Election 2016

To anyone who thinks Clinton and Trump are equally bad choices, who is considering voting third-party as a matter of conscience, or who is considering sitting out this election:

Electing Donald Trump would be a monumental mistake. It would open the flood gates for the very worst in this country to run roughshod over everything. The signs are everywhere. The troglodytes are already emboldened. The dumbing down of America, which started around 1980, is almost complete. I guess a lot of people really do just want to watch the world burn.

I understand and share the frustration with a government that has lost sight of its charge. I agree that things ought to be shaken up. It’s why I supported Bernie. He’s the leader we need. But at this late stage, we must work with what we have. Trump is playing the populist outsider. But he is no ideal. He’s a confection for the frustrated and the simple-minded, telling them exactly what they want to hear in the way they want to hear it. His followers praise his penchant for speaking his mind. But speaking one’s mind is no virtue when one’s mind is full of garbage. Trump’s empty bravado appeals to the politically emasculated, the folks who believe America should be dictating terms and kicking ass when anyone gets out of line. Apparently this is what would make America great again. It’s ironic that their champion is a petulant man-child who needed to defend the size of his junk during a nationally televised debate.

Hillary is vilified as a liar. Once you clear the air of incessant right-wing noise, I imagine she’s guilty of about half of the things of which she is accused, none of them criminal. Trump is also a liar; it’s his modus operandi. He reflexively says whatever he needs to to get what he wants, facts and contracts be damned. So, on a purely pragmatic level, we are stuck with two liars as the only people with a realistic chance of being elected president in 2016. Let’s set aside Trump’s racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, and general hate-mongering and instead just look at resumés.

Hillary’s would show a lifetime of public service, and a deep understanding of government and public policy. Trump’s would show, aside from his many bankruptcies, juggling of debt, and stiffing of vendors, nothing involving government beyond paying politicians to kiss his ass (the Clintons included). He is woefully out of his depth, and seems incapable of making up the shortfall. He is a vulgar carnival barker, a crass opportunist with a short attention span, a fascist dilettante who’s only allegiance is to himself.

Oh, but he’s a successful businessman! That’s what this country needs — a captain of industry to right the ship of state! Trump is not so much a successful businessman as he is a gifted con artist. Mike Bloomberg, Warren Buffet, and Mark Cuban can attest to Trump’s less-than-stellar business acumen. Even the Wall Street Journal has pointed out that if Trump had simply invested the money he got from dear old dad instead of playing real estate mogul, he’d have made out considerably better. He didn’t even write his own book on how he conducts business. Trump is the living clichè of someone born on third base believing he hit a triple.

Leading the United States of America is so much more complex than running any business. Trump is terrific at marketing his brand. But salesmanship does not equal statesmanship. If he and Hillary were to interview for the job the way most of us have had to for ours, I guarantee Trump would come off like a school kid trying to BS his way through an oral report on a book he never read, while Hillary would ace the thing without breaking a sweat.

There is much that troubles me about Hillary Clinton, particularly the extent to which she is beholden to moneyed interests. The influence of corporate money is the single biggest thing poisoning government. But cutting out the political middleman and just placing  an unhinged, unqualified, narcissistic, alleged billionaire in the White House is no solution.

Of this you can be certain: In 2016, one of these two liars will be elected President of the United States. Only one of them actually has the chops. Not voting for her would be a huge mistake.

[2016]

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Memorial Day 2016

On Memorial Day, we remember the ultimate sacrifices Americans have made defending this country — this grand, magnificently imperfect Enlightenment experiment in self-governance.

More than 400,000 Americans died fighting in World War II. Among other things, they fought to defeat fascism.

Since that time, there has been a strain of fascist thuggery that remains alive in this country. Thanks to the decency and wisdom of the majority of Americans, it has been relegated to the fringes of our society. Now we have a Republican presidential candidate who is more than willing to be its standard-bearer.

So as we honor the service of our fellow Americans this weekend, especially those who fought and died in World War II, let us also reflect on the fact that this November, we may well elect that vulgar carnival barker to lead us, thereby embracing that which we once opposed and rendering the sacrifices of more than 400,000 Americans for nought.

Shame on us if we do.

[2016]

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