When Trump talks about what he will create and what he will eliminate, he doesn’t depart from three core principles: in his view, America is doing too much to try to solve the world’s problems; trade agreements are damaging the country; and immigrants are detrimental to it. He wanders and hedges and doubles back, but he is governed by a strong instinct for self-preservation, and never strays too far from his essential positions. Roger Stone, a long-serving Trump adviser, told me it is a mistake to imagine that Trump does not mean to fulfill his most radical ideas. “Maybe, in the end, the courts don’t allow him to temporarily ban Muslims,” Stone said. “That’s fine—he can ban anybody from Egypt, from Syria, from Libya, from Saudi Arabia. He’s a Reagan-type pragmatist.”
William Antholis, a political scientist who directs the Miller Center, at the University of Virginia, pointed out that President Trump would have, at his disposal, “the world’s largest company, staffed with 2.8 million civilians and 1.5 million military employees.” Trump would have the opportunity to alter the Supreme Court, with one vacancy to fill immediately and others likely to follow. Three sitting Justices are in their late seventies or early eighties.
As for the Trump Organization, by law Trump could retain as much control or ownership as he wants, because Presidents are not bound by the same conflict-of-interest statute that restricts Cabinet officers and White House staff. Presidential decisions, especially on foreign policy, could strengthen or weaken his family’s business, which includes controversial deals in Turkey, South Korea, Azerbaijan, and elsewhere. Trump would likely face pressure to adopt an arrangement akin to that of Michael Bloomberg, who, when he became mayor of New York City, withdrew from most management decisions for his company. Trump has said only that he plans to turn over the Trump Organization’s day-to-day control to three of his adult children: Donald, Jr., Ivanka, and Eric.
As President, Trump would have the power to name some four thousand appointees, but he would face a unique problem: more than a hundred veteran Republican officials have vowed never to support him, and that has forced younger officials to decide whether they, too, will stay away or, instead, enter his Administration and try to moderate him. By September, the campaign was vetting four hundred people, and some had been invited to join the transition team. An analogy was making the rounds: Was Trump a manageable petty tyrant, in the mold of Silvio Berlusconi? Or was he something closer to Mussolini? And, if so, was he Mussolini in 1933 or in 1941?
Michael Chertoff served both Bush Presidents—as a U.S. Attorney in Bush, Sr.,’s Administration, and then as Secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush. He was one of fifty senior Republican national-security officials who recently signed a letter declaring that Trump “would be the most reckless President in American history.” Chertoff told me that he has been approached for advice by younger Republicans who ask if joining Trump, after he has already been elected, would be regarded as patriotic, rather than political. “I think anybody contemplating going in will have to have a very serious look in their own conscience, and make sure they’re not kidding themselves,” Chertoff said.
Trump’s Presidential plans are not shaped by ideology. He changed parties five times between 1999 and 2012, and, early on the campaign trail, he praised parts of Planned Parenthood (while opposing abortion), vowed to protect Social Security, and supported gay rights (while opposing same-sex marriage). He is governed, above all, by his faith in the ultimate power of transaction—an encompassing perversion of realism that is less a preference for putting interests ahead of values than a belief that interests have no place for values.
Trump has relied heavily on the ideas of seasoned combatants. Newt Gingrich, who, as House Speaker in the nineties, pioneered many of the tactics that have come to define partisan warfare, is now a Trump adviser. Gingrich told me that he is urging Trump to give priority to an obscure but contentious conservative issue—ending lifetime tenure for federal employees. This would also galvanize Republicans and help mend rifts in the Party after a bitter election.
“Getting permission to fire corrupt, incompetent, and dishonest workers—that’s the absolute showdown,” Gingrich said. He assumes that federal employees’ unions would resist, thus producing, in his words, an “ongoing war” similar to the conflict that engulfed Madison, Wisconsin, in 2011, when Governor Scott Walker moved to limit public-sector employees’ collective-bargaining rights. After five months of protests, and a failed effort to recall the Governor and members of the state senate, Walker largely prevailed. Gingrich predicts that that chaotic dynamic can be brought to Washington. “You have to end the civil-service permanent employment,” he said. “You start changing that and the public-employee unions will just come unglued.”
That was always the goal: to dismantle the US civil service for good. The damage would be catastrophic in the courts and in the executive branch, as well as in foreign policy.
If you can't see that you should be doing everything you can to stop Trump, and that means voting for Hillary, then I don't know what else to tell you at this point. There is nothing that Hillary Clinton could do that would be worse than this man at the helm of the United States Armed Forces, making Supreme Court nominations, and making and breaking foreign treaties.
Put your pride and ego aside and realize there are exactly two choices in this election, and make the right choice. Period.