I know some would say I should approach this as a math problem, sit down and assign values to all these policies, factor in what I care about most and what the president can actually accomplish, and then give the high scorer my vote. I don’t concede that the ethics of this thing can be calculated thus — am I supposed to estimate body counts? What number should I assign to lives ruined but not ended? On some issues, like drones, the candidates’ scores would negate each other, but that wouldn’t negate the fact of my voting for drone war. Anyway, even if this math were possible, the high score would be sub-zero. This choice is unacceptable.
And it’s not just policy. Indeed, many of my reasons for wanting the Trump era to end come from outside the bounds of politics proper. Putting Trump at the center of our national life has been disastrous. He’s a foghorn of cruelty, lies, and confusion, both exacerbating and benefiting from pre-existent vices in our political culture and weaknesses in our political structures.
Social media (and the journalistic instinct that anything said by the most powerful man in the world must be newsworthy) has allowed Trump to insert himself and politics more broadly into so many realms of our life where neither belong. “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” of which the president’s supporters like to complain, is sometimes a fair charge — but it’s also a malady Trump himself actively seeks to aggravate. He delights in any attention, in trolling, in irritation and anger for its own sake, in malice and fantasies of harm. He radicalizes his opponents and degrades his supporters. All is escalation.