Donald J. Trump should not withdraw from the presidential campaign so that all Americans eager to send a positive message to the world about what this nation stands for get a chance to do so. Really, big boy, stick with it, keep running your mouth. Many of your fellow citizens are looking forward to voting against you.
Usually, in presidential campaigns, Americans get a chance to vote for something. It can be as simple as a change in presidential party affiliation, or a preference for one style of leadership over another.
But it’s also a vote for a promise -- to end a war or a period of political corruption, to reduce taxes and government regulation, to establish a national health insurance system, to appoint more liberal or conservative federal judges.
Sometimes -- and 1980 provides a good example -- Americans vote against a candidate as much as they vote for his opponent. Voting for Republican Ronald Reagan might have meant you had full confidence in the former actor and California governor. But, for many Americans, the vote for Reagan was a vote against the incumbent Democrat, Jimmy Carter -- and against high inflation, interest rates and gasoline prices, and against the international embarrassment of the Iranian hostage crisis.
In 2016, for entirely different reasons, Americans face a similar choice, in which the vote against a candidate means as much as, if not more than, a vote for his opponent.
At this point, a vote against Trump carries huge meaning. Trump has made it so. A vote against Trump is a vote against:
Sexism and macho vulgarity.
The arrogance and cynicism of wealth and celebrity.
Xenophobia and bigotry.
Bullying and ridicule.
Ignorance of the Constitution.
Personal invective and ad hominem attacks in public discourse.
Reckless disregard of facts.
Anti-intellectualism, anti-science and the refusal to acknowledge human-caused climate change.
Know-nothingness and dangerous loose talk about foreign policy, leaving our staunchest allies wondering about our commitments.
The hypocrisy of not paying taxes while complaining about the shortcomings of government.
If he were to heed the calls of many fellow Republicans and get out of the race, Trump would greatly disappoint not only his fervent supporters but the many Americans who, embarrassed and angered by his prominent place in the country’s life, are eager to stop him on Election Day.
Even some of those who dislike Hillary Clinton see a far worse scenario in a Trump presidency; they need to live with their consciences, too.
Indeed, many Americans look forward to setting the record straight about what we stand for or, at least, continue to aspire to -- decency and civility, diversity and equality, justice and fairness, shared prosperity, strength through brains as much as brawn. This year, for many Americans, voting for what we want means voting for what we’re against. Trump should stay in the race.