I opposed Donald Trump in the 2016 primaries and I refused to vote for him in the 2016 general election. In the years since, I have been pleased with his policies, and I plan on voting for him in the 2020 general election. The 2020 election is a binary choice and the good Trump has done is enough to outweigh the bad and earn him my vote. I will not, however, vote for Trump in the 2020 primary on May 5. Here are some reasons why:
First, he is immature, childish, unpresidential and unprofessional. His rantings on Twitter have diminished the stature of the office, and he has coarsened the culture. I understand that Trump is as much a symptom a terrible political culture as the cause of it, but his antics have only made the situation worse. He promised to be presidential during the 2016 campaign. When he is scripted, he can be that. But it is clear that he never had any intention of toning down his caustic personality.
Second, he thinks he knows more than he does, and his unorthodox style and distrust for the bureaucracy have gotten him into trouble. The entire impeachment mess could have been avoided had he respected the diplomatic process. If corruption in Ukraine (including Joe Biden’s son being granted a cushy high-paying job he was not qualified for) needed to be investigated, then he could have directed the State Department to go through traditional channels. Instead, he had to do it himself, and his bullish manner created an impeachment crisis that never needed to happen.
Third, he is a man of bad personal character. This is a man who has repeatedly committed adultery on his wives, and he is shameless about his long history of philandering. He is prone to exaggerations and outright lying, and he is extremely proud. He is nasty and hateful and has encouraged his fans to engage in the same behavior. While “fighting back” is often necessary, one can do that without the kind of venom and personal vindictiveness Trump often displays.
Fourth, he has made bad judgments about who to put around him, including people who have winked at the alt-right and people who have committed felonies including violent assaults on women. Trump loves anyone who praises him, and disdains those who offer even the most reasonable criticisms of him and his administration. The book of Proverbs describes such a man as a fool.
I am not naïve here. I know there is virtually no chance that Trump will not be the 2020 GOP nominee for President. None of his challengers have much support withing the Republican Party, and Trump himself is immensely popular with Republicans. But Trump’s flaws do merit a protest vote, and by not voting for him in the primary I will be sending a message with my protest vote. My hope is that enough people will join me that the protest vote gets his attention.