IN A FEW DAYS, AMERICANS WILL HAVE DECIDED TO HAND THE PRESIDENCY OVER TO EITHER HILLARY CLINTON, WHO PLAYS FAST AND LOOSE WITH EMAILS, OR DONALD TRUMP, WHO PAYS FAST AND LOOSE WITH FEMALES. IT’S EITHER CLINTON, THE GREAT DISSIMULATOR, OR TRUMP, THE GREAT DISTORTER AND MISOGYNIST.
How did America reach the point where we must choose between two dislikable candidates running for the highest office in the land—indeed, in the world? We could blame the political process itself which seems unable to put forth candidates exhibiting both personal integrity and native intelligence. But I believe the fault lies within ourselves: an innate laziness to not look beyond our little worlds of social media and biased and unreflective televised sound bites.
Daily newspapers once provided a combination of straight news and editorial content that certainly had a political predilection; but at least readers had to invest time and effort when forming an opinion. In all likelihood, newsprint will be a thing of the past in a decade or so, and local dailies will disappear even sooner. (What will I do if The Guardian Weekly no longer appears in my mailbox each week?)
The same is true for the general interest and news magazines in their hardcopy versions; will The Atlantic, Time, and Harper’s, among others, only be available electronically where they will be read erratically at best? It’s obvious that I, in my eighth decade of life on this planet, am a dinosaur (and you thought they were extinct) for preferring to turn pages rather than to click and swipe.
(“The Guardian Weekly is a weekly British-based (London) English language newspaper published by the Guardian Media Group and is one of the world’s oldest international newspapers. It has readers in 173 countries. It was founded with the aim of spreading progressive British ideas into the United States after the First World War.”) Source: Wikipedia
But choose a President we must.
To my mind the choice is obvious: either we go forward under a moderately progressive agenda, or we go backward under an extremely conservative one.
The progressive route offers some hope of dealing with the threats inherent from climate change and wealth concentration, while the conservative alternative will likely see a Supreme Court evolve into an instrument bent on destroying one of the prime reasons why the republic was formed in the first place: to separate church and state.
The conservative alternative’s policies (or lack thereof) will also see increased flooding in places like Miami and Jacksonville, to say nothing of the millions of lives displaced here and abroad by inundating floodwaters over the next 50 to 100 years. The pleadings by the mayors of the two Florida cities for funding to abate rising sea waters’ effects on their vulnerable coastlines have fallen on deaf Republican ears at both the state and federal levels.
Similarly, the flood of money into the coffers of the 1 percent will only increase as the tax burden is shifted further away from them and onto the shoulders of the middle class.
This is a secular nation. The early immigrants came here to escape church/state tyranny. Many of the Founding Fathers were deists, not theists. They believed in the Creator, but not in a god who embroiled itself in human affairs.
Trump is a “conservative” out of convenience, not conviction. He has manipulated Republican conservatives and evangelicals by using snake-oil rhetoric: forgive me my sins and I will restore Americans’ faith in themselves as the Chosen People (“great again”). The illusion of a people being chosen by God (or gods) is nothing new; the ancient Greeks and Romans, to say nothing of Nazi Germany, lived under the same illusion. Look at what happened to them.
And Trump and his Republican minions have manipulated Clinton’s carelessness with emails into something approaching a national tragedy. By contrast, the same Republicans have said nothing about the private email servers in the Bush White House, nor have they expressed concern about the 22 million messages “lost” during that administration’s tenure.
Then, too, over the course of decades, Trump’s companies have systematically destroyed or hidden thousands of emails, digital records, and paper documents demanded in official proceedings, often in defiance of court orders. These tactics–exposed by a Newsweek review of thousands of pages of court filings, judicial orders, and affidavits from an array of court cases–has enraged judges, prosecutors, opposing lawyers and the many ordinary citizens entangled in litigation with Trump.
Then there is Benghazi, where four embassy personnel were tragically killed. I should remind the reader that, as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton asked Congress to increase funding to beef up embassy security but was turned down.
I should also remind the reader that, during the George W. Bush administration, there were thirteen embassy attacks with a total loss of sixty personnel. No Congressional inquiry ensued costing taxpayers millions of dollars to no purpose except to later enhance Trump’s claims that Clinton is “soft on national security.”
A national polity based on democratic principles is a delicate proposition, contrary to what American nationalists would have you believe. To survive, it depends on an informed populace aware of both its rights and its obligations.
Those obligations include respect for minorities, whether classified by skin color, ethnicity, or opinion. Trump has trampled on that obligation with vindictive bigotry.
Another obligation is to treat all Americans with common decency, a trait that gathers no purchase in Trump’s world view. Trump’s inability to absorb criticism with not a shred of introspection makes for great Greek tragedy where hubris defines the plot, but in present millennium, it is nothing less than extremely dangerous.
Bill Britton is a Vero Communiqué Contributing Editor and a freelance writer for John Hopkins University.