Policy Wonk: Here's what’s really deplorable about Trump

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It’s not Hillary Clinton’s remarks about Donald Trump supporters; whether the percentage she cited is accurate is irrelevant. Truth is, she is correct.

Racist, Aryan, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti-LGBT groups overwhelmingly support Trump. Google these groups and read the facts for yourself.

In recently disclosed e-mails, Republican Colin Powell said: “Trump appeals to the worst angels of the GOP nature.” He called Trump “a national disgrace and an international pariah who led a racist birther movement.” Powell scoffed at Trump’s recent efforts to reach out to African Americans; “Trump takes them for idiots,” he said.

So let’s be clear, Clinton’s comment is close to the mark. Here’s what is really deplorable:

• Trump’s repeated misogynistic (often crude) comments about women are deplorable. Leona Helmsley, Rosie O’Donnell, Carly Fiorina, Heidi Cruz, and Megyn Kelly have borne the brunt of these comments this election cycle, but his hateful views (often unchallenged) trace back for years.

• Trump’s long-standing racism is deplorable. His real estate ventures barred blacks and Hispanics from housing for years; he has called black people lazy; he has discriminated against his own minority employees; he believes a minority judge cannot decide cases fairly; he accepts, but with a wink and nod disavows, Ku Klux Klan support.

• Trump’s attacks on Muslims are deplorable. He alternately includes all Muslims, some Muslims, Muslims from overseas, Muslims from territory “compromised by terrorism.” He doesn’t understand that religious discrimination is constitutionally barred. He says whatever his audience of the moment wants to hear.

• Trump’s attack on Mexican immigrants when he announced his candidacy was calculated and deplorable. He wanted to trigger latent anti-immigration sentiment. He said, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” Today, when he wants their votes, “They’re great people.” He travels to Mexico and takes a softer line on “walls,” “deportations,” and six hours later in Arizona he doubles down on deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Where is the outrage?

• Trump’s arrogance or indifference to concepts of “transparency” is deplorable. He’s going to make everything better, but he seldom, says how. And when he does, the numbers don’t add up; his recent tax plan is a perfect example. He combs 40 years of Clinton tax returns to criticize speaking fees and Clinton Foundation activities, while releasing none of his own tax returns. Again, where is the outrage?

• Trump’s attacks on a war hero and the Kahn family were deplorable. U.S. Sen. John McCain spent five years in a Vietnamese prison, but this wasn’t enough; the Khan family (Muslim, naturalized American citizens) lost a son in Iraq, but when Mr. Kahn asked Trump, “what have you sacrificed?” he was vilified. Trump never apologizes for these intemperate outbursts, nor do many of his supporters.

• Trump’s ISIS strategy is both deplorable and dangerous. He first wanted to, “quickly and decisively bomb the hell out of ISIS.” The collateral civilian damage and global push-back from such a strategy would be huge. Then he touted putting tens of thousands of “boots on the ground;” then he had a secret strategy – he claimed he knew more about ISIS than the generals; then he said that within 30 days of taking office he would have the generals put a plan to defeat ISIS on the table. In short, Trump has no coherent ISIS strategy.

• Trump lies with impunity, and that’s deplorable. He continually trashes the economy, but the truth is we’ve had 78 months of continuous job growth (the longest recovery in the nation’s history); 15 million private-sector jobs have been added; unemployment is under 5 percent; the participation rate (the percentage of employable people seeking work) is increasing; inflation and interest rates are very low, and most recently, we’ve learned that incomes for low- and middle-income families have risen sharply.

He trashes our military preparedness, but the truth is our military budget is larger than the combined budgets of the next seven nations. He trashes Obamacare, but the truth is 20 million Americans have health care for the first time; that number would be larger, but 19 states (almost all controlled by Republicans) refuse to participate for purely political reasons and their people pay a heavy price. Where is the push-back? Why isn’t the media shouting that lies repeated do not become truth?

One could go on about Trump’s ties to, and praise of, Vladimir Putin; his expressed willingness to use torture; his trashing of NATO partners; the scam of Trump University; the debacle of Atlantic City casinos; his indiscriminate trashing of trade agreements without acknowledging their benefits – all deplorable.

Finally, I’ll answer a question many independent voters ask: Is Hillary Clinton the perfect candidate? Obviously not. She’s made mistakes, but 40 years of experience and public service counts. Sen. Bernie Sanders said it best: “Hillary Clinton on her worst day is a better choice than Donald Trump.” 

Orlando Delogu of Portland is emeritus professor of law at the University of Maine School of Law and a longtime public policy consultant to federal, state, and local government agencies and officials. He can be reached at orlandodelogu@maine.rr.com.