Sunday, March 20, 2016

Trump v. Clinton

By Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

Donald Trump is a showman, an entertainer, a braggart, superficial, occasionally crude and coarse, and not very knowledgeable about the major issues of the day. So here’s why I would vote for him in a heartbeat over Hillary Clinton.

Barring some unlikely chain of events, Trump will win the Republican nomination for president. A brokered convention still remains a possibility, but voters tend to coalesce around a winner in the latter primaries. Trump has won almost two-thirds of the Republican primaries, and as he routinely notes, people do not like to associate themselves with losers. Notwithstanding the candidacy of Ted Cruz, who is still preferable to Trump among the remaining candidates, it would be shocking if Trump did not win a first ballot majority despite the cries of the pundits.

It remains true that establishment Republicans and committed Conservatives are less than enamored with Trump, many openly despise him, some are plotting a third-party Conservative candidate, and a handful would even prefer the election of Hillary (if her well-deserved indictment does not materialize) over that of Trump. Trump has a relatively short history as a Conservative, and a slightly longer one as a Republican – but anyone who gave tens of thousands of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, to Hillary herself, to Nancy Pelosi and a host of others will give true Conservatives the jitters.

But just what is the Republican Party? It is an alliance of like-minded people around a certain set of ideas that the American people in the most recent national elections have come to reject. Laments about the quality of this or that candidate aside, Republicans have lost the popular vote in five out of the last six presidential elections. One can blame the candidate’s flaws or missteps, or the policies proposed, and certainly the cannibalization of the Republican candidates that occurs during every nominating process. Food for thought: the only time in more than two decades Republican presidential candidates were not disparaging each other in bruising and ugly primary battles occurred in 2004, not coincidentally the only time in that time span that the Republican nominee won the popular vote. That year saw only one Republican candidate – the incumbent President George W. Bush. Here’s to the return of the smoke-filled room…

The bottom line is the same. The Republican Party is a party that has mostly good ideas but has not won presidential elections with those ideas, for whatever reason. Purists should take note: there is a certain intellectual elegance and endearing obstinacy in preferring to lose elections while going down with the ship. But it doesn’t help the nation, the world or the party to keep losing.

That’s not to say Trump will win or that Cruz would lose. Who knows? Any Republican has an uphill battle against Hillary Clinton due to the nature of the electorate and the concentration in large states of devotees of free stuff. For sure, Trump as president will be a disappointment – but Clinton as president will be a constant irritant, even ignoring her execrable policies that are intended to promote class warfare and divisiveness and punish the successful in order to reward the clueless.

Clinton is a liar, a crook, an active participant in the largest pay-for-play scheme in the history of mankind, someone who accomplished nothing as a Senator and only harmed American interests as Secretary of State, and whose main qualification for office – this, from a feminist icon – is that she is the “wife of…” Worse than all of that, she is an awful speaker, shrill when she tries to be passionate, and consistently inflecting the wrong word IN the sentence she IS speaking at any GIVEN time or the wrong syllable in words she used for the sake of emphaSIS. Her presidency would be unbearable.

To use Trumpian language, she would be a “disaster!” on Israel, continuing the policies of harassment of Israel, subtle support for the BDS movement organizers who are all Democrats, pressuring Israel not to build in its heartland and not to take elementary measures of self-defense , and continue down the suicidal path to the creation of another Palestinian state. Of course, Jews will find every reason not to vote for Trump the Republican, as they would find every reason not to vote for Cruz or Kasich the Republicans. Jews would vote against Moshe if he ran as a Republican, as, of course, he would. See Joseph Epstein’s WSJ article “On the Political Stupidity of the Jews,” and nothing more needs to explained. Jews have voted themselves into political irrelevance – and think they are the kingmakers.

Of course, just because Hillary is a “disaster!” on Israel doesn’t mean Trump will be “incredible!” on Israel, but the known unknown (Trump’s coyness – and shallow grasp of the issues) is preferable to the known known (the Hillary hostility). That most secular Jews do not feel like that is attributable to their fragile and halfhearted support for Israel, all their pious protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

Not for a moment do I believe that Trump believes that he will be able to fulfill even half the blustery promises he is making. Mexicans will not pay for the wall even if it is built. He is not deporting 13,000,000 people. Iran would love to have the US abrogate the nuclear agreement, now that it has the billions of dollars it craved and the European contracts it craved even more. Anyone who believes that Trump will slap a 35% tariff on imports should quickly summon for consultations Mr. Smoot and Mr. Hawley, whose tariff legislation in 1930 plunged the United States and the entire world even deeper into depression. It won’t happen. He is the great unknown and that carries great risks, but Trump will likely compromise, settle and declare whatever deal he makes “incredible, the best deal ever.”

Here’s what will certainly happen in a Trump presidency: the culture will change and largely for the better. I wouldn’t mind four years without hearing the phrases “politically correct, micro aggressions, safe spaces,” and other such claptrap; four years in which a president and others can say freely that “all lives matter,” in which the radical Islamic enemy abroad and within is named, identified and targeted, and in which police are respected and goons disrespected; four years in which the emasculation of America that Obama has presided over disappears, along with the constriction of the First Amendment that entails. People have had enough of the moral posturing of the faux victim, which has resulted in nothing less than in the increase of the numbers of faux victims and even the possible causes of victimhood. People are tired of having to whisper the truth because murderers, evildoers, or sinners will have their feelings hurt by it, even unintentionally.

No one wants to live in a country and be harassed for faith, for belief in the Bible, for service of G-d, and no one I know wants to be ridiculed for clinging to their religion (or their guns, for that matter). That dimension of American culture has been so debased in the Obama era that even the uncouthness of a Donald Trump comes as a welcome relief. People are exasperated about having to constantly second guess themselves when speaking, writing, or even thinking, lest they offend someone for who knows what. Imagine that – Trump as redeemer of the popular culture!

If there is a reason why so many people are voting for Trump across the country – and many of them would be characterized as “not traditional Republicans” – it is for that reason alone. People are dismayed over having to watch every word and be accused of some “-ism” if they laugh at a joke. People are distraught over an America where hard work is penalized, where illegal aliens soak up the tax dollars of the tax payers, where people enter America from abroad with ease (and unknown numbers of those visitors arrive with hostile intentions), where our enemies are on the ascent and America boasting about leading from behind, where wages are stagnant and the American dream is stifled. A lot of people apparently don’t care what the Republican elders feel or what any politician says. Democracy is a most unwieldy form of government.

All of the above will be exacerbated under a Clinton administration (how can she escape indictment? It boggles the mind and evidences a rigged system.). Political correctness will get a shot in the arm. It is a weird election year that is symptomatic of the problems and discontent afflicting American society. This is worse than the usual “these are the best candidates available?!” or the hackneyed “choice between the lesser of two evils.”  Most presidents in the last half-century have left office with negative ratings (Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton are the only exceptions). These two currently have negative ratings, and only wishful thinkers assume that means their popularity can only increase. It can easily descend even more. There are people on both sides of the political divide who genuinely despise both likely candidates.

Donald Trump may not be able to revive the American dream, the problems are that entrenched. (Cruz would be better.) But he will be able to revive the American spirit, unless he too is aborted by the purists, the perfectionists and/or the short-sighted.

No comments: