Why This Lifelong Republican and Former Trump Appointee is Voting for Biden
A law school friend asked me to write a shareable post about why, as a lifelong Republican and former Trump Administration appointee, I am voting against him. Here goes.
I’m 47, so when I think of a what a president of the United States should do and ought to be like, I automatically think of Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush, the good leaders of my youth. As I understood and embraced it in the Eighties, political conservatism was a “three-legged stool” that aspired to advance strong and anticommunist national security policies, economic growth and fiscal responsibility, and a rejection of avant-garde permissiveness on social issues. And presidents, as commanders-in-chief of the United States armed forces, were supposed to have a certain gravitas.
Trump fails completely on each of these measures.
I believe Trump to be under the influence of Russia, likely due to his $420m in personally guaranteed debts, owed to parties yet unknown but probably tied to Moscow; I remain concerned about lingering consequences of the repeated contacts between his 2016 campaign’s most senior officials and Russian intel officers. He has publicly and privately asked the Chinese for help with his reelection campaign, and sought and received economic benefits for his family from Beijing in return for going soft on that regime. Trump has sucked up to and then been bamboozled by the worst despots in the world, especially in North Korea. Meanwhile our alliances with old friends lay in tatters.
I give Trump full credit for allowing the military to kill Baghdadi and Soleimani, but he has literally been endorsed by the Taliban, which I fought against and which killed friends of mine. They will gladly allow al-Qaeda to reestablish itself in Afghanistan and attack us here at home again, as I and many others experienced in New York on 9/11.
Our economic house is in terrible disorder. We will run a three trillion-dollar budget deficit this year — that’s with a “t” — and not just because of coronavirus. Even before the pandemic the annual deficit was expected to be a trillion dollars. There is not even a plan to reverse this trend, and this level of debt ($27 trillion and counting) is simply unsustainable. It will almost inevitably end in borrowing and currency crises. Despite all of this wild spending and irresponsible tax cuts, growth was still sluggish even before COVID, at 2.9% — the same as under Obama. Even after “trade war” rhetoric our trade deficits are at a fourteen-year high.
I prefer conservative judges to liberal ones, and most (although not all) of Trump’s judicial appointments have been good. But simply appointing Federalist Society judges cannot, in my view, overcome the personal libertinism of Trump, which would make Caligula blush. To take just one issue, Trump brags — on tape — about sexually assaulting women, and he’s credibly accused of doing so by many. His only public response to a credible charge of rape is that his accuser was not his type, and he allowed the Justice Department to claim that he was legally immune from any responsibility, anyhow. He sleeps with porn stars whom he pays like hookers. He has spoken in public about wanting to have sex with his daughter. I think all of this makes the conservative position on matters such as abortion, which I truly share, appear ridiculous and hypocritical when advanced by such a flawed and insincere spokesman.
Trump is unfit to continue to serve as commander-in-chief. I’ve only seen this president in private twice, but I was shocked at how mentally unstable he appeared, and the utterly bizarre things he suggested, which should remain unsaid in the interests of US foreign relations. He lies, constantly, without shame and about anything and everything. He cheats, on his taxes, his SATs, his three wives, and even at golf, for example. He and his family steal, overcharging US government officials to stay at their tacky properties, and unethically seeking investments from foreign governments in their failing businesses in return for favors. None of us were raised to believe that any of this is OK, and none of us would want our children to grow up and be this kind of person.
And yes, in private he repeatedly expresses his disdain for our uniformed servicemen as “losers,” “suckers,” “dopes,” “babies,” and “pussies.” I walked up right after he expressed similar sentiments — “what was in it for them?” — to my old boss John Kelly at his son’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day 2017. It was a disgusting and appalling thing for a leader to say; these awful statements alone immediately disqualify him from office, in my view.
So you might ask, why the hell did I work for the guy? Well, I didn’t vote for him! But I was asked to help and to take a national security job by a man I deeply respect, and I was taught that when you are asked to serve your country in wartime, the only acceptable answer is “yes, sir.”
I don’t blame anyone for working in the Administration, and I hope you don’t blame me, either. Like everyone else, I tried my best. I hope I did my part to prevent some even worse things from happening; for example, a lunatic proposal, since disclosed, to have the National Guard round up suspected illegal immigrants.
All I can say is, please do not vote for this very bad man. A second Trump term, with a profoundly unwell president unmoored from having to face the voters again, will likely feature gross abuses of law enforcement powers and maybe even illegal violence against the press, political opponents, and whistleblowers, as well as immigrants and minorities. “Kids in cages” will be the least of it.
Our remaining allies abroad will finally abandon us, while Moscow, Beijing, Pyongyang and the Taliban, for example, conduct smash-and-grab robberies of our vital national security interests. We’ll add several trillion more dollars to the national debt, ultimately undermining the dollar as the reserve currency (because something that can’t go on forever, won’t). The worst misconduct we’ve seen over the past four years will be vindicated and normalized and become acceptable in the White House going forward.
I disagree with Joe Biden on some matters, such as abortion, but I believe he’s a fundamentally decent and sane man. He’ll do what he thinks is best for America. Let him lead us out of the pandemic, which is being so very badly mismanaged, and simply restore some calm to the country. I suspect he’ll serve a single term due to his advanced age, and perhaps the GOP will recover its senses and deserve to return to power in 2024.
Author Kevin Carroll is a member of The Steady State who has served as senior counselor to the secretary of Homeland Security and the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and as a CIA and Army officer.