The distrust that most Americans feel for politicians is easily traceable back to forty-four years ago and the deceits, outright lies and dark personality quirks of Richard Nixon.

Who can forget his pious pledge of his undefined “Plan to End the War,” after learning that his plan was really to win the war by increasing the bombing of Southeast Asia four-fold? Or his proclamation: “I am not a crook”?

Who can not feel shame over his personal decision to order the invasion of the small, neutral country of Cambodia, bombing it to devastation and leading directly to the deaths of two million of the nation’s six million at the hands of their own countrymen?

Who can forget that Republican convention of roaring worshipers of Nixon 1972, with the exuberant shouts of “Four more years, four more years” for their hero? But among those worshipers, how many really knew Nixon?

It was only two years later, with the release of his secret tapes, that Americans saw what an evil, paranoid, lying individual Nixon really was. He had been able to hide his true personality from the public, and any sane person who voted for him had to recoil in shame.

I remember the words of his chief Domestic Advisor, John Ehrlichman, at the Safford Penitentiary in Arizona. Asked about the Nixon he had faithfully served in the White House for five years, Ehrlichman replied: “I really never got to know him.”

Who today can truthfully say they know the real Donald Trump?

We have survived the lies of the Johnson Administration that led Congress to approve the disastrous war in Viet Nam… and the lies of the Bush administration that led to congressional approval for the invasion of Iraqi n 2003. But can we survive the unpredictable emotional reactions, and potentially irrational decisions of a president who has the sole power to trigger the use of atomic weapons against foreign countries?

That nuclear trigger in its black box is required to be within a few feet of the President at all times. As Commander in Chief, the power to pull the trigger is in his hands alone. No General or Admiral can countermand an order from a man who has talked and acted very much like that insane and patriotic Air Force General in Dr. Strangelove.

This election it is not a matter of party politics. It is a matter of doing the most we can to achieve the survival of the human race.

Pete McCloskey,
Republican Member of Congress, 1967-83.
Colonel, US Marine Corps Reserve (Ret.)