By Charles M. Blow
There are only a handful of days until Election Day and an end to this phase of a nation’s — and the world’s — ebb and flow of anxiety. The day after the votes are cast and counted that anxiety will either dissipate or become a fixed feature. Which of these it will be is very much in flux.
While Hillary Clinton still maintains a lead in the polls and a built-in advantage on the electoral map, recent polls suggest that Donald Trump is closing the gap. There are now plausible — however improbable — electoral map routes to victory for him.
I leave it to others to make predictions about how all this will play out, but I feel that I must say again, and until the last minute and with my last breath: America, are you (expletive) kidding?!
I simply cannot wrap my head around how others with level heads and sound minds can even consider Trump for president of this country and leader of the free world. The logic simply escapes me.
I try to view it through the lens of economic anxiety, diminished economic mobility and global pressure. It all seems understandable, but then I’m reminded of Donald Trump, a billionaire whose businesses have on more than one occasion gone bankrupt, who stiffed contractors, who outsources the making of many of his products and who brags about not paying federal income taxes. All of which brings me back to: Are you kidding me?
I try to view it through a purely ideological lens in which people simply tend to vote for the party nominee. It makes sense, but then I’m reminded of Donald Trump, a man who isn’t really an ideologue but a demagogue interested only in self-aggrandizement. And again I return to: You’re kidding, right?
I think of the family values voters on the right with whom I’ve become acquainted over the years. Although I might have vigorously disagreed with their positions and their inherent myopic anachronism, at least I could say that they were as principled in their adherence to their positions as I was in opposition to them. But then, again, I hit Donald Trump, who is dragging traditional conservative paternalism into the muck of perversion, who brags about sexually assaulting women, who makes fun of the disabled, who savors a lust for vengeance, who says he has never needed to seek forgiveness, even from God. Again, are you kidding?
I try to think of it from a strict constitutionalist’s perspective, to understand how strongly they want the vacancy on the Supreme Court to be filled by a constitutional purist. But then I think of Trump, whose Muslim ban would fly in the face of the Constitution, whose threats to the press strike me as constitutionally hostile, whose advancement of torture would seem to me constitutionally questionable (to say nothing of its legality in the face of international norms and treaties). Are you kidding, America?
I try to think of it in terms of weariness with Washington and with D.C. insiders, the Clintons in particular, and dynastic democracy in general. I try to think of the intense Clinton distrust and even hatred that exists in some quarters, sentiments only exacerbated by things like this never-ending email saga. But then I hit Donald Trump, a real estate scion who has been sued nearly 1,500 times and is currently being sued for Trump University deceptions and the rape of a 13-year-old girl. You have got to be kidding.
There is no way to make this make sense. Believe me, I’ve tried.
Donald Trump is a bigot.
Donald Trump is a demagogue.
Donald Trump is a sexist, misogynist, chauvinist pig.
Donald Trump is a bully.
Donald Trump is a cheat.
Donald Trump is a pathological liar.
Donald Trump is a nativist.
Donald Trump’s campaign has proved too attractive to anti-Semites, Nazis and white nationalists, and on some level the campaign seems to be tacitly courting that constituency.
Donald Trump — judging by his own words on that disgusting tape and if you believe the dozen-plus women who have come forward to accuse him of some form of sexual assault or unwanted sexual advance — is an unrepentant predator.
To put it more succinctly, Donald Trump is a lowlife degenerate with the temperament of a 10-year-old and the moral compass of a severely wayward teen.
There is no way to make a vote for him feel like an act of principle or responsibility. You can’t make it right. You can’t say yes to Trump and yes to common decency. Those two things do not together abide.
If you are voting for Trump, you are voting for coarseness, corruption and moral corrosion. Period. And if you are not actively voting against him, you are abetting his attempt to hijack American greatness and sink it with his egotism.
On Election Day, America faces a choice, and it’s not a tough one, but a stark one. It is the difference between tolerance and intolerance. It is the difference between respect and disrespect. It is the difference between a politician with some flaws and a flaw threatening our politics.
Donald Trump is America’s existential threat. On Tuesday, America has an opportunity to defend itself.