Robert A. Levine 8-23-16
The question is, how could the two major political parties in America, the world’s oldest continuously functioning democracy, have chosen the candidates they nominated for the presidency, given their past actions and current behavior. Does this reflect a failure of democracy in general, of the American political process, of the two political parties that selected them? In a nation with so many bright, talented people, it seems incredible that American voters have been given Trump and Clinton as choices for the highest office. Admittedly, Clinton is by far the superior candidate, but that is only when she is compared to Trump, whose temperament, judgement, and conduct make him unfit to be dogcatcher, much less president. And the two minor parties, the Libertarians and the Greens have not put forth candidates who generate much confidence in their abilities, their platforms also raising misgivings.
Though Hillary Clinton is a flawed candidate for the Democrats, it defies belief that Donald Trump became the Republican nominee. Admittedly, none of his opponents in the Republican primary were powerful figures and none offered significant resistance to his insults and demeaning remarks. His greatest support appears to be among uneducated older white males, many of them unemployed or underemployed, who feel that society has left them behind. In this group there is great animosity towards immigrants with the feeling they have taken many of the available jobs. (However, most of their jobs Americans view as beneath their dignity.) Trump’s nativist, xenophobic rants and promises to make America great again plays to his base, along with pledges to build a wall along the border with Mexico that it will pay for. And he says he’ll bring manufacturing jobs back from China. None of this is going to happen and his acolytes’ belief in his guarantees merely reveals their political ignorance. Trump has also shown a fondness for dictators and a willingness to step back from America’s long standing alliances, making other nations wonder about America’s reliability.
Hillary Clinton’s problem is that she has a long history of actions that have eroded public trust. She is also arrogant in some ways and obfuscates when caught in a contradiction or lie. The FBI has labeled her handling of emails careless when she was Secretary of State and there are questions of conflict of interest regarding donors to the Clinton Foundation and the access they were given. There are also her connections to Wall Street possibly cemented by the large fees she received for speeches she gave to financial firms. And way back there was possible insider trading and her blaming the women for her husband’s series of affairs. Though smart, knowledgeable and with a reasonable temperament, Clinton is far from an ideal candidate. And if her opponent were different she probably would not be ahead in the polls.
Gary Johnson and the Libertarians have been garnering 9-11 percent in most polls, much of that the result of the public’s dislike and distrust of the candidates of the two major parties. Johnson was formerly Governor of New Mexico, and picked William Weld, the former Governor of Massachusetts as his vice president. The Libertarians are strong believers in small and limited government, and consider individual rights as the most important issue for which they are fighting. The Party denies the government’s ability to do anything that violates individual rights and the choices people make. The market should also be free, and redistribution of wealth and regulation of trade are deemed improper. In fact, rules and regulations by the government that impact individuals or businesses should be eliminated. Similarly, environmental protection should be left to the individuals who are responsible for their properties.
While Johnson and the Libertarians might have prospered in an earlier agrarian age, their design for living today makes no sense in an interconnected global economy, where pollution in China affects us in the United States. Complete freedom for the individual is incomprehensible. Rules and regulations enforced by government is the only way people can exist in the present world. Without rules, there would be utter chaos. The government must also provide a safety net for citizens unable to save enough to live when they are older. And a system of medical care backed by the government is required as well.
Jill Stein of the Green Party is a former Harvard trained physician, who ignores scientific evidence in raising questions about the safety of vaccines. Though she doesn’t come out against their use, she says that the approval process has been tainted. She also doesn’t trust the FDA and the CDC, two of the nation’s most respected agencies, saying that corporate interference has made their work suspect. She infers that members of medical regulatory boards have vested interests in the treatments and medications they approve, having been corrupted by corporations. Stein is also against GMOs in food though they have been shown to be safe by repeated scientific testing. Nuclear energy produces no greenhouse gases or climate change, but Stein opposes their use, though she knows it will take years to develop enough renewable energy to meet the nation’s needs. The Green Party and Stein also have utopian ideas about education reform and participatory democracy, showing that she is not pragmatic enough to be president.
The question is, who should be elected president in November. Holding one’s nose and with the choices we have, Hillary Clinton must be the answer.
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