Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton: Sizing Up the Candidates
A Chance to Speak My Mind Without Interruption
This is going to be as fact-based as possible, and I am going to refrain from drawing any conclusions or name-calling. I should note that I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind. This is based on my most recent experience on social media, where I posted a policy position without a candidate’s name attached to it. Once the name of the candidate was revealed, the comments split right down party lines. There was no more intellectual debate. People started using terminology such as “incoherent” and “idiot.” That was not helpful (nor was it accurate).
Why bother at all you might ask? Well, perhaps I am a bit of an optimist at heart. Also, this is what writers do. It is the only way we can have a “conversation” and make all of our points first, before being attacked and interrupted. So, without further ado, here we go.
Personality and Temperament
It has been stated several times in the media that Donald Trump is not “Presidential” enough. He has insulted everyone, from women, to various minorities and members of certain religions. Without a doubt, he is the least “politically correct” candidate in the race. On the flip side, he is free with his praise and compliments when he feels they are due. He does not hold back. What comes out of his mouth is what he thinks and feels.
Hillary, by contrast, is careful in her remarks, rarely straying from carefully prepared comments and even more carefully selected appearances. She hardly ever grants press conferences, where the questions are unstructured and unrehearsed. She does, however, grant interviews, but only with select media outlets.
It is a fact that Hillary has lied under oath to Congress. I will not debate this point. The other fact is that she probably will never be indicted for these lies, but she is guilty nonetheless. She says things in private that she would never say in public. That is well documented as well.
The choice, then, is between a “straight-shooter” who speaks his mind and offends people (sometimes apologizing later), and someone who 70% of the American people view as mendacious. Not much of a choice, I grant you. Time will tell which one the American people prefer. Truly a choice of the lesser of two evils.
Money: The Economy and Employment
The national debt stands just over 19 trillion dollars. That is a fact. The labor participation rate has been falling for the last eight years. That is also a fact (http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/labor-force-participation-rate). There are also some positive indicators, e.g., the GDP has come up after plummeting in 2010, however, there is still cause for concern.
The trade gap in the United States widened to USD 41.14 billion in May of 2016 from a USD 37.4 billion deficit in the previous month. We hardly ever hear any discussion of this distressing fact on the mainstream media. Without being unkind, let me just say that the average viewer doesn’t have the “patience” to sit through a discussion of what this means for our country.
For the record, however, the trade deficit means that the United States is buying more goods and services than it sells abroad (imports exceed exports). In the long run, trade deficits may be expected to contribute to a weaker dollar, as the economy adjusts to create the surpluses needed to repay foreign investors. In the short run (which is all that most people ever care about), the relationship between trade deficits and the dollar is tenuous at best – which is why it is generally ignored.
Donald is first and foremost a businessman. He has created jobs, and started businesses. He has negotiated contracts, understands the impact of tax laws and government regulation on business and job creation, and has worked deals with governments, labor unions, and international financiers. His book, The Art of the Deal, is an international best seller.
Hillary is a lawyer, and a career politician. She has no entrepreneurial experience, and has never run a company. Her book, Hard Choices, was a flop. She has never created a job or a business. Her idea of job creation is to “support small business.”
With regard to international dealings, Hillary is now opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (after initially supporting it by calling it the “gold standard”), whereas Trump has been opposed to it all along. Both candidates have stated positions that would “fix” some of the problems with international trade. So it becomes a question of which one of them you want at the bargaining table, and which one of them you believe will do what they say they will do.
Clinton’s gun violence prevention proposal would impose restrictions, including a ban on semi-automatic “assault weapons,” but it does not call for banning all guns. Her proposal would expand required background checks to include some private sales at gun shows and over the Internet. Clinton said some U.S. communities have held gun buyback programs and it “would be worth considering” on a national level.
Trump does not propose any new laws, but instead proposes enforcing the laws already on the books. He states on his website that, “Law-abiding people should be allowed to own the firearm of their choice. The government has no business dictating what types of firearms good, honest people are allowed to own.” He also states that “What we need to do is fix the system we have and make it work as intended. What we don’t need to do is expand a broken system.”
Trump wants to stop illegal immigration. He has a comprehensive plan for immigration reform on his website. Similar to his stance on guns, he would enforce the laws already on the books. Additionally, he has suggested a temporary suspension of immigration from nations with a “proven history” of terrorism against the U.S., until such time that better vetting techniques can be developed and implemented.
Clinton does not want a suspension on immigration. She has stated that it would be impractical to deport the millions of people living in the United States illegally, and that she favors “humane, targeted” enforcement of the existing laws against illegal immigration. She advocates a comprehensive immigration reform, that would include a path to “full and equal” citizenship. If anything, she would like to accelerate the number of immigrants that are allowed entry into the United States.
The President becomes Commander and Chief of the Military. Hillary’s handling of the embassy in Benghazi is a well-documented failure. Yes, she has stated that she relied on others to handle the security, but when you are the top official, the buck stops there. Like it or not.
Donald has never served in the military, but then again, neither has Hillary. He is, however, a strong proponent of law and order. He believes a speedy defeat of ISIS is critical to that nation’s security. He is not, however, popular in military circles, to say the least. Between the two candidates, the topic of the military seems to be a dead heat for who would be the worst Commander and Chief.
Donald Trump has had many controversies and high profile failures in his public life. Hillary Clinton’s career has been peppered with dozens of scandals, from sex scandals, to campaign donation scandals, to the most recent email scandal. Neither candidate can claim the moral high ground. Apparently, it boils down to what kind of scandal you personally find most objectionable.
Trump has a gigantic ego, and admits his failings which go hand-in-hand with his successes. Clinton, on the other hand, keeps being featured in news story after new story about unethical behavior and worse, yet has never been asked to step down or step aside. She has admitted to “poor judgement” at the most, but never actual wrongdoing. Once again, your opinion will be formed based on what you find to be worse: screwing up and admitting it, or screwing up and down-playing it.
The Final Analysis
In the final analysis, you can find good and bad about both candidates. However, the campaigns have hit new lows in terms of insults and derogatory remarks made about either candidate. My main hope is that American can recover from the process itself, once the votes have been counted. My very real fear is the possibility of violence and social unrest, regardless of who is elected. Pray for America. We are going to need it.
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Trustworthy? Honest? These are not words associated with most politicians, and definitely not with the two front-runners in the 2016 Presidential Race. My question: Who is the lesser of two evils?