Mr. Blow says “Trump Is an Existential Threat,” and that you can’t say yes to Trump and yes to common decency. Mr. Kristof has come up with “5 Reasons to Vote for Trump,” saying that for one, he could show us how to use the oldest part of our brains. Which is JUST what this country needs — more knuckle-walkers using their lizard brain… Ms. Collins says “Republican Candidates, Admit It’s Hillary You’re Voting For.” She’s given us our pre-election Senate primer. Here’s Mr. Blow:
There are only a handful of days until Election Day and an end to this phase of a nation’s — and the world’s — ebb and flow of anxiety. The day after the votes are cast and counted that anxiety will either dissipate or become a fixed feature. Which of these it will be is very much in flux.
While Hillary Clinton still maintains a lead in the polls and a built-in advantage on the electoral map, recent polls suggest that Donald Trump is closing the gap. There are now plausible — however improbable — electoral map routes to victory for him.
I leave it to others to make predictions about how all this will play out, but I feel that I must say again, and until the last minute and with my last breath: America, are you (expletive) kidding?!
I simply cannot wrap my head around how others with level heads and sound minds can even consider Trump for president of this country and leader of the free world. The logic simply escapes me.
I try to view it through the lens of economic anxiety, diminished economic mobility and global pressure. It all seems understandable, but then I’m reminded of Donald Trump, a billionaire whose businesses have on more than one occasion gone bankrupt, who stiffed contractors, who outsources the making of many of his products and who brags about not paying federal income taxes. All of which brings me back to: Are you kidding me?
I try to view it through a purely ideological lens in which people simply tend to vote for the party nominee. It makes sense, but then I’m reminded of Donald Trump, a man who isn’t really an ideologue but a demagogue interested only in self-aggrandizement. And again I return to: You’re kidding, right?
I think of the family values voters on the right with whom I’ve become acquainted over the years. Although I might have vigorously disagreed with their positions and their inherent myopic anachronism, at least I could say that they were as principled in their adherence to their positions as I was in opposition to them. But then, again, I hit Donald Trump, who is dragging traditional conservative paternalism into the muck of perversion, who brags about sexually assaulting women, who makes fun of the disabled, who savors a lust for vengeance, who says he has never needed to seek forgiveness, even from God. Again, are you kidding?
I try to think of it from a strict constitutionalist’s perspective, to understand how strongly they want the vacancy on the Supreme Court to be filled by a constitutional purist. But then I think of Trump, whose Muslim ban would fly in the face of the Constitution, whose threats to the press strike me as constitutionally hostile, whose advancement of torture would seem to me constitutionally questionable (to say nothing of its legality in the face of international norms and treaties). Are you kidding, America?
I try to think of it in terms of weariness with Washington and with D.C. insiders, the Clintons in particular, and dynastic democracy in general. I try to think of the intense Clinton distrust and even hatred that exists in some quarters, sentiments only exacerbated by things like this never-ending email saga. But then I hit Donald Trump, a real estate scion who has been sued nearly 1,500 times and is currently being sued for Trump University deceptions and the rape of a 13-year-old girl. You have got to be kidding.
There is no way to make this make sense. Believe me, I’ve tried.
Donald Trump is a bigot.
Donald Trump is a demagogue.
Donald Trump is a sexist, misogynist, chauvinist pig.
Donald Trump is a bully.
Donald Trump is a cheat.
Donald Trump is a pathological liar.
Donald Trump is a nativist.
Donald Trump’s campaign has proved too attractive to anti-Semites, Nazis and white nationalists, and on some level the campaign seems to be tacitly courting that constituency.
Donald Trump — judging by his own words on that disgusting tape and if you believe the dozen-plus women who have come forward to accuse him of some form of sexual assault or unwanted sexual advance — is an unrepentant predator.
To put it more succinctly, Donald Trump is a lowlife degenerate with the temperament of a 10-year-old and the moral compass of a severely wayward teen.
There is no way to make a vote for him feel like an act of principle or responsibility. You can’t make it right. You can’t say yes to Trump and yes to common decency. Those two things do not together abide.
If you are voting for Trump, you are voting for coarseness, corruption and moral corrosion. Period. And if you are not actively voting against him, you are abetting his attempt to hijack American greatness and sink it with his egotism.
On Election Day, America faces a choice, and it’s not a tough one, but a stark one. It is the difference between tolerance and intolerance. It is the difference between respect and disrespect. It is the difference between a politician with some flaws and a flaw threatening our politics.
Donald Trump is America’s existential threat. On Tuesday, America has an opportunity to defend itself.
Next up we have Mr. Kristof:
1.) Who needs experience to be president? It’s true that Donald Trump would have less public service experience than any president in American history, but knowledge is lame. Maybe the Know-Nothing Party in the 19th century captured this spirit in its name — and Trump is the apotheosis of knowing-nothing. In my journalistic career, I’ve never met a national candidate as ill informed, evasive or puerile as Donald Trump.
Let’s try puerility for a change! What could go wrong?
Oh, nuclear weapons, you say? Well, other countries walk all over us because they trust us to be reasonable. In, say, a trade dispute with Canada, we’d get much better results if Canadians feared that Trump might incinerate Ottawa. And even if something went wrong, so what? There’s lots more of Canada.
Look, nobody messes with Kim Jong-un of North Korea, because he’s a crazy, inexperienced guy with nukes. With Trump, we’d have our own Kim Jong-un!
2.) We’ve accepted that leaders need not be saints, so why not embrace a paragon of fraud? With his experience allegedly cheating consumers at Trump University, maybe we could even fund government by cheating foreign tourists.
Sure, it’s a little awkward that Trump boasts about sexually assaulting women, and has been accused by at least 17 women of groping or other improper behavior — and I know three other women with similar complaints who haven’t dared come forward. At G-8 summit meetings, Trump would have to be seated well away from any female leaders. But he could break the ice with male leaders by dissing Angela Merkel’s behind.
Enough with sanctimony and moralism from the failing news media! Time to shake things up with a sexual predator!
3.) Trump might become the most entertaining president in history. If Clinton is elected, she’ll give earnest, wonkish speeches about the benefits of increasing the child tax credit or raising the minimum wage. Yawn. In contrast, Trump will insult world leaders, barge into Miss Teen U.S.A. changing rooms and castigate the menstrual cycles of female critics. It’ll be the most riveting reality TV ever.
And whatever you think of Trump’s policies, you have to admit, no president would have better hot mike scandals.
So in an age of cord-cutting, when HBO is inaccessible to millions, a Trump presidency would keep us all amused, aghast or at least entertained. Until the nuclear apocalypse, after which we may all be dead anyway.
4.) Diversity is important, and Trump is inclusive — of extremists.
Many Americans troubled by demographic change complain that they have been left disenfranchised. Trump speaks up for such oppressed groups — like white men.
Craven politicians usually stop with supporting the white working class, but Trump goes where others dare not: He has championed those previously left out of politics, like white supremacists. What other candidate would twice retweet a “white genocide” account with the photo of the founder of the American Nazi Party? Trump has boldly empowered even one of the most marginalized constituencies in America today: the Ku Klux Klan, which has a newspaper that this week gave him a warm embrace.
It can be cathartic to express rage, and Trump gives license to make America hate again. He lets Americans put aside Kumbaya political correctness, also known as “mutual respect” or “social fabric,” and instead embrace our inner storm trooper. Finally, a politician brave enough and inclusive enough to reach out to hate groups.
5.) Donald Trump understands that our modern brains hold us back.
Deep in our heads, resting on the spinal cord, is what scientists sometimes call our “reptilian brain.” In evolutionary terms, this is the oldest part of our brains and it governs primal instincts such as hunger, sex and fear; it helps trigger the fight or flight response.
This reptilian brain has been updated with a cerebral cortex and other modern brain structures that are the seat of reason — but Trump is bypassing them. Neuroscientists have noted that he preaches directly to the lizard in our heads.
“We do experience a primitive apprehension welling up from our ‘reptilian brain,’” Steven Pinker, the Harvard psychology professor, tells me, but we still interpret it in light of our belief system. The modern world has developed science, journalism, a judiciary and similar institutions to curb our primal impulses — but Trump blows these off.
Our reptilian brains evolved to be hyper-alert to dangers, which was lifesaving in an age of pterodactyls. Trump activates these vigilant instincts, Pinker says, and channels them into the most primitive interpretive circuits of our cortex, the ones rooted in tribalism. And so he wants us to join him in making scapegoats of Muslims, refugees, Mexican “rapists” and black “thugs.”
This historic election thus presents a choice: To decide how to cast our ballots, do we rely upon our reptilian brains or our human brains? To put it another way: Are we fearful, instinctive reptiles? Or nuanced, reasoning humans?
And last but not least we have Ms. Collins:
Look, you need a rest. Let’s talk about the Senate races.
If Hillary Clinton wins — and if she doesn’t, the Senate will be the least of our problems — Democrats need to pick up four seats to gain control. Otherwise, Clinton will have trouble getting anything through Congress, even her most basic appointees. She’ll be holding cabinet meetings with people from the temp staffing agency.
The single most interesting sidelight in the Senate fights is watching embattled swing state Republicans trying to avoid revealing who they support for president of the United States.
We’re seeing some weird dances. Truly, the mating peacock spider has nothing on some Republicans who are trying to balance their need to appease the base with their deep-down understanding that Donald Trump would be a disaster for the country.
“I don’t think my constituents care that much how one person is going to vote,” said Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania when he was asked the obvious question at a recent debate.
“On Nov. 8, I’ll have a decision,” said Representative Joe Heck of Nevada, who’s running in a tight race for an open Senate seat. Recently, he’s taken to pointing out that we have a secret ballot in this country. That’s certainly true, but our forefathers didn’t invent it to protect members of Congress from revealing what they think of the top of their very own ticket.
Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, another Republican in a difficult re-election fight, says she’s going to write in Mike Pence for president. You have to appreciate her predicament. During one debate, Ayotte made the mistake of saying, in a super-vague way, that Trump might be a good example for American children. (“I think that certainly there are many role models that we have, and I believe he can serve as president.”) She had to issue a retraction.
But this business of making up candidates to vote for is pathetic. Have you ever watched a big TV singing contest? How do you think viewers would react if it got down to a pitched battle between a crazy saxophonist who couldn’t follow the music and a disciplined but slightly boring guitarist — and the celebrity panel announced that the winner was Plácido Domingo?
Really, this is pretty much the same thing. Ohio Gov. John Kasich claims he’s already voted for John McCain. McCain, who has his own re-election race to deal with, said he may write in his old friend Senator Lindsey Graham. This is literally throwing away your vote since neither Arizona nor Ohio counts write-ins for people who haven’t registered as candidates.
Can you see how ridiculous this is? The write-in dodge might be appropriate for 20-year-olds who want to demonstrate their moral superiority to the system. But a career politician holding high office knows perfectly well that unless you vote for one of the two major party candidates, you’re not taking part in the most important decision the American public ever makes.
How could you trust a senator to make a principled stand on the budget if she can’t even bring herself to choose a president?
Thirty-four states have Senate races this year, but most of them involve incumbents so safe they could not be dislodged by a rocket launcher. (A prominent New York City Democrat told me he went to a meeting of party regulars the other night where a number of attendees were surprised to hear that Chuck Schumer was up for re-election.)
On the other hand, virtually everybody seems to agree that one current Republican senator, Mark Kirk of Illinois, is probably doomed, doomed, doomed. Kirk won Barack Obama’s old seat in the big anti-Democratic upheaval of 2010. Since then, he’s made news by referring to his unmarried colleague Lindsey Graham as “a bro with no ho.” Recently, in a debate with his Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth, Kirk took the interesting tack of making fun of Duckworth’s heritage.
“I’d forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington,” he sniped. Duckworth’s mother is Thai and her father comes from a family with a military history that goes back to the American Revolution. Have we mentioned she’s an Iraq war veteran who lost both legs in a helicopter crash?
Kirk has been running desperately away from Donald Trump, who he says is “too bigoted and racist.” You would think this is one case where a Republican with little to lose would figure that it’s time to take a stand and admit that although he disagrees with Hillary Clinton on tons of issues, she’s the only presidential candidate who has the capacity to protect the nation’s basic security and safety.
But no. At one point Kirk claimed he was going to vote for former C.I.A. director David Petraeus.
Swing state Republican voters, if you’ve got a hot Senate race involving two unsatisfactory candidates, consider just writing in Thomas Jefferson. He’s not alive, but nobody’s perfect.