The 2016 U.S. presidential election is just one day away and it has come down to a knock-down, drag-out between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. One candidate is intelligent and experienced, but also corrupt and incapable of relating to the working class. The other candidate is a liar, a braggart, a failed businessman, a racist, and a sexual predator.
I will repeat the paragraphs I wrote about in my January blog post about the list of candidates in the running at that time:
“It seems – at least to Hillary herself – as if the Illinois-born former First Lady, New York senator, and secretary of state was born to be president. She has more political experience than almost anyone else running, and she has a veritable army of supporters…
…but these supporters include Wall Street banks and Fortune 500 CEOs, so who are we kidding when we listen to Hillary insist that she can relate to the working class? Mrs. Clinton, for all of her experience, has never known ‘working class’ a day in her life. What she has known – and to some extent unfairly – is three decades’ worth of scandal. If it isn’t Whitewater, it’s her refusal to publicly condemn husband Bill for his philandering. If it isn’t Benghazi, it’s her poor choice in email servers.
America is ready for a woman president. Many on the left hoped it would be Elizabeth Warren, the senior U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, although it would seem that they’ll have to keep on waiting, as Ms. Warren has expressed no interest in running (and, unlike Hillary, actually means it). Will Hillary Clinton be that woman president? Perhaps, perhaps not. If I am not ecstatic about the prospect of Hillary as Commander in Chief, it is because the status quo won’t change a whit with her in office. Still, a Hillary Clinton presidency sounds one thousand times better than a Carly Fiorina presidency, or a Sarah Palin presidency, or – may Heaven really forbid – a Michele Bachmann presidency.
Not much has changed since I wrote the above paragraphs. In the intervening months, Hillary Clinton has mocked herself on “SNL,” done the dab with Ellen Degeneres, and fainted at the end of a campaign event. She has also held her own in three nerve-wracking debates with Donald Trump, after which many criticized her of being cocky whereas, when she wasn’t refuting Trump’s lies, she was simply struggling to get a word in edge-wise.
Okay, elephant in the room #1: Benghazi. What happened at the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 – 11 years to the day after airplanes flew into the World Trade Center – was a tragedy. And while then-Secretary of State Clinton could have paid closer attention to the embassy’s needs, especially around the anniversary of such a momentous attack, it was a Republican-controlled Congress that repeatedly blocked her request for additional funding, at least some of which was to go towards security. Furthermore, 60 Americans perished in 13 separate embassy attacks during the previous eight years under George W. Bush; funny how those pseudo-patriots who demand Hillary’s head on a platter seem to have amnesia on this matter.
Elephant in the room #2: emails. We all know by now that it was in early 2015 when it was revealed that thousands of emails to/from Hillary Clinton went through her family’s private server rather than through the (arguably) more secure federal email server that all other government workers are required to use. Considering her role as secretary of state, how many of those thousands of emails contained classified information? Like a true politician, Hillary didn’t immediately own up to her irresponsibility in this manner, and a subsequent FBI probe recommended that while she did not handle the matter correctly, no charges should be filed. Now, with just three days until the election, the FBI has returned in full force, promising indictments and even prison time if their more detailed investigation turns up additional evidence of malicious intent. Can we say “desperate smear campaign?”
Here is the thing: Despite any hypocrisy by Republicans grasping at straws during the final days of the campaign, it is almost certain that if Hillary Clinton was anyone other than Hillary Clinton, she would have been asked to step down as secretary of state, and been impeached for the email scandal. I do give FBI Director Comey some credit for taking on Clinton – regardless of how serious his efforts. After all, how many people have died under the Clinton legacy as a result of cover-ups and simple power grabs? I certainly wouldn’t want to get on that family’s bad side.
But who knows? Maybe such authoritarianism is what we need. Maybe this level of ruthlessness will help bring our country back. It wasn’t a bad place to live when Bill Clinton was president. Hillary is a deplorable human being, and about as genuine as a chunk of fool’s gold. But she spent four years as secretary of state, served two terms in the U.S. Senate, and spent eight years as the in-your-business First Lady. No one else currently running has a comparable résumé.
America isn’t quite on the right track, but if Hillary wins we’ll more or less continue down the same rocky path. The job market will be about the same. Our presence in the Middle East will remain unchanged. Our standing in the world might improve a whit, or it might not. But we won’t be electing a xenophobic, slow-witted, small-handed, sexist, pro-Russia, anti-immigrant blowhard. And that’s a good thing. This Tuesday, I will hold my nose and cast my vote for Hillary Clinton.
My January words about Trump:
“‘The Donald,’ as he calls himself, entered the race last spring with seemingly more fanfare than was given to Armstrong’s moon walk. Trump has as many admirers as he does detractors. His fans like him for how he has grown his financial empire, and for how he is unafraid to talk about such hot-potato issues as tax reform and immigration, subjects that make most candidates want to go poopy. But his fans are also – as much as I hate to say it – delusional.
Has The Donald really grown his empire? That depends on whether one considers multiple corporate bankruptcies a growth industry. How wealthy is Trump, anyway? He says $10 billion but financial analysts say it is more like $4 billion. Impressive numbers either way – I don’t even have a 401k! Still, the difference between $10 billion and $4 billion is $6 billion – a huge discrepancy. And we trust this guy to oversee the IRS and our national budget?!
As for Trump’s gift for gab, this is eye-opening in itself. Yes, Trump is not afraid to talk about immigration. Given his vitriol, it would seem that to Trump, all immigrants are bad immigrants. Does that include his Slovenian-born wife, or is he really just talking about brown-skinned immigrants? Yes, it is true that groups like ISIS are a scourge, to say the least. But should all of Syria’s refugees be left to die in the cold because some of them don’t agree with our politics – politics that, let’s be honest, played a factor in Syria’s civil war to begin with? Should all Mexican immigrants – the vast majority of whom pay taxes, obey the law, and pump money into our economy – be sent back to Mexico because a small handful of youths join gangs? If your answer to these last two questions is anything other than ‘no,’ please line up to be bitch-slapped by our Founding Fathers.
Final thoughts on The Donald: I do wonder sometimes if Trump really is as xenophobic as he claims. Methinks at least some of his racism is a ratings game. Still, Trump’s popularity isn’t so much a reflection of our country’s close-mindedness as it is an indictment of it.”
While Hillary has actually gotten (marginally) better as a candidate, Trump has gotten worse. During the last several months we have heard him admit that he would date his own daughter, that he admires hard-line dictator Vladimir Putin, and that his idea of a date is to grab the woman “by the pussy.” Can you say “creeper?”
For whatever it’s worth, I do understand Trump’s appeal to a certain element of the population. That would be under-educated white males. Hundreds – thousands – of these factory workers, truck drivers, machinists, and industrial laborers have found themselves out of work following the exportation of their jobs to Mexico, China, and Southeast Asia. NAFTA – and now the TPP – have driven many of our manufacturing jobs elsewhere. Like the PIGS countries of Southern Europe, a big part of our economic malaise is that we as a self-described “Great Nation” simply no longer make anything.
For everyone besides those disenfranchised, blue collar white males, though, I simply don’t get it. Donald Trump is not the person to lead us to a new industrial renaissance. Trump, who inherited his wealth and presided over four (or more) corporate bankruptcies, is dumber than a shoe. This is the person who opened a casino in Atlantic City, NJ – the biggest gambling mecca east of the Mississippi – and couldn’t make a go of it. To me, that is akin to giving away free crack rocks in the ghetto but failing to get rid of your supply. (Sorry.)
Furthermore, Trump is a big baby. In fact, he reminds me of Baby Herman from the movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” – an adult who wears a diaper and is prone to hissy fits. It was almost one year that he hosted “SNL,” to near-record ratings…but now he complains about Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of him and demands that the show be canceled. He has already admitted that he will not accept the election results if anyone other than him wins on Tuesday. Take a cute from Al Gore, Mr. Trump, and bow out with grace.
Donald Trump is a hypocrite, too. To him, not paying taxes is tantamount to laziness and fraud…unless he himself is the person whose creative accounting makes him able to successfully write off everything. To Trump, he is all about family values, chastising Hillary for her husband’s infidelities while weathering two divorces himself. Oh, but that’s different.
A Donald Trump presidency is a scary thing indeed. As a secular humanist and as an advocate for women’s rights, for equal rights, and for equality for all, I simply don’t get it. Tennessee is a red state, and I am outnumbered at work by Trump supporters. Most of them are decent human beings, and as things currently stand, I wouldn’t consider it a friendship-breaker were they to vote Trump-Pence tomorrow. If I was gay, though, or an immigrant, perhaps, or a woman, I might feel different. You see, my very humanity would be threatened. Because the fact is that, whatever your intentions, if you vote for Trump, you are part of the problem.
Gary Johnson and Jill Stein
By now, you probably forgot that there were two other candidates even running. One of them, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, has, like Hillary, run before. Johnson is the Libertarian Party nominee, and ran as such in 2012 as well, though he originally was a Republican (just like Trump originally was a Democrat). I can get behind many of Johnson’s platforms, such the legalization of marijuana and a reduction in military spending.
On the other hand, I scratch my head about why he doesn’t feel that campaign finance reform is a necessity, or that the government doesn’t have a duty to limit cap and trade emissions as part of an effort to combat catastrophic global climate change. And he famously failed to point out war-torn Aleppo, Syria, on a map, and couldn’t name a single foreign leader that he respected. Still…Johnson has summitted the highest peak on all seven continents including Mount Everest. How cool is that?
The other candidate, Jill Stein, is a Chicago-born physician and activist who now lives in Massachusetts. She twice ran for governor of Massachusetts, and this is her second time at bat for the Green Party presidential ballot as well. Stein is an advocate of peaceful diplomacy, and mandates freezing funds going to Syria and accepting more refugees as a human rights necessity. Of everyone running, she is the biggest champion of clean air, and her thoughtful plan to rebuild our nation’s economy involves closing ineffective foreign military bases and reinvesting that money back home by rebuilding our infrastructure. And fracking? Frack, no!
In a battle of ideals, Stein seems closest to my preferred candidate, Bernie Sanders, who famously endorsed Hillary in an attempt to unite the splintered Democratic Party. But alas, there is a difference in between well-informed and being able to induce change. Stein has never held major political office, and however corrupt the office may be, one needs to be able to schmooze and wheel and deal if one hopes to get anything done. Does Stein possess that gift?
Johnson and Stein are decent candidates with refreshing approaches to tired topics. But ultimately, neither will garner more than one percent of the vote, and, were they to actually win, they would encounter such partisan gridlock that they’d get even less accomplished than some of the least effective presidents we’ve had. Maybe that isn’t fair, but it’s the shakes. I won’t waste my vote on someone who will never win…and you shouldn’t either – especially if you live in a battleground state. Once again, all eyes will be on Florida, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. If you live in one of those five states, you can be on the deciding side of history. Just ask Al Gore.
Perhaps one day, in the not-too-distant future, our political system will allow for a third party candidate to truly flourish, to be included in every debate and to receive the same federal funding as the Dems and the Repukes. Then again, the Electoral College was invented by those two parties, in collusion together, to effectively ensure that no third party candidate ever poses a serious threat. H. Ross Perot (or “H. Ross Parrot,” if you preferred his “Sesame Street” character) gained enough in-roads in 1992 to block George H.W. Bush from winning reelection. But Perot’s vote haul still wasn’t enough to gain himself the top spot, so ultimately nothing was accomplished. Maybe someday this will change. Maybe Tom Cruise will come out of the closet, too.
A Sad Commentary
I never thought it would come down to this. I imagined, years ago, that Hillary Clinton might one day be elected president. But I never dared to envision the scandalous baggage that she would carry with her. Much of it is not her fault, but simply the fallout from staying faithful to an unfaithful husband so many years ago. Additionally, she has never really left the public consciousness since 1992, so most of America is, frankly, tired of her. Again, not really her fault. And then there’s Trump. This orange-skinned windbag, with the temperament of a petulant child, might actually win the election. I shudder to think what will become of our standing in the world. A 30-foot wall between the U.S. and Mexico might actually be erected after all…but it’ll be Mexico, not the U.S., that puts it up. “Green, go home,” the saying goes. Or, more accurately, “Holy shit.”
Because we’ll all be fucked.
GringoPotpourri note: all pictures are borrowed from the Interwebs.