The following is an op-ed piece I wrote for the July 2, 2016, issue of The Capital newspaper. As I expected. I’ve received my share of hate mail, the most interesting of which is one that calls me a Nazi. But the good news–I hope, for our country–is that 95% of the messages have been supportive.
As a community member of its editorial board, I am aware of the fact that The Capital’s policy calls for no endorsement of a presidential candidate. I understand: The Capital deals primarily with local and regional issues. However, these are not ordinary times, and I urge the editorial board to reconsider.
Full disclosure: my background and experiences no doubt make me more fearful of the current state of affairs in our nation, and cause me to be more passionate than most of my fellow Americans about taking immediate action. I lived my childhood in terror of the Nazi regime and, soon after the war’s end, my parents and I were forced to flee from Communist thugs. Native-born Americans have been luckier, never having lived in a land ruled by a dictator. The threat of such a despot has never existed in this republic—until now.
While Donald Trump may not be the American Hitler, there are too many frightening similarities. In the early 1930s, Hitler tapped into Germans’ frustrations by focusing on an enemy—the Jews—who, he claimed, were taking over the country. His uneducated followers raised their hands in mass salute when his rants contained outrageous statements that no one else dared utter in public. Only he would dare to “tell it like it is.” Sound familiar?
Trump, too, taps into fears of the disenfranchised. Like Hitler, he is an egomaniacal bully who relies on racial and religious scapegoating in order to play on the fears, anger, hatred, and insecurities of a vulnerable public. Feeling powerless, many people fall for his Ponzi schemes. He attacks women, Muslims, Hispanics, immigrants, Chinese, Europeans, and the handicapped. He will “make America great again” by taking us back to the good old days when white males ruled and all others knew their place.
Trump brags about his business prowess and promises to bring it to the White House. God help us! Financial experts who have examined his business history have concluded that Trump would have done better had he simply invested the inheritance from his father in an index mutual fund. He has a track record of piling up huge debt for his companies—and then filing for bankruptcy, leaving creditors and investors holding the bag. One must ask how much more national debt he would pile up as president, and on how much of it the government would default.
For the past few months, we have watched Trump’s assault on people, nations, and decency. Just imagine what he would do once he would gain command of the country’s military, Department of Justice, FBI, and CIA. They say that power corrupts. For the most part, American presidents have not succumbed to such corruption. This one would bring it to the job.
I am not asking The Capital to endorse a candidate for president. I am begging it to warn its readers against voting for a dishonest, vulgar, narcissistic bigot who presents an unprecedented danger to our way of life. I realize that such a warning would be a de facto endorsement of Trump’s opponent. I know there are many people who, for their own reasons, could never bring themselves to vote for Hillary Clinton. To them, I say: vote for the Libertarian candidate; write in your own name or that of someone else; leave the top portion of the ballot blank. But all of us who love liberty must do everything possible to defeat an arrogant man who has no interest in anything but stroking his ego and enriching himself on the backs of others.
Charles Heller is the former CEO of two software companies and partner in a venture capital firm. He is the author of the award-winning memoir, Prague: My Long Journey Home.