Sometimes the hardest part of writing a column is just getting started.
This is one of those times.
It’s not because I have nothing to say. As an opinionated writer who has frequent opportunities to foist his opinions on an unsuspecting public in bites of 850 words or so, I feel more or less compelled to write about the choice facing my readers on election day.
The problem is, I don’t exactly know where to start — so hold your breath, and I’ll just plunge in.
As we all know, many Americans are having a difficult time with this election, particularly with the presidential part of it. Well, I’m not one of the many. I made my tentative decision about two weeks after the candidates announced they were running.
Then I watched as, one by one, these candidates fell by the wayside, and long before the final primary, let alone the conventions, my choice was solidified. Every day since then, I’ve become more certain that it’s the right choice..
It will probably come as no surprise to anyone that I will vote for Hillary Clinton.
My choice won’t mean much. I live in a state where the majority will vote for Donald Trump.
This means my vote won’t really count, because of the Electoral College scheme George Washington and Co. laid on us with the best of intentions back in 1788. Because of that system, Trump’s winning the majority will mean that Wyoming will vote unanimously for him when the Electoral College meets in December — and my vote won’t mean a thing.
Even so, I’ll vote for Clinton.
Most everybody around here thinks I’m a liberal, which I suppose I am, although I don’t think of myself as either liberal or conservative. I think government tries to do some things it can’t do, but I don’t think all government activity is a waste of my tax money or bound to fail. Like most Republicans, for example, I believe in free trade, but like most Democrats, I think the government has an obligation to assist those who lose jobs because of that trade to find another way to make a living — and help them avoid losing their homes or being unable to take their kids to the doctor in the meantime.
But my vote for Clinton isn’t based on liberalism or conservatism, because I have other reasons for voting against Trump.
Throughout his campaign, Trump’s rhetoric has been aimed not at leading, but at destroying. The actions he suggests would severely damage our relations with other nations. The trade agreements he wants to tear up do impact some jobs, but they create others, and in doing so encourage and support economic activity. He also has questioned the NATO agreement that has kept Europe peaceful for decades, and suggests he would ignore it, thereby damaging our relations with major allies. He doesn’t understand that the nuclear treaty with Iran was the product of negotiations involving several nations, and not by President Obama alone. In short, he has demonstrated considerable ignorance about America’s foreign policy, yet he wants to be put in charge of it.
Trump’s rhetoric also tells me he doesn’t know how the government works. He has talked about the Supreme Court passing bills, for example, and believes he will have the power as president to toss Clinton in jail without a trial. Or that he can build a wall on the Mexican border without money appropriated by Congress. In fact, he rarely mentions Congress; instead, he only talks about what he would do. Worse, he doesn’t seem to understand the concept of freedom of religion, freedom of press, rule of law, or even democracy. Four years ago, when he learned Obama had won reelection, he famously said, “This is no longer a democracy,” and recently he said he might not accept the results of the election. This makes me wonder if he really knows what democracy is.
Further, his rhetoric demonstrates that he looks upon politics with disdain. His rants about “political correctness” are essentially attacks on the process by which free people govern themselves. Unfortunately, many Americans also hate politics because it frequently produces policies and actions they don’t like. But politics is vital to a free nation, and the only way to get rid of it is to submit to someone who makes all the rules unilaterally.
And that’s a big reason why I won’t vote for Trump. He believes running the country will be just like running his business. The problem is that, in his business, he can run it the way he wants to without consulting anybody else. He’s a bit like a dictator, and he can expect his employees to jump on his command.
But if he becomes president, he can’t run the United States that way. He can’t just decide to build a wall or throw an opponent in jail. He can’t limit people because of their religion or force newspaper editorialists to stop criticizing him. Instead, he will need to practice politics, and maybe even be “politically correct” to get what he wants, and that will anger many who voted for him. It will also cause great frustration, and we have all seen how he reacts when frustrated by things that don’t go his way.
I have other reasons to vote against Trump, but in short, I believe Trump has neither the understanding, the temperament nor the knowledge he needs to be the president, and I won’t vote for him.
As for voting for Clinton, that will require another column. Sorry.