The Choice: Status Quo or Loose Cannon

Phil Anderson

If you think all politicians are crooked liars and it doesn’t matter who gets elected you are mistaken. Who a candidate is and their “vision” for the country is important. The candidate’s position on the issues matter. Because politics affects almost everything, differences in the agendas and philosophies of political leaders can make a difference to your life. The contrast between the two presidential candidates on important (and not so important) issues is significant.

Mrs. Clinton is a known public figure. She will probably govern much the same as President Obama or the first Clinton administration. We can expect the affordable care act to be continued (basically a good idea). Trade deals will be supported (a bad idea). Some minor progress will be made on civil rights, voting rights, workers issues, minimum wage, and environmental issues (good things all). Expect more too-little-too-late on climate and energy issues. She will be hawkish on use of the military. She will have to prove she is just as “tough” as the boys (a very bad thing). Wall Street will do well and Main street will continue to struggle. Clinton will probably be a good leader and and she will not be a disaster requiring decades of recovery (think President.

Mr. Trumps has no political experience. No one knows how he will govern or if he can govern at all. Some news reports say he plans to leave the governing to his VP while he concentrates on “making America great.” He plans to be a celebrity, not a leader. His campaign has been characterized by self-promotion and personal attacks on opponents. His business record reflects a similar pattern  which indicates poor political skills and no concern for others. Other than creating fear and division over a few “red meat” issues, we have few clues on what he actually plans to do. His statements have been inconsistent on many issues. “Trust me,” he says. He believes himself to be great, a man who never fails, and will make the country “great.”

We do know from his bombastic campaign rhetoric that he expects to rule by fiat like an authoritarian business owner. He appears to have no understanding of how the political, legislative process works. The president must build coalitions and public support to solve problems. He must work with Congress. This is a much different process than making “deals” in private business. If Trump governs as he has campaigned, he will get nothing accomplished (probably a good thing). His own party may not support him. Trump is an unknown quantity and a loose cannon. It is unlikely he will be a successful political leader.    

He also has no factual understanding of the important issues facing the country. This is clearly shown by the policy positions on which he has based his campaign. He wants to build a wall to keep out “Mexicans.” Building a wall is a stupid idea. Think about it. Ladders are a lot cheaper to make than walls. We have been building a wall for decades and it isn’t working! For decades there has been a bipartisan effort to build walls, install detection systems, and increase border guards. The number of Border Patrol agents has increased from 4,000 to 21,000. Customs and Border Protection has become the largest federal law enforcement agency in the country with more than 60,000 agents (See Todd Millers, article “No Need to Build The Donald’s Wall. It’s Already Built”, online in “Common Dreams”).

He wants to deport illegal immigrants. This again shows his lack of knowledge of the facts and the law. The Obama administration has deported more illegal immigrants than any other administration. Between 2009 and 2015, 2.5 million have been deported. Federal funding for border and immigration enforcement is $5 billion more than all other federal law enforcement agencies combined. A reality based comprehensive immigration policy is needed not empty rhetoric about building walls and rounding up illegals.

He wants to prevent Muslims from entering the country. Muslim bashing and refusing to allow them into the country is simply wrong. It is unconstitutional and contrary to the rule of law. It is an abrogation of our ideals as a nation of immigrants. It is also counter-productive. It helps  recruit new terrorists. It is unlikely to make us “safe” but is likely to further hurt our image around the world. That will make it harder to get the international cooperation essential for actually dealing with terrorism. Racism, discrimination, and stereotyping do not make us safe.    

None of these are top priority issues except for the a xenophobic and racist minority of Trump supporters. Many issues are more important including jobs, affordable education, high cost of healthcare, getting out the wars, deteriorating infrastructure, environmental issues, climate change, green energy, and public schools. These plus the decline of the middle class and extreme income inequality are all more important to your life and the future of your children.

The only variance from the Republican mantra is on the Trans-Pacific Trade deal (TPP). Trump has spoken against TPP. But given support for TPP  from other Republicans, many Democrats, and corporations, Trump is going to do nothing about this issue. His position is merely campaign theater.

So the choice is Mr. Trump with no experience or Mrs. Clinton with 16 years in two administrations, She was a senator and Secretary of State. It is Trump with a questionable agenda who is not going to address our real problems, or Clinton with a continuation of President Obama’s administration. We could do worse than a repeat of President Obama’s agenda.  A lot worse.

The presidency is not an entry level position. It is not a reality TV show. It is not like running a casino or speculating on real estate. Obviously the better choice is Hillary Clinton.