I recently received a message from a former student named Sai (pronounced Sigh.) Yes, you read it correctly. I used to be a teacher at the Colorado Center for the Blind. My job lasted for about two months. I’d love to share a story about how I got fired and went out in a blaze of glory, but truthfully, the job was temporary. It was a summer counseling job. I had the (ahem) honor to work with blind teenagers as a cane travel instructor.
Sai was one of our best. She was quiet, thoughtful and she never broke curfew. A lot of our male students had a crush on her, but she couldn’t be bothered with boys. She was too busy figuring out how to plan her cane travel route, cook a meal and memorize Braille contractions.
As often happens, I kept in touch with some of my students through social media. To that end, Sai wrote me privately a few days ago and asked this question. I will paste the relevant portion below, then give my response.
Since you mentioned that you wouldn’t mind answering questions about politics, I’d like to ask one thing I’ve been curious about. Because you consider (or maybe used to consider) yourself a republican, but you don’t support Donald Trump, what are you planning to do when the election rolls around in November? I heard that some democrats who don’t like Hilary would bite their lips and vote for her anyway because they don’t want trump as president, so I was just wondering what republican supporters who don’t like Trump would do. Please let me know if you don’t feel comfortable answering any of my question, or if you’re already planning to address it in one of your future blog post. In the former case I’ll just wait to read your article.
Sai, here is your rather protracted answer.
I am a part of the Never Trump movement. That means exactly what it says. Under no circumstances will I ever be persuaded to vote for Donald Trump for president. He has had almost 14 months to convince me and he has failed miserably. Many Republicans disagree with me and I will try my best to illustrate their position later in this post.
I don’t believe that Mr. Trump has proven himself to be temperamentally suited for the Oval Office.
Serving as the President of the United States is the most difficult job in the world. It requires the ability to have a vision of what you think America should be. It requires the ability to compromise with many competing agendas. I don’t merely mean the Republicans and the Democrats, but you have to manage hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people, all with their own selfish interests in mind. A truly gifted leader has the ability to maintain his or her own vision while simultaneously respecting the goals and views of their opponents. If you want examples, study Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.
Most leaders are not truly gifted. If they are merely good, they possess the ability to steer a steady course in order to keep our country safe from harm, whether that harm comes from internal or external forces.
Donald Trump has demonstrated that he is completely bereft of these characteristics. He is a petty bully when he feels attacked, resorting to name-calling and blame displacement that is more befitting an adolescent than an adult. When he is asked about his views on issues of substance, he often dodges the questions, resorting to slogans and shallow political rhetoric to smooth over his very obvious deficiencies in his knowledge of political affairs.
He is capricious in the making of promises that have no chance of ever being kept. There is no practical way that we will ever build a wall along our southern border and compel Mexico to pay for it. There is no pragmatic way that we can ever start a trade war with China without suffering major financial repercussions. There is no legal or ethical way we can ever ban an entire religion from entering this country.
There are many other objections I have to Mr. Trump, but we don’t have enough time to go into all of them.
The other major red flag I will discuss here is the fact that Trump refuses to release his tax returns. It is pro forma for all presidential candidates to disclose their financial records to the public. Trump has made it clear that he refuses to do so. He blames an IRS audit for this, but that is a dodge. An audit does not prevent anyone from making their tax returns available for public scrutiny.
One of the biggest reasons that Trump inspires his supporters is because they believe that he is a rich man who creates jobs and builds things. Trump is, by nature, a braggart. If his tax returns would flatter his image as a self-made billionaire, he would release them in a heartbeat. Moreover, he wouldn’t just casually release them. He’d throw them in the faces of his skeptics, adding his middle finger to boot.
Yet, his campaign manager, Paul Manafort, recently indicated that the Trump campaign had no intention of releasing his tax returns during the current cycle. I’m sure there are sound reasons for this. I believe that, if he were to show them to the public, we would learn a good deal about his finances that would not flatter his not-so-carefully crafted façade as an economic stimulator.
I am sad to say that many people who voted for Trump in the primaries were not smart. They chose not to employ their critical thinking skills, choosing instead to fall for his populist line of bs. After he became the Republican nominee, many who did not initially support him came reluctantly over to his camp. This is not because of his skills of persuasion, but rather, they are taking a desperate stand against the alternative to Trump, Hillary Clinton.
From an experience perspective, Hillary has Trump beat hands down. She was the First Lady for eight years, a senator from New York for six years and she spent four years as Secretary of State. Yet, many people on both sides of the aisle view her resume as a weakness. They believe that Hillary represents a broken and corrupt system that badly needs to be reformed. She does very little in her conduct to effectively counter this image.
Hillary badly mishandled the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, she put our national security at risk by storing classified E-mail messages on her private server, then blatantly lied to the public, the press and FBI investigators in order to cover it up. The recent revelations that the DNC tried to stack the deck against Bernie Sanders came as no surprise to me. I am hard pressed to think that Hillary didn’t have a hand in it.
The feminist fanfare about Hillary shattering the glass ceiling by being the first woman nominee for president rings hollow with me. Her husband, former President Clinton, is a proven sexual predator. I firmly believe that she enabled and covered up his atrocious behavior, thereby putting many women in jeopardy, in order to advance her career. I have no doubt that she will perpetuate Obama’s liberal agenda for the country by appointing left-of-center Supreme Court justices, by federally funding abortion and by adding to our already staggering national debt.
I’ve heard a few Republicans say that they would rather bite the bullet and vote for Hillary, rather than support Trump. Frankly, I don’t know how any self-respecting Republican could ever pull the lever for Hillary. Trump exemplifies the stark fact that desperation makes people do crazy things. Whatever the case, I am too conservative for this option. In these perilous times, I could be persuaded to vote for a moderate Democrat, but such a breed doesn’t exist anymore, thanks largely to Bernie Sanders. At any rate, Hillary sure ain’t it.
Many Trump supporters have tried to pressure me to change my mind, invoking the anti-Hillary arguments. Sometimes, their attacks have become personal. One Trump supporter called me, “Narrow-minded,” because I refuse to back Trump.
I am not an inflexible person. I have made compromises in the voting booth in spite of my conservative world view. In 2008, I supported John McCain for president, even though he was not my first, nor second, nor third choice during the primaries. I disagreed with his stance on immigration, manmade global warming and campaign finance reform. That said, I believed that, at his core, he was a Republican who cared about the welfare of our country.
In 2012, I voted for Mitt Romney, even though his involvement with socialized healthcare in Massachusetts and his past pro-choice views made me nervous. Once again, I perceived Romney as a decent person who would do what was best for the country.
But for me, Donald Trump is a bridge too far. He is an opportunistic, narcissistic bully with no real sense of what it takes to serve as the leader of the free world. Bill Kristol, a political pundit and father of the Never Trump movement, has a saying that I have found to be accurate. “Trumpism corrupts.” He is saying that Trump’s bad behavior has infected, not only the leaders of the Republican Party, but his supporters as well. If the high-pressure tactics of those who show a preference of the stick to the carrot is any indication, Kristol is dead right.
Trump’s tactics may have been effective in the primaries when the voters were fragmented between 17 candidates, but they have only served to backfire on him since the Indiana primary. Instead of instigating and provoking, Trump should be wooing disaffected members of the conservative base, as well as right-leaning independents. The fact that neither Ted Cruz nor John Kasich would endorse him is very telling.
He should have made amends with Ted Cruz, thereby courting his endorsement at the GOP convention in Cleveland. Instead, his supporters tried to bully Cruz once again from the floor, only to discover that it was all for not. Cruz refused to endorse Trump, gaining my respect along with many other rock-ribbed conservatives. Even though the convention was hosted in Cleveland, Ohio Governor John Kasich refused to attend, declining an opportunity to associate himself with Trump’s antics.
As we head into the final three months of the campaign, Republicans now find themselves weathering one gratuitous controversy after another as Donald Trump attacks judges of Hispanic heritage, Gold Star families who happen to be Muslim and babies at his rallies. I don’t even want to talk about Putin. I understand that many want to shake up the political establishment in Washington D.C., but Trump is a walking, talking hand grenade who serves as the wrong kind of disruption.
This is the dilemma our country now faces. We get to choose which poison we’d rather drink. Would you rather sip a cyanide shake, or arsenic juice? I choose neither. My party affiliation creates no obligation for me to vote for any candidate, particularly when he (and many of his supporters) presume that they are entitled to my favors.
I was praying that a viable third-party alternative would emerge before the Republican convention, but my hopes have been repeatedly dashed. I investigated Gary Johnson, but in these troubling times of ISIS and the fatally flawed Iran nuclear deal, I feel the libertarian approach of non-intervention is willfully naive. So, I will do what Ronald Reagan did in 1976 and leave the presidential contest blank when I go to vote in November.
To my Trump-supporting comrades who would accuse me of a proxy vote for Hillary, nice try. That is a manipulation tactic worthy of The Donald, but it is not a positive argument in favor of a candidate. It was appropriate in 2008 when I cast a pro-McCain vote that was really anti-Obama, but it won’t fly this time. Trump is just too unstable to be given the nuclear codes. Yes, I remember Marco Rubio’s words, even if he doesn’t.
You asked whether or not I still consider myself a Republican. The answer is a hesitant, yes. I’m not ready to leave the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan just yet. That said, I am particularly angry at the way the GOP silenced descent on the floor of our convention two weeks ago when the anti-Trump delegates tried to have their say. I will remember those actions with bitter irony the next time some GOP official is censored from speaking on a college campus.
Despite our recent difficulties (which were largely self-inflicted), I still believe that the GOP is the best apparatus to keep this country on the right track. If we are still in chaos four years from now, I will give up my long-held Republican registration and become an Independent until such time as a viable conservative third party can be established.
Finally, Sai, let me slip briefly back into my role as your instructor. You’re in college now and you indicated to me that the pervasive sentiment on your college campus is liberal. I won’t presume to tell you how to think. I can only give you the facts as I see them and let you draw your own conclusions. Any good teacher or friend who truly cares about you will adopt this same approach. The structured discovery method is the best, whether we’re talking about cane travel, or life in general.
That said, the reason that the Democrat party is being pulled to the left is due to Bernie Sanders; a self-described socialist. Many of your professors and fellow students agree with the core tenants of socialism. I strongly urge you to employ your critical thinking skills that I know you have and analyze socialism.
When Bernie Sanders says that he wants to make college free for all, is it possible? I submit to you that there is no such thing. Someone, somewhere, will always have to pay the bill, whether it’s for college, entitlement benefits such as Food Stamps, or mass transit in a big city like Denver. When Bernie Sanders talks about breaking up the banks, is that something that a president should be allowed to do? When he talks about defunding the military, do you think Russia and ISIS would welcome such a thing?
Then, ask yourself, your friends and your teachers where socialism has succeeded in the world. I’ll give you a hint; take a hard look at Venezuela.
I appreciate your questions, Sai. You were a joy to work with two years ago and I hope you are well now. I apologize that this was so long, but I wanted to give you as thorough an explanation as possible.
Take care, Sai, and please do keep in touch.
Your friend and former instructor,