Donald J. Trump has given voters plenty of reasons not to reelect him president of the United States.
He has used his public office for personal financial gain. In violation of the Constitution, he has benefitted from foreign patronage of his businesses. He has not divested them nor placed them in a blind trust, steps previous presidents have taken to stay clear of that clause.
He tried to blackmail the leaders of another nation, Ukraine, to pursue a criminal investigation into the son of a then-possible presidential rival by withholding congressionally approved, desperately needed military aid to that nation.
He said that the “very fine people” present at the political unrest in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, included the side with the men carrying torchlights and chanting “Jews will not replace us,” and a man who drove his car into a group of political opponents, killing a woman.
He has not sought to bind up the nation’s gaping racial wounds, but has repeatedly poured salt in them. He shows no empathy for a substantial part of the population whose lives are constrained by the color of their skin.
He has buddied up to dictators around the world, one of them the leader of a nation working on developing a missile that will deliver a nuclear warhead to the western United States, and the other a man who interfered with the 2016 presidential election and apparently is planning to do so again between now and Tuesday, November 3, not to mention what he’s done over the past four years in the run-up to Tuesday’s election.
He has inexplicably spurned the foreign leaders of the international coalition that has stood with America for the past 75 years to resist the violent spread of Communism.
He has cruelly and vindictively pursued a policy of harassing or barring people who want to immigrate to and become citizens of the United States, especially those of the Muslim faith and those who have a different skin color than him. His harassment has included placing young immigrant children in cages, separated from their mothers.
He promised to provide relief for the workers of the Rust Belt and help for the farmers of the Midwest. In his presidency, he has either ignored them or pursued trade policies contrary to their well-being.
He spoke of giving Americans tax relief. He and his willing accomplices in Congress delivered a sweet tax break to the billionaires, but not so sweet to the nonbillionaire segment of the population, many of whom ended up seeing an increase in their taxes.
He has used the bully pulpit of the presidency to engage, often through his Twitter account, in meanspirited attacks on people with little means to fight back, in the demeaning of war heroes such as the late Senator John McCain, and in the passing along of misinformation to suit his personal political ends.
But much of the above, aside from the apparent flouting of the emoluments clause and the reported blackmailing of Ukraine, is legal as well as constitutional.
“Elections have consequences,” he said in his opening lines at the first presidential debate.
They do. With the assistance of Republican majorities in the Senate and the House in the first two years of his presidency and a majority in the Senate for these last two, Mr. Trump has worked to achieve the promises he made in the 2016 campaign.
Still no wall. There seems to be a glitch in getting Mexico to pay for it.
But the president has made substantial progress on other fronts, such as getting conservatives appointed to the federal judiciary, curtailing immigration, and cutting government regulations on businesses.
Elections do have consequences. While many Americans dislike President Trump’s policies and avowed goals, many Americans like them.
And if President Trump wants to act in a boorish manner and engage in personal attacks, well, it’s a free country and he has his First Amendment rights, just as any of us do.
Still, there remain two crucial reasons why Americans should not reelect President Trump.
One is his handling of the coronavirus. In the past seven months, tens of thousands of Americans died needlessly because the president didn’t want to sound the alarm. Instead, he told the nation that the virus was going to disappear by spring. Thousands more likely are looking at long-term, perhaps severe health implications.
In the coming months, tens of thousands more Americans will needlessly die, and thousands more will survive but contract lingering health effects.
As of Thursday, October 29, 228,000 Americans have died in the pandemic.
The second is the president’s willingness to use the levers of federal power to further his political agenda, and to stiff-arm legitimate attempts to investigate him or to pry important public information out of the White House.
If the president is reelected, his first term will prove to be just a warmup for his second term when it comes to abuse of power.
Mr. Trump is not a conciliator; he is a wannabe strongman who perhaps sees his chance.
In his first term, he has gone right up to the line (and occasionally over, such as in the clearing of Lafayette Square of peaceful protesters).
In a second term the president, and his supporters, likely will feel no such compunctions.
His Democratic presidential opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, is right: when it comes to the presidency of the United States, Donald Trump is the wrong man for the job.
Next week, in the general election, Americans have the ability to correct a disastrous decision they made four years ago and prevent it from getting any worse.
Let’s hope they do the right thing.