Monday, November 07, 2016

America is more fragile than you think: A former Marine Corps officer on why voters must defeat Donald Trump

I suggest reading the whole article at the following link.

Written by Jake Cusack
Nov. 4, 2016

When I came back from Iraq the second time, I had trouble driving. My tours as a Marine had shown me how easily metal could tear through flesh. Now I was acutely aware that life is precarious. I was amazed that people could be blasé while driving 80 mph. Could they not see that a small mistake could be enough to kill them?

I feel the same way now as an American citizen, watching a good portion of the country consider voting for Donald Trump. Having grown up in the Midwest and served in the military, I can understand why both have large constituencies supporting the Republican presidential candidate. But I believe Trump supporters underestimate how fragile what we have is.


It’s no wonder that people in the heartland have slowly turned to right-wing media, preferring to get their news from sources that do not treat them as dumb country cousins at a metropolitan gala.

Unfortunately, these outlets have abused such trust by force-feeding their audiences a diet of outrage. Scroll through the constellation of fear mongering sites that orbit conservative media and try to recognize the America you know in those stories. It makes sense that Trump supporters can believe so wholeheartedly that the country is on the verge of collapse.


These and other concerns with legitimate roots turn some of my friends and family towards Trump’s aggressive stance and anti-establishment voice, even as they are fully cognizant of his massive personal flaws.


But what they don’t see is how tenuous it all is. I’ve spent my life since Iraq in and out of conflict zones and fragile states. I’ve seen educated, wealthy communities descend overnight into ethnic cleansing. I’ve seen family men turned into butchers. I’ve seen a charismatic reformed warlord, surrounded by capable technical advisors, steer his country irretrievably into the abyss.


I was traveling across Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, and Sierra Leone when Trump escalated his comments suggesting that he’d try to put Hillary Clinton in jail and doubled down on his assertion of “rigged elections.” People there knew exactly what he meant, because they have heard that rhetoric before. This is the language of lands without strong institutions, bereft of the mutual trust that glues our democracy together. It’s the language of civil wars.


There’s nothing irreversible in America’s character that makes the country forever safe. ISIS, as it stands today, cannot compare to the threat that someone like Trump could pose to the US. The world has not matured past the specter of global conflict or the possibility of nuclear holocaust. We are not inherently different than all those previous generations who also thought they had reached the end of major wars. For our safety and as the world’s indispensable nation, America cannot have a President Trump.

Hillary Clinton is more than simply an alternative to Trump. She has certainly made mistakes, often amplified by a lack of transparency. Moreover, the Clintons have often allowed themselves to be surrounded by a political courtier class that embodies the establishment and is rife with potential conflicts of interest. But Clinton has also routinely been saddled with negative baggage that is not her own, but instead a byproduct of an exceptionally visible and polarizing political life. She is smart, thorough, and diligent in her study of complex topics. In the foreign policy world that I know best, I believe she could be among the most capable presidents of the last century.

While I understand those who choose to vote for a third-party candidate, I believe the utter unfitness of Trump imposes an obligation to vote for Hillary. Trump must not just lose, he must be soundly defeated—so that someone of his ilk cannot be taken seriously as a potential president again. A close call could invite a slightly more palatable would-be despot, or Trump himself, to try again.

For those who say they’d rather not decide between flawed choices, I’d ask them to think about what life is like every day for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. They don’t have the luxury of abstaining or making a protest vote on the flawed options they see before them every day.


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