As we approach the Republican National Convention, I have concluded I will not be voting for Donald Trump, writes Op-Ed columnist Mike McKay. It is his character that disqualifies him.
I HAVE been involved in presidential campaigns since 1964, when, at the age of 13, I sold enough tickets to a Barry Goldwater fundraiser to be invited to meet the candidate at the Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle.
My views have evolved a bit since then, but I eventually served as Washington state vice chair of the Bush campaigns in 1988, 2000 and 2004. In 2000, one of then-Gov. George W. Bush’s important messages to America was that “character matters.” So, if character mattered to many of us in 2000, it certainly should be an important consideration in this year’s presidential campaign.
Too many of my friends who worked with us in 1988, 2000 and 2004 tell me that they will vote for Donald Trump because he is the lesser of the evils. Believe me, I will not be voting for Hillary Clinton. Her ideas for America are bad — and got worse as she moved to the left after feeling “the Bern.” It is her dishonesty — from the Rose Law Firm billing records in 1996 to her email server in Chappaqua, N.Y., today — that truly disqualifies her from being president. A candidate who consistently and flagrantly refuses to abide by the rules applicable to all in public life, whatever her political affiliation, is not worthy of the office she seeks.
But as we approach the Republican National Convention, I have concluded I will not be voting for Trump, either. It is his character — and many of his dangerous ideas — that disqualifies him from the presidency as well.
I have often wondered how it was that the German people would allow a man like Adolf Hitler to assume power in 1933. He did not campaign on promises of world domination or moving Jews from their homes to concentration camps. Hitler did, however, say enough things that should have given the people of that country reason to pause and reflect before they supported him and his party. While no two historical periods are perfect parallels, it is my hope that the people of America, particularly my fellow Republicans, will employ better judgment in 2016 than the Germans did 80 years ago. We have much to ponder, but permit me to point to just a few disturbing warning signs:
• Trump has encouraged violence at his rallies: “Knock the crap out of them, would you? … I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.” The only thing missing is young thugs in brown shirts.
• He said that a U.S. District Court judge in San Diego, a former assistant U.S. attorney born in Indiana who is presiding over a class-action suit against Trump University, has “an absolute conflict” in that case because he is “of Mexican heritage” and Trump wants to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. For those of us who practice in federal court, an attack of this nature on a federal judge is particularly troubling. Our legal system and the fundamental rights cherished by us all rest in large part upon our voluntary respect for our courts, the guardians of our Constitution and laws. And most of us can agree that judging one’s abilities based on the color of his or her skin is, as House Speaker Paul Ryan said, “textbook racism.”
• Trump has called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Who’s next? The Irish? Jews?
And Trump can’t tell the truth. From claiming he watched “thousands and thousands of people” in Jersey City, N.J., cheer as the buildings went down on 9/11 to promising that he would release his tax returns, he has made hundreds of false statements that he never corrected. After a recent Trump speech, The Associated Press needed 12 reporters to identify and report on all of his misrepresentations. PolitiFact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking organization, determined that 78 percent of Trump’s statements they investigated were false or mostly false, more than all of the other presidential candidates combined. Throughout the life of our republic, American politicians have, at times, cut corners on the truth. But when it comes to truth-telling, Trump does not cut corners, he clear cuts forests.
So Donald Trump’s lies and dangerous ideas will keep me from voting for him. I’m not staying home on Nov. 8, though. A vote is too precious to waste. Besides, there are too many important local and state races.
Unless there emerges a serious third-party candidate with an allegiance to our core principles of governance and an appeal across the political spectrum, I will write in the name of one of the last qualified presidential candidates we had a chance to vote for: Mitt Romney. Just as he warned us in 2012 of the dangers of a re-emerging Russia as our largest geopolitical threat, a warning which I’m sure the citizens of Crimea and Ukraine wish President Obama had taken more seriously, Romney was one of the first Republican leaders to warn us about Trump.
So I’m with Mitt: Trump is too dangerous to warrant a vote as “the lesser of the evils.”