In the 31 years I've lived in Israel, I've never voted in a U.S. election – mainly because I have a problem voting in a country where I don't live anymore, especially when the one I do live in makes such a big issue of telling outsiders to stay out of its business. Also, I would be voting in California, which is by now so solidly Democratic that my vote would just be sending coals to Newcastle.
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But if Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination as expected, I'm going to vote in the November election. Because he is in an entirely different category from any Republican leader I ever opposed, including Nixon, Reagan and George W. Bush. No need to explain why; his story is being written every day, and it's all too unmistakably clear.
But I want to point out a few things about Trump, any one of which would have hobbled or destroyed the candidacy of a normal American politician, but which have been swallowed up and forgotten in the daily cascade of new moral atrocities he produces.
1. The news is that Trump got the endorsement of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, and that he won’t renounce it. What’s forgotten is that his father, Fred Trump, the formative influence in his life, his mentor and benefactor, was arrested at age 21 during a KKK brawl with New York police. The roots of the younger Trump's racism run very deep.
2. In the 1970s, by which time Trump had taken over his father’s New York real estate business, the Justice Department sued his company for refusing to rent to black tenants. Despite an out-of-court agreement to end the practice, three years later, the Justice Department charged the Trump Organization with continuing its exclusionary policy: “[R]acially discriminatory conduct by Trump agents has occurred with such frequency that it has created a substantial impediment to the full enjoyment of equal opportunity,” the Justice Department declared.
3. Before running for president, Trump’s political renown came mainly from his leading role in the “birther” movement – the bunch that deny Obama’s right to be president because they claim he wasn’t born in America, but in Kenya. The movement is built on white racism, Islamophobia and ultra-nationalism, all staples of Trump’s appeal.
4. Last July, when Republican Senator John McCain slammed him for “firing up the crazies” in the party, Trump belittled McCain for having been a POW during the Vietnam War. "He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured," Trump told an Iowa audience. Trump didn’t only denigrate McCain with that remark – he denigrated all POWs. Trump himself ducked the Vietnam War with a series of college and medical deferments, which hadn’t stopped him from being a self-described “star athlete” in high school. This is the individual who’s going to “make America great again,” whose fanatical supporters chant “U-S-A! U-S-A!” at his rallies.
There’s never been an American presidential candidate remotely like him. And the worse he is, the better he does.
So this year’s U.S. election will be to other U.S. elections like World War II was to other wars - truly a battle of good vs. evil, a holy war, a war for survival. And I believe it's not enough to beat Trump – his candidacy and everything it stands for has to be utterly destroyed, obliterated, left in smoking ruins. America must violently cast him out. It must write in the sky, "This is not us."
And so I think that every vote counts, that if Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, would win by 10 million votes without mine, my additional vote for her is necessary, and the one after that, because it strengthens the message, the antidote to this disease we're fighting and trying to eradicate so it won't come back.
I feel I have to contribute to this fight, I have to do my bit. And if I feel this way, someone who's passed up every U.S. election over the last three decades, I'm sure masses of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are feeling this way, and masses more will feel it soon. This election will be a referendum on Trump, and my sense – and hope - is that the “no” vote is going to be overwhelming.
Larry Derfner is an Israeli journalist and copy editor at Haaretz.