Monday, August 8, 2016

A Reagan Republican votes for Clinton - and why more of those troubled by Trump should do the same

This Reagan Republican is but one instance of a larger trend towards Republican candidates distancing themselves from Trump.

Frank Lavin explains in excruciating detail why Trump does not deserve his vote in Reagan Republican: Trump is the emperor with no clothes.

This decision is not an easy one. I proudly served in every Republican administration over the past 40 years: Ambassador and Undersecretary for George W. Bush, Commerce Department official for George H. W. Bush, and several White House and State Department assi

More snippets on Lavin's views of Trump follow.

(CNN)I had the honor of serving as Ronald Reagan's White House political director from 1987 to 1989, so I can claim some insight on U.S. politics. My central conclusion on the 2016 race: It might not be entirely clear that Hillary Clinton deserves to win the presidency, but it is thunderingly clear that Donald Trump deserves to lose.

From this premise, I will do something that I have not done in 40 years of voting: I will vote for the Democratic nominee for president. The depressing truth of the Republican nominee is that Donald Trump talks a great game but he is the emperor who wears no clothes.

Trump falls short in terms of the character and behavior needed to perform as president. This defect is crippling and ensures he would fail in office. Trump is a bigot, a bully, and devoid of grace or magnanimity. His thin-skinned belligerence toward every challenge, rebuke, or criticism would promise the nation a series of a high-voltage quarrels. His casual dishonesty, his policy laziness, and his lack of self-awareness would mean four years of a careening pin-ball journey that would ricochet from missteps to crisis to misunderstandings to clarifications to retractions.

In addition to Trump's constant beligerance, notably his "tasteless criticism" of the Khans, Lavin skewers Trump for something with which business-friendly Republicans should find fault - the serial bankruptcies.

[They are] a part of the Trump story that ought to have particular resonance with Republicans: his four business bankruptcies, more than a trivial matter for a party that prides itself on thrift, sound money, and prudential management.

The bankruptcies reflect a man who either lacks reasonable business judgment or reasonable business ethics. By themselves, four bankruptcies are pretty bad. But four bankruptcies and a private jet is deplorable. How can everyone lose money in the collapse of a project yet Trump flies away again and again?

There are many issues on which Hillary Clinton and I are not in agreement. However on the core foreign policy issues our country faces -- alliance relationships, security commitments, and international engagement -- she comes closer to Republican views than does Trump. And Donald Trump makes me cringe. I am voting for Hillary. And I vote in Ohio.

h/t Paul McCreary for the CNN report

"We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.”

That's the emerging feeling among Republicans including those up for election. I get the sense that they are finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel - the light signaling the on-rushing electoral locomotive with Donald Trump as its engineer. But they've already entered the tunnel ...

Here's a sample from the New York Times report.

What stops Republicans from disavowing Mr. Trump en masse is that they fear alienating his voters, who may be crucial to the party’s efforts to retain its congressional majorities. In an era in which fewer voters split their tickets, it is important to Republican leaders that Mr. Trump at least run competitively with Mrs. Clinton to avert a down-ballot wipeout.

“Do we run the risk of depressing our base by repudiating the guy, or do we run the risk of being tarred and feathered by independents for not repudiating him?” asked Glen Bolger, a Republican pollster working on many of this year’s races. “We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.”

Republicans have to move beyond distancing and vote for Clinton

Josh Marshall at points out the need for Republicans who are troubled by Trump to vote for Clinton. Just distancing, or disavowal, or repudiation by themselves is trying to get absolution on the cheap.

This is not really a message or an argument that I imagine will be terribly relevant to a lot of TPM Readers. But I think it's an important one to state. We're now seeing a trickle of high profile Republicans or Republican elected officials announcing that they will not vote for Donald Trump. So far though I'm only aware of one Republican member of Congress or Governor who says they are voting for Hillary Clinton - Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY).

The simple truth is that unless you're saying who you're voting for and in practice unless you're saying you're voting for Hillary Clinton it's a cop-out, an effort to distance yourself from Trump on the cheap. In a first past the post electoral system like ours, elections are binary choices.

I do not discount the difficulty of taking this step. Far more than in recent decades, partisan affiliation is deeply tied up with personal and public identity in America. This isn't just me spitballing. There are numerous studies showing that far more than in the past our partisan affiliation (or more broadly liberal versus conservative political self-definition) affects who we're friends with, who we'll date or marry, etc. It has become very basic to how many Americans define who they are. If you're a Democrat, just imagine if the Democrats had nominated someone who not only had extremist views but was clearly too mentally unstable to be president. How easy would it be for you to vote for say Jeb Bush? I'd figure that for many that would be a hard hill to climb.

But even with all that said, it's a binary choice. It certainly helps to some degree depriving Trump of a single vote. But by not voting for Clinton you're also depriving the only person who has a chance to beat Trump of a vote.

... [Trump's] mental, psychological unfitness for the office is for a million reasons but most tangibly because of the awesome destructive power entrusted, with few if any real checks, to the President in his role as Commander-in-Chief of the US military with its vast nuclear arsenal. (Thinking it's a terrible idea or even immoral is not a sufficient reason to refuse a president's order for a nuclear strike.)

It's simple. If you really oppose Trump, the danger he poses and what he represents, you need to vote for Hillary Clinton, difficult a step as that may be for many. It's that simple.

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