I am saddened to write this opinion piece, but after much thought, I must. In my long life I have never voted for a Democrat for president. That will change this year.
The country can survive Hillary’s chronic deceptiveness. It might not survive Trump’s erratic, ego-driven recklessness.
Trump is an egomaniac conman who poses the greatest threat to our country of any presidential candidate in history. His instability is demonstrated by the fact that he has changed his party registration at least five times. He was a registered Democrat as recently as 2009. By his rhetoric Trump is not a conservative. By the gullibility of the modern Republican Party, he is their candidate for president. His only true loyalty is to himself.
He boasts that he would strengthen the U.S. military, and then signaled that he might not keep our commitments to NATO, which is practically an invitation to Putin to pounce. Trump says he looks forward to an improved relationship with the Russian dictator. Small wonder.
He brags that he knows more about ISIS than our generals, but is ignorant of fundamental facts about the Middle East. He ridicules the military service of U.S. Sen. John McCain, but obtained five military deferments while McCain was being tortured as a prisoner of war.
Trump brags his success in business qualifies him to be a successful president. Since he won’t release his tax returns we don’t know how successful he has been either in making money or avoiding paying taxes. We do know that his companies have declared bankruptcy at least four times.
Trump brags that he doesn’t need to read, that he follows his own intuition, and makes decisions according to his consistently good judgment. Is government by Trump’s gut something we’re willing to risk?
Trump loyalists argue that conservatives must support Trump to keep Clinton from making liberal appointments to the Supreme Court. The truth is that presidential nominations to the Supreme Court are subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate, and must receive the support of a super-majority of 60 senators before even reaching a final vote. Unless Republicans suffer a huge loss of Senate seats, they can, as they are doing now, prevent confirmation of a nominee they consider too liberal.
No similar checks exist on the president in terms of foreign policy and the critical questions of war and peace. China has expansionistic designs in the South China Sea and Russia in Europe. Who knows about North Korea? When recently asked for his reaction to a possible Trump presidency, President Reagan’s Secretary of State George Schultz responded, “God help us.”
He (or She) might have to. In his 1935 novel "It Can’t Happen Here," Sinclair Lewis shows how a dictatorial demagogue running as a Democrat could seize control of the country. Radical takeover of the staid and grounded old Republican Party seemed unbelievable, even for a novel, back in 1935. Eighty years later, in a very different Republican Party, we saw it happen.
“The Donald,” a real life equivalent of Lewis’s fictional character “Buzz Windrip,” has hijacked the Republican Party. In elections during unsettled times, people generally favor change. Foul-mouthed and big-talking Trump certainly is a change from all previous presidential candidates, and he has a real chance to win. For me the choice is painful, but not difficult. Out of respect for my party’s heritage, and concern for my country’s future, I’ll be voting for the only candidate with a realistic chance of stopping Trump. I’ll be voting for Hillary.
-- Bob Brown, of Whitefish, is a former Montana secretary of state and state senate president.