Momentous national votes have been rather unpredictable in 2016, as the Brexit vote and the rejected Colombia-FARC peace deal have demonstrated. So, those of us genuinely alarmed by the prospect of a Trump presidency must work relentlessly for his defeat until Election Day.
I am a proud Independent who has voted for both Democrats and Republicans. I have published numerous articles excoriating President Obama for his disastrous foreign policy (on Syria, Iran, Israel, etc.) and his domestic scandals.
Thus, I was planning to vote for a qualified Republican in the 2016 presidential election. Unfortunately, Donald Trump is neither qualified nor Republican.
Even if one of the “alternative” candidates looked remotely appealing (here’s why they don’t), a vote for any third-party candidate has historically been a wasted vote. Even Teddy Roosevelt, the most successful third-party candidate in US history, won only 88 Electoral votes and 27% of the popular vote on behalf of the Progressive Party of the United States, but still went on to lose the 1912 elections to Woodrow Wilson (a Democrat).
That’s precisely why Michael Bloomberg, the self-made billionaire and former three-term mayor of New York, ultimately decided not to run as a third-party candidate last March. Bloomberg’s willingness to subordinate his political ambitions to the greater good (in this case, ensuring that Trump loses) only enhances his integrity.
Given the binary Trump-Clinton choice at hand, many voters are still understandably tepid about supporting Hillary Clinton. She is too close to Obama’s policy failures and has been clouded by many scandals, dating back to at least 1993. Israel supporters rightly worry about her entourage of anti-Israel advisers.
Notwithstanding the above, Hillary’s experience, intellect, and diligence make her far more qualified than Trump for the US presidency, as detailed in the New York Times’ endorsement of her candidacy. Moreover, Bill Clinton, who oversaw an economic boom in the US and has long been a friend of Israel (where he remains hugely popular), will provide added brainpower and experience to her team and help to offset any anti-Israel sentiment among Hillary’s advisers.
For those worried that Clinton might mirror Obama’s hostility towards Israel, Israel’s Prime Minister thinks Clinton would be better. And unlike Obama, Clinton is a hawk who favors military action when it comes to Iranian nukes and Syria. The mainstream Israeli public prefers Clinton because they view Trump as unstable and unpredictable — fatal flaws when it comes to protecting the US-Israel relationship. Moreover, Israeli-American billionaire Haim Saban has contributed $10 million to Clinton’s campaign, and his close ties with Clinton should help to ensure her strong support for Israel.
More generally, a Clinton victory would finally break the glass ceiling for female political leaders in the US — one broken long ago in Israel (by Golda Meir) and the UK (by Margaret Thatcher), among other countries. Hillary has been held to an unfair double standard relative to male candidates, so her history-making, electoral triumph would be even more remarkable.
Nevertheless, skeptics can have reasonable, lingering doubts about supporting Hillary. But there can be no doubt about the need to defeat Donald at the polls, given the extreme danger he represents. Commentators have created so many lists of good reasons to oppose Trump that one could compile a list of lists (with new reasons emerging every day). But Keith Obermann’s list of 176 reasons not to vote for Trump is one of the most comprehensive (as of September 13, 2016). TV-show host John Oliver produced an amusingly persuasive explanation of why — as bad as Clinton corruption may be — Trump’s moral failings are far worse.
Many antisemitic controversies associated with Trump’s supporters and campaign have raised concern among Jews, leading to an outraged appeal to Trump’s Jewish son-in-law. In the last year, there have been 2.6 million antisemitic tweets from Trump supporters.
Trump often critiques Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran but was happy to take money from the Iranian bank making purchases for Iran’s nuclear program — yet another example of how Trump stands for nothing but himself (and maybe the Kremlin, whose disinformation campaign Trump seems to be promoting).
Even now, as Trump slips in the polls, he is already trying to undermine the legitimacy of the election because winning matters to him more than US democracy. Indeed, Trump’s threat to prosecute his political opponent if he wins office is unprecedented in American electoral history, and yet another indication of autocratic tendencies that would likely abuse the awesome powers of the presidency. There are real worries that the incitement to violence by Trump and his supporters could lead to more violence and even deeper social divisions.
For those who still want to register their anger at Obama with a protest vote for Trump, such a move may be recklessly self-destructive, given how much damage Trump could cause to the US (and the world) once he becomes the most powerful person on Earth. Indeed, countless conservative papers that haven’t endorsed a Democrat in decades (and, in some cases, over a century) have endorsed Clinton. Conservative personality Glenn Beck is opposing Trump on moral grounds. Trump is so bad that even one of Hillary Clinton’s top enemies, a prosecutor who tried to imprison her, is now trying to elect her.
Trump has shown zero loyalty to his own political party, and tends to escalate tensions and conflict when his feelings get hurt. Why should Israel (or any other US ally) believe that Trump would be any more loyal if personal or policy differences ever emerge? Why should voters trust that Trump wouldn’t be a loose finger on the nuclear trigger when he has such a fragile ego and impulsive temper?
Here’s the scariest thought of all: if so much of Trump’s insult-driven, power-hungry, and often irrational behavior has happened when he still needs votes, how will he act once he’s been elected? And how much more will he abuse power, and autocratically expand it, once he becomes president?
If US democracy manages to dodge “The Donald bullet,” then — if nothing else — the 2016 election should inspire some soul-searching about how such a horrible candidate could come so close to wielding so much power. This election should also spark a public discussion about how to fix the electoral system in a way that promotes more voter choice and better candidates.
Approximately 100 retired generals and admirals have endorsed Hillary Clinton. Trump touts support from 88 (whereas 500 supported 2012 Republican candidate Mitt Romney). But 50 GOP national security experts, many of them past presidential advisers, have warned that Trump “would be the most reckless president in American history”and “put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”
So, preventing a Trump presidency is literally a matter of national security. Voters should pressure Republican leaders to dump Trump and convince his vice-presidential running mate, Mike Pence, to follow suit. Such a potent, last-minute rejection of Trump’s candidacy would likely end his prospects. Pence originally endorsed Trump’s main Republican rival, Senator Ted Cruz, and has himself been offended by some of Trump’s remarks. Pence has frequently differed with Trump on policy. Most importantly, Pence, unlike Trump, is sensitive to political pressure.
One can still vote for Clinton and then work to moderate or oppose her policies, as needed. The world does not end with her election. With Trump, nobody knows. We must act and vote accordingly.
Noah Beck has published extensively on national security and authored The Last Israelis, an apocalyptic novel about Iranian nukes.