The 2016 presidential election, with the most contentious campaign in memory, presents many U.S. voters with a choice of two deeply disliked candidates, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump ‑ although Clinton is the runaway favorite of people of color and women.
Clinton is the better choice for president because of her knowledge and command of critical issues and policy, domestic and foreign, her experience and long service to people, and her temperament. She has served as secretary of state, U.S. senator and First Lady. We understand that many people do not trust Clinton; we do not fully understand why so many who resent or fear her simply accept Trump’s many shortcomings as a potential president.
Surely, Clinton has flaws, as every politician does. She has problems with transparency and with forthrightness. And she has made serious mistakes; the private email server matter stands out. A variety of fact-checkers have well documented politicians’ tendency to dissemble or worse. Inaccuracies are commonplace in political campaigns; however, Trump’s whopper factor is much more in evidence than Clinton’s.
Significantly, Clinton has acknowledged mistakes, while one can seriously wonder if Donald Trump has ever in his public life apologized.
It was odd to hear Republican vice president candidate Mike Pence challenge Clinton’s integrity in the televised show with Democrat Tim Kaine. Clinton had described some Trump supporters as “a basket of deplorables.” On the next day, Clinton acknowledged she should not have said it that way, and Kaine asked if Trump had apologized for disparaging Mexicans; for questioning the ability of a federal judge with Hispanic roots; for his demeaning comments about women; for impugning Sen. John McCain’s war record; for verbally attacking the Muslim parents of a soldier who died in the service of the country.
Compare Clinton’s forthrightness problems with Trump’s utter disregard for accuracy, for facts, for truth. Trump may have a different understanding of the truth – a perception that “the media is the message,” to use a phrase from another time, and truth is whatever Trump wants it to be.
Telling the truth is expected of all people, in our everyday lives, and especially of people in positions of public trust – or seeking election as president, governor or mayor.
Duplicity is not a virtue, by any ethical standards. Nor is demagogy admirable campaign behavior.
On transparency, Trump bragged, in the first presidential debate, that not paying taxes made him smart. Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani declared, “He a genius – absolute genius” by using “a perfectly legal application of the tax code.” Trump and Giuliani miss the point that most U.S. residents do pay taxes as a civic obligation; they don’t have $916 million losses to give them huge tax breaks. A more relevant discussion is about fairness in taxation, for middle class folks as well as billionaires.
Truth. Transparency. Humility. Temperament. In all these character traits, Trump is far more lacking than Clinton. He has more than demonstrated that he is not fit to be president of the United States. Clinton’s shortcomings add up to much less than the danger of Donald Trump as president.
A vote for Clinton is more than not accepting Trump, though. Despite her faults, Hillary Clinton is qualified, capable and steady.
She is by far the best choice Americans have.