conservative magazine National Review put out its “Against Trump” issue, and we have heard from the usual suspects at Fox News and in the establishment that we need to “get in line.” “How dare they trash the frontrunner!”
How dare we indeed? Donald Trump has never trashed anyone, after all!
But telling the truth isn’t the same as being a vulgar hot mess who randomly attacks people for no reason or for speaking truth to power. The fact is, Trump is an extraordinarily unqualified, classless, and authoritarian wannabe who could do great damage to the country if elected. As I am an opinion journalist, who writes columns, it is my job to point that out. There is no contradiction between taking a stand and being an opinion journalist—indeed, having and expressing an opinion is what opinion journalists are supposed to do. The best of them took on arrogant and corrupt leaders. George Orwell took up his pen against imperialism, pacifism, and fascism (not to mention his gun in Spain); Hunter S. Thompson took on Nixon in Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ‘72; Chinese intellectuals were persecuted for writing about the mania, violence, and starvation under the Mao’s campaigns and Cultural Revolution; and of course William F. Buckley spent a career making the intellectual argument for conservatism, supporting the spread of individual freedom around the world via anti-Communist foreign policy and at home, including critiquing the narcissism of Trump.
Here we have a candidate who threatens to sue newspapers for reporting on his bankruptcies, who said he would “certainly” create a government database of Muslims in America, who incited his fans to physically assault a non-violent protester and said that they were right to do so, defended Putin from charges that he kills political opponents by equivocating the United States with Russia (“Our country does plenty of killing, too”), and his personal account tweets racist messages about “white genocide”. This is all fact. He has done it all. No amount of politically correct denials from Team Trump can change the reality.
To say he is an authoritarian or that he seems to have an admiration for fascistic types (he praised Putin and Kim Jong Un no less) is not hyperbole. Think of a president in recent years who openly supported doing any of that?
Nor is he one iota qualified to have his hand on the nuclear trigger. After all, he doesn’t even know what the nuclear triad is. Nor does he know what Hamas and Hezbollah are, and he gets the Kurds confused with Iran. These aren’t tough questions. These are things that ordinary observers of politics know—and the Commander-in-Chief, in charge of sending our troops into harm’s way, ought to know better than the average Joe. Trump treats questions of war like a game—“we’ll bomb the hell ought of them” one day and “leave it to Russia” the next.
Nor does his excuse that ”I’ll know when it’s appropriate” pass muster. Now is the appropriate time. Now is when we are judging the candidates.
He certainly hasn’t shown any competence at hiring people who can do the job for him. The people he hired tweeted a campaign promo with Nazi soldiers and a video supposedly honoring U.S. troops with Russian soldiers. (Seeing a pattern here?) His national campaign spokesperson attacked Barack Obama and Mitt Romney for having foreign-born parents and called Obama “head Negro”.
Many conservatives have pointed out that he is not conservative. That is empirically clear. He even praised socialized healthcare. But his positions on those issues aren’t the main things that make him dangerous. He need not be a Nazi to be a demagogue with much more in common with fascistic traditions than any of the other candidates. The whole point is to stop well before you start getting to those comparisons.
So resist him we must. Since he is running in the Republican primary, that is where the fight will, at this moment, take place. That is why conservative voters ought to know he isn’t conservative. But liberals and moderates ought to support those conservatives who are now Against Trump. If Democrats think that his win would be good for them because he’s one of the few candidates Hillary Clinton is currently leading in the polls, they might be right, but they can’t afford to take those changes with the country. November is too far out to predict. Those who argue he’s too far ahead in the polls and that we can’t stop him are missing the point. The truth is the truth, no matter what polls say, but he and many of his supporters show a willingness to analyze policy based on popularity contests, another facet of demagoguery.
This week, Bombs and Dollars is joining in endorsing the National Review campaign Against Trump and printing the opinions of grassroots conservatives who are Against Trump to show that it is not just professional pundits Against Trump. Doug Welch was the first to do so. More will come.