Friday, July 29, 2016

The 2016 Election

When Donald Trump admitted way back in July 2015 that he thought John McCain was only "a war hero because he was captured," I thought that was it for him. Mind you, this was after his serious (and false) comments about Mexicans being "rapists," but I figured conservatives didn't really care about that. They did, after all, ignore the 2013 report that bluntly declared that Latinos feel that the GOP "couldn't care less about them."

But then he said Megyn Kelley, a conservative reporter who asked him a fair question about his sexist comments toward women, had "blood coming out of her wherever" when she questioned him. And I thought, "Okay, now they'll ditch him." But the absurdity just kept coming. I mean, I've never seen a presidential candidate brag about his genitals on stage at a debate, have you? I'll admit: I've loved much of it. I mean, this guy is a world-class clown, and clowns are supposed to be funny. But then I remind myself of his calls to ban an entire religious group from entering the country, and his sexism, racism, and apparently even anti-Semitism. (Seriously, Trump voters, you cannot deny that Trump is vehemently racist. What other presidential nominee--or person since the mid-19th century--has ever said out loud "Look at my African-America"?) Then there's his narcissism, his arrogance. And the violence. Oh, the violence. It's terrifying, and he actually encourages it. Trump is the closest thing to Mussolini I think this country has ever seen. (And apparently, Trump likes to tweet Mussolini quotes, but no big deal.) There are numerous stories history has given us of what charismatic autocrats can do once they instill and/or fuel a significant amount of fear in the public. We should heed history's warnings.

Let me say that policy wise, Trump is the least bad of the 17 Republican candidates who ran for the nomination. He is a rare somewhat moderate Republican whose coalition includes independents, less religious voters, and what we used to call Reagan Democrats. He is nowhere near as ideologically far-right as Ted Cruz, who would have been an absolute nightmare as president. Trump's hesitance to embrace interventionism is in stark contrast to Marco Rubio's hawkish neoconservatism. He was right to criticize George W. Bush over 9/11 and the Iraq War (and brave to do it in South Carolina, Bush Country). His views on the welfare state are shockingly reasonable compared to the conservative establishment. I actually agree with him that we need to re-think NATO and pull back a bit from the world stage.  

But he would still be a terrible pick for president, and all Americans should renounce him and his ugly rhetoric. That includes conservatives in this country. To my conservative friends: If you're a conservative, do you really want to vote for Trump? Do you really think a billionaire like him, a man who is rich because his rich father gave him a "small loan of a million dollars," truly cares about the plight of working-class citizens? Do you really think that a man who is illiterate in the Bible really believes in evangelical principles? Do you want to support a serial liar unlike any we've ever seen before? A man who flip-flops on everything? (He supported action against Libya, then opposed it. He favored the Iraq War, then was against it. Was pro-choice, now is pro-life. Just look at what he used to say about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton!) His authoritarianism is at odds with Tea Party ideals about a limited government for the people. Do you think it's a bit odd that he offered the VP to John Kasich, and that Kasich would be in charge of foreign and domestic policy entirely? Does his remarkable inexperience concern you? Do his connections to the mob bother you? Does his previous use of undocumented Polish workers to build his giant tower diminish the fervor you have for him regarding immigration? A guy who seems to have incestuous feelings for his daughter? His bullying attitude towards people with disabilities? His lies about Muslims on 9/11? The endorsement from North Korea? The KKK? Seriously, what is it going to have to take for you to vote against this monster? Many conservative leaders are opposed to him, and you should be, too. The two living former Republican presidents do not support him, and the Republican party's 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney fiercely opposes him. Even Ted Cruz doesn't support him. Supporting him because he "speaks his mind" is not a sufficient reason to support him. His mind is filthy.

How could any of us possibly be at ease with this guy at the helm? When asked on Morning Joe whom he was consulting with regarding foreign policy issues, Trump's response was "himself" because "I've said a lot of things." Seriously. Trump, who assures us he will be tough on ISIS, primarily consults himself. A real estate tycoon with literally zero experience in foreign policy will have his hands on the nuclear codes, and his primary consultant on these matters is himself. If you think I'm being hyperbolic, let me tell you that a Trump presidency now ranks as the third-biggest global threat due to his militaristic tendencies and indifference to nuclear proliferation, among other things. That's how disastrous a President Trump could be. I'm totally at a loss as to why all of this needs to be emphasized and repeated, but apparently it's going to be a very close election.

Many Americans will vote in this election simply because they do not want Trump in the White House. They will hold their noses and vote for Hillary Clinton, the only nominee in U.S. presidential election history who has negative ratings near his. I am not one of these voters. I think Clinton is a tremendous candidate, by far the best the Democrats offered in the primaries. As a child, Clinton dealt with bullies by punching them and proudly telling her mother, "Mommy, I can play with the boys now." Hillary has been playing with the boys for decades now, and she plays the game better than most of them. And that kind of toughness is exactly what we need against the tyrannical bully that is Trump.

A woman who holds the record for the Gallup's most admired woman in America, we know much of her time as First Lady, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State. Let's not forget about her early roles, whether it was her work on the Watergate Senate committee, her helping to launch Arkansas' first rape crisis center, or her awesome declaration in China in 1995 that women's rights are human rights. But we've also forgotten her more recent accomplishments. While people like Rudy Giuliani reassured the world that the air quality in Ground Zero was safe (which was wrong, resulting in the illness of many recovery workers), there were actual leaders like New York's junior senator, Hillary Clinton, who was instrumental in helping secure over $21 billion in relief for the World Trade Center. As Secretary of State, she prioritized climate change, by far the most pressing issue facing the world. So far, she has shown pretty good judgment in choosing people who will surround her in the White House should she win, first and foremost with her pick of Senator Tim Kaine, a "Pope Francis Catholic" who has been fighting for social justice his entire career. Kaine is respected by his Republican colleagues in the Senate, where he became the first senator to give a speech on the Senate floor entirely in Spanish, and is a fierce opponent of the NRA.

Clinton talks about building bridges, not walls. Instead of allowing a thin skin to inspire her to shout at everyone, she is a listener. I would be lying if I said that the excitement of finally having a female president is one of the reasons why I will be voting for her in November. The U.S. has a rather pathetic record when it comes to electing female politicians, and it's time to end that.

Clinton is not perfect, and I don't agree with her on everything. I worry that unlike President Obama, she has learned the wrong lessons from the mess in Libya. As the New York Times put it, she has "displayed instincts on foreign policy that are more aggressive" than most other Democrats. She probably won't be tough enough with Israel. I disagree with her stance on the death penalty. I tend to lean in the opposite direction of the pro-choice crowd, which obviously puts me in contrast to her and most other liberals. Unlike Sanders, she seems to be hesitant to embrace a more Scandinavia model. But she has earned my vote. Her opposition to guns, embrace of the queer community, and her record of service all have made my decision easy.

And to those thinking of voting for Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee, or Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee, because you didn't get Bernie Sanders as your Democratic Party nominee, I implore you to reconsider. Yes, it would be nice to have four parties really go at it and let the American people have a real debate. But love it or hate it, we currently have a two-party system and will for some time. Clinton and Sanders actually have a minuscule amount of differences; they certainly rarely disagreed when they in the Senate. Sanders strongly endorses Clinton, and you ought to vote for her. We cannot afford a Trump presidency.

Is this the most important election of our lifetime? Well, that's what they said last time. They said it in 2004, in 1924, and in 1860, and practically all the others. Saying this is the most important election ever is getting a bit dull. But electing Trump over Clinton would have enormous consequences. Just think of what kind of a pariah the U.S. will become with Trump as our leader. We must defeat him, and we must elect Hillary Clinton.


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