In 2016, Donald Trump narrowly defeated Hillary Clinton, winning the Presidency by 77,000 votes spread over Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Both candidates had historically high unfavorable ratings. Trump, then an infamous reality TV star and failed businessman was nevertheless a political neophyte. Despite inappropriate speech and behavior during the campaign, voters believed that after taking office he would make the necessary and expected modifications and adjust to being President. They could at that time excuse an abhorrent record of behavior in their belief he would do good things for the country. Fast forward to now as we rapidly approach the 2020 Election. The country has seen the real Donald Trump for almost three years in office. Any hope and uncertainty as to how he would lead is long gone. The stakes are as high as they have ever been for a national election.
Three years of President Trump has led to the worst division this country has ever seen. Some refer to it as a “cold civil war.” Trump seeks to further divide the nation with vile rhetoric, overt racism, and daily dishonesty to the point he demonstrably lies far more than he tells the truth. He not only fails to condemn white supremacy; he has thoroughly embraced it. His personal conduct in office is entirely reprehensible. Some Republican voters have maintained the falsity that they can strongly disapprove of Trump’s disgusting behavior but vote for him solely because they like tax cuts or conservative judges. Perhaps voters could justify that in 2016 while there was still the unknown, but such an argument on 2020 is completely fallacious. After 3 years, Trump’s abhorrent conduct has degraded rather than improved and there is no indication he will change. He further divides the nation rather do his duty to unite. In the face of tragedy, he sinks even lower. The country is at the breaking point. There is no longer any viable separation or distinction between Trump policy and Trump repugnant personal conduct.
Assuming Trump remains the nominee for 2020, Republican voters will face a very real challenge. They cannot vote for Trump based on policy alone without endorsing his detestable conduct. Trump’s rabidly loyal base, consisting of his fellow racists, white supremacists, nationalists, and xenophobes, will most certainly come out in droves to vote for their champion. However, there are good, decent traditional Republicans out there who need to do the right thing for the country. We may disagree on various policy issues, but these are upright people who do not support Trump’s rhetoric. They were long time loyal Republicans well before Trump stole their party and believe in a more traditional, mainstream conservative agenda, not Trump’s new white nationalism. Our future may very depend on them doing what is necessary in this most unusual election. The country cannot afford and may truly not be able to survive the inevitable damage that would be done by a second Trump term.
Republicans, there is no neutrality this time. There is no basis to believe he would change in any meaningful way and abandon the hate and division that have been the hallmark of his politics. There is no legitimate argument that voters can vote for Trump because of traditional Republican policy and reject his abhorrent rhetoric and behavior. Such would simply defy logic and reality at this point. There were not good people on both sides when decent people stood up to the hate and violence spewed by a white supremacist march and there can not be good people on both sides in 2020 when one side fights for our democracy and return to decency in the White House and the other aims to ratify and take even further Trump’s reprehensible conduct to the clear detriment of the nation. Any and every vote for Trump in 2020 is a clear statement in favor of his ongoing racism, white supremacy, hatred, and violence.
All decent Republicans who oppose Trump’s rhetoric, oppose white supremacy, and care about the country cannot vote for Trump. They have the choice to stay home, vote for the Democratic nominee, or vote for a third-party candidate. Whatever they do, they cannot vote for Trump and then distance themselves from his white supremacy, etc. They cannot claim to be voting only for certain Republican policy priorities and not for the man who leads their ballot. There is simply no such distinction. Anyone who votes for Trump in 2020 is endorsing his hateful, divisive rhetoric and conduct. The 2020 stakes are way too high and the danger is way too great. Republicans need to do what is right for the country and begin to take back their party.