A FACT-BASED EVALUATION OF TRUMP’S FITNESS FOR OFFICE
The electoral college will soon vote to elect the 45th president of the United States. While it is likely that they will elect Donald Trump, it is not guaranteed.
Like never before in the history of our nation, we are counting on the electors to fairly and honestly evaluate the fitness of the candidate before electing him to office.
So what do the electors need to consider when evaluating Donald Trump’s “fitness” for office?
The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy sets out a 5-prong analysis for determining fitness of a presidential candidate:
- What are the candidates’ values, views on the issues and priorities?
- Does the candidate have the good judgment and temperament to be president?
- Is the candidate trustworthy?
- Does the candidate have the experience and competence to succeed as president?
- Does the candidate have the physical and mental ability to handle the grueling duties as president?
Evaluating Trump’s Fitness for Office
You won’t find an official definition of what it means to be “fit for office of president of the United States.” The US Constitution doesn’t spell it out. But, undoubtedly, our founders believed that in the event someone was unfit for office, we would know it — and the electors would protect us from someone unfit for office. If the founders thought that they needed to spell it out for future generations, we can trust that they would have spelled it out. A zebra is a zebra, and we know one when we see it.
So — although most of us see the zebra — it seems that some of our electors still need a picture before they can call it what it is. Here, I attempt to draw that picture for them.
The list — if there is a list of all of Trump’s outrageous behavior, comments, and protocol breaches — is quite long. I will not attempt to recreate that list here. Instead, in application of the 5-prong analysis, I will limit the focus to those acts and statements which are unequivocally factual, and which many people subjectively consider to be the most outrageous examples of his behavior.
- VALUES, VIEWS, AND PRIORITIES
Fact: Trump is reluctant to put his businesses into an actual blind trust. His official decision is supposed to be announced in an upcoming press conference, but he has not given us any reason to believe that he will act in accordance with tradition in this regard.
Fact: Donald Trump refuses to release his tax returns. There is no legal reason for his refusal.
Fact: Trump plans to continue to be the executive producer for a reality television show while he is president.
Conclusion: The enormity of the conflicts of interest resulting from his refusal to set up an acceptable blind trust indicates that the office of president of the US is not his highest priority. And his refusal to release his tax returns (so that the depth of his conflicts can be fairly evaluated) likewise demonstrates that his privacy is, to him, more important than the office of president. What is arguably the hardest and most stressful job on our planet requires the undivided attention of the president, yet Donald Trump won’t even relinquish his role as executive producer of a reality television show? In other words, his priorities are clearly messed up.
Values and Views on the Issues:
These two go hand-in-hand. Donald Trump’s views on the issues help us to understand what he values. His various choices for key cabinet positions likewise express those values and views.
Fact: Trump believes that global warming is a fiction created by China. He denies the scientific truth regarding the environment and its impact, and his policy decisions will be based on this disbelief.
Fact: Donald Trump does not have faith in our national intelligence agencies and disbelieves reports of Russian involvement in the 2016 election. (see more)
Fact: Trump wants the EPA to be headed by someone who does not believe in the purpose of the agency, and he is considering giving the Department of Energy to Gov. Rick Perry, a man who believes that the agency should be shut down.
Conclusion: A person who has a blanket disbelief of the information provided by intelligence agencies cannot possibly make rational, reasonable, and sound decisions as our commander-in-chief. A person who rejects hard science in favor of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories likewise cannot possibly make rational, reasonable, and sound decisions as POTUS.
And with regard to the EPA and Dept. of Energy — Isn’t the absurdity of naming non-believers to those agencies akin to the absurdity of naming a black rabbi to the position of Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan?
- JUDGMENT AND TEMPERAMENT
Fact: Donald Trump uses his Twitter account to publicly attack private citizens.
As reported in the Washington Post, for example, after an 18 year old girl* asked Donald Trump a question at an event, he criticized her in a tweet and inaccurately described her as a Jeb Bush staffer. As a direct result of that tweet, Trump loyalists continued the attack on the girl via telephone, email, and social media. She received violent threats such as one posted to her on Facebook that said, “Wishing I could f—ing punch you in the face. id then proceed to stomp your head on the curb and urinate in your bloodied mouth and i know where you live, so watch your f—ing back punk.” (sic)
Fact: Donald Trump’s tweet attacks on private citizens continued after the election. Trump criticized a union president, stating that “[he] has done a terrible job” and it’s “[n]o wonder companies flee the country!!” This also lead to continued attacks and threats on the private citizen by Trump loyalists.
Fact: Donald Trump has not publicly reprimanded or chastised those who furthered his attacks on private citizens.
Fact: Following these attacks on private citizens, Donald Trump stated in an interview on the Today Show that he believes his tweets are “very restrained” and that he talks about “important things.”
Fact: Donald Trump has repeatedly and publicly criticized, demeaned, and devalued women, Muslims and the Islamic faith, Mexicans, and other groups.
Conclusion: Dr. George Simon, an expert on psychological disorders, is quoted as saying, “Make no mistake, no one is more dangerous than a person who sets him or herself above others to the point that he or she feels entitled to prey on those viewed as inferior.” (see CounterPunch.org)
Attacks on private citizens, minorities and ethnic groups, and religions demonstrate unacceptable, dangerous judgment and temperament. That danger is highlighted by Trump’s statement that his behavior is “restrained,” leading to the rational conclusion that his real and unrestrained beliefs are even more egregious than he is sharing publicly. His public attacks and criticisms further demonstrate that he either completely lacks understanding of the consequences of his words, and/or that he is completely indifferent to those consequences — either of which is, alone, evidence that he is unfit to hold the office of president.
*Trump supporters tweeted her name, photo, phone number, email address, and Facebook link. I will not invade her privacy any further by naming her here.
Fact: Donald Trump repeatedly lies, and he has a careless disregard for facts. Here are just a few examples —
|Trump repeatedly stated that he watched secret footage of a U.S. plane unloading money in Iran.||It didn’t happen. Trump later admitted that this was not true. (see more)|
|Trump repeatedly stated that he saw 1000s of Muslim Americans celebrating in New Jersey after the 9/11 attack. (see more)||It didn’t happen.|
|Trump stated that millions of illegal votes were cast for Hillary Clinton in a rigged election.||There is no evidence of any illegal votes, much less “millions,” or of a rigged election.|
|Trump said, “WikiLeaks also shows how John Podesta rigged the polls by oversampling Democrats . . . a voter suppression technique“||Didn’t happen. And he’s wrong: Oversampling ensures accurate data, and it doesn’t suppress votes.|
|Trump repeatedly stated that new hacked emails showed that multiple television networks conspired with Hillary Clinton to report the news in a way that she wanted it to be reported.||It didn’t happen. There are no emails from television networks asking for direction from Hillary Clinton or her campaign staff.|
|Trump frequently referred to a “crime wave of criminal behavior” by illegal immigrants, including murder.||There is no evidence of this. In fact, the evidence is that illegal immigrants are less likely to commit crime.|
|Accused “top” FBI investigator in charge of the email investigation of accepting $675,000 from Hillary Clinton.||It didn’t happen. This is a direct false accusation of corruption by both Hillary Clinton and Andrew McCabe, for which there is no justification.|
|Of the many sexual assault allegations against him, Trump said that many have been “debunked” and “proven untrue.”||None of the sexual assault allegations have been debunked or proven to be false.|
|Blamed Hillary Clinton and Obama for the formation of ISIS, and said that Hillary Clinton is responsible for “all this disaster with ISIS.”||ISIS formed under the Bush administration, not Obama administration. The majority of Western attacks carried out by ISIS happened after Hillary Clinton left the State department.|
Fact: Numbers, dollars, percentages, totals, etc. provided as factual by Donald Trump are frequently wrong. Here are just a few randomly selected examples —
Percentage of unemployed black youth
|Hispanic poverty level under Obama administration||
Poverty level decreased
|Murder rate over the past 45 years||
“highest in 45 yrs“
|Among the lowest in 45 years|
|Hillary Clinton’s plan to raise taxes||“massive tax increase for everyone” by “almost 50%”||
No tax increase for 99% of population.
|Economic growth under Obama administration||“practically zero” and “no growth“||Steady growth every year since 2009|
|Job growth since the passage of ‘Obamacare’||
Zero, “totally frozen“
15 million new jobs
|Unemployment rate (09/2016)||
|Amount of money lost/misplaced by State Dept. under Hillary||
$ 6 Billion
|No actual money lost or misplaced.|
|Number of Syrian refugees admitted into US||“Hundreds of thousands“||
|Number of illegal immigrants in US||
|10-11 million (flow of immigrants at a 40 yr low)|
|Number of business bankruptcies taken by Trump||
|Amount of US payment from US to Iran||
$ 150 Billion
|NO payment from US / About $50 Billion of Iranian usable assets were unfrozen|
Conclusion: Refusal to provide copies of his tax returns causes many to say, “What is he hiding?” But it is the extent of his lying that causes the extreme mistrust of Donald Trump.
There is a list (albeit outdated)of “all of the lies” told by Donald Trump during the 2016 election. The list does not, however, include any of his lies since election day. On average, based on the information reported by The Star, Trump lies publicly 20 times per day.
It is fair to call Donald Trump’s pattern of lying as “pathological.” Pathological liars demonstrate specific characteristics, and those characteristics are easily discerned from Trump’s behavior and comments.
How can we justify putting a pathological liar into the highest office in the land? How can we trust a president who doesn’t trust our top intelligence agencies? How can we justify electing a person we cannot and should not trust?
The answer is that there is no justification. He simply is not trustworthy.
- EXPERIENCE AND COMPETENCE
Fact: Donald Trump has no experience in civic leadership and government.
Fact: Competence (also known as “fitness”) is a subjective question.
Conclusion: Trump’s lack of experience in government is not, by itself, a disqualifying factor. However, when his lack of experience is considered in relation to all of the other parameters by which we evaluate fitness, it carries more weight and causes concern. The skills of a savvy business person only partially translate to the skills needed by a world leader. When that person lacks diplomacy, integrity, trustworthiness, good judgment, and a breadth of knowledge about world politics, his business experience is simply insufficient, and he is incompetent to hold office.
- PHYSICAL AND MENTAL ABILITY
Fact: Trump’s medical history and the current state of his health is not known.
Fact: Mental ability is a subjective question which includes a person’s ability to learn, and his ability to understand the significance of his behavior.
Conclusion: History provides excellent examples of presidents functioning quite well in office in spite of serious health issues. We do not know why Donald Trump has had a decades long patient/physician relationship with a gastroenterologist, or whether he has any health concerns which might interfere in his performance of the duties of office. However, with all of the other serious concerns which are easily discernible, there really isn’t any reason to even reach the question of physical health.
On the other hand, Donald Trump’s mental abilities need to be scrutinized. Does he understand the significance of his behavior? Based on his tweeting history, it does not appear that he understands. Does he understand the significance of his public statements about his lack of faith in our intelligence community, or his admiration of Putin, or his view on “One China”? Do we have any reason to believe that he will demonstrate a stronger mental ability if he is sworn into office?
In a Nutshell
I’ve intentionally provided relatively little commentary regarding the conclusions drawn from the facts. After all, how much discussion is needed when stating that 1 + 1 = 2? It is what it is, and that’s what we have on the question of Trump’s fitness for the office of president — a relatively simple equation that sums up to “unfit”.
So why is it so hard for ‘us’ to convince ‘them’ that Trump isn’t fit to hold office? Why do otherwise rational and intelligent people deny the math?
Convincing all of the Trump supporters that 1 + 1 = 2 is an impossible task, but the urgent question before us now is: Can we persuade 37 republican electors?
I hope so.
~Lynda C. Watts
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