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A Presidential Plea … From a Friend

Dear Sensible Voter,

You’re receiving this message because someone who cares about you and respects you is terrified that you’re going to vote for Donald Trump. Which you have every right to do.

But this friend or family member knows you to be a reasonable human being. Not a conspiracy nutter, white supremacist, or the sort of female-phobic media patsy who’s been gleefully gulping Fox News’ Hillary-Is-the-AntiChrist Puddin’ for nigh on 20 years.

No, you’re smart. And though this election is hideously contentious, this person wouldn’t dream of fighting with you. In fact, they want you to better understand them. So, do them the solid of hearing them out for three minutes, will you? It’ll help them sleep better. Then — do as you must.

Okay, so they totally see the appeal of an outsider who doesn’t play the stupid political game and refuses to kowtow to Washington. Who doesn’t love a straight shooter? Who isn’t tired of political correctness? Hillary Clinton seems scripted and dispassionate — at best robotic, at worst calculated.

But surely you realize that someone who doesn’t give a flip what anyone thinks of him … also doesn’t give the puniest frack about you. He hasn’t devoted his life to service; he’s devoted it to squeezing pennies out of suckers, and there’s zero indication he’d do differently from Pennsylvania Avenue. The Wall Street Journal(never been the liberal media) reports that Trump’s promise to cut taxes is based on slashing taxes for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. That ain’t you.

Sure, it looks like Trump’s a great businessman — if you’re watching reruns of The Apprentice. In real life, from defaults to bankruptcies, he’s racked up more financial failures than he has sexual-assault accusations. But even if he were the mega-mogul he says he is (and his top-secret tax returns almost certainly show he isn’t), boardroom bravado is useless on Capitol Hill. For the same reason President Hillary couldn’t “take away your guns,” President Donald couldn’t spit “You’re fired!” at members of Congress. Our government doesn’t work that way.

Actually, if Trump is in charge, it may not work at all. For all his dictatoresque “I alone can fix it” talk, he would be impotent in office as more members of the right back away from him daily. In contrast, even Republican lawmakers say Clinton’s skilled at bringing both parties together to get things done — and can we agree things need doing?

Top GOP leaders and dyed-in-the-wool conservative papers from Arizona to Texas to Ohio have broken long traditions by endorsing Clinton, condemning Trump’s “stunning lack of human decency” and declaring him a “clear and present danger” to a nation that’s managed, despite hard times and fierce divisions, to remain united under a single flag for centuries.

Trump galvanized his support by playing on our lizard-brain fears. But there’s something scarier than inner-city crime, ISIS, and … er, the lack of a really high wall: It’s handing a thin-skinned name-caller the keys to the most powerful military on the planet. If he lacks the self-discipline to control his tongue when confronted by reporters in cheap suits, how do you think he’ll manage with vicious world leaders whose missiles are pointed at us even as you read this?

Tony Schwartz, who spent 18 months living, traveling, and attending meetings with Trump before ghostwriting the Donald’s best seller The Art of the Deal, calls him a sociopath. “I genuinely believe,” he told the New Yorker in July, “that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”

Not higher taxes. Not Muslims moving into your neighborhood. The death of humankind.

Your concerned friend or family member doesn’t need a response. They don’t even need you to take down your lawn sign. They just need to know that in the privacy of the voting booth, or as you hunker over your absentee ballot on the kitchen table, you’ll summon the same graciousness with which you took the time to read this — and be led by intellect over indignation.

May the worst man lose.

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