By Chris Jennewein
Donald Trump’s campaign for the Republican nomination has dominated the American political news cycle for six months. If you haven’t followed the daily developments, here’s a short list to cut through the media clutter and help you make your decision about whether to vote for him in the upcoming caucuses and primaries.
1. Few Actual Policies — Presidential contenders typically draft detailed policies that they intend to pursue if elected. Beyond building a “great, great wall” along the southern border and sticking it to China, Trump has released few detailed policies. His website offers just five short position papers.
2. Ignorance About Government — Even with the best advisers, a president needs to understand how government operates. Trump didn’t know what the nuclear triad was when asked in December’s debate, nor in November’s debate that China wasn’t a party to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is intended to counter that country’s economic influence. (The nuclear triad is the doomsday force of land-based missiles, long-range bombers and submarine-launched missiles that the President can order used if America is attacked.)
3. Inconsistency — Politicians can change over time, as President Reagan famously demonstrated in his path from Hollywood union organizer to Republican stalwart. But rarely do positions change as fast as Trump’s do. As recently as 2008, he praised Hillary Clinton, writing that “I know Hillary and I think she’d make a great president or vice-president.” In 2004 he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, “I probably identify more as Democrat.” This from the Republican front-runner.
4. Overconfidence — Americans appreciate a President who has the confidence to lead, especially in challenging times. Trump describes himself as “a really smart person,” frequently mentioning his Ivy League education. He promises to personally out-negotiate Iran, Mexico, Russia, China and any other international foe. What he does lack is humility, telling a Tonight Show audience that “I will absolutely apologize, sometime in the hopefully distant future, if I’m ever wrong.”
5. Loose With Facts — Politicians always stretch the truth, but Americans expect their President to level with them. Trump not only lies, but doubles down on those lies. Examples include saying that Muslims in New Jersey cheered 9/11, that vaccines cause autism, that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States and that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by China to close U.S. factories.
6. Bad Friends — Sometimes presidents have to support foreign leaders with whom they disagree. Trump, however, has openly praised Russia’s near-dictator Vladimir Putin, calling him “a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.” Far from respected, Putin is highly feared, having left a trail of dead journalists and invaded countries.
7. Bigotry — Not since the days of the Confederacy have American leaders openly criticized another race or religion. Trump has called Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists, proposed registering all Muslims and said of a African-American protester, “Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.” If you’re not white and Christian, you might worry a little about a Trump Presidency.
8. Draft Dodger — The potential commander in chief missed his opportunity to serve. Trump wasn’t drafted because of “bone spurs” in his feet that have since miraculously vanished. American men who came of age during the Vietnam War know exactly what that means.
9. Business Failures — As President Hoover’s experience indicates, success in business is not necessarily indicative of success in the White House. But Trump is not necessarily a great businessman either. His Atlantic City casino ventures went bankrupt four times. He’s wealthy now, but he inherited a lucrative family business and only achieved real success when he turned from real estate development to franchising his name for other developers’ projects.
10. Poor Example for Children — Generations of American parents have inspired their children to grow up to be President. But a would-be President who insults women, spews profanity, is on his third wife, and calls anyone who disagrees with him a “loser” may not be someone to look up to.
The Iowa Caucuses are less than a month away, followed shortly thereafter by the New Hampshire primary. Trump will continue to dominate the news cycle in his savvy realty-TV way, but these ten reasons not to vote for him aren’t likely to change.
Chris Jennewein is editor and publisher of Times of San Diego. Like Donald Trump, he is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.
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