Why Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Are Bad Choices for America

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I’m one of those disaffected conservative voters who are delighted by Donald Trump’s politically incorrect jabs at the media — and by his plain speech.

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Like many old white males who own their own businesses, pay their taxes and just want to be left alone in peace, I’m mad as hell and don’t want to take it anymore.

I tend to think both political parties are made up of careerist parasites who put their own interests ahead of what’s good for the country.

I even think that illegal immigration is a valid concern, that millions of illegal aliens are indeed overwhelming our schools, health care and unemployment centers and driving up crime rates in many areas.  Having lived in southern California for many years, I’ve seen this with my own eyes.

So I am a prime prospect for The Donald’s brand of middle-class populism… especially since my preferred candidate, the gentlemanly and restrained libertarian senator Rand Paul, rarely polls above one percent.  (The predicted great libertarian uprising against endless government wars and spying against ordinary citizens turned out to be an illusory hope, alas.)

I also don’t think the country can survive another eight years of Obama-style “progressivism” – with its sneering disregard for the rule of law, the U.S. Constitution and fiscal sanity.  I have five children, and the hard-left “progressives” who support Obama have managed to borrow close to $10 trillion that my kids and grandkids will somehow have to pay back.  Thus, I can’t imagine voting for Hillary Clinton or for any Democrat for that matter.

Yet I can’t quite bring myself to support Donald Trump, either.

What gives me pause are a few chilling similarities between the United States today and Germany in the early 1930s.  I’ve been reading a lot about this period because I’ve been visiting Germany in recent years on business, and I’ve become fascinated by the question of how such a wonderful, generous, kind, enlightened people could have allowed a dictator like Adolph Hitler to gain power legally.

Now, I’m not saying Donald Trump is anything like Hitler… but the anti-immigrant demagoguery… the talk of targeting the children and wives of ISIS leaders… gives me pause.  His mocking of a disabled reporter really took me aback.  I don’t particularly mind Trump calling loudmouth Hollywood celebrities names, but making fun of disabilities is not something I want to see in my president.

One of the books I’ve been reading recently about Germany is Nora Waln’s forgotten classic, Reaching for the Stars, published in 1939.  Waln was an American Quaker from Pennsylvania who married a British civil servant.  They moved to Germany in the early 1930s, just as Hitler came to power, so Waln’s husband could study music in Bonn, Beethoven’s hometown.  They settled in the very suburb of Bonn that I visit regularly, the leafy Rhineland village of Bad Godesberg, and her book is filled with vivid descriptions of what life was like back then.

Waln, like me, was charmed by the German people – “the most generously kind, the quickest to sympathy, of any people I have yet known,” she says — yet also deeply disturbed by what she saw happening politically.

What we don’t realize about Hitler is that he seemed like a savior to ordinary Germans.  Hitler promised to put people back to work just as the Great Depression was devastating Europe, to restore the lost greatness of a once-great country.  He blamed many of Germany’s woes on foreigners, not just on Jews, and promised that hard times required hard choices – and he was just the man to make them!

After years of dithering and indecision by the professional parasite politicians of the Weimar Republic, ordinary Germans were sold:  yes, Hitler and his people had their rough edges, it’s true, but he was just the tonic the country needed to get back on its feet.  There was a new solidarity in the country, a sense of working together to restore the economy and the culture.

Ordinary Germans thus looked the other way when disturbing things began to happen, when the secret police showed up and people began to disappear.

The U.S. has lived through just this kind of cognitive dissonance during the entire Obama presidency – with the targeted drone assassinations, the revelation of domestic spying at every level of government, the creation of secret courts and secret police agencies, the targeting of political dissidents with IRS and FEC investigations, the flagrant disregard for Congressional subpoenas and the rule of law.

Now, along comes a Republican candidate who similarly sneers at the legal niceties, who insists he’ll do “whatever it takes” to make America great again.

No, I’m afraid both political parties are lurching dangerously close to fascism… and that’s why I can’t bring myself to support Trump.  As I said, the only candidate who gives any sign of restraint whatsoever – who insists that America is a nation ruled by laws and not by men – is Rand Paul.  And he gets the least support of all the candidates!

So, given the choice between Hillary and The Donald – between a Democrat demagogue who thinks laws are for other people to follow and a Republican demagogue who openly mocks the disabled and recommends targeting children for military strikes — I’m afraid I may have to, as the old joke has it, vote No.

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Robert J. Hutchinson is an author and essayist. His most recent book is Searching for Jesus: New Discoveries in the Quest for Jesus of Nazareth (Thomas Nelson, 2015).