A wide variety of arguments can be made against electing Donald Trump president. But the one Hillary Clinton made on Thursday is good enough all by itself.
It’s the same argument about tail risk that I made on Tuesday: Trump would expose the US to various potential disasters that would seem unthinkable with most other candidates of either party.
Clinton said it succinctly:
Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different. They are dangerously incoherent …
This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes – because it’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin …
This is a man who said that more countries should have nuclear weapons, including Saudi Arabia.
This is someone who has threatened to abandon our allies in NATO – the countries that work with us to root out terrorists abroad before they strike us at home.
He believes we can treat the U.S. economy like one of his casinos and default on our debts to the rest of the world, which would cause an economic catastrophe far worse than anything we experienced in 2008 …
We can’t be certain which of these things he would do, but we can be certain that he’s capable of doing any or all of them: Letting ISIS run wild. Launching a nuclear attack. Starting a ground war. These are all distinct possibilities with Donald Trump in charge.
A great thing about this argument is that it’s a good reason for a conservative to vote against Trump, or for a moderate to do so, or a liberal, or a socialist, or somebody almost anywhere else on the political spectrum. If you’re against nuclear war and global economic crisis, then this argument speaks to your concerns.
Another related great thing about this argument is that you do not need to believe that Clinton would be a great president or even a good one to be swayed by it. Clinton is not well-liked – her speech provided a strong case that you should vote for her even if you dislike her.
Indeed, the argument Clinton made on Thursday was very similar to the argument the conservative humorist P.J. O’Rourke made last month when he explained why he would be voting for Clinton despite “her lies and all her empty promises.”
“I mean, this man just can’t be president,” O’Rourke said of Trump on NPR’s “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me.” “They’ve got this button, you know, in the briefcase. He’s going to find it.”
As for Clinton?
“She’s wrong about absolutely everything, but she’s wrong within normal parameters,” O’Rourke said.
It’s not inspiring, but it’s a compelling message that could help Clinton build a broad majority coalition against Trump.