What It Would Take For Me To Vote For Trump

I am unashamedly part of the #NeverTrump movement. I made that declaration on Dec. 16 and I am sticking to it. But I’ve been questioned about the “never” part of the pledge not to support Mr. Trump; specifically, the question was “isn’t that a little bit shortsighted?”

My mother raised me to never say “never” because you can’t know what’s going to happen. “I’ll never live in the south,” or “I’ll never need glasses” are two things I know for sure I regret saying (I’ve lived in Georgia nearly 24 years now) and the other one, just for reading prescription labels. Saying “I’ll never vote for Trump” implies the other part “no matter what.” And it’s shortsighted to say that.

So here, briefly, is my manifesto explaining what it would take for me to support Trump.

First, let me say it’s not Trump’s policies in themselves that turn me off to him. It’s about time a president addressed trade imbalances that were designed in the Marshall Plan era. Japan, Germany, and Europe no longer need us to rebuild them. The Soviet Union is gone; NATO is mostly a paper tiger, if not a joke. Countering a new Russia is a much more complex and subtle problem than the old Red vs. dead argument of the past. China is now quasi-capitalist with strings pulled by oligarch-communists in Beijing.

We are being deluged by uninvited and executive-action protected illegal immigrants who are draining our resources, exporting our money in an underground economy, bringing in crime and drugs, and changing our demographics (and I believe eventually voting with a California driver’s license and another state’s motor-voter law). With that kind of Democrat-driven change, our borders are really becoming porous to the point of non-existence.

Trump promises to deal with all of these issues without bankrupting the treasury. Sure, as a dealmaker, that’s one thing I believe he could do: Make deals with Congress, who are among the most spineless, awful, timid, ankle-grabbing milquetoasts to ever sit at a negotiating table. Trump would rule them. He already rules them and he’s not even the nominee.

The one showstopper issue for me is abortion. Trump claims he’s pro-life but very unconvincingly. Unconvincing like saying you’re against genocide but the Nazis do some good things (as Dr. Michael Brown pointed out). So even if all the other items below this were resolved, my first must-do for Trump is to become 100 percent, undeniably, clearly, indisputably pro-life.

If Trump were to say that Planned Parenthood is an abortion mill which deserves nothing less than having abortion struck down–Rowe v. Wade overturned by the Supreme Court, I’d at least hold that in my pocket. I could even forgive the checks he’s written to all kinds of politicians. Businessmen who aren’t politically motivated, but are money-motivated, give money to all kinds of causes, especially political campaigns, all over the map.

Look at Goldman Sachs, where Heidi Cruz works (on leave of absence). They give to everyone, but mostly Democrats. Do we hold it against Cruz? No, but Heidi doesn’t personally write those checks. Trump owns his own business and we can’t hold that against him.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way (by the way, Trump reiterated his support for the wonderful things he says Planned Parenthood does in his post-Super Tuesday press conference). It doesn’t look like he’ll clear the first hurdle. But for the sake of completeness, I’ll cover the rest.

In short, I don’t believe Trump. I don’t believe him because he’s a chameleon on the issues. He says he’s neutral on the Israel/Palestinian issues, but he’s pro-Israel because he led a parade. It doesn’t pass the laugh test. He says he’ll undo Obamacare but he’s okay with a mandate. What deal will he negotiate with Congress? Cruz says he’ll repeal every word of Obamacare, and I believe it. Cruz says he’ll abolish the IRS–less probable but repealing Obamacare is a prerequisite to it. Trump makes no claims on the IRS.

Trump hates the government in Washington D.C. and implies that the civil service is rife with fraud, waste and abuse. In isolated cases, he’s absolutely right. In a general sense, the system itself creates fraud, waste and abuse. I’ve worked as a DoD contractor and seen how the (acquisition, logistics and system integration) sausage is made. Even if the employees did their jobs to the best of their ability, honestly, and with alacrity, the results would have a patina of fraud, waste and abuse attached.

It’s the way large businesses and government organizations operate. In business, we call it the BDC factor: “Big Dumb Company.” Siloed. Stratified. Rule-bound. Changing the civil service and its embedded self-interests is a difficult endeavor, which I don’t think Trump or any president could accomplish. The last president to try was Chester A. Arthur, and you don’t see him on currency or enshrined in monuments.

So Trump is making claims he can’t really support. You can’t go into the government and slash and burn like you can in private business. I would like real answers from Trump, because he’s setting up people for major disappointments and insecurity.

About his bearing, Trump’s personality is ill-suited for the presidency. The last person even close to Trump’s temperament and speech was Lyndon Johnson, who was rumored to have pulled his member from his pants and slapped it on the cabinet meeting room table during a discussion. Since Trump just referred to his own member in the GOP debate, I could see him doing something like that (except now we have Snapchat).

Trump’s ideas on the military, on foreign policy and on dealing with terror are at best, ill-informed, and at worst, catastrophically obtuse. Just read a few of the pieces by National Review’s David French, a U.S. Army veteran and attorney (here and here). He has already lost all credibility on the international stage, and his nomination would create a worldwide groundswell of support for Hillary Clinton. That might very well happen with any Republican, but much more intense with Trump.

I’d like to hear Trump speak with authority and specific, realistic and informed answers on international affairs, outside of trade imbalances and our allies. I don’t think he can switch to a serious mode from his jingoistic ear tickling words.

I don’t believe Trump on his personal wealth. I don’t believe him on his medical records. I don’t believe him on his tax returns. I don’t believe him on his approach to white supremacist groups–he baits their support, and only when forced denounces them. I would want Trump to submit to an independent third party audit, release his tax returns, and his complete medical records. I don’t much care about his health–or suspect him of being in poor health at least–but he said he was going to release those records and hasn’t done it in full.

Trump insults and uses the basest, most venal language during debates, campaign speeches, and online rants. He propagates outright lies. Only when forced into it does he back down, then goes right back to it.

In short, I’d like to see Donald Trump become a civilized human being in public, stop the lying, stop the prevarication, stop the base personal insults, and conduct himself like a serious adult instead of a fourteen year old.

If Trump did all those things, yes, absolutely, I would consider revoking my #NeverTrump pledge and supporting him as the Republican nominee.

I challenge Mr. Trump to address these conditions. But I won’t hold my breath waiting for it.

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

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