Thoughts About the Candidacy of Donald Trump

Kim BurninghamI emphatically oppose the election of Donald Trump, believing it would be a tragedy for our country should he be elected.

I will discuss several of my concerns:

  • Trump’s emotional temperament makes him unqualified
  • Trump’s positions are frequently inconsistent, some downright lies, making trust in him impossible
  • Trump’s propensity to risk-taking would make him extremely dangerous
  • Trump surrounds himself with troubling staff members
  • Trump’s behavior sometimes seems highly racist
  • Trump refuses to release his tax returns which lead me to doubt him further
  • Trump promotes dangerous and unbelievable schemes
Concern # 1: Trump’s emotional temperament makes him unqualified
Ken Walsh, writing in the U.S. News and World Report emphasized the critical nature of questions about Trump’s personal demeanor: “Donald Trump has been one of the most divisive, angry, hotheaded presidential candidates ever to emerge in the United States….Assessing Trump’s temperament is to a large extent what the general election campaign will be about.”  (Kenneth T. Walsh, “Trump’s Temperament May Decide the Election,” July 20, 2016)
For me, this is the number one issue, and in my judgment, on the question of temperament Trump is not qualified to be president.
An interesting blog post by Susan Heitler, a Colorado clinical psychologist, raises a series of important questions.  She identifies ten qualities of emotional maturity.  (“Can You Spot 10 Signs of a Childish Adult?  In candidates?” Psychology Today, March 4, 2016.)   On these standards, I find Trump severely lacking.  Several, however, stood out.
  • Heitler’s 8th trait of emotional immaturity is centered on narcissism—a self-centeredness which is demonstrated in excessive self-love.  
Most of us exhibit at least some narcissism.  To have no self-love would result in a lack of self-confidence ending in a failure to act.   However, when narcissism consumes an individual, their ability to empathize with others may be obliterated.  Other people become unimportant, tools for the promotion of the self.
When asked to summarize the personality of Donald Trump, Howard Garner, Harvard psychologist, concluded: “Remarkably narcissistic.”  George Simon, a clinical psychologist, claimed Trump was a “classic” example of narcissism and said he was “archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there is no better example.” (Quoted in Dan P. McAdams, “The Mind of Donald Trump,” The Atlantic, June 2015.)
Trump’s narcissism is illustrated vividly in the focus he puts on his name—featured prominently and burnished in gold on the front of buildings, emblazoned on airplanes, and in the naming of his businesses (“Trump Steaks,” “Trump University,” etc.)  When Random House’s Howard Kaminsky showed a dummy cover to Trump for a potential book by Trump, Donald had only one suggestion: “Please make my name much bigger.”  (Jane Mayer, “Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All,” The New Yorker, July 25, 2016.)
A narcissistic president may be “too sensitive to criticism,” have “poor listening skills,” fail to empathize, exhibit “an intense desire to compete,” and be too averse to “mundane details.”  (Jeffrey Pfeffer, “Donald Trump: The Unproductive Narcissist,” Fortune, June 20, 2016.)   In this, we foresee a “President Trump” with serious shortcomings.
  • Heitler’s # 4 trait of “emotional childishness” is name-calling.  She explains, “Children call each other names.  Adults seek to understand issues.  Adults do not make ad hominem attacks, that is, attacks on people’s personal traits.”   Almost daily, we are confronted with Trump’s ridicule of others in personal attacks:
Trump’s ridicule of other’s physical features was illustrated when he mocked New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski’s physical condition (the reporter has arthrogryposis, a congenital joint condition); Trump “jerked his arms in front of his body” and awkwardly clenched his hands in what appeared to be mimicking the reporter while criticizing him. In another interview, Trump appears to belittle Charles Krauthammer (who is paralyzed from the waist down) calling him out as “a guy that can’t buy a pair of pants.”  And on another occasion, he sneeringly referred to Carly Fiorina’s appearance: “Look at that face!  Would anyone vote for that?  Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!”  (Jose A DelReal, “Trump draws scornful rebuke for mocking reporter with disability,” The Washington Post, November 26, 2015; Hilary Hanson, “Trump Mocking Physical Disabilities Is Nothing New,” The Huffington Post, November 26, 2015 .)
No one seems immune from Trump’s poison tongue: His name-calling seems to be a signature trait.  Observe some names that Trump has had for his opponents:  Ted Cruz is “Lyin’ Ted” and a “Pussy,” Elizabeth Warren is “Goofy Elizabeth Warren” and “Pocahontas,” Bernie Sanders is “Crazy Bernie,” Hillary Clinton is “Crooked Hillary,” Marco Rubio is “Little Marco,” Jeb Bush is “Low Energy Jeb,” and Rand Paul is “Truly Weird Rand Paul.” (Tessa Berenson, “Donald Trump Repeats Offensive Name for Ted Cruz at Rally,”Time, February 8, 2016; Nicole Brown, “Donald Trump’s nicknames, AMNewYork, May 11, 2016; Robin Scher, “Cherokee Nation Chief Schools Trump: Calling Elizabeth Warren ‘Pocahontas’ Is a Racist Put-Down,”AlterNet, July 27, 2016.)
  • Trait # 7 on the Heitler list: bullying.  Bullying is defined as “repeated aggressive behavior where one person in a position of power deliberately intimidates, abuses, or coerces an individual….Acts of bullying can be physical or verbal.”  Cyber bullying is another manifestation.  (Education Development Center, “What is bullying?’ 2013.)  Often bullying is name-calling on steroids.
Trump promotes himself as a successful businessman.  An article in the National Review asked, “How many know that Donald J. Trump’s vaunted ‘business’ career is marked less by innovative, hard-charging business acumen, and more by good old-fashioned bullying….[H]is business record reveals a man with a penchant for persecuting the little man…”   To support this thesis, the writer Mark Wright points to several examples where students were financially intimidated at Trump University, undocumented Polish immigrants working on Trump Tower were threatened with deportation, and veterans “trying to earn an honest living” were mistreated.  Most dramatically, Wright tells the story of a widow now over 90 years old who Trump wanted to be moved out of her “dream house” near the Trump Plaza Casino.  She resisted, but Trump did not demure and, according to the woman’s attorney, “demolition crews had set fire to her roof, broken windows and smashed up much of the third floor….”   Wright concludes, “Donald Trump bullied his way through life.”  (Mark Antonio Wright, “Donald Trump’s Business Career Has Been One of Bullying Ordinary Citizens,” National Review, February 1, 2016.)
The verbal assault Trump launched on Megyn Kelly (Fox News) has played out before the public.  In the Republican debate held in August 2015, Kelly addressed a question to Trump about his name-calling of women.  In a series of statements after that Trump blasted Kelly calling her “sick” and a “bimbo.”  His most offensive verbal intimidation was when he made the vividly demeaning comment, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”  (Nico Lang, “Donald Trump Has Message for Bullying Victims: ‘Get Over It,’” The Advocate, May 18, 2016.)
Most of Trump’s bullying is verbal (frequently online), but it also moves to the physical which he appears to condone and encourage.  In February at a rally in Las Vegas, a protester had been removed.  Trump’s comment:  “You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this?  They’d be carried out on a stretcher.  I’d like to punch him in the face; I’ll tell ya.”  (Corasaniti and Haberman, “Donald Trump on Protester: ‘I’d Like to Punch Him in the Face,” The New York Times, February 23, 2016.)  Not surprisingly, incidences of violence at Trump rallies is not uncommon: November 21, 2015, Alabama, a half dozen attendees punched and kicked” a protestor;  February 29, 2016, a photographer was “choke-slammed” and thrown to the  ground; March 2, 2016, Kentucky,  a black woman was “repeatedly shoved” by a group of white men;  March 8, 2016: Florida, a reporter was “grabbed and thrown to the ground by Trump’s campaign manager” according to eyewitnesses; March 9, 2016, North Carolina, a black protestor was “sucker-punched.”  (Bre Payton, “6 Times People Got Attacked at Trump Rallies,” The Federalist, March 10, 2016.)
The Southern Poverty Law Center conducted a survey in which teachers were asked about the impact of bullying in the 2016 presidential election.  Two thousand teachers were surveyed, and 2/3s of them reported “their students—mainly Muslims, immigrants, and children of immigrants—were worried about what could happen to them and their families after the November election.”  “My students are terrified of Donald Trump.  They think that if he’s elected all black people will get sent back to Africa,” commented one teacher.  Another comment:  “There is a boy from Mexico, who is a citizen, who is terrified that the country will deport him if Trump wins.”  The report concluded that the result of the campaign rhetoric was a trend toward more racism and “vicious bullying of minorities.” (Christine Wilkie, “‘The Trump Effect’: Hatred, Fear And Bullying On The Rise In Schools,” The Huffington Post, April 13, 2016.)
  • The 9th trait Heitler identifies is immature defenses.  Two Trump manifestations of this characteristic occur to me:  denial and tu quoque.
Trump’s denials of what he has previously said are documented. For example:
  • On December 7, 2015, the Trump campaign released a statement—which may be viewed online–which Trump later read:  “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States….”  In a CBS interview the day after the Brussels terrorist attack, he denied his previous statement: “I didn’t say shut it down.  I said to be very careful.”  (Press release, “Donald J. Trump Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration,” December 7, 2015; Hensch and Byrnes, “Trump, Frankly we’re having problems with the Muslims,” The Hill, March 22, 2016.)
  • On the civil war that ended in Gaddafi’s overthrow, Trump in February 2011 said, “We have to go in….immediately…into Libya.”  However in February 2016 in response to Senator Cruz during the Republican debate, Trump insisted, “I never discussed that subject [Libya].”  (Kaczynski and Massie, “Trump Claims He Didn’t Support Libya Intervention—But He Did, On Video,” BuzzFeed, February 25, 2015.)
How does one know what position Trump has taken or will take on an issue when he denies what he previously said?  Numerous other denials can be found in other sources.  (Michael Blatt, “10 Things Trump Said But Says He Didn’t,” The Federalist, March 24, 2016; Linda Qiu, “Politifact: 17 times Donald Trump said one thing and then denied it,” The New York Times, July 6, 2016.)
Half a century ago, we were deeply influenced by Stuart Chase’s analysis of logical fallacies.  (Stuart Chase, Guides to Straight Thinking, 1956.)  Chase singles out one logical error: tu quoque or “you’re another.”  In this approach an individual avoids the criticism levied upon them by turning it back on the accuser or someone else: an irrelevant counterattack.   Trump is a master of this fallacy!
  • For years, Trump was the “leader of the movement” that questioned where President Obama was born.  As a “birther,” he has consistently ranted about the issue.  Suddenly on September 16 he reversed his position saying, “Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.”  But a complete reversal of his position was insufficient; he threw the counterattack claiming that Clinton “started the birther controversy.  I finished it.”  Investigators have called Trump’s statement “false.” Although some supporters of Clinton had floated the issue in the 2008 campaign, it was not pursued in any significant way (In fact, one supporter was fired for disseminating the idea.)  Evidence shows that the idea circulated well before that time in other quarters. And to suggest that Trump “finished it” after railing about it for years is amazing.  Trump reversed his “crazy” idea, seeking to deflect the criticism by pursuing a counterattack on his current opponent.  None of this changes the original issue: Trump has been the chief proponent of the idea!   (David Emery, “After Birth”, September 18, 2016; Haberman and Rappeport, “Trump Drops False ‘Birther’ Theory, but Floats a New One: Clinton Started It,” The New York Times, September 16, 2016;  Steve Benen, “Trump gets caught lying while walking back birther claims,” MSNBC, The Maddow Blog, September 16, 2016;
  • Trump calling Clinton a liar (Jeremy Pelzer, “Donald Trump calls Hillary Clinton a ‘dirty rotten liar’ in Cincinnati,”, July 6, 2016.) is another example of tu quoque.  As the evidence in the next section suggests, Clinton may not be innocent of perverting the fact, but she does not come near the “skill” with which Trump changes the truth.  (Incidentally, Heitler’s 3rd trait on the list is lies to which we move in Concern # 2 below.)
Concern # 2: Trump’s positions are frequently inconsistent, some downright lies, making trust in him impossible
In public speeches, Trump has bragged about his book The Art of the Deal.  He has used the book to support his qualifications for the presidency, and even said the book was “second to the Bible,” (Ojalvo, “Donald Trump compared his book to the Bible at Liberty University” Kicker, January 18, 2016).  The book’s cover identifies the authors of the book as “Donald J. Trump and Tony Schwartz.”
Recently, Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter, announced his regret for writing the book for Trump.  “I put lipstick on a pig,” laments Schwartz.  Alarmingly, Schwartz concluded, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes, there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”
To the subject of Trump’s honesty, Schwartz speaks frankly:
  • “He is likely to lie about anything.”
  • “Lying is second nature to him.  More than anyone else I have ever met, Trump has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true.”
  • “He lied strategically.  He had a complete lack of conscience about it.”  (Mayer.)
These frightening statements explain many of Trump’s strange assertions.
A sample of exaggeration, inconsistencies, duplicity, even lies:
Mexico immigrants: good or bad?
  • March 5, 2015:  “I want nothing to do with Mexico other than to build an impenetrable WALL and stop them from ripping off the U.S.”  (A tweet on [email protected] Trump)
  • June 16, 2015:  “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best….They’re sending people that have lots of problems….They’re bringing drugs.  They’re bringing crime.  They’re rapists.  And some, I assume, are good people.”  (Michele Ye Hee Lee, “Trump’s Announcement Speech,” Washington Post, July 8, 2015)
  • August 31, 2016:  “I happen to have a tremendous feeling for Mexican-Americans not only in terms of friendships but in terms of the tremendous number that I employ in the United States, and they are amazing people, amazing people.”  (Elise Foley, “Trump Wimps Out on Demanding Mexico Pay for His Wall,” The Huffington Post, September 1, 2016)
Talked with Mexico President about Mexico paying for the wall or not?
  • Donald Trump, August 31, 2016: “Who pays for the wall, we didn’t discuss.” (Foley)
  • Pena Nieto, president of Mexico, August 31, 2016: “At the start of the conversation with Donald Trump, I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall.” (Charles M. Blow, “The Duplicity of Donald Trump, New York Times, August 31, 2016)
Supported the Iraq War or not?
  • September 11, 2002:  “When he was asked whether he supported a potential Iraq invasion…‘Yeah, I guess so’.”
  • March 21, 2003:  “The invasion ‘looks like a tremendous success…’”
  • September 7, 2016:  “I was opposed to the war from the beginning.”  (LeMire and Colvin, Associated Press, “Trump’s false claim of opposing the Iraq War,” U.S. News, September 10, 2016)
Other exaggerations and fabrications:
  • “Exaggerated the number of immigrants in this country illegally.”
  • Exaggerated the “inner city crime rate.”
  • “Said President Obama founded ISIS.”
  • Said “the Obama administration was actively supporting Al Qaeda in Iraq
  • “Said, “I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as the World Trade Center collapsed” (Charles M. Blow, “Donald Trump is Lying in Plain Sight,” New York Times, September 8, 2016.)
  • Claimed “Clinton had no child care plan” (Louis Jacobsen, “Politifact: Donald Trump’s Pants on Fire claim that Hillary Clint ‘has no child care plan’,”The New York Times, September 14, 2016.)
  • Asserted Clinton started the birther issue and he “finished” it (Liz Spayd, “When to Call a Lie a Lie,” The New York Times, September 20, 2016.)
Ironically, both candidates are called “liars.”  To some degree that is true; the question remaining is, “Who lies most outlandishly?”  The purpose of this document is not to defend Clinton.  I think she skirts issues, provides overly legalistic responses and stretches the truth.  But the most recent assessment by fact checker PolitiFact  (“Politifact: Comparing Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump on the Truth-O-Meter,” The New York Times,  checked on September 22, 2016) reports:
Mostly True
Half True
Mostly False
Pants on Fire
Total evaluated
Mostly True
Half True
Mostly False
Pants on Fire
Total evaluated
The percentages are my conclusion; the remainder of the calculations and categories are the work of Politifact.
These evaluations reveal Trump as a considerably worse liar than Clinton.  Clinton’s highest percentage fall in the “mostly true” range.  Trump’s highest percentage falls in the “false” range.  My observation supports that conclusion.
We all long for the time when people speak the truth, and Trump is, in our opinion, furthest from that ideal.
Concern # 3: Trump’s propensity to risk-taking would be extremely dangerous
In the world of high finance, being a risk-taker is seen as a positive virtue.  In fact, some sources strongly commend Donald Trump for that skill.  (Jermaine Harris, “The Success of Donald Trump,” Addicted to Success, no date.)   But not all.  Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and one of Trump’s opponents for the Republican nomination, did not, apparently agree.  She was instead critical pointing out Trump was forced to file for bankruptcy ‘not once, not twice, four times.”  Trump acknowledged it was true (The Trump Taj Mahal, 1991; the Trump Plaza Hotel, 1992; Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts, 2004; and Trump Entertainment Resorts, 2009).  In fact, Trump defended the action as a “tremendous thing….I did a very good job.” (Carroll and Youngman, “Politifact: Fact-checking claims about Donald Trump’s four bankruptcies,” The New York Times, September 16, 2015.) This essay is not the time to debate Chapter 11 bankruptcies; I will, however, use the point to demonstrate Trump’s acknowledged penchant for risk-taking.
The important question, instead, is whether risk-taking is an essential and valuable qualification for the president of the U.S.   I strongly believe not; in fact, it’s a major disadvantage!
Many agree, most notably fifty of the nation’s most senior Republican national security officials!  They said Trump “lacks the character, values and experience” to be president and “would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”  Trump, they continued, “would be the most reckless president in American history.”  The group included a former director of the CIA, two who served as deputy Secretary of State, a president of the World Bank, two former Secretaries of Homeland Security, and a former Deputy Secretary of Defense.  (Sanger and Haberman, “50 G.O.P. Officials Warn Donald Trump Would put Nation’s Security ‘at Risk,’” The New York Times, August 8, 2016.)
I am extremely uncomfortable with a man of Trump’s temperament and inclination toward risk leading the nation’s military, negotiating with ally and opponent leaders throughout the world, and making nuclear decisions!
The Economist identifies “Donald Trump wins the US presidential election” as one of the top 10 risks to the world, tied with the threat of jihadi terrorism’s impact on the global economy.  (Intelligence Unit, The Economist, October 2015.)  The same forecasting service warned, “Electing Trump could also start a trade war, hurt trade with Mexico and be a godsend to terrorist recruiters in the Middle East.”  (Daniel Lippman, “The Economist rates Trump presidency among its top 10 global risks,” Politico, March 16, 2016.)
Concern # 4: Trump’s surrounds himself with troubling staff members
Another concern for me:  what kind of confidantes would Trump select?   Presidents do not operate in a vacuum.  They immediately appoint numerous other government officials and assistants.  Without them, it would be impossible to conduct the work of the presidency.  It is, therefore, fair game to examine the kind of people a potential president surrounds himself.  On this score, I find much about Trump concerning:
  • Up through the Republican national convention, Paul Manafort was Trump’s campaign manager.  However, in mid-August 2016, Trump replaced him.   Manafort had previously lobbied for Pro-Russian Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych and dictators Ferdinand Marco (Philippines) and Mobutu Sese Seko (Congo, Zaire) as well as guerilla leader Jonas Savimbi (Angola).   Manafort was criticized for ties to a pro-Russian organization at the same time Trump was accused of being too closely allied with Putin.  Criticism focused particularly on questions regarding “illegally” obtained funds.  (“Paul Manafort,” Wikipedia, 2016; Bash, Schleifer, and Killough, “Donald Trump campaign chairman resigns,” CNN, August 20, 2016)
  • In August 2016, Trump appointed Stephen K. Bannon CEO of his campaign. To take the post, the controversial figure resigned his position as chair of the “fringe right-wing” website, Breitbart News.   Bannon is a tough-fisted executive who has been called an “evil genius,” and is known for a curse-laden style where some employees describe their treatment by “bully” Bannon as “indentured servitude.” He has previously been charged with domestic violence, and his history includes sexual harassment accusations.  (Hadas Gold, “Steve Bannon’s ‘tough love’,” Politico, September 2, 2016)
  • Trump has named David Bossie deputy campaign manager.  Bossie is the president of Citizens United, a group heavily responsible for the decision which has led to a flood of unlimited money into elections throughout the country.  In my opinion, this action has caused irreparable harm to our system of government, providing the way for a few wealthy schemers to buy elections.  (“Trump just hired the Captain Ahab of Clinton Haters,” The Washington Post, September 2, 2016.)
  • Bill Stepien was recently appointed national field director for the Trump campaign.  This is the same person who was previously fired for his involvement with the embarrassing closing of highway lanes near the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey (apparently retribution for a mayor’s refusal to endorse Chris Christie for re-election, a closing which not only levied considerable inconvenience to the public but endangered lives).  (“Christie’s role in Bridgegate back in Spotlight,” Salt Lake Tribune, Sept. 3, 2016.)                                   
  • Fox News got rid of Roger Ailes, but very shortly it was announced he would be an adviser to the Trump campaign.   Ailes is the founder and former CEO of Fox News, now hovering under the black cloud of sexual harassment allegations from several sources.  On September 6, 2016, it was reported that the allegations had resulted in a $20 million settlement to Gretchen Carlson, a former FOX anchor.  None of that seems to trouble the Trump team who is seeking his advice despite the questionable reputation.  (Haberman and Parker, “Roger Ailes Is Advising Donald Trump Ahead of Presidential Debates,” New York Times, August 16, 2016; Grynbaum and Koblin, “Fox Settles With Gretchen Carlson Over Roger Ailes Sex Harassment Claims, New York Times, September 6, 1016; Linkins, “Chuck Todd Questions the Wisdom of Having Roger Ailes on the Trump Campaign,” Huffington Post, September 6, 2016)
Concern # 5:  Trump’s behavior sometimes seems highly racist.
Although he claims he is not racist, his actions are frequently lead one to wonder.  For example:
  • Insisting a judge to be prejudiced and incapable of fair judgment just because “he’s a Mexican.”
  • Being charged with denying rentals to black people in New York City rent apartments
  • Being fined for removing black employees at his Trump Casino
  • Refusing to condemn white supremacists groups who support and work in his campaign
  • Denouncing Mexican immigrants as “in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists.”
  • Re-tweeting messages from white supremacists or Nazi sympathizers
  • Calling for a “shutdown” of Muslims entering the country (O’Connor and Marans, “Here are 13 Examples of Donald Trump Being Racist,” The Huffington Post, August 25, 2016; Nicholas Kristof, “Is Donald Trump a Racist?” The New York Times, July 23, 2016.)
The elimination of segregation and racist attitudes among many American citizens is one of the most remarkable achievements of the past century.  To consider the possibility of backtracking on that important change is disheartening.
Concern # 6:  Trump refuses to release his tax returns which leads me to doubt him further
Donald Trump’s persistent refusal to release his tax returns claiming he is not doing so because he is being audited makes no sense.   In the first place, just because the IRS may be auditing his returns does not in any way prohibit him from releasing them.  (Rachel Brody, “Trump’s Taxing Question,” U.S. News, July 29, 2016.)   Secondly, apparently, he is not even being audited for returns until 2008.  (Daily News Bin, “CNN confirms Donald Trump is not being audited for past years; he still won’t release taxes,” August 21, 2016.)  And thirdly, the refusal causes many to wonder what on earth is in those tax returns Trump may be hiding.  A variety of theories have emerged: Russian ties?  Didn’t pay taxes?  Have mob ties?  Donates little or nothing to charity?  Not as rich as he says?  To release his tax information could put false theories to rest.  (Chris Cillizza, “Donald Trump’s tax returns; 6 theories why he won’t release them,” The Chicago Tribune, July 27, 2016.)
Concern # 7: Trump promotes dangerous and unbelievable schemes
For instance:
  • Trump has repeatedly claimed he will just “take Iraq’s oil as the spoils of war”—a proposal which has been called the “most dangerous and irresponsible” of all his proposals as well as requiring a significant armed commitment and being illegal according to the agreed upon Geneva Conventions.  (Bruce Riedel, “Trump’s “take the oil” madness, Brookings, September 16, 2016; Steven Mufson, “Trump’s illegal, impossible, and ‘beyond goofy’ idea of seizing Iraq’ oil,” The Washington Post, September 9, 2016.)  
  • The entire concept of building a massive, mega-expensive wall along the US-Mexican border at Mexico’s expense seems preposterous and reminds me all too much of the wall that President Reagan pledged to tear down.  (John Dean, “Trump’s Wall: Impractical, Impolitic, Impossible,” Newsweek, May 16, 2016.)
  • While campaigning in New Hampshire, Trump said, “I would bring back waterboarding, and I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” Senator John McCain summarized my feelings when he said that such techniques “stained” the reputation of the United States and produced no useful intelligence.(Michael McAuliff, “John McCain Points out Some Yuuuge Problems with Donald Trump’s Torture Proposals,”  The Huffington Post, February 9, 2016.)
So what is my recommendation?
Having explained why I oppose the election of Donald Trump, the question that follows is obvious.  Who should a person vote for? 
I am not a strong advocate for Hillary Clinton.  Some of her behavior troubles me. Still, when compared to Trump, I believe there to be no question.  Despite other negatives, she is hard-working, intelligent, highly experienced, and empathetic.   I will be voting for Hillary.
Some of my acquaintances suggest other alternatives.   They may just not vote.  Or they may vote for one of the third-party alternatives.  Philosophically I understand why they propose those pathways.  However, I think it is very unwise.
If you do not vote, you give away your right.  Refusing to vote is like sitting on the sidelines.  You will just have to wait and see how the game turns out.  By refusing to vote against Donald Trump, your missing ballot may actually help him.  I believe responsible citizens must make a choice.
By voting for one of the third party candidates, you may be making a statement, but as I  analyze the possibilities, I think a vote for a third party candidate this year is throwing your vote away.   You are no longer sitting on the sidelines, just playing in a different room!
The choice this year (unsatisfactory as it may be) boils down to two candidates only.  I wish, and encourage you, to be a part of the decision.  For the reasons discussed above, I think a vote against Trump, and hence for Hillary is by far the best alternative.