America has a stark contrast this year between a flawed, but competent Hillary Clinton and a dangerous Donald Trump. I don’t use the word dangerous lightly. I believe a Donald Trump presidency would cause harm to American higher education and the country as a whole.
I want to put this as simply as I can: Donald Trump is dangerous.
The synonyms for dangerous are hazardous, perilous, risky, high-risk, unsafe, unpredictable and precarious.
You may not like Hillary Clinton, and I understand that, but an objective observer would suggest those synonyms best describe Trump.
Moreover, I would suggest this is part of his appeal. Trump’s supporters love the fact that he’s unpredictable and high-risk.
Higher Education Policy
My position on policy is that the challenges facing higher education and the country are too significant to take the risk inherent in a President Trump.
Part of this risk is in the unknown. I searched for Trump’s policy positions on higher education and found virtually nothing. Even with Trump’s well known penchant for avoiding policy specifics, the lack of higher education policy from his campaign surprises me.
In fact, I could only find two on his website:
“Work with Congress on reforms to ensure universities are making a good faith effort to reduce the cost of college and student debt in exchange for the federal tax breaks and tax dollars.”
“Ensure that the opportunity to attend a two or four-year college, or to pursue a trade or a skill set through vocational and technical education, will be easier to access, pay for, and finish.”
Donald Trump did finally address higher education in a speech on October 13th. He spoke about concerns over student debt and holding colleges accountable for administrative bloat. Trump’s speech was a fairly generic policy approach for Republicans, largely devoid of specifics.
In contrast, Hillary Clinton offers specific policy proposals on student debt, campus sexual assault, and workforce skills. She offers fact sheets, numerous speeches, and calculators to help explain her policies.
Even if you think Clinton doesn’t entirely believe all her positions and that her positions are poll tested, you can’t compare the specific proposals to the utter lack of detail from Trump.
Maybe Clinton doesn’t deserve an A, but Trump failed to even complete the assignment.
Of course, the issue that has gotten the most attention of late is Donald Trump’s comments and treatment of women.
By now, everyone has seen and heard his comments on the Access Hollywood tape. I don’t find Trump’s explanation of locker room talk credible.
He is describing in past tense how he moved on a woman and how he makes unwanted sexual advances.
Trump’s comments and his overall rhetoric in this campaign have made me question whether or not I can have my 10 year old daughter watch the presidential debates.
More to the point, I believe Donald Trump’s comments and actions will hurt our ability to reduce sexual assaults on college campuses.
The biggest challenge for curbing sexual assault on campus is fighting the culture that demeans women and treats them as prey to be hunted.
Donald Trump behavior is exactly what we are trying to eliminate. Additionally, do we think the Department of Education under a President Trump will be as aggressive in seeking to reduce sexual assault and sexual harassment?
I think not.
Sexual assault is one of the scariest issues facing higher education today. Trump’s campaign has made this a more difficult issue to address. A Trump presidency may set us back for a generation.
The bottom line for me is that Hillary Clinton is a far better candidate for president. She isn’t perfect by any means. She listens to her advisers too much and is too careful. She isn’t a natural communicator and draws the ire of half the country.
But she is smart, dedicated, and experienced. She has thoughtful policy positions and has demonstrated an ability to work with legislators outside of her party.
And even if she wasn’t those things, she isn’t dangerous.
I have worried for a long time about the effect of demagoguery in our politics. Democrats claimed George W. Bush was the devil. Mitt Romney was simply out to help the wealthy profit.
Republicans claimed John Kerry was a traitor and Barack Obama wasn’t a Christian.
There are legitimate policy differences that we can have with candidates from either party. You can disagree with a candidate’s position on taxes or foreign policy or student debt. That’s how the country is supposed to work!
I worry that we’ve called wolf too many times in our politics. Now that we have an actual wolf, everyone assumes it is business as usual.
And I do believe Donald Trump has shown himself to be a wolf.
He has made racist comments. He has suggested his followers incite violence.
He has little to no specific policy proposals.
He demeans women. He demeans the disabled. He demeans his opponent.
Even if he didn’t do all those things, he lacks the temperament, experience, and judgement to be the President of the United States.
Yes, he is dangerous.
He lacks an understanding of basic policy details and shows no interest in learning.
Higher education has some major issues that need policy solutions.
Policy makers with a great deal of experience (including President Obama) have floated higher education policies that would hurt rather than help.
No one knows what a President Trump might do and that’s dangerous for higher education.
Beyond higher education, a presidential candidate that assaults women, engages in inflammatory rhetoric, and holds no policy positions or values is dangerous.
His impulse to attack difference and views on the role of government stand in stark contrast to values Americans have held sacred for generations.
Donald Trump is dangerous.
I hope the country realizes that we really do have a wolf on our hands this time.