Here's What I Think Of Donald Trump

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This is the North Carolinian. I’m James Kotecki. And I want to try something different. For the first time, there is no guest. There’s just something I have to say.

If you’re hearing the show for the first time, it’s actually never about me - it’s about conversations with state leaders. I try to have constructive, respectful, interesting dialog with people across the political spectrum. And that’s what I’m going to keep doing.

The tagline for this show is “the politics podcast about what the heck is happening in my home state.” But today, I have to talk about what the heck is happening in my home country.

We live in a world of self-selected messages, a world where people consume media to confirm what they already believe. It’s hard to truly persuade anybody to change course, but as tough as it is I want to try to speak to those of you who have yet to make up your minds about this presidential election.

I have to try.

Because, my fellow North Carolinians, my fellow Americans, my fellow human beings: Donald Trump cannot become our president.

Now, if you’re undecided, I’m going to assume you’re squeamish about Trump for, you know, the obvious reasons. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s run a campaign based on bigotry, fear, and exclusion.

Maybe it’s the fact that his behavior is that of a sixth grader in detention. Although to be fair, sixth grade might be a little generous.

Maybe it’s the fact that Donald Trump has the support of white nationalists like David Duke. Or maybe it’s one of the many other things he’s said that would immediately disqualify any normal person from running for dogcatcher, let alone President of the United States.

But for whatever reason you are still undecided. Maybe you were feeling the Bern, you don't like Tim Kaine, you’re upset with the Democratic National Committee, and somehow this quote from Trump’s RNC acceptance speech rings true for you:

“I have seen firsthand how the system is rigged against our citizens, just like it was rigged against Bernie Sanders. He never had a chance. Never had a chance. But his supporters will join our movement...”

Honestly, if you supported Bernie Sander’s ideas and now you’re honestly thinking of voting for Trump, I’m not sure there’s anything I can really tell you here, it’s clearly more about emotion than logic for you at this point.

But if you’re like many of my family members - you’re a normal Republican who despises Donald but has spent decades hatin’ on Hillary - then let’s talk. While I don’t usually share your Republican views, I do respect them, not just because I enjoy friendly debates with my family, but because robust debate - built in facts, not fear - is at at the cornerstone of a healthy Republic.

And by the way, speaking of facts, rated rated over 60% of Trump’s statements either False or Pants-on-Fire, compared to just 13% for Clinton. But I digress.

Look, I know I can’t undo 20+ years of Republican anti-Hillary sentiment on one podcast episode. If the Republican nominee were anybody but Trump I probably wouldn’t even be making this appeal. Even though I’m voting for Hillary Clinton and I hope you do too, I’m really just here to ask you: please vote against Donald Trump.

For the sake of argument, I’ll grant you that Hillary Clinton would maintain a status quo you don’t like, maybe she’d even move things a little further to the left. To you, Hillary Clinton might be bad for the country. But Donald Trump has the potential to be so much worse for the entire world.

See, you could hope that Congress or the courts could constrain Donald domestically - even though that strikes me as wishful thinking. But presidential power is at its peak in the realm of foreign policy.

So when I vote, I will not be voting for a man who supports torture, claims to know more about ISIS than the generals do, said he might not defend NATO allies, says he gets his foreign policy advice from watching “the shows” and that his number one foreign policy consultant is himself because “I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.” Oh, and some of those “things” include praise for Vladimir Putin, Saddam Hussein, and Kim Jong Un.

The single most important decision any president can make is whether or not to use nuclear weapons and other tools of military force. We empower our president to potentially end millions of lives in an instant. Donald Trump has proven time and again that he should not have that power. This is way beyond whether you dislike Hillary Clinton’s plans for taxes or tuition, or even dislike her personally. This is life and death. This is existential.

And lest you think I exaggerate, remember - to Donald Trump, “bomb the shit out of ’em” passes for military strategy.

At least when John McCain sang about bombing Iran, it kind of sounded like he was joking. Plus John McCain actually has military experience, unlike Donald Trump, who insulted McCain for being a prisoner of war.

For me, this election is personal. My brother and my cousin are now active duty members of the US military.  To be clear, I don’t speak for them. But I worry about about a world in which Donald Trump becomes their Commander in Chief.

One person I do speak for is my son. This is my first presidential election as a father.

It’s a common political trope that whatever election we’re currently having is “the most important election of our lifetime.” But this time, it’s actually true. And it’s doubly true for my son.

If Trump becomes president, my son will remember nothing but the country that Donald Trump will build. A country under constant threat from outsiders. A country in which intolerance is allowed to creep further and further into the mainstream. A country governed not by a system of values but by a cult of ignorant personality. A country that is closed off and afraid.

That means the most important election of my son’s lifetime is one in which my wife and I are entrusted to be his voice and his vote. And so this, really, is for him. When he gets older I want him to know that in this tumultuous and sometimes terrifying election, his dad did not stay silent.

I say all this in a spirit that is very much the opposite of Donald Trump’s: a spirit of love and respect. For my son. For my family. For my country.

I’m James Kotecki. And this is the North Carolinian.