Robert A. Levine 4-27-16
Here we go again. In a presidential election year, there are five candidates still running, three for the GOP nomination, two for the Democratic nod. Do any of the candidates inspire confidence and admiration, and the feeling that he or she would make a great president? At the moment, it looks like Hillary and The Donald will be the final combatants in the general election, but politics is funny and you never know what might happen.
However, the overwhelming feeling is that Americans will have to choose between the lesser of two evils instead of someone who can be avidly supported by a majority of the voters. Looking across the nation’s northern border, citizens can see a young, smart and vigorous leader for the Canadians in Justin Trudeau, a man who fits the role in this age of the twenty-four hour news cycle and cameras everywhere. Why can’t America’s political parties find a candidate like that?
Assuming it’s Hillary and The Donald, what do we get. In The Donald, Americans are given a bullying blowhard who has no knowledge of government or foreign affairs (though he might have had quite a few foreign affairs if you ask him- he likes to brag about his sexual prowess). Soon to be seventy years old, his qualifications for president are that he once had a television show where he had to select some assistants, and he owned a real estate business. He’s also willing to tell you that he knows how to make great deals and could do the same for the country if he’s elected president. The Trump brand is his as well, that he places on all kinds of products as well as various large buildings. (Wonder if the Trump stamp will go on the White House if he wins the election?)
The Donald has also had a series of bankruptcies since 1991 when some of his business ventures went sour. He doesn’t talk much about these, particularly since his investors lost a lot of money in these Trump enterprises and a lot of workers lost their jobs. Though Trump didn’t declare personal bankruptcy, Trump companies did- Trump Taj Mahal Atlantic City in 1991, Trump Plaza Hotel in 1992, Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts in 2004, and Trump Entertainment Resorts in 2009. The Donald did not suffer any financial losses in these bankruptcies according to him, and says it was just smart business. But it’s rumored that his personal wealth is a lot less than he brags about- still in the billions. (It’s also been rumored that if he left the money he inherited from his father in exchange funds or bonds instead of his investments, he would much wealthier than he is today after all of his great deals.) The Donald is also being sued by the New York Attorney General for fraud involving “Trump University,” an apparent scam that was supposed to teach students The Donald’s real estate techniques to get rich. For a fee of course. Does American want a guy like The Donald for president?
On the other hand, Americans have The Hillary, a sixty-eight year old woman with lots of experience and knowledge about government, but some questionable actions over the last forty years. None may have been illegal, but some may have crossed ethical boundaries or were unwise. Going back to her time in Arkansas there was her Whitewater investments with the McDougals and the failure of the Madison Guarantee Savings and Loan. (The McDougals and the governor who succeeded Bill Clinton in Arkansas were convicted of fraud in these cases with Bill and Hillary untouched.) Hillary also made money trading in cattle futures in Arkansas in 1978 and 1979, turning $1000 into nearly $100,000 in ten months with the help of a “friend” who worked with Tyson Foods. There was also some disputed work with the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock in the 1980s.
This feminist icon also blasted the women who accused her husband of sexual harassment and sexual affairs, accusing them of lying or blaming them for being sexual predators, taking the onus off the president. There was also the suicide of her close friend Vince Foster in unclear circumstances, and the disappearance of documents related to her past work and their sudden reappearance. What strange coincidences.
Then as Senator from New York, she voted for the Iraq War and was a big supporter of Wall Street, with the firms reciprocating and supporting her. During her stint as Secretary of State, she used a private server to receive and possibly transmit classified emails. Subsequently, she gave talks to Wall Street firms for large sums and has not released the transcripts of her talks.
Did she do anything illegal at any time? Probably not, but the ethics may have been borderline. Her handling of her emails appears to have been sloppy and her management of her other controversial activities was made worse by her lack of transparency and evasive answers.
So neither of the possible candidates offered to Americans are great. Who should citizens vote for? As has been done many times in the past, with the dearth of decent candidates, Americans have to vote for the lesser of the two evils. And that means Hillary. At least she’s someone with experience in foreign and domestic affairs and someone not likely to go off the deep end if things don’t go her way, like The Donald. So hopefully, it’s Hillary as the lesser of two evils. This is American democracy (politics) in action.