In the 34-year history of USA TODAY, the Editorial Board has never taken sides in the presidential race. Instead, we’ve expressed opinions about the major issues and haven’t presumed to tell our readers, who have a variety of priorities and values, which choice is best for them. Because every presidential race is different, we revisit our no-endorsement policy every four years. We’ve never seen reason to alter our approach. Until now.
This year, the choice isn’t between two capable major party nominees who happen to have significant ideological differences. This year, one of the candidates — Republican nominee Donald Trump — is, by unanimous consensus of the Editorial Board, unfit for the presidency.
From the day he declared his candidacy 15 months ago through this week’s first presidential debate, Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he lacks the temperament, knowledge, steadiness and honesty that America needs from its presidents.
Whether through indifference or ignorance, Trump has betrayed fundamental commitments made by all presidents since the end of World War II. These commitments include unwavering support for NATO allies, steadfast opposition to Russian aggression, and the absolute certainty that the United States will make good on its debts. He has expressed troubling admiration for authoritarian leaders and scant regard for constitutional protections.
I have no quarrel at all with their conclusion, but I don’t support all of their reasoning. For example: why do we need to bother with NATO? There is no more Soviet Union. Why do we need foreign entanglements, when no less a personage than George Washington warned us against that very danger? And as for “the absolute certainty that the United States will make good on its debts” — wake up and smell the deficit, USA Today Editorial Board! It’s virtually a certainty that the United States won’t make good on its debts. We’re over $19.5 trillion in the hole with absolutely no plan to do anything other than run up huge deficits as far as the eye can see. This is a central reason someone is unfit?
No. There is a host of reasons that actually do make Trump unfit, and the piece touches on some of them. Trump’s penchant for dishonesty is so over-the-top and insane that he makes Hillary Clinton look like a fibbing nine-year-old rather than the habitual lying cretin we all know her to be. He once pretended to be a pro-Trump publicist named John Miller, and every person with ears and a brain knows it was him — yet he denied, in 2016, that it was him. I can’t get over that to this day. (And no debate moderator has ever called him on it!) He is carelessly cruel to people on a consistent basis. He is a whiner and a coward. He is a man who avoided military service based on a made up, bullshit medical excuse, and then mocked the service of a man, John McCain, whose story of courage would make anyone who heard it want to punch a lifesized cutout of Donald Trump in the mouth. Trump is everything that is wrong with this country. Indeed, on any objective basis, Donald Trump is a worse human being than Hillary Clinton, and that’s saying something. It is only the fact that her policies are nominally far worse for the country (although who knows what the lying Trump’s real polices really are) that prevents a vote for her from being the obvious choice. If my vote came down to nothing more than which person is a more moral human being, I would easily cast my vote for the lying, power-hungry, wretched old harpy.
And yet our tendency for our partisan reflexes to kick in has blinded Republicans to these problems of Trump’s. Trump’s comment about shooting someone on Fifth Avenue was supposed to be a kind of joke, but I believe it’s no longer a joke. Politics is the best profession for a con man — just ask Brett Kimberlin, who has clothed his cons in the garb of partisan politics for years — because no other area turns off the rational part of the brain like politics. I truly believe, with all my heart and soul, that Donald Trump could literally murder someone tomorrow, and if it were not captured on video, no matter the evidence, millions would still support him. “Well, the Clintons have murdered people, probably a lot more people!” the Trumpers would say. You know they would. They really, actually would.
I recently ran a poll, which was somewhat tongue in cheek to be sure, asking people whether they would vote for the worst mass murderer in history (Chairman Mao) or Hillary Clinton, given that binary choice. The small sample reflected the poll’s lack of seriousness, but it still is remarkable that Chairman Mao won a solid majority of votes, 61% to 39%.
If murdering people, or lying on an insane and pathological scale, aren’t going to change people’s minds about Trump, the opinion of a few editorial writers at a national newspaper sure won’t. It’s still a noteworthy piece and deserves your time.
UPDATE: These South Park clips sum it all up.