After a campaign of smoke and mirrors, it must be hard to defend him
I know you’re all tired of hearing about American politics and I didn’t plan to write an opinion piece on the matter leading up to Tuesday’s vote. However, last week, The Concordian published “Donald J. Trump is my personal choice,” an opinions piece so selective in its use of partial truths and logical fallacies it’s laughable. While I don’t have the space available to challenge every line I could contest, I’ll take some time to address a few of the most absurd arguments.
Let’s just start with the claim that Trump can, in any way, be a “peace candidate.” This view is unsupported and, frankly, ludicrous. Trump is the candidate who allegedly, during a meeting with a foreign policy expert, asked three times why the United States couldn’t use nuclear weapons, according to MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough. He also clearly expressed his willingness to give more countries nuclear weapons and to use them in the Middle East and Europe during several interviews.
This indicates a willingness to use these weapons, which might stem from either a lack of understanding of the consequences of starting a nuclear war or a lack of concern for those consequences—and I’m not sure which is worse. Trump even said “I love war in a certain way,” during a campaign speech in Fort Dodge, Iowa almost a year ago. In that same speech, he said “I’ll bomb the shit out of them,” referring to ISIS, in order to clear oil-rich areas to get the oil for the United States. As the non-partisan fact checking group Politifact reported, Trump also expressed support for the war in Iraq—something he now regularly denies he ever said.
None of this even includes the fact that Trump said during campaign events that he’d be willing to target the families of suspected terrorists and use torture, including waterboarding. These are not the policies of a “peace candidate,” and to make such a claim is bordering on disillusionment.
A team of journalists at Vox examined Trump’s statements about his foreign policy and found a common thread: he believes foreign policy needs to be tied to the US’s financial interests. “The problem is that foreign policy can’t be reduced to a question of dollars and cents,” they wrote, “and attempts to do so—even in the form of Trump’s bombastic campaign rhetoric—can do lasting damage.”
All this doesn’t even cover the level of domestic unrest that could emerge with Trump’s presidency. The encouragement of stop-and-frisk policies—which, as a 2013 court case in New York highlighted, can be abused and violate American’s fourth amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure—are part of his “law and order” stance.
These policies are a continuation of policies which contributed to the U.S. having the highest prison population rate in the world, according to The Washington Post. It’s also difficult to see how breaking up families and kicking out more than 11 million undocumented immigrants with a deportation task force, as Trump has promised to do, is something that can be done peacefully or easily.
This isn’t to say that I think Hillary Clinton’s neoliberalist policies will move the world towards peace or cut down America’s military industrial complex. However, she has decades of experience and her stability in the face of international turmoil will allow her to guide the United States through the rough waters of international relations. The last thing we need is someone as unstable as Trump, who has shown repeatedly on his Twitter page that he’s quick to shoot from the hip without thinking of the consequences.
On a quick side note, Trump’s immigration policy in particular is serving as a rallying cry for white supremacy groups across the country. Trump’s legitimization of racist rhetoric has contributed to a political climate where someone like former Ku Klux Klan grand dragon David Duke can openly run for the senate in Louisiana.
Trump has definitely amassed a questionable group of supporters to say the least. Take a look at the endorsement of Trump by The Crusader, a prominent white-supremacist publication. While Trump’s campaign has condemned the endorsement, it nonetheless serves as an example of how his rhetoric and policies appeal to a violent group of racist extremists.
If those voting for Trump are unable to acknowledge or even question why he appeals to such people, they (no matter how unwillingly) contribute to legitimizing these deplorable groups and what they stand for.
Now, onto the claim that Trump is somehow “pro-ethics.” It’s true that his policy puts forward some measures to fight for term limits and push back against lobbying in Washington. However, it doesn’t hide the fact that he runs a large company which is a massive conflict of interest, one which I find more of an issue than any potential conflict critics have pinned on Clinton.
This is especially troubling since, according to Newsweek, he’s given three different answers about the fate of his company and finances should he win, none which properly separate him from those conflicts of interest.
After refusing to release his tax returns, it’s difficult for voters to know if he has ties to Russian financial institutions. However, an investigative report by Slate magazine revealed regular email communication between Trump email servers and the servers of Alfa Bank, a Russian bank established in the 90s.
Last week’s article took a narrow view on ethics, only looking at financial conflicts of interest of the candidates. It’s much easier to defend Trump based on his claims that he’s taken less money from special interest groups, but even if it were true that’s really the only ethical high ground for a candidate who has repeatedly behaved disgustingly during the campaign.
I won’t waste too much space elaborating on Trump’s degradation of women, people with disabilities, journalists, judges and other politicians. And I would need a separate article just to list the number of people he’s refused to pay for their work—such as Larry Walters, the owner of a Las Vegas drapery company interviewed by the Wall Street Journal—or his hypocritical exploitation of undocumented workers as reported by Slate. I think it’s clear ethics and Trump don’t mix.
I have two more brief points to cover. First, arguing that Trump isn’t a misogynist (despite overwhelming evidence which suggests otherwise) because he supports paid maternity is simply outrageous. Even if supporting paid maternity leave was sufficient to say someone wasn’t a misogynist, he has a lifetime of comments and actions—including his comments about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and his hot mic comments with Billy Bush—which say otherwise.
And second, trying to use Clinton’s gay marriage flip-flop to paint her as an immoral candidate is embarrassingly laughable, considering Trump’s running mate said same-sex marriage is causing a “societal collapse,” according to Time magazine. Pence has even advocated for conversion therapy, according to Politifact.
It’s a shame that I have to spend all of this space rebutting this deplorable defence instead of actually focusing on a campaign between two candidates and how they could better the lives of Americans and the world.