Monday, August 29, 2016

The Trump-Clinton Saga Continues

Images from the New York Post
The list of grievances against Hillary Clinton continues to grow. In any normal election year, this would destroy her candidacy. But in this bizarre election year, she continues to lead her opponent in the polls reflecting the will of the general electorate as well as the will of the electorate in key battleground states. Battleground states are those where votes swing Democrat or Republican from one election to the next, depending on who the candidate is.

The rest of the states tend to go either blue (Democrat) or red (Republican) in the vast majority of elections. But this year, even they are up for grabs. If I had to make a prediction now, I believe that there will be a goodly number of red states that will turn blue come election day. And I do mean blue. Because the results of that vote will not make too many people happy – even those that vote for the blue candidate, Hillary Clinton. And I include myself in that category.

A while back I predicted that Donald Trump would win the election, Not because I think he deserved it. But because I believed it was fate. When Trump announced his candidacy on an elevator in one of his buildings, I remember thinking (as I’m sure most people did) that this guy will not even come close to winning any primary. He will be tomorrow’s forgotten news after a landslide defeat in the first one. Boy, was I wrong. He not only won the first primary, he won most of the rest of them against a field of Republican candidates far more qualified than he. 

It made no sense to me. But as I began to think about it I realized something. Trump appealed to the fears and concerns of the ‘forgotten American’. Those blue collar voters that privately resented being ignored by their government.  There are two examples of this.

Trumps strong language against illegal immigrants was a welcome attitude to the political correctness of politicians on both sides of the political aisle that created a virtual free for all of illegal immigration. The fact that some of those crossing our borders were harsh criminals was never addressed. Trump addressed it. That he tarred all illegal immigrants with the same evil brush  by calling them rapists and murderers - despite the fact that this characterization applied to only a few of them didn’t seem to matter. His rhetoric was seen as a breath of fresh air by his supporters. Many of whom had the same thoughts. No politicians ever talked like that. So when he promised to deport them all – in contradistinction to even his Republican opponents, he won their hearts.

The same thing was true about his call to bar all Muslims from entering the country. Although that was a possible violation of the first amendment and rejected as racist by virtually all candidates on both sides of the political aisle, it appealed to the fears of the his supporters. One need not look further than the nightly news to know why. Europe had been flooded with Muslim immigrants and had begun to experience Islamic terrorism unlike anything they had experienced in the past.

Trump was the only candidate sounding tough on it. Everybody else was saying that we can’t treat Muslims that way because it is bigoted - not to mention unconstitutional. The compassion Americans might feel for Muslim refugees was outweighed by the fear that one or more of them would be radical Islamist terrorists out to harm us. Trump spoke to that fear. And his supporters applauded. Barring these refugees may have been inhumane. But fear is a strong motivator which Trump exploited.

These two issues plus the fact that Trump promised economic prosperity based on the business acumen that made him so successful, is why he won those primaries. That along the way he personally insulted or ridiculed a variety of targets including the handicapped; women; and ethnic minorities (like Mexicans); blacks; and even Jews seemed trivial to his supporters who just shrugged them off. They otherwise loved what he was saying. They saw him championing their causes. That he sounded racist did not seem to faze them.

That is why I thought he would win the election. I now no longer think he will. In fact, I think that many of those that voted for him in the primary now regret it. It began when a ‘Gold Star American Muslim Family’ attacked his attitude about Muslims. They had lost their son, a soldier who died a hero protecting his comrades in arms while serving his country. He had some very harsh things to say about them - despite the universal outrage at insulting a Gold Star Family. Instead of apologizing, he doubled down on his criticism.

He also continued his outrageous comments about his opponent (She founded ISIS; crooked Hillary; mentally deficient Hillary; bigoted Hillary; incompetent Hillary; low stamina Hillary…). As a result the polls are now reflecting a different outcome than I had first predicted. Which is a good thing. Because Hillary Clinton is by far the lesser of two evils.

But being the lesser of two evils does not by any stretch make her an attractive choice. There is not much positive about her. She has been lying throughout her campaign about the illegal use of a hack-able private server as Secretary of State; about the kind of e-mails she sent out saying none were classified (some clearly were); Erasing 30,000 e-mails with the claim they were private and non government related (who  knows); And finding an additional 15,000 e-mails she apparently tried to hide from investigators;  

Then there is the questionable practice of granting special access to the major donors of her charity. Although she claims there were no special favors granted to them- as does spokesmen for the State Department - that has yet to be determined.

This is hardly a resume for the Presidency. I remain convinced that had any other Republican candidate run against her, she would lose in a landslide. But now, it seems the reverse will be true.

But, nothing is certain. Especially in this bizarre election year. What if Trump does win? Should we all move to Canada? Of make Aliyah to Israel?  I don’t think so. (At least not for this reason.)

I have said it before and I will say it again. Trump is not a bigot; a racist; a misogynist; an antisemite; or any of the other things he is being accused of. There is no record of anything like that in his past. The worst thing you can say about him is that he had questionable business ethics. (Think - Trump University.) Which is pretty bad. But that doesn’t him racist or any of those other things. What he is guilty of is attracting racist constituencies with his rhetoric. They believe he is all those things. He’s not.

It’s not enough, however, to say that he is not really racist. I do not believe he has the temperament to lead this country.  Will he have the restraint necessary to lead this country without bringing disaster upon it… and perhaps the world? Does his penchant for getting even quickly put us in danger of nuclear war if the leader of a adversarial foreign government insults him?

I don’t think so. At least I hope not. Such an impetuous nature would have sunk any business venture he ever tried. And we know that it didn’t. Once in office, he may continue to bark. But he will be careful about biting. He does listen to advice despite his reputation that he doesn’t. At least according to his trusted executive employees. In any case, I don’t want to find out.

The irony of voting against Trump is that his policies with respect to terrorism and Israel sound a lot better than the policies of Clinton. Her policies seem to be a continuation of Obama’s. Although short on details, I like the sound of his determination to destroy ISIS. I like his friendlier and more supportive attitude towards Netanyahu and his policies. If I were to vote only on those things, Trump would be a no-brainer for me. But there is no way that I will. I will vote for the very flawed but clearly superior Hillary Clinton instead.