Trump Enables the Underbelly of America And I have the Emails to Prove It

By Doug Elmets - August 15, 2016

Three months ago my deep distrust of Donald Trump drove me to endorse Hillary Clinton. I thought I knew what I was getting into. Boy was I wrong.

As a lifelong Republican and former White House aide to President Reagan, I knew my support for a Hillary Clinton  would cause a stir, and maybe cost me some friends. It did.

It also produced an invitation to speak at the Democratic National Convention, a chance to explain to the nation why a GOP lifer would go rogue.

My wife opposed the idea, and fellow Republicans warned me it might mean professional suicide. But I earnestly believe Trump is a tyrannical, hate-spewing narcissist whose election would be disastrous for this country. So I accepted the invitation and caught a flight to Philadelphia.

It was a surreal experience for a Republican like me, and Clinton campaign aides warned me to expect some crowd abuse when I reached the podium.

Instead, the audience greeted me with cheers. And when I proclaimed that “Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan,” the hall full of Democrats went wild.

The days that followed have shown that many other Republicans are equally supportive of Hillary Clinton; I guess it just took someone to take the initial arrows.

And the arrows have been coming fast and furious.

The hundreds of messages I’ve received from Trump supporters – in emails, on Twitter, via Facebook and by telephone – are deeply disturbing, and underscore just how dangerous this candidate is.

One self-described nationalist and Trump backer had this to say: “I hope ISIS pays a visit to your house if Hillary Clinton is elected.”

Another Trumpian called me “a selfish, worthless, sub human,” while a third said my “ilk” had pushed our nation to “the brink of civil war,” and predicted a “blood bath” that would lead to my “destruction on judgment day.”

I have a thick skin, so the attacks don’t bother me much. What they say about the Republican nominee for President, however, bothers me a lot.

The fact is, Trump appeals to Americans’ basest instincts, our worst selves. Great presidents lead with optimism, courage and hope, and represent our best moral ideals, such as temperance, humility, faith, and goodness. Trump, by contrast, sows hate and tribalism and peddles pessimism and fear.

Trump’s cynical brand blends hyper nationalism, the scapegoating of ethnic groups, and a promise to solve all our problems himself because he is, in case you’ve forgotten, so very great. He thinks nothing of mocking a disabled journalist, urging that a heckler be “roughed up,” declaring all illegal immigrants from Mexico to be rapists and drug dealers, and sneering at a woman’s looks. Everything and everyone is fair game.

Trump also provides a platform for extremist candidates who reflect the most pestilent aspects of our national character. Among them are people like former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, a Trump admirer running for the U.S. Senate from Louisiana.

As I watch Trump march onward as the triumphant nominee of my party, I often think back to the day I cast my first vote for President, at age 18. The man who won my ballot then was Ronald Reagan, and I later served him in the White House as a spokesman.

When I remember President Reagan and his signature moments – challenging Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” comforting a nation shocked by the loss of the Challenger Space Shuttle, appointing the first woman to the U.S. Supreme Court – I try to imagine Donald Trump filling his shoes. And I simply can’t.


Doug Elmets, who owns a Sacramento-based public affairs firm, worked in the White House during the Reagan Administration and recently spoke at the Democratic National Convention in support of Hillary Clinton for President.

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