They say confession is good for the soul, so I admit it.
Please forgive me.
I am a moderate Republican, and I voted for Donald Trump.
I remember clearly standing in front of the plastic voting machine, its myopic 21-inch Gorgon electronic eye staring me down. I could hear the shouting inside my head, “Don’t…don’t do it. You know it is wrong.”
I remember muttering, “But the Supreme Court. Scalia is staring at me right now from on high.”
I was frozen in place. The line of voters behind me continued to grow.
The kind elderly gentlemen watching over the election station snapped me out of my daze.
“Do you need some help, sir?”
I went for it, hit the Trump button (His was bigger, after all), turned to the nice gentleman and muttered something about running late, then snuck out the back door of the voting place.
I voted for Trump for one reason alone: the then open Supreme Court seat. How odd and dangerous that the essence of the presidential election process has eroded so much that it turn based upon presumed or hoped for Supreme Court nominees.
Many people casting such votes, including me, simply chose to accept a candidate’s apparent flaws regardless of how grievous they might be. Such is the weight these nominations have come to bear. While a topic for another day, I dare say this new focus on Supreme Court nominees when casting a vote for a presidential candidate is not a good omen for our democracy.
My favorite rationalization these days is that forget the Supreme Court nomination. As a Republican, I had cast my ballot for someone else in the Republican primary. Now that Trump had vanquished those infidels, I was a Republican and I was afraid Clinton would tack too far left.
I was sure that the bombast, intolerance, insensitivity and incendiary rhetoric (I could go on) of the Trump campaign was just that.
Surely no smart, successful guy would actually believe that nonsense. Surely no one would actually behave that way whilst sitting in the presidential chair in the Oval Office. So what if he would need to grow into the job? Most newly elected presidents do, and most have some bumps and missteps early on. But they learn, adjust and most importantly adapt.
You may not agree with what they say, or do, but rarely does one have to assume the fetal position in the corner and whimper in outright disbelief or embarrassment over statements and tweets coming from a sitting U.S. president.
Such is the consequence of my sin, and also of those who should have trusted their instincts.
On a wing and a prayer, this former pilot voted for Donald Trump, pulled the stick back and eased into the sky on the new journey. It wasn’t long before the first of many red lights nearly blinded me and the first aural warning was blaring in my ears. Such things are usually not good when you are at 35,000 feet, rocking along at 600 mph.
OK, let’s give the guy the campaign rhetoric. Those early lights and bells weren’t necessarily a guaranteed smoking hole in the ground.
But how about next light and bell – all the childish, inappropriate, thuggish, insensitive, petulant, sexist (again I could go on) tweets? OK, perhaps no one yet has explained to him that my tweets don’t matter, but that his do?
How about his lack of understanding of how our legislative process and three branch government structure work? OK, maybe he was sick that year in government class.
How about the utter lack of any understanding of any significant policy issue facing our nation today? OK, maybe Medicare, Medicaid and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty are kind of complicated.
How about his embarrassing treatment of our most important allies around the world? OK, maybe he was too busy making billions of dollars building big beautiful buildings to pay a lot of attention to international affairs the last 50 years.
How about his now obvious inability to distinguish between, yet weave together transactional and strategic decisions? OK, maybe he is just warming up.
How about his apparent willingness to use top law enforcement agency in our nation to persecute political opponents? OK, on this one this (R) has to finally pull the blinders off because it sounds just authoritarian enough to begin to be dangerous.
Lest I go on endlessly, let me cut to the chase – his comments in the immigration discussions this week have finally done it for me. They are not OK. Nor is he.
So meanwhile, back in the cockpit, even when the lights come on and those warnings start blaring, there are times when you can pull it off and limp home in the jet. On the other hand there are times when the only smart decision is to pull the ejection seat handles, have yourself literally blown out of the cockpit and hopefully survive to enjoy the ride homeward on the silk. The Trump presidency, despite having done a few good things, has become an exercise in watching a plane-crash in slow motion. Hoping against hope this first year I’ve kept thinking “maybe, just maybe the guy can land this thing. It won’t be pretty but we’ll be able to limp away.” This week, the light that broke the camel’s back just came on. I am out of checklists and hope.
So much for learning, adjusting and adapting. The time has finally come. The red lights are now blinding, the warnings are blaring, smoke is beginning to fill the cockpit, and all the gauges are now saying “bye bye birdie”. I’m sorry my fellow (R)s, but I for one am coming clean. I screwed up. If you want the Republican Party to share the fate of its Whig predecessor, keep on doing what you are doing. The (D)s will own everything, including 60 votes after 2020, and we (R)s will settle into our spot on the 3rd floor of the Museum of American History, just a stone’s throw from the White House.
As for me, the truth has set me free. I’m grabbing my box of pilot Pop Tarts and pulling the yellow handles. “Watch the canopy and look out below!”