Monday, November 07, 2016

Get Out There and Vote!

Americans, at least those who have not already participated in early voting drives, will have the opportunity tomorrow—November 8—to cast their ballots in what more than a few commentators have called one of the most important elections in modern U.S. history. It’s historic not simply because it may well result in this country being led for the first time in more than two centuries by a woman president; but also because her opponent has demonstrated a rank disregard for political norms such as disclosing his tax returns and graciously accepting defeat, and an authoritarian antipathy toward not only a free press and civil political discourse, but also shocking disrespect for entire swaths of the American electorate, including immigrants, racial minorities, and women.

Nobody who knows me personally or who has read The Rap Sheet over the years should be in any doubt of who I’m voting for this year. My enthusiastic support goes to Democrat Hillary Clinton, whose qualifications for the Oval Office (former secretary of state, former U.S. senator, former first lady of both Arkansas and the nation) are without dispute, and whose temperament and grasp of the issues and tough decisions facing this country over the next four years is far superior to her adversary’s. I didn’t vote for Hillary back in 2008, when she was running for the Democratic nomination against the more charismatic and inspirational Barack Obama. But I have more closely watched her perform on the international and national stage during the last eight years, and been mightily impressed.

Hillary Clinton may not be a perfect candidate for the U.S. presidency: no human being can be. Yet, in the face of often ugly, destructive propaganda from the Republican Party—born amid fevered partisan delusions and take-no-prisoners hatred in the 1990s, when her husband, Bill Clinton, was president, and still infecting politics two decades later—Hillary has maintained a steady and determined demeanor, and been a consistent and assertive voice for such things as human rights, women’s rights, and voting rights. Unlike her bombastic adversary, Hillary believes in the value of science and the dangers inherent in not acting against threats of global warming; believes in the value of maintaining historical alliances with other countries that the United States may need in the event of any emergency; believes that affordable health care should be a right of all Americans, not just those with deep pockets; and believes that the Supreme Court of the United States has an important role in improving our lot as citizens, and should never be held hostage to over-grown schoolyard bullies who contend that only Republican presidents have a right to choose new justices for that high bench.

As The New York Times wrote in its September endorsement of Mrs. Clinton to be the 45th U.S. chief executive:
The next president will take office with bigoted, tribalist movements and their leaders on the march. In the Middle East and across Asia, in Russia and Eastern Europe, even in Britain and the United States, war, terrorism and the pressures of globalization are eroding democratic values, fraying alliances and challenging the ideals of tolerance and charity.

The 2016 campaign has brought to the surface the despair and rage of poor and middle-class Americans who say their government has done little to ease the burdens that recession, technological change, foreign competition and war have heaped on their families.

Over 40 years in public life, Hillary Clinton has studied these forces and weighed responses to these problems. Our endorsement is rooted in respect for her intellect, experience, toughness and courage over a career of almost continuous public service, often as the first or only woman in the arena. …

Through war and recession, Americans born since 9/11 have had to grow up fast, and they deserve a grown-up president. A lifetime’s commitment to solving problems in the real world qualifies Hillary Clinton for this job, and the country should put her to work.
Of Hillary’s Republican rival … well, here’s what The New Yorker said about would-be demagogue and notorious pussy-grabber Trump:
On every issue of consequence, including economic policy, the environment, and foreign affairs, Hillary Clinton is a distinctly capable candidate: experienced, serious, schooled, resilient. When the race began, Clinton, who has always been a better office-holder than a campaigner, might have anticipated a clash of ideas and personalities on the conventional scale, against, say, Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio. Instead, the Democratic nominee has ended up playing a sometimes secondary role in a squalid American epic. If she is elected, she will have weathered a prolonged battle against a trash-talking, burn-it-to-the-ground demagogue. Unfortunately, the drama is not likely to end soon. The aftereffects of this campaign may befoul our civic life for some time to come.

If the prospect of a female President represents a departure in the history of American politics, the candidacy of Donald J. Trump, the real-estate mogul and Republican nominee, does, too—a chilling one. He is manifestly unqualified and unfit for office. Trained in the arts of real-estate promotion and reality television, he exhibits scant interest in or familiarity with policy. He favors conspiracy theory and fantasy, deriving his knowledge from the darker recesses of the Internet and “the shows.” He has never held office or otherwise served his country, never acceded to the authority of competing visions and democratic resolutions.

Worse still, he does not accept the authority of constitutional republicanism—its norms, its faiths and practices, its explicit rules and implicit understandings. That much is clear from his statements about targeting press freedoms, infringing on an independent judiciary, banning Muslim immigration, deporting undocumented immigrants without a fair hearing, reviving the practice of torture, and, in the third and final [presidential] debate, his refusal to say that he will accept the outcome of the election. Trump has even threatened to prosecute and imprison his opponent. The American demagogues from the past century who most closely resemble him—Father [Charles] Coughlin and Senator Joseph McCarthy among them—were dangers to the republic, but they never captured the Presidential nomination of a major political party. Father Coughlin commanded a radio show and its audience. President Trump would command the armed forces of the United States, control its nuclear codes, appoint judges, propose legislation, and conduct foreign policy. It is a convention of our quadrennial pieties to insist that this election is singularly important. But Trump really does represent something singular. The prospect of such a President—erratic, empty, cruel, intolerant, and corrupt—represents a form of national emergency.
Sadly, Trump has pulled the entire Republican Party down to his mud-wrestling level, endangering the future stability of our democratic republic and worsening tensions between the two major political parties. The deceptive practices, racism, sexism, petty vengefulness, and general hatreds Trump demonstrates, and which his fellow Republican candidates all across the country have endorsed (either overtly or through their timorous silence), have convinced me that what was once known as the Grand Old Party has fallen on hard times and must be reconceived; in the meantime, it cannot be trusted anymore with the levers of power. Therefore, not only have I voted for Hillary Clinton as president this year, but I’m casting a straight Democratic ticket. I want to be sure that the new President Clinton enters the White House supported by a serious, cooperative Congress that, beginning in 2017, can go back to legislating for the benefit of all Americans, not just Republican scorched-earthers.

Tomorrow promises a new era in U.S. history, whether favorable or divisive, depending on the vote outcomes. It’s up to all of us to take part in deciding what sort of country we want: one where voices are raised in optimism and mutual support, or where the angry shouts of right-wing extremists overcome common sense? So cast your ballot thoughtfully, as if your future depended on it … because it does.

READ MORE:The Imperative of Voting for Hillary Clinton,” by Richard North Patterson (The Huffington Post); “Hillary Clinton Has to Be Gracious to Donald Trump. The Rest of Us Don’t,” by Paul Waldman (The Washington Post).


Mark said...

Your comments would normally have no place in a crime fiction blog. But these are not ordinary times, and I applaud you for taking an unambiguous stand (plus it's your blog, you can do whatever the hell you want). If there is one thing we learn from crime fiction, it's that the soft power of empathy is what gets cases solved and is the best tool for turning potential adversaries into collaborators (well, maybe that's two things). Even many of his supporters would agree that Donald Trump suffers from an empathy deficit. And he doesn't even have the compensatory toughness of a Jack Reacher or Philip Marlowe - look how easy it is to insult him and hurt his feelings.

Our great American experiment is standing at the edge of a dangerous precipice today. I hope we have the sense to walk (if not run) away.

Marika said...

I guess American stupidity has won in the end. I just can't believe it happened. All I can do now is grab some popcorn and soda and watch the world burn...

George Carlin's video comes to mind now titled The Public sux. Well worth watching.