In some of the 11 times I have been franchised to contribute, my decision of who to support for the next elected President of the United States has been close. I have chosen two from small fringe parties, and three apiece from Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians. My 2012 judgment was particularly marginal, and I picked Barack Obama over Mitt Romney with two days to spare. In 1980, 1984, and 2008, though, I had decided months before, choosing and publicizing my favoring of Ed Clark, Ronald Reagan, and Obama.
This year fits with those three.
During my life, 12 people have occupied this office. I have disliked almost all at one point or another, but only three of the first 11 – Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush – have consistently given me that reaction.
The twelfth has been in a class by himself. Donald Trump has been catastrophically reprehensible.
There is no mitigating what Trump has said, done, and failed to do during his 45 months in office. There are no reasonable comparisons to previous presidents, even to Nixon who resigned in disgrace or Clinton who lied under oath to a grand jury.
I will not attempt to document everything despicable and inappropriate he has perpetrated, as others have already done fine jobs of that. For example, the October 18th New York Times Editorial Board issued a ten-page section titled “The Case Against Donald Trump.” Even factoring out some complaints I consider weak or invalid, they documented an Everest-sized mountain of misdeeds, calling him at length on “his unapologetic corruption,” “his demagogy,” “his incompetent statesmanship,” and “his super-spreader (Covid-19) agenda.” The section’s opening article, “A Man Unworthy of the Office He Holds,” subheaded by “Donald Trump can’t solve the nation’s most pressing problems because he is the nation’s most pressing problem,” started with “Donald Trump’s re-election campaign poses the greatest threat to American democracy since the Second World War,” and, from there, charged him with having “governed on behalf of the wealthy,” having “strained longstanding alliances while embracing dictators like Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin,” having “pitted Americans against one another” and having “flouted the rule of law.” He was impeached, unsuccessfully, for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” His vile verbal style has embarrassed the country internally and worldwide. He has shown himself to be unprincipled, with his greatest emphasis on helping himself. The more information we have received about his business success, the weaker it has seemed, and now looks truly lacking. And, more than anything else, his steady stream of lies, among over 20,000 overall, about the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic, and his failure to take earlier and more measures to protect American public health, has given him real culpability for the 221,000 national covid-19 deaths, 8.3 million cases, and resultant astronomical private and public expenses. Overall, with few if any significant accomplishments to put against these, Donald Trump has been virtually exclusively destructive.
Yet, as of Wednesday evening, the sportsbook.ag odds against reelection were only 71 to 40. How do Trump’s tens of millions of expected voters justify their choice? Mostly it is symbolic – he represents opposition to the political establishment, to political correctness, to the real or imagined problems caused by immigrants, and to scary national change in general. As George Will put it, he is a weak man’s idea of what a strong man is like. Otherwise, his supporters are likely to believe various conspiracy theories, that Biden would install “socialism” (in other words, more adversity benefits than they would prefer), that he has prevented bad things other than those he has done himself from happening, and that nobody else could have bettered his pandemic performance. Some believe he has, despite data to the contrary, created jobs or helped the economy. He gets much support from the richest, who hope his policies will help them as well as himself. Their case is so weak that about 95% of newspaper endorsements, including those from conservative editorial staffs (maybe since he is not a conservative), have gone against him.
I have no expectations that Joe Biden would be a great president. I do think that he would be good enough to reassure Americans and others that this country is on the way back, as Gerald Ford did so well after Nixon. Given where we are, that is solidly enough reason to support him. After the initial recovery, we can rediscover reasonable issue identification, debate, and resolution. As for additional candidates, they have not only been invisible this time but, for people in states with uncertain electoral outcomes, this is not the year to consider them. While I encourage all allowed people to vote on or before November 3rd, the choice has never, during my lifetime, been this clear-cut.
Royal Flush Press endorses Joe Biden for president.