Clinton’s bad, Trump’s worse
A long-time Republican says the nation would recover from the damage Clinton would do but that Trump’s authoritarian impulses pose a real danger
Last week’s exposure of Donald Trump’s exalting his own lustfulness — and his demeaning of women — was not exactly new news, but it finally (and belatedly) elicited the outrage of many of the Republican Party stalwarts. You would think that before now they hadn’t noticed that in Mr. Trump’s world women are simply objects that exist only for the purpose of glorifying his ego. Of course he accords voters exactly the same esteem.
Mr. Trump’s low regard for voters is capsulized in his signature campaign issue: building a wall along the southern border and getting Mexico to pay for it. This proposition was cynically advanced by the candidate with the full knowledge that the wall would never have a snowball’s chance of being built no matter who would become president. The Mexicans would, of course, never contribute a peso, nor would Congress ever fund a dollar for it. But then it was never supposed to be serious policy. Its only purpose was to excite credulous voters into starting a movement that would be reinforced later by less credulous (and possibly even incredulous) voters, building finally into something that would result in the ultimate glorification of Donald Trump.
That worked well enough to win Mr. Trump the Republican nomination, but only because Republican Party leaders shot themselves in both feet. The founders of our republic could have told them how to avoid this indignity. They anticipated that there would be instances where excitable voters might be stampeded by demagogues and the result could be the election of a despot. It is for this reason that the Electoral College exists — to allow more knowledgeable delegates to be empowered so that they can temper their constituents’ desires with their own judgment.
The GOP is set up the same way. The voters don’t select the nominee, the convention delegates do. Unfortunately, most of the July convention delegates didn’t grasp that this was how the system worked and so they didn’t do their duty. After that, most of the party establishment caved also. It was a degrading spectacle.
The general electorate is about to do for the Republican Party what it wouldn’t do for itself: decontaminate it. Mr. Trump deserves to lose in November and with any luck, he will lose by a large margin. Hillary Clinton, if and when elected, may do plenty of damage as president but the country can eventually recover from it. A Trump victory, by contrast, would be an epic national disaster. Every president we have had until now, competent or incompetent, when the chips were down could be considered willing of putting the nation’s interest before his own. Not so with Mr. Trump. He will want to make moves toward authoritarian rule with his primary objective being the gratification of his own ego. That’s what makes him so dangerous.
Months ago, when it became clear that the Republican Party had lost its way, my wife and I, Republicans of long standing, stopped supporting it. Yet we believe that the party will eventually find its way back. We are strongly attracted to the philosophy of limited government and free markets, lightly regulated. We look forward to the day when the Trump nightmare is behind us and the GOP returns to its historic principles.