Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Why Trump & Hillary?

Recently, I have heard certain questions from supporters of both major candidates as to why their candidate (pick one or the other, it applies to both) are being singled out for major criticisms, and even some government investigations.

To me, the answer should be obvious. After all, both are seeking the highest office in the land, and are trying to appeal to voters in making the case for why they should be elected, and not the other person running on the other major ticket.

Donald Trump, in typical fashion, is whining and almost crying about being singled out for criticism, threatening to sue the women who are accusing him of grabbing them and treating them like sexual objects. Of course, he has brought such criticisms upon himself. Also, he has a very big and loud mouth, and makes preposterous claims that are demonstrably not supported by facts. So, when people call him out on it, he of course plays the victim, claims that there is a great conspiracy, that everyone is against him, that the whole election process is rigged.

And the problem is that he is not entirely wrong, despite the fact that so many people wish that he was completely wrong. But given that those of us who were paying attention saw that the Democratic primaries were conducted in such a shady manner as to assure that Bernie Sanders would lose to Hillary Clinton. This is not ancient history that we are talking about. In fact, it just happened. By being so clever, and finding innovative new ways not only to assure Hillary's nomination, but to explain away brilliantly their wrongdoings, or even simply to ignore them (this seems to work as well for the powers that be), the Democratic party establishment managed to get their gal elected, and all that it cost them was the sense among many voters that democracy itself was being undermined. It does not matter how often the major news outlets deny or blatantly ignore it, or assure us that democracy is doing very well, thank you very much. When you see thousands, even tens of thousands, of people going to Bernie Sanders rallies, and a whole movement (or revolution) completely energized by the message of one man, and you still see the news basically ignoring and undermining that man and his supporters, continually, stubbornly insisting that he is not viable, and that he really has no chance, even when polls suggest otherwise, then you know something is amiss.

Trump, ever the opportunist, is jumping on the opportunity and making every attempt to delegitimize the seemingly inevitable results, which are all pointing to a Hillary Clinton victory. He is being criticized by many people for undermining faith in the democratic process, but, if you were in his position, wouldn't you do the same? After all, just because Hillary Clinton, the Democratic party elites, and their supporters all are trying to ignore the criticisms of their conduct during the primary, and deflecting critiques that they did not win "fair and square" as the media claims, does not mean that others did not happen to notice this. Trump and his supporters sure did, and yes, there is some legitimacy in their questioning whether Clinton will receive the benefits from the power that be which will determine this election in her favor, much like they already did during this election season in assuring her victory in the primary round.

Indeed, they are both deserving of extreme criticisms for their flawed records - and yes, they both have very flawed records. One is an megolomaniacal billionaire who truly thinks that only he can save the world. The other poses as a pragmatist, although she is in fact such an insider, and so used to the old, corrupt way of doing things, that she may legitimately not even be aware that she is part of the problem, that she represents the corrupt system that will never reform itself, rather than as a lifelong activist who is trying to usher in slow and steady progress for the betterment of the entire country.

One of the biggest problems that I see with our nationalist tendencies is that any criticism of the country is too often automatically lumped in with hating the country. Frankly, this is an absurd and counterproductive criticism, because in fact, criticism is extremely patriotic. It is an attempt to look honestly at the country and it's problems, and to stand up and voice an opinion on the direction that you believe that it should take. Not particularly patriotic is to take the other approach, to assume that your way is the right way, and that any and all criticism should be silenced, or to lump it in as unAmerican or not patriotic enough.

The same applies for the two major parties. We seem to think too often that we pick one part that we like and identify with, or at least the one that we identify with as much as possible, and that we should stick with that, come what may. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. Again, the most patriotic thing that we can do is be critical of those elected officials (or in this case, not quite yet elected) who believe themselves fit to hold the highest office in the land. Think about that. This is the highest office in the land, and the person who holds that office becomes, in effect, the face and voice of the country. 

We really could not do better than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton? Trump has already been singled out by some as representing the very worst that America stands for. And Hillary Clinton, frankly, is hardly better, being one of the most identifiable faces for an American political system where high-ranking politicians seem to feel entitled to move up the ladder, and to personally enrich themselves along the way.

Still, each side seems to think that their candidate ranks among the best ever. Trump supporters believe that their guy is fit to rule, that he will indeed be the greatest jobs creator in history, and that he somehow knows how to turn back the clock and make the country great again. And Clinton supporters are actually claiming that their candidate is the most qualified in history to hold this highest office (sorry Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Monroe, Lincoln, and FDR). They feel that she has an impeccable record and, if you hear them tell it, she has never made a mistake. They not only accept her own long-winded explanations for her voting record (which includes voting for the Iraq invasion, the PATRIOT Act, and the economic bailout), but they in fact have become her sounding board, echoing those very arguments, perhaps to justify their own support of such a candidate. All of that, just to finally, officially get a woman in the White House? I think it would be more historic to get someone who actually cares enough about the country to act towards legitimately improving it, without excessive ego or a false sense of entitlement. 

But these days, Americans have learned to settle. Yes, the country that used to lead the world in terms of standard of living and wealth and power, now has to settle once again for the "lesser of two evils." In fact, this is perhaps the most glaring example ever of the "lesser of two evils." Never before have two such clearly mediocre candidates gone this far, and both in the same election year, to boot! 

Truly, it is a sad state of affairs. 

Still, I will continue doing what I believe is right, and that means criticizing both of the major candidates. Trump is so out there, that frankly, I still have a hard time taking him seriously. As for Clinton, she is just too automatic, too much of the same old same old politics as usual, that we need something different. Not Trump, because he is not as different as people think. In fact, let us remember that there is not just one candidate out there who has a false sense of entitlement, and hwo truly believes that things should fall their way automatically, simply because it always has before - and never mind that, officially, this is supposed to be up to the American people (at least those Americans who actually exercise their right to vote).

So, given all of that, I think it is time for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to just shut up about being victimized by their own mistakes that have come back to haunt the both of them during this election season and, perhaps even more so, the people who unconditionally support one or the other, and assume that their candidate cannot make mistakes. Hillary's deplorable email record, and Trump's extensive history of saying the most stupid, asinine things to discredit himself time and again, are the biggest reasons why Americans should be skeptical to cast votes for either one of these unqualified candidates for the highest office, even though it seems likely that one of these two will emerge the victor on election day (unfortunately).

They are both running on their record, after all. And so they both deserve all of the criticism that they get, whether or not their most fanatical supporters see this or not. After all, this is not come minor contest, but for the privilege of being the leader of the land for what is still, at least for now, the world's leading superpower.

Yes, this is still one of the most prestigious offices in the world, if not the most prestigious, that they are vying for. Somehow, though, the standards have lowered so much, that the two leading contenders (and surely one of them will be elected the next president) have the highest disapproval ratings of any major presidential candidates in modern history! I know this sounds repetitive, but how did it get this bad, this quickly?

Trump is known for erratic and immature behavior, for making stupid comments, one after another, and for attitudes that seem belligerent, racist, sexist, and just plain mean. He is arrogant, overestimates his own abilities and capabilities, and seems to give dumbed down answers to what are actually complex questions with numerous angles to them. He is crass, lacks any kind of dignity, let alone the kind of respectability that most who seek this office traditionally try to uphold. There seems to be violent and xenophobic tendencies among too many of his supporters, and they seem to be attracted to their candidates overly authoritarian demeanor. He refuses to release his tax return information, even as this has become a popular tradition in recent decades, to the point that it has become almost a de facto tradition as a sign of openness and transparency. Trump has been caught making a habit of lying, with one dishonest statement after another, although he never apologizes and rarely amends these lies. Since he was losing, he actively contested the validity of the results of the polls and even seemed ready to contest the election results, which many people felt was undermining the validity of our democracy itself. Now, he seems to be closing the gaps, and suddenly has gained a certain respect for these more favorable poll numbers. In short, he is a clown, now worthy of serious consideration for the highest office in the land.

Clinton is known for seemingly being overly entitled, and assuming that this is "her time" to take her turn as president. She was the president's wife for eight years, although until now, being the spouse did not qualify as the kind of experience required of a president. She quickly worked her way up the political ladder, conveniently moving to New York State to pursue this political career (better opportunities than Arkansas, surely). She became a Senator, and then was appointed Secretary of State by the man who defeated her in the election. Yet, some people argue that she is the most qualified person ever to be president (move over Washington, Lincoln, and the Roosevelts). She used to be an advocate for a fairer healthcare system, but now takes a more cautious approach. Oh, by the way, she takes loads of money from the same healthcare corporations that she used to blast. And oh, by the way, she also takes tons of money from elite, "too big to fail" Wall Street firms, and she has refused to release the transcripts of her speeches, although she assures us that she will get tough on them, and that it's time for the rich elites to pay their fair share for a change. By the way, she and her husband rank among the elite 1 %, and that from a career of public service! Most impressive, huh? She has been caught lying time and time again, and despite Trump's well-established pattern of lying, it is Clinton who is the least trusted candidate according to one poll after another.

Again, these two are the two major party nominees, and they are pathetic. When I ask why Trump and Hillary, I am legitimately asking, because I have no satisfactory answers of my own to give. I could and have suggested that the reason for this is because our system is incredibly corrupt and broken, although even that does not explain this. I could argue, and have argued, that Americans seem to be too full of themselves, to self-assured, and without full justification for it, and so they no longer seem to take these things, or indeed much of anything anymore, seriously. When everything has to have entertainment value for a dumbed down people with an outrageously short attention span, who increasingly are addicted to superficialities, perhaps something like this was inevitable. Probably, this kind of thing was inevitable.

But again, why these two in particular. Nothing in Trump's history suggests that he is legitimate presidential material, and despite her positions in prominent political office, there is little to nothing in Clinton's character that shows the kind of leadership that we need in the White House.

So really, why these two? I would conclude with more points here, except this really is more of a question, because I really want to know how it came down to this. For me, this is not only the most recent signal that something terrible is going wrong with the country, but it is the biggest and most obvious example that the country is indeed failing on some fundamental level. 

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