Why I will never vote for Don­ald Trump

Chicago Sun-Times - - OPINION - BY LINDA CHAVEZ Linda Chavez is the au­thor of “An Un­likely Con­ser­va­tive: The Trans­for­ma­tion of an ExLib­eral.”

If Don­ald Trump wins the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion, I and mil­lions of con­ser­va­tives like me will not vote for him.

Some will stay home on Elec­tion Day; oth­ers will go to the polls to sup­port down-ticket can­di­dates in im­por­tant races. We will do so fully aware that this could well mean an­other four years of a Demo­crat in the White House. Does this make us traitors or, in the fa­vorite ep­i­thet of our de­trac­tors, RINOs (Repub­li­cans in name only)?

I can only speak for my­self, and I’ll start with the last ac­cu­sa­tion.

The first Repub­li­can I ever voted for was Ron­ald Rea­gan in 1980. I was still a reg­is­tered Demo­crat— but one who had only voted for the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee in a sin­gle pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, 1968, as a 21-year-old col­lege stu­dent. I voted for Rea­gan largely be­cause I be­lieved that Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter had weak­ened Amer­ica’s de­fenses and our stand­ing in the world. I joined Pres­i­dent Rea­gan’s ad­min­is­tra­tion in 1983, still a reg­is­tered Demo­crat, and did not change my af­fil­i­a­tion un­til 1985.

For me, party has al­ways mat­tered less than political phi­los­o­phy. I was al­ways a con­ser­va­tive on most is­sues, from my op­po­si­tion to racial quo­tas to my be­lief that the Soviet Union was in­deed an evil em­pire. I vote for the can­di­date who best rep­re­sents my prin­ci­ples— and since 1980, that has been the GOP nom­i­nee. I haven’t al­ways been en­thu­si­as­tic about my choices, but I have at least been con­fi­dent that on the big is­sues, the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee would keep Amer­ica safer and more pros­per­ous than the al­ter­na­tive.

I can­not say that about Don­ald Trump, who, I be­lieve, is a dan­ger not only to the prin­ci­ples I hold dear but to the na­tion I love. I have heard noth­ing from him that sug­gests he has ei­ther a ba­sic un­der­stand­ing of our con­sti­tu­tional sys­tem or min­i­mal knowl­edge about do­mes­tic or for­eign pol­icy.

What I have heard is per­sonal praise for au­thor­i­tar­ian regimes and strong­men, from Vladimir Putin to, amaz­ingly, Kim JongUn. “How many young guys— he was like 26 or 25 when his father died— take over th­ese tough gen­er­als, and all of a sud­den . . . he goes in, he takes over, and he’s the boss,” Trump said in Iowa. “You gotta give him credit.” Of Putin, Trump lav­ishly praised the au­thor­i­tar­ian’s “lead­er­ship” and gave a hint of how he would deal with Putin’s aims to stake a claim to the old Soviet em­pire: “A lot of good things could hap­pen with Rus­sia if we get along with Rus­sia and if they re­spect us.”

On eco­nomic pol­icy, Trump’s only plat­form is to launch a trade war with our ma­jor part­ners that would dev­as­tate the Amer­i­can econ­omy.

His ap­peal to blue-col­lar work­ers is that he would bring jobs home from China, Mex­ico and Ja­pan by slap­ping huge tar­iffs on for­eign goods and would force out Mex­i­cans and oth­ers who are work­ing in low-wage jobs for which Amer­i­cans have shown no ap­petite.

If he suc­ceeded in both, it would mean that the goods and ser­vices all Amer­i­cans buy would be far more ex­pen­sive and less avail­able. As for the jobs that un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants would va­cate, do you think his sup­port­ers would be lin­ing up to pick let­tuce and toma­toes or debone chick­ens or scrub toi­lets if Trump were to launch his de­por­ta­tion raids?

The me­dia have en­abled him from day one to be­come the front-run­ner by giv­ing him un­lim­ited free time to drive rat­ings. I don’t think it’s too late to stop him, but the next two weeks will tell.

This was sup­posed to be the year Repub­li­cans took back the White House. We had ev­ery­thing go­ing in our fa­vor, in­clud­ing a po­lar­iz­ing and deeply flawed pre­sump­tive Demo­cratic nom­i­nee in Hil­lary Clin­ton. But no one counted on a re­al­ity TV fig­ure’s hi­jack­ing the party of Lin­coln and Rea­gan.

The GOP can sur­vive an­other pres­i­den­tial loss, but it can­not sur­vive a Trump pres­i­dency. More im­por­tantly, the coun­try it­self would be at risk if Trump were to be­come pres­i­dent. I and oth­ers who will never vote for him are no traitors; we are pa­tri­ots who love our coun­try more than we do any political party.

NAM Y. HUH/AP

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