With a scant two weeks remaining in this year’s election campaigns, we should take stock of where and for whom we stand. Part of that process is observing what others have to say about the candidates.
The people who know a candidate best are those who worked with him or her. Their opinions are formed by the experiences they’ve had with their party’s standard bearer. Presidential candidates have had extensive exposure to people who know how government works, have demonstrated expertise in both politics and governance, and who have the country’s best interest in mind.
Historically, an incumbent president seeking reelection has the undivided support of his party. Two exceptions stand out as examples of what happens when a president’s party is divided over his reelection. Some of us might remember the 1968 election, when the Vietnam War split the Democratic Party. Lyndon Johnson declared he would not seek reelection; the party refused to unite behind the eventual nominee, Hubert Humphrey, and Richard Nixon won the presidency. Theodore Roosevelt split the Republican Party in 1912. Incumbent President William Howard Taft lost to Democrat Woodrow Wilson. In those two elections, the divisions were ideological. None questioned the competency or morality of the sitting president.
This election is different. There is plenty of dissent within the GOP about Trump. Many Republicans think President Trump is incompetent. And many more question his ethics and morality. These are people who think that the future of their party depends on purging it of Trumpism. Groups such as the Lincoln Project and Republican Voters Against Trump were formed with the single objective of helping to defeat Trump in 2020. They believe it is better to rid the party of Trump and his ruinous behavior, even if it means losing the presidency, than to submit the country to four more years of his toxic, destructive non-leadership.
And just who, for the betterment of the country, are the Republicans opposing Trump? Here is a short list from among the hundreds on record: Maryland Gov. Hogan, Massachusetts Gov. Baker, Vermont Gov. Scott, and California ex-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger won’t vote Trump. Former RNC Chair, Michael Steele, four former state chairs, at least 14 former Republican cabinet officers, a dozen former secretaries or under secretaries of Defense, including Trump appointee Jim Mattis, have endorsed Biden. Hundreds of present and former senior security and intelligence officials do not trust Trump to defend United States' interests.
Trump has earned the contempt of many of his own appointees. His first Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, called him a “[expletive] moron.” Defense Secretary Mattis said, “We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. … We must reject and hold accountable those who would make a mockery of our Constitution.” Former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said, “… the President has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically…” Former Homeland Security advisor Tom Bossert said he was “deeply disappointed” by Trump’s pressuring Ukraine for dirt on Biden. Just last week, former chief of staff John Kelly said, “the depths of his dishonesty is just astonishing to me. The dishonesty, the transactional nature of every relationship, thought it’s more pathetic than anything else. He the most flawed person I have ever met in my life.” These were the people who worked closely with Trump. They are the ones most committed to defending our nation. They have no confidence in the President. Why should you?
In fairness to Trump, he has the support of a former Democrat, ex-governor Rod Blagojevich. In case you missed it, he was convicted of corruption. Blagojevich used his office for personal gain, soliciting bribes for an appointment to the United States Senate. Trump saw fit to pardon this slimeball. Does Trump hope some future president will also pardon him?
You don’t need me to tell you that Trump’s term has been an unmitigated disaster or that Trump is unfit to serve. Others who know him better have said so. Listen to them and remember their advice when you cast your ballot.
Mitch Edelman writes from Finksburg. His column appears every other Tuesday. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org