Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Morning After (November 9, 2016)

This morning at 4:13am my time I received the following message from a friend:
Bruce and Margaret, I'm praying for you and your family. Will you pray for us too? We need it.
I saw the message a couple of hours later and responded:
Absolutely. You and your family will be in our prayers, as will the nation and the world. I'm trying to feel hopeful--I know God is in charge and everything will ultimately work out. But I also know God allows humans to do unfortunate, even terrible things and suffer the consequences. I know this is survivable, but I honestly see so many down sides that I can't help be concerned and sad. And there's also the shock. I feel like I'm getting a little taste of what PTSD must feel like.
As the history books will record, the cause of our distress was the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. Of course, I will respect the results of the election. I love this country and its Constitutional processes. But I have been deeply troubled all night by how half the nation (a little less actually, in overall votes) could have voted for someone who is so obviously unqualified and who is so divisive and dangerous.

I believe the nation has made a huge mistake. Trump is clearly unqualified to serve as president and is worse in terms of character, temperament, and preparation than any major party candidate in my lifetime, perhaps in the past hundred years or more. In my opinion--and for some of the reasons I'll detail below--Hillary Clinton was by far the superior choice, despite her flaws. I believe that many Americans have been blinded to her virtues, have a drastically exaggerated view of her flaws and errors, and voted for Trump (however reluctantly) for reasons that, as I'm afraid history will confirm, do not outweigh the damage he will do. 

I am religious through and through--a Latter-day Saint, which means also a Christian, a believer in and an aspiring follower of Christ. Hence, my confidence that God is in charge. I note my religious identity also to explain some of my causes of concern. The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sends out a letter every election season affirming the Church's political neutrality and encouraging members' participation in the political process. This year the letter included the following sentence:
"Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in various political parties, and members should seek candidates who best embody those principles." 
I take the word "embody" to mean that we should seek leaders who don't simply support good principles, but who embody them in their character, their thinking, their words, their way of life. The Deseret News made a similar point in the October 8 editorial that called on Trump to withdraw from the race: "The belief that the party and the platform matter more than the character of the candidate ignores the wisdom of the ages that, 'when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.' (Proverbs 29:2)"

Another book of scripture advises us about what kinds of leaders we should seek:
Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil. (Doctrine and Covenants 98:10)
In my judgment, Donald Trump fails on all counts. 

He is not honest: much of what he says is verifiably false, to a much higher degree than is true of most other major political figures. What is worse, he doesn't seem to care. That is, the factual veracity of what he says doesn't seem particularly to matter to him. 

Without question, I would not count him as wise. And on many measures that matter to me--particularly in the way he treats other people--he is not good.

Equally troubling are the implications of another passage of scripture the election has led me to think about. This is Mosiah 29:26-27:
Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.

And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.

In defense of the "voice of the people" in this season's election, it appears that the popular vote is pretty evenly split. It may be that Hillary Clinton will end up with a slight plurality. She may join a select number of presidential candidates who will have won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote. Trump's victory in the electoral college will have come from narrow wins in several battleground states coupled with more decisive losses in some of the most populous states.

Perhaps this year's result will lead to proposals for a change in our method of selecting a president. It's pretty clear that the way the electoral college works is not quite what the Founders had in mind: they wanted a safeguard against demagoguery by leaving the selection of the president to the judgment of presumably wise "electors." But now the electoral college simply works as a mechanical process that either affirms or overturns the popular vote, depending on the accidents of demographics.

As I noted earlier, I think that Hillary Clinton was clearly the superior candidate and that many Americans have badly misjudged her and at the same time have seriously underestimated the dangers of a Trump presidency. With all her flaws, Hillary Clinton is a good person motivated by a desire to "do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can." She is sincerely religious, and her Methodist faith is much closer to the religious attitude and style of Mormons than either is to the approach dominating among conservative evangelical Christians. Especially in private, Hillary can be warm and delightful. Unfortunately, she hasn't figured out how to share very effectively the best parts of her personality with the broader public. For anyone wanting a window into who Hillary Clinton really is, one of the best ways I know would be to read a piece by Tomicah Tilleman, a young Utah woman who has worked closely with her and who has written of her faith, her compassion, her respect for religious diversity, and her admiration for Mormons. (See for the entire article.) (Btw, did you know that she has held "Family Home Evening" regularly with her family since she learned about it from Mormons years ago?)

I agree with Ana Navarro, a Republican political commentator who decided to vote for Clinton, that Clinton has serious flaws. But I also agree with her that Clinton's flaws are mainly in matters of judgment, while Trump has serious and dangerous flaws of character. (See for Navarro's comments.) Yes, Clinton has character flaws as well, especially her tendency to be guarded and self-protective. But they don't even come close to equaling Trump's.

In fact, in my opinion, Hillary Clinton's character flaws are no worse than most recent presidents', and are much less than, say, Richard Nixon's. And her mistakes are roughly on the order of those Reagan made during his presidency and have been far less serious than some made under the leadership of George W. Bush. She has been judged far more harshly than others with comparable flaws, perhaps in part because she is a woman (it's hard to know how much that may have influenced some voters) and certainly because she has been subjected to over 20 years of demonizing and has become the object of unjustified and irrational hatred on the part of a sizable group of Americans.

Trump, by contrast, has done a host of things that would normally have ended a political career. He has repeatedly lied about (among other things) his own previous positions. In fact, he doesn't seem to care whether his statements match reality. His business dealings show a constant concern with self-promotion and a repeated lack of integrity or concern with others. He underwent multiple bankruptcies that served his needs (and may have helped him avoid taxes) while damaging others. He has a history of stiffing contractors and others he has owed money. During the most recent political season, he insulted and demeaned most of his opponents. He has said horrible things about women and religious and ethnic minorities. He has encouraged violence and hatred. There is solid evidence that he is vulgar in word and thought and that he is almost certainly unrepentantly guilty of repeated instances of sexual assault. In these and many other ways, he lacks the basic decency I would ascribe to most of our recent presidents. He seems to me to have the worst traits of Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon, but without most of their virtues or abilities. He lacks a moral core and is not morally serious. And he does not appear to me to have the basic traits of honesty, wisdom, compassion, and respect that I would want in any leader.

Why, then, would so many have voted for him?

As I've looked at the results of exit polls, I've seen causes for serious concern--and even bewilderment--but also a few things I've found slightly reassuring. Apparently, the nation has not in any decisive way "chosen" Donald Trump as president. The numbers are pretty evenly divided, and many of those who voted for Trump did so reluctantly and perhaps even regretfully.

Here's some of what I learned. (My source of information is

Most voters made their minds up over a month ago, and most of those who did voted for Clinton. Those who made their minds up within the past month tilted towards Trump, and these included many Republicans and other conservatives who voted for Trump despite the fact that, in many respects, he does not represent conservative values or the principles and traditions of the Republican Party. Essentially, many of them were voting against Clinton rather than in favor of Trump.

Of those voters overall who "strongly favor" their candidate, the majority voted for Clinton (53%-42%). Those who liked their candidate but with reservations were almost evenly divided (Clinton 48%-Trump 49%). And among those who "dislike the other candidates"--that is, who really were voting against the other candidate rather than for a candidate--the majority went for Trump (51%-39%).

Furthermore, Clinton did well among voters who valued traits like "Cares about people like me," "Has the right experience," and "Has good judgment." The trait strongly valued by Trump voters was "Can bring needed change." In other words, many voters were taking a risk based on what Trump might accomplish rather than on who he is.

Most voters consider both Trump and Clinton untrustworthy--and hold that view of Trump even more strongly than of Clinton. ("Do you think [the candidate] is honest and trustworthy?" Clinton: 36% yes, 61% no; Trump: 33% yes; 63% no.) A majority of voters think that Clinton is qualified to serve as president (52%-47%) and that Trump is unqualified (60% unqualified-38% qualified). A majority of voters think Clinton "has the temperament to serve effectively as president" (55%-43%); an even greater majority thinks that Trump doesn't (35% "has the temperament"; 63% "no"). A majority or plurality of voters think Clinton would better handle foreign policy and be a better commander-in-chief. A slight plurality think Trump would handle the economy better.

Given that a majority of voters are reasonably discerning on many of these matters (such as who has the experience, judgment, and temperament to serve as president and commander-in-chief), why is the popular vote so evenly divided? I think there are two main reasons, as suggested by exit polling. One is that those who consider Trump qualified (though those who do constitute fewer than 40% of voters) voted for Trump to a far higher degree than those who consider Clinton qualified. (See Note 1 below for details.) The other is that those who dislike both candidates apparently dislike Clinton more intensely. That is suggested by the fact that those who consider both candidates unqualified still went for Trump. It is also suggested by the fact that, even though Trump has a distinctly greater unfavorability rating, those who dislike both candidates went decisively for Trump (Trump 49%; Clinton 29%; Johnson 15%). All of this indicates that many voters were not so much voting for Trump as against Clinton--or voted for Trump even while finding him unlikable and unqualified.

It is obvious that the majority of the country is not enthusiastically in favor of Trump. Indeed, I think it's fair to say that a majority of the country is not comfortable with Trump. As a matter of fact, exit polling suggests that 20% are concerned and 36% are scared. That makes a solid majority who are not entirely happy--and many who are very unhappy--with a Trump presidency.

Yet even with that, it appears that concerns about Clinton--or about various problems besetting the nation--led enough voters to take a chance on Trump that the popular vote is almost evenly divided.

My conclusion then is that "the voice of the people" has not become entirely unreliable. Unfortunately, though, I believe the voice of the people has been affected--for the worse--by a distorted view of Hillary Clinton, by a failure to take seriously the evils that a Trump presidency brings with it, and by some confusion or overly simple thinking on a few issues.

I acknowledge that issues of legitimate concern to Americans could lead to hesitation about a Clinton presidency as well as about a Trump presidency. I've tried to take those issues seriously and, having thought them through, have found myself comfortable enough with Hillary Clinton that I could vote for her in good conscience. (See "APPENDIX 2: Some issues" below for more on my views.)

But I realize that good arguments can be made for views different from mine. As it happens, my views align far more with Clinton's than with Trump's. Yet--though I'm not certain of this--I believe and hope that even if I had views closer to those expressed by Trump's, I would still have voted against him on the grounds that he is unqualified to serve as president and that his moral character--and the effect he would have on the moral climate of the nation--is so seriously defective and potentially damaging that no amount of agreement could justify a vote for him.

Some causes for concern--and for hope

I hope the damage will not be as great as it potentially could be. But I know there will be damage. I know because Trump's candidacy has already affected the nation for the worse. He has almost single handedly degraded the quality of our public life. Things that should have disqualified any candidate are seen by many now, somehow, as excusable. I hope that others in the White House and in Congress and in public life in general will be able to restrain Trump's worst tendencies. Unfortunately, no one has so far succeeded in doing that for more than a couple of weeks. The thought of Trump wielding the enormous power of the presidency--among other things of having access to the nuclear codes and making decisions at moments of crisis--terrifies me. But I hope there are safeguards in place that will prevent the worst things I fear.

At the moment, though, my greatest concern is for the many who are feeling deep pain and fear as a result of Trump's election. Those include my own children and many other friends and family members. One of my children was unable to sleep last night. What are they--my children and others--afraid of? I think they are mainly concerned about the future and especially about what kind of country and world they and their children will be living in.

Besides my own children, many--especially those belonging to certain vulnerable groups--are deeply troubled. Many Muslims in America have felt under attack for months now because of Trump's words and proposals. Many Latinos are afraid, including children afraid that they themselves or members of their families could be deported. And many parents are concerned about the effect of the degradation of public life on their children.

For many, the world suddenly feels less safe. It's not just the visible dangers--the possibilities of physical violence or destruction--that my children and other people I know are thinking of. I think it's something less tangible but very real, an atmosphere of division and negativity, of insulting and demeaning language, of disrespect and unkindness. I believe they see in a Trump presidency the potential for loss or damage to the most important of human qualities: kindness, respect, compassion, tolerance, goodwill, humility, hope, not to mention harmony, cooperation, integrity, careful thinking, and respectful conversation.

Again, I hope Trump can be restrained and can even improve. I don't think he's a hopeless case--though his massive ego, his addiction to self-interest, his disrespect for others, his extremely tenuous relationship with truth, and his sense that he never needs to ask for forgiveness (he has said that specifically about his relationship with God) do present some obstacles.

At least in style, I think it's likely that Trump will be more serious and more inclusive. But I don't think he's going to undergo a fundamental change any time soon. He's been what he is for many decades now.

What I think is more likely is that we're going to need to not pin our hopes on the presidency or even on government in general (though I'm a believer that government can and should do much good). Instead, we're going to need to cultivate those qualities we're concerned about--kindness, respect, compassion, tolerance, goodwill, humility, hope--in our families, our communities, and our individual lives, and do our best to live with integrity, think carefully, converse respectfully, and cooperate with others, no matter what ugliness or craziness is coming out of the White House or other national institutions.

That's probably the most important thing I could say. It also points to my greatest source of hope--the goodness of the people I know and the determination I know many will have to be as good as they can be no matter what distractions or obstacles or temptations stand in the way.

In the meantime, I do wish President-elect Trump well and hope his manner can be much better than it has been over the last year and a half. I think that, given Republican control of Congress, he may be able to get some things done. I just hope they're things I can feel good about. I hope that my worst fears are unfounded and that the damage that has already been done can be undone.

I think it might be useful to note some other causes for concern (including concerns that are especially relevant to Latter-day Saints). But, so I can end on a more or less positive note here, I'll put those other concerns in "Appendix 1" Other causes for concern" (see below). The main reason I'm noting them at all is so we can face them and seek to do something positive about them.


Note 1: Specifically, 86% of the 52% who consider Clinton qualified voted for her; while 94% of the 38% who consider Trump qualified voted for him. There are similar figures on the question of temperament: 82% voted for Clinton of the 55% overall who think she has the temperament, while 94% voted for Trump of the 35% who think he has the temperament. Another way to put this, is that of those who think both candidates are unqualified, the great majority went for Trump (69%-15%); and of those who think neither has the temperament, Trump was favored 71%-12%.


One concern is with some things that should NOT have affected the election: It bothers me that this election was influenced (and because it was so close, was in some measure decided) by the actions of Russian hackers, probably with the support of the Russian government, and also by the badly timed sending of a letter (contrary to standard protocol) by the director of the FBI.

Religious concerns:

I suspect that a majority or at least a plurality of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) may have voted for Trump, though many of them reluctantly and many of them (as I've noted) with a seriously distorted view of Hillary Clinton. As a Latter-day Saint, I am concerned about ways a Trump presidency may be an obstacle to the work of my Church and may obstruct some of its aims. I am thinking especially of the following:

(1) Respect and civility in public discourse. (See )
(2) Respect for religious and racial diversity--in fact, going beyond mere tolerance to positive outreach, cooperation, and inclusiveness.
(3) Work on behalf of refugees, including welcoming them warmly and helpfully in America and elsewhere. This is currently one of the major efforts of the LDS Church. (See )
(4) A compassionate and pragmatic solution to immigration issues, again with the aim of inclusiveness and welcome and also with the aim of avoiding damage to families and avoiding division and mistrust. (See )
(5) Positive relations with other countries, in part to facilitate our missionary work but most of all to acknowledge that all human beings are our brothers and sisters and that all are equally valued by God. Rather than taking an isolationist stance or one antagonistic to other nations, the LDS view responds to this divine challenge: "Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath" (2 Nephi 29:7); for "all are alike unto God" (2 Nephi 26:33).

On the other hand, since Putin is a fan of Trump's, we may in fact have better relations with Russia, which could be helpful for missionary work there. But that's one bright spot in a generally dark picture.

Concern for the Republican Party: I believe Trump will damage the Republican Party, unmooring it from its best principles and values. I believe a Trump defeat would have been the best thing that could have happened to the Republican Party.

Other nations: The people and leaders of many other nations, including many of our allies, are in shock at the result of the election. Some serious damage has already been done. I hope it can be mended. If Trump continues to pursue some of his stated policies--for instance, backing away from our alliances--things could get worse.

The national and global economy: The shock of the Trump election has dealt at least a temporary blow to the national and global economy. We're told that we'll recover. If, however, some of what Trump has said he wants to do in fact happens, the effect on the economy could be devastating. I assume wiser heads will prevail. In general, though, I believe Trump's strongly protectionist and anti-global view will, in the long run, not be good either for the nation or for the world.

Divisions within America: I've already mentioned Trump's tendency to divisiveness. But I think there's an equally strong reason for concern in the cultural divisions his election has revealed. Yes, the nation has divided roughly evenly in terms of the popular vote. But the greater divisions are to be found in how different groups voted.

The following groups voted in favor of Clinton (my source again is
Women (54%-42%)
Younger voters, age 18-44 (52%-40%)
Non-white voters: Blacks (88%-8%); Hispanic (65%-29%); Asian (65%-29%); other (56%-37%)
College graduates (52%-43%)
Those not currently married (55%-38%)
All who are not white "born again" or evangelical voters (59%-35%)

The following groups voted in favor of Trump:
Men (53%-41%)

Older voters, age 45+ (53%-44%)

White voters (58%-37%)

Non-college graduates (52%-44%)

Those currently married (53%-43%)

White "born again" or evangelical voters (81%-16%) 

All of these divisions concern me--between men and women, old and young, white and non-white, college educated and non-college educated--especially because some of them are built into our culture in ways that prevent us from working together positively. Large parts of the less populated areas of the country are solidly white and less educated, and these areas voted strongly for Trump. I believe it is much easier in these areas to be suspicious of religious and racial difference because those who are different are strangers: they are people it is easy to label and view negatively because they are images in the mind or in the media, not real people encountered face to face or even engaged with as friends and neighbors.

Regional differences thus reveal a much deeper human division, a division we need to heal for our survival and prosperity as a nation and for our hope of attaining our full humanity. I believe the concept of "atonement"--which is central to my religious belief--points to just this sort of healing.

I am also concerned about religious divisions in the country, especially the antagonistic view that many white evangelicals take toward just about anyone else (including Mormons, as it happens). The fact that such a large portion of white evangelicals voted for Trump is, in my view, appalling, because his attitudes and behavior contradict so blatantly the values that evangelicals claim to hold dear. This has also been a great cause of concern to some evangelical leaders, who are aware of the profound disconnect between their beliefs and values and much of what Trump does and stands for. The following links point to some of these expressions of concern:

APPENDIX 2: Some issues

I've used a site called to assess how closely my views match those of various candidates. Given the fluid nature of the presidential race, I used it several times this year, most recently after they started including Evan McMullin in the mix.

Like any such instrument, "isidewith" is a blunt one, partly because I honestly don't know enough to have a strong opinion on some issues, and some issues matter to me a lot more than others. ("Isidewith" allows you to indicate how important each issue is to you.) I finally decided to indicate a position only on issues I felt strongly about or where I felt quite confident in taking a stand. When I did, I got the following interesting (and rather surprising) results. The candidates ranked as follows (by how closely I agree with them):
Hillary Clinton 99%
Evan McMullin 57%
Gary Johnson 37%
Donald Trump 16%
As I say, I was surprised by the result because I didn't realize the differences would be so stark and because I do disagree with Hillary on some significant issues. (So 99% seemed rather high.) Still this ranking matches my intuitive sense of how likely I would be to vote for the candidates. I say this knowing that many people I respect would come up with different scores. This was just my way of being sure whether I would feel comfortable supporting a particular candidate.

So you know exactly what the issues were and what positions I took, I'll add the details in yet another appendix below, "APPENDIX 3: Isidewith details."

One thing you'll notice is that I favor Obamacare but realize changes need to be made for it to be more sustainable. I'm not sure there's a lot of difference between "revising and fixing" and "repealing and replacing," as long as the good things about Obamacare are preserved and the problems are fixed.

I am fully persuaded--and have been for years based on what I think is solid evidence--that climate change is real and significant, that humans contribute to it, and that it's important for us to do something about it (in concert with other nations). It's possible to disagree about some of the subtle details and especially about the best solutions. But anyone who doesn't believe climate change is a problem is not well informed.

Immigration: As I've already indicated (more or less), I favor compassionate, pragmatic immigration reform. Trump's statements and proposals on the issue are among the worst things about him.

Refugees: And as also already indicated, I favor helping--welcoming, giving assistance and support--to refugees and would like the US to contribute even more strongly to the effort than we're now doing.

The next two issues I'll mention are among the most controversial: abortion and the Supreme Court. Opposition to abortion and hoping for a Supreme Court that will be more restrictive in response to abortion are among the main reasons many people (including a good number of Latter-day Saints) have supported Trump despite an awareness of everything that is bad and dangerous about him.

In my opinion, a Trump presidency is a very bad way of hoping for a good outcome on these issues.

First, abortion. I am strongly opposed to abortion for convenience--for its use as a form of birth control, as some have put it. I believe abortion that could be avoided has several ill consequences. It diminishes our humanity and our respect for life. It encourages sexual irresponsibility. It also, I think it's fair to say, prevents new and precious life from entering into the world.

Several things recently have strengthened my feelings about the preciousness of life within the womb. One is our youngest daughter's pregnancy, which has now come to fruition in a beautiful baby girl. Another is a video presentation I saw recently about a couple who learned an almost full term child had died in the womb and would need to be removed. The couple's grief and disappointment, their need for comfort, their deep, mutual love all reminded me of what is best in human beings: our connectedness, our participation in the miracle of conception and birth, and our willingness to welcome and nurture new life.

Having said that, I know that there are difficult situations in which the possibility of abortion needs to be considered, especially when the mother's life is at stake or when her health could be seriously damaged. I believe such decisions need to be made carefully and prayerfully. I do not believe the possibility of abortion for such reasons should be prohibited by law. Though I believe different people will come to different decisions, I believe law should allow for abortion in the cases of rape, incest, or threat to the life or health of the mother.

I believe this is essentially the position of the LDS Church. Officially, “the Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience” but allows for possible (but not automatic) exceptions in cases of rape, incest, severe defects, and serious threats of the life or health of the mother. But “the Church has not favored or opposed legislative proposals . . . concerning abortion” (see This is much closer to Hillary Clinton's position than many would suppose.

She has taken some heat for voting against a ban on late-term abortions. She did so precisely because it did not leave an exception for saving the life of the mother. I've recently become aware of terribly difficult situations people I know have dealt with, which required performing a late-term abortion to save a mother's life. Those involved certainly don't favor abortion in general and found the experience traumatic, even though it meant saving a mother's life.

The fact that the LDS Church "has not favored or opposed [specific] legislative proposals" may have something to do with the fact that laws may not be adequate to deal with many of the difficult situations people face. I also believe that changing laws, while they may accomplish some good, will not solve the problem of unnecessary, avoidable abortions, with all the spiritual and social damage they can bring. I believe that the best solution is to change minds and hearts, and that can be best done through example, through intelligent and compassionate persuasion, and through encouraging alternatives to abortion (such as adoption) and providing greater support for mothers, including unwed mothers.

Legal rulings, angry denunciations, and extreme rhetoric are likely to strengthen resistance rather than persuade.

The Supreme Court: I'm aware that some good people convinced themselves to vote for a very bad man because they think he will nominate the "right people" for seats on the Supreme Court.
I've written another post partly on that subject. In that post--found here: compare our situation to that of good people in Italy who thought that Mussolini would protect their nation's religious and moral traditions. To what I said there, I add these thoughts:

(1) The Supreme Court is a complicated institution--and you can't simply stack it with the "right people" and thereby save the country, especially if the Court starts departing from the national consensus. I've just read an illuminating book titled The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court, and it makes those complications clear.

(2) The Supreme Court faces many issues, and on some of those issues I believe justices Trump would nominate would move us in the wrong direction rather than the right direction, particularly on some issues where the Court really can make a difference (including voting rights and immigration). As for the second amendment, I don't believe it should or was ever intended to give everyone unrestricted rights to carry and use firearms, any more than the first amendment gave absolute freedom of speech, including libel or speech that endangers the life or safety of others. I believe that the second amendment can be applied reasonably and still accommodate some degree of gun control. (See for some additional light on this issue.)

(3) Even if Trump were to pick the "right people" as nominees, I don't believe it's worth it to trade a supposedly better Supreme Court for the damage that is certain to be done to the moral and political tone of our nation by the mere presence of Donald Trump in the presidential office. I am certain he will do this sort of general damage--and given his impulsiveness, unpredictability, and anger control issues, he could do much, much worse.

(4) Given the refusal of the Senate to consider President Obama's sterling nomination for the Supreme Court--and given the threat some Republicans made to turn down ANY nominee offered by Hillary Clinton if she became president--isn't it possible that Democrats in the Senate might engage in similar obstruction of any nominees offered by Donald Trump? I don't think such obstruction is right on either side (and it's certainly not what the Founders had in mind--the Constitution makes it pretty clear how open seats on the court should be filled). But I suspect it will happen.

(5) Speaking of the Constitution, Donald Trump has shown that he does not understand the Constitution and does not respect Constitutional principles. He has shown that, among other things, by making a number of proposals that violate those principles, including surveillance of American citizens based on their religion, asking for a religious test for immigrants, requiring the armed forces to violate international law (for instance, related to torture), and making threats against the judiciary showing his lack of understanding of the separation of powers.
In interpreting the Constitution, I am not an "originalist"--I think that approach is overly simplistic and ultimately impossible to sustain--but I do have great respect for efforts to understand and apply the actual language of the Constitution. Interestingly, a number of prominent "originalists" (including George Will) oppose Trump on the grounds that he does not understand or respect the Constitution. (See )

(6) Finally, I don't believe Trump can be trusted to keep his promises. I don't think he has a coherent Constitutional philosophy. And I believe he lacks a genuine moral core.

In a nutshell, I believe those who (for the sake of the Supreme Court) voted for Trump, despite their hesitation--even revulsion--at much of what they know about him, will come to regret his election.

APPENDIX 3: Isidewith details

As noted above, I've used a site called to assess how closely my views match those of various candidates. Here, from my most recent attempt, are positions as compared to Hillary Clinton's. (See

Issues on which I agree (more or less) with Hillary Clinton (or at least don't disagree)

The Environment
Should the government increase environmental regulations to prevent climate change? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes, and provide more incentives for alternative energy production 
Domestic Policy
Should there be more restrictions on the current process of purchasing a gun? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes, require strict background checks, psychological testing, and training 
Your similar answer: Yes
Should the redrawing of Congressional districts be controlled by an independent, non-partisan commission? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes  
Your similar answer: Yes, gerrymandering gives an unfair advantage to the party in power during redistricting
Should the Senate hold hearings and a vote on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes 
Should local police increase surveillance and patrol of Muslim neighborhoods? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: No, targeting Muslims is unconstitutional, racist, and incendiary 
Your similar answer: No, this decision should be based on crime rates instead of race or religion
Should internet service providers be allowed to speed up access to popular websites (that pay higher rates) at the expense of slowing down access to less popular websites (that pay lower rates)? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: No, treat all traffic equally and continue the openness of the internet 
Your similar answer: No
Should women be allowed to wear a Niqāb, or face veil, to civic ceremonies? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes 
Should children of illegal immigrants be granted legal citizenship? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes 
Should illegal immigrants have access to government-subsidized healthcare? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes, and grant them citizenship 
Your similar answer: Yes
Should working illegal immigrants be given temporary amnesty? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes, create a simple path to citizenship for immigrants with no criminal record 
Should Muslim immigrants be banned from entering the country until the government improves its ability to screen out potential terrorists? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: No 
Your similar answer: No, banning immigrants based on their religion is unconstitutional
Should local law enforcement be allowed to detain illegal immigrants for minor crimes and transfer them to federal immigration authorities? stats discuss
Your answers: No, only if they are convicted of a violent crime 
Should illegal immigrants be offered in-state tuition rates at public colleges within their residing state? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes, and they should also be eligible for financial assistance and scholarships
Your similar answer: Yes
Should immigrants be required to learn English? stats discuss
Your answers: No 
Do you support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes 
Your similar answer: Yes, I support a majority of the plan but not all aspects
Should convicted felons have the right to vote? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes, every citizen deserves the right to vote 
Your partially similar answer: Yes, but only after completing their sentences and parole/probation
Foreign Policy
Do you support President Obama’s move to lift the trade and travel embargo on Cuba? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes 
Should the U.S. accept refugees from Syria? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes 
Your similar answer: Yes, but we should accept much more than the proposed 10,000 refugees
Should the military be allowed to use enhanced interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, to gain information from suspected terrorists? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: No 
Your similar answer: No, and we should strictly follow the laws of the Geneva Convention
Should our country defend other NATO countries that maintain low military defense budgets relative to their GDP? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes, and refusing to defend other NATO countries sets a dangerous precedent for the balance of global power 
Your similar answer: Yes
Should the U.S. remain in the United Nations? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes 
Should foreign terrorism suspects be given constitutional rights? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes, give them a fair trial and shut down Guantanamo Bay 
Should the government conduct military strikes against North Korea in order to destroy their long-range missile and nuclear weapons capabilities? stats discuss
Your answers: No, we must use every diplomatic option first 
Should the U.S. close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes 
Should the U.S. continue to support Israel? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes  [but I also sympathize with the plight of Palestinians]
Should the government send in ground troops to fight ISIS? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: No 
Your similar answer: No, conduct targeted airstrikes instead
Should the U.S. provide military assistance to defend Ukraine from Russia? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes, the Russian invasion of the Ukraine threatens the balance of power in the region 
Your similar answer: Yes
Should the federal government require children to be vaccinated for preventable diseases? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes, they are essential to protecting other children who are too young to be vaccinated 
Your similar answer: Yes, but with exceptions for those whose religious beliefs forbid use of vaccines
Do you support the use of nuclear energy? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes 
Your similar answer: Yes, temporarily while we increase investment into cleaner renewable alternatives
Should there be a limit to the amount of money a candidate can receive from a donor? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes 
Should a photo ID be required to vote? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: No, this will disadvantage those who do not have the resources to obtain one 
Your similar answer: No
The Economy
Should the government raise the federal minimum wage? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes 
Your similar answer: Yes, and adjust it every year according to inflation
Should the government use economic stimulus to aid the country during times of recession? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes, the government should intervene to boost a recovery 
Your similar answer: Yes
Should the government make cuts to public spending in order to reduce the national debt? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: No, cuts to public spending will negatively affect the economy 
Your similar answer: No
Would you favor an increased sales tax in order to reduce property taxes? stats discuss
Your answers: No 
Should businesses be required to provide paid leave for full-time employees during the birth of a child or sick family member? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes 
Should the government require businesses to pay salaried employees, making up to $46k/year, time-and-a-half for overtime hours? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes 
Should an in-state sales tax apply to online purchases of in-state buyers from out-of-state sellers? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes 
Do you support Common Core national standards? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes 
Your similar answer: Yes, I support a national base standard but allow states and local districts to customize their implementation
Do you support increasing taxes for the rich in order to reduce interest rates for student loans? stats discuss

Your answers: Yes  

Issues on which I differ from Hillary Clinton

Domestic Policy
Should people on the “no-fly list” be banned from purchasing guns and ammunition? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: The "no-fly list" as it is needs to be reevaluated. 
You: Yes, but not until the no-fly list screening process is improved for accuracy and includes due process
What is your stance on abortion? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Pro-choice 
You: Pro-life, but allow in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother or child
Do you support the legalization of same sex marriage? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes 
You: No, allow civil unions but don’t call it marriage
Should the government support a separation of church and state by removing references to God on money, federal buildings, and national monuments? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes, but do not waste money removing existing references 
You: No, religion is an important aspect of our country’s history
Should terminally ill patients be allowed to end their lives via assisted suicide? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes 
You: No, but they should be allowed to refuse artificial life support
Foreign Policy
Should the government increase or decrease foreign aid spending? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Increase 
You: I am satisfied with the current amount of spending
Should the U.S. prevent Russia from conducting airstrikes in Syria? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Prevent? How?  
You: Yes, and establish a no-fly zone
Should the government increase or decrease military spending? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Neither, I am satisfied with the current amount of spending 
You: Decrease


Laurel Lee Pedersen said...

Thank you Bruce! My husband and I are in agreement with you fully. Thank you for clearly stating all the reasons we are deeply concerned as well.

Lu said...

Yes to all of this! You wrote everything I have been thinking and more. Thank you for articulating what has been swimming in my head and heart for months now. I am heartbroken over the election results. I have been attacked by close loved ones for my heartbreak, which has only led to further heartbreak. I fear all of the things you fear. And I find hope in the things you mentioned that bring you hope. I was called to be the new Primary President just shy of a week before the election. As I processed the results, and cried over them, I began cooking up plans to start some sort of organization for kids to learn to serve and bless others, and to accept all races, genders, sexual orientations, etc. Then I realized, I was in a position to make a huge difference in the lives of many more children than I might attract to said group :) I am praying for wisdom and strength to help these children follow Christ's example of love and kindness toward all men. A sweet story from primary on Sunday: Our ward is brand new, and it is a mix of parts three wards. The primary children are having a hard time adjusting, and some are outright mad about the change. A senior primary boy gave the opening prayer, and he said, "Please bless that we will all get along, and that we can love each other. We thank thee for all of the new friends we can make here." I was blown away by the wisdom of this young boy, and it gave me so much hope for the future! There is so much good in this world. I am trying to focus on and work to grow that good in the face of terrible, fearful things all around us. Thank you again for sharing these thoughts. We sure miss you and Margaret!