Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016 | 2 a.m.
The exercise of democracy that empowers the citizens of the United States to determine the nation’s executive leadership carries with it tremendous responsibility. That is especially relevant this year, when many voters are restless if not downright angry over the direction of the nation, and are calling for a change agent to upheave not just domestic and foreign policies but reframe the nation’s founding principles, if not parts of the Constitution itself.
It’s one thing for some voters to rally for drastic change in the White House. But in their discontent, they must carefully and rationally assess whether their anointed agitator is qualified in experience, intellect and temperament to execute it. And he’s nowhere close.
In Donald Trump, Republican voters have selected a man who by all measures is dangerously unqualified to occupy the most powerful and stressful office in the world. There is no other conclusion; Trump himself regularly exposes his shortcomings and liabilities. He is a rabble-rouser extraordinaire who has not spent one day in public service. And no wonder. He has no sense of ethics or integrity, is quick to anger and struggles to complete a coherent sentence. He’s in it for applause, not altruism.
At best, his political agenda is self-serving, and the fact that he has sold it to so many people either says a lot about his salesmanship qualities or the lack of critical thinking skills by those who have thrown themselves in with him.
In his blind ambitions to stir things up, Trump could do more harm to the immediate future of the United States — socially, economically and politically — than could adversarial nations. At least our armed forces can protect us from outside forces; little can be done if an unbalanced, unprepared, inexperienced TV showman eases himself into the leather seat and puts his feet up on the desk in the Oval Office like it’s some trophy.
People, don’t you see this? How have you let him bamboozle you?
Most of us know him only as the brash host of an entertaining television reality show, a braggart who wallows in his questionable wealth and needs to feed his oversized ego with acclaim and eye candy, whether flesh or gold.
Trump has gotten this far with bluster, vulgarity, insults and lies, while offering little about himself. About the only thing he has done successfully is position himself as some sort of wizard.
Thankfully, with each passing day, voters learn more about this charlatan who claims that his business success is proof of his executive genius. In fact, his business empire is pocked by bankruptcies that have left subcontractors and tradespeople unpaid. He claimed a stunning $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, enabling him to dodge federal income taxes for 18 years. And other tax returns? The only thing he’s shown us is his middle finger. His tax proposals would benefit the wealthiest at the expense of the middle class, and his plans to reject free trade in favor of isolation would, according to the nation’s smartest economists across the political spectrum, backfire in the face of the very industrial workers who Trump claims to want to help.
In foreign affairs, already he is embarrassing this country with his frightening suggestions. If Iranian sailors make uncouth gestures toward our sailors, “they will be shot out of the water,” Trump promises. National defense? He suggests we don’t honor our vital NATO treaty unless we first do a credit check on the nation in peril. Nuclear warfare? Sure, why not: “Frankly, the case could be made that let (Japan) protect themselves against North Korea. They’d probably wipe them out pretty quick. … Good luck, folks, enjoy yourself.” And he encourages Russia to commit cyber espionage against us. Don’t even get us started on his bromance with Vladimir Putin, a relationship that must tickle the Russian strongman right down to his KGB roots.
And treating people with basic dignity? We know his utter failings when it comes to showing respect to others. Just listen to his vulgar remarks about inappropriately grabbing women. He shames our country.
Voters of course have an easy choice in this election. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, absolutely deserves election to the presidency, not because she’s the only practical alternative, but because in her we have a tried-and-tested leader and public servant who is prepared to take immediate command of the Oval Office.
She showed her commitment to social causes even before she entered politics, helping to improve the lives of migrant farmworkers and their children. It was authentic altruism. Later, as first lady, she shepherded bipartisan legislation that brought health insurance to 8 million children, and at a U.N. conference in Beijing on women’s rights, she boldly called out China’s failings. As a senator, she was more successful than most of her cohorts in negotiating amendments to bills, and in the wake of 9/11 she had New York City’s back. As secretary of state, she visited 112 nations, was fully engaged in White House efforts to take out Osama bin Laden, then shaped the economic sanctions against Iran that brought it to the negotiating table.
Was she sloppy with emails? Yes, and it’s a sure bet she won’t do that again. Could she be blamed for the deaths of four Americans at the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya? Despite eight politically motivated congressional investigations costing $23 million, she was found not culpable. End of story. The Clinton Foundation spends 89 percent of its funds on charitable works in Africa and the Caribbean, while Trump taps his foundation for money to buy a portrait of himself to hang at one of his golf clubs. Really.
Indeed, in terms of their qualifications and readiness for the job, the gap between the two candidates is glaring. The logic behind Clinton’s policy proposals stands up to scrutiny, while Trump’s poorly shaped ideas would trigger economic and diplomatic setbacks. The only winner would be the crafty Donald Trump himself. He’s sly that way.
We understand voters’ restlessness, but deciding whom to trust in the White House has to be based on level-headed sanity, not emotion. We will have to live by the outcome of our votes. We owe it to our country to make a rational decision and not be exploited by a master manipulator. We must choose experience over ineptitude, grounded toughness over petulant tirades, empathy over ego, coherent reasoning over recklessness.
With absolute confidence in her abilities and our nation’s bright future, we enthusiastically endorse Hillary Clinton for president.