Friday, October 21, 2016

The Last Debate (Hurrah)

So, I didn't actually watch the debate last night.  My wife and I are still watching every episode of Longmire on Netflix, (we are now in season 5), and then once she went to bed, I worked on a new story with the Cubs-Dodgers game in the background.  I did flash to the debate between innings at one point, at the exact time that the candidates were discussing the sexcapades.  I immediately turned back to the game.

Not to excuse the obviously distasteful behavior of both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, how big a correlation is there between morale character and the ability to lead?  Does philandering necessarily disqualify someone from being able to run a successful business or govern effectively?

Clearly, I would prefer a president who displays the best qualities of being a human.  But if we are to limit those we elect to people who never cheated or lied, the halls of Congress would be a great place to hear one's echo.  Also, even when someone does seem moral, married once, a few kids from that one marriage, no apparent infidelity, if his name is Barrack Obama, he is still disrespected by those who cannot accept a man of color in the White House.  When the same groups that have the words Family and Values in their title, support a thrice married man with 5 children from those 3 woman, yet routinely claim that our current president hates America and families, then it makes me wonder why we pretend to value morals in the first place.

I know that we can no longer expect our public servants to have private lives, but if we accept that every misstep and peccadillo of our elected officials should be known, and if we continue to watch alleged news outlets that reward extremism while suppressing civility, then we must also accept that no one will ever emerge unscathed from a presidential election campaign.  Regardless of whether Trump or Clinton triumphs in November, a large percentage of Americans will consider the winner to be the best of two very poor choices, not necessarily because they are such poor choices but because our political discourse has become so polarized that Jesus himself would be badmouthed if he were running for office.

The good news about the debates was that a record number of people watched.  But, it seems they watched, not so much to learn about and evaluate the policies of the two people vying for the most powerful and influential job in the world, but in the same way people roll down their windows as they pass the wreckage of a car crash on the interstate.

While, as I said above, I did not watch the last debate, I read some reviews of it, who made some good points, who "won", who stretched the truth, who seemed more "presidential".  Of course, depending on the source, both candidates made good points, both won, both lied and both seemed presidential!  But when I searched for some substance, some particulars about what each might try to accomplish, the results were sparse.

To be fair, had I been advising Hillary Clinton, I would have told her to be vague.  It seems pretty obvious that the more Donald Trump says, the more holes he digs.  At this point, I guess he really believes that by appealing to only one particular demographic group, white males, specifically older and less educated white males, he can win.  Perhaps if this was 1950, that would be true, but then again in 1950, racism, xenophobia and sexism were much more mainstream than now.

As I have said in a previous post, it behooves the electorate to research the platforms of the candidates respective party, as well as their individual web sites.  As they say, the devil is in the details, and that is where the voters can learn if they are voting for someone whose policies reflect their own priority list, someone whose party is aligned with the needs of themselves and their families.  Once done, that research will also help with the other election choices, those running for Congress, as well as those running to represent us in our state capitals.

I was not a fan of George H Bush.  I thought that he nailed it when he labelled Reagan's economic policies as voodoo economics, but lost much respect when he rode Reagan's tails to the White House. In the ensuing years, he had regained some of that respect through his work with the president who succeeded him, and his other humane activities.  Even more importantly, and in light of Donald Trump's refusal to say that he would respect the results of the election, today's release of the letter that Bush left for Clinton increases even more that level of respect.  He understood the need for a peaceful transfer of power, and put country ahead of party and personal ambition, both traits that Trump does not possess.

I am aghast at the comments that have been made by Donald Trump.  I understand that many people like his bluntness, his political incorrectness, his "truthfulness".  Diplomacy is not something I excel at either, so I understand his supporters who ignore some of his comments with the excuse that he is not a politician, not used to massaging his message.  But calling people fat pigs, making fun of the disabled, dissing prisoners of war, arguing with the parents of a soldier killed in action, bragging about how power and money allow him to do whatever he wants, are not words of political incorrectness, they are words of someone who has no empathy for others, has no connection with middle class Americans unless that connection is based on prejudice.

But even if none of that was true, Donald Trump and the GOP establishment he pretends to be at odds with, reflect very little of what I believe in, and what I believe are solutions to the problems we face.

While both Trump and Clinton have benefited from the influence peddling that occurs in Washington, only Clinton will nominate a Supreme Court Justice who might overturn the Citizens United ruling.

While both candidates have said some nasty things about each other, only Trump talks of jailing his opponent should he win.

While both agree that we need immigration reform, Trump talks of deporting all illegal immigrants while Clinton supports a path to citizenship for those who have become productive members of our society.

While Trump bandies about words suggesting he would use nuclear weapons, likes war, and believes that killing and torturing the family members of our enemies is OK, Clinton understands that engaging with one'e enemies sometimes can lead to understanding one another, then perhaps, even a guarded tolerance.  

While Trump claims that the elite have forgotten the average American, only Clinton will fight for a woman's right to choose, equal pay for equal work, and marriage equality, and only Clinton understands that America was built on the strength of its melting pot heritage, that diversity in our population has helped make us the great country we are today.

While both candidates know that Americans need good paying jobs, Trump promises to bring back jobs from the past, as if that is possible, while Clinton looks forward to creating new jobs that coincide with the future of energy.

While Trump continues to call climate change a hoax, Clinton listens to the overwhelming scientific opinion, and will craft a response that will balance the need to reduce our carbon footprint with the least disruption for those who are employed by those industries that will need to be altered.

While both candidates are extremely wealthy, Trump's tax cuts will go overwhelmingly to those like him, while Clinton will increase the tax rates for the most wealthy.  Remember, it is Clinton who has paid her taxes, while Trump brags that he pays at little at he can.

Trump and the GOP have not expressed any interest in raising the minimum wage or addressing income inequality, while Clinton and the Dems will certainly introduce legislation that will attempt to rectify 30 years of middle class buying power stagnation.

The last debate is over.  Despite being completely turned off by this election cycle, by the polarization of the coverage, and by the dearth of real solutions being debated, I maintain faith that the American people will elect the first woman president in our history after electing, twice, the first
African American president in history.    


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