But the reality is that this year is different.
It is different for the crucial reason that rather than being a contest of ideas, democracy itself and the preservation of American institutions is on the ballot. It is about the preservation of order, of justice, of a free press and fair elections.
And it is different with respect to the intent behind the policies. I believe that many Republican Party platform proposals have the effects of harming minorities, poor and working class Americans, women, and the LGBT community. Giving large tax benefits to those at the top of the income distribution has not been shown to benefit those of the poor and middle classes. Trickle-down economics has not proven to be an effective economic model. Stripping the United States of Obamacare would leave approximately twenty million Americans without any health insurance, with those newly lacking health insurance far from guaranteed to be able to afford to obtain private pay coverage. Absent health insurance, individuals have less access to preventive care and other needed health services, with especially great gaps between those in states that did versus did not participate in Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Moreover, those lacking health insurance are more likely to be racial/ethnic minorities, the rollback of healthcare proposed by the GOP would be more likely to have the most adverse impact on minorities. Reducing access to reproductive health services has implications extending well beyond the particular realm of abortion to include such issues as rates of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, and teen pregnancy, the latter of which can halt or altogether derail young women’s ability to build successful academic and professional careers. Investing in school vouchers to a greater deal than traditional public education can have the effect of underserving public schools on which lower and middle income families rely, with education being a prime pathway to upward economic mobility.
I believe that these consistently Republican policies adversely impact a number of these core groups, but it is not necessarily out of malice. Rather, it is out of a deep conviction in small government and a social conservatism that transcends the empirical facts of the policies’ implementation impacts.
That the policies of the Cruz’s and Rubio’s of the world have discriminatory implications and not intent is far from enough for me to justify voting for them, but it may be enough to guard against a grave existential dread should one of them find their way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Donald Trump’s policies, on the other hand, are nefarious. That they are motivated by malice rather than higher principles of small government does not require inference, but rather is supported by his own words, which appeal to Americans’ most base – and indeed, debased – instincts of fear and intolerance for an “other.” They are motivated by an intolerance for Muslims and immigrants, even as he seeks to become the president of what is by virtually any definition a nation of immigrants. They are motivated by a misogyny put front and center in his bragging about sexual assault, his declaring that pregnancy is inconvenient for employers, his characterization of his daughter as a piece of ass, his view that and reduction of women’s worth to their physical appearance. They are motivated by a self-serving attitude consistent with his own history of making his wealth not through honest labor but rather at the expense of others such as through the failure to pay contractors and his failure to pay (let alone disclose) his taxes.
While Cruz and Rubio often prove hostile to government despite its aid to minorities and the poor, Trump has shown little reservation in his hostility to minorities and the poor themselves, a brazenness and intolerance that does not belong in the White House.
That Republican policies have the consistent effects of favoring some at the expense of others is within the realm of natural partisan divisions stemming from different worldviews as to the proper allocation of authority among federal government, state government, and private enterprise, along with some natural concession to an understanding of the demographic groups on which one does or does not rely for electoral success. That Trump’s policies consistently are motivated to benefit himself and are transparently motivated by hateful, racist, sexist, and other discriminatory tendencies is unforgivable and should be a disqualifier for the presidency. The American electorate must recognize this and act accordingly on November 8.