Every presidential election year since I started blogging I’ve talked about who I’m voting for and why. I do this not so much to convince other people, but for myself. Sometimes I think it’s helpful to have a snapshot of what we were thinking at a certain moment in time. My views have changed over the years, so I think it’s interesting to see that over time.
And oh the 2016 presidential election is one worthy of a snapshot. Or two.
Before I dive too deep, let me give the disclaimer that I don’t like blogging about politics. I did a lot of that in 2008 and ended up alienating some folks, myself included. It’s a difficult subject to talk about, and I wish we could do a better job. This year I tried to stick to local politics.
“If two smart and logical people disagree, it’s most likely because they are acting on different information.” -Bill “Billo” O’Donnell (A Truck Full of Money by Tracey Kidder)
Sometimes I think that’s the crux of division right now.
All that to say, this is what I think right now. If you disagree with me, that’s fine. But before you think I’m a jerk or an idiot or something, maybe we should examine our underlying positions.
I’m voting for Hillary Clinton for president.
There’s a lot I could say to explain why. A lot of it has already been said this election cycle, and I don’t want to just repeat what others have said.
So let me try to summarize.
Hillary Clinton: The Positive
She’s an experienced, knowledgeable politician who knows how to get things done in Washington. Sometimes that means not getting exactly what you want, but that’s a political reality. I think Clinton gets too much flak for that.
I agree with her on most of the issues.
- The Affordable Care Act is a good step forward and should be fixed, not repealed (speaking as one of Minnesota’s 5% getting screwed right now on the individual market).
- I don’t see tax cuts stimulating the economy. In Minnesota we raised the taxes on the wealthy and ended up with a huge surplus. Our economy is good and business didn’t leave.
- On foreign policy it’s not even a contest. Clinton knows her stuff. At the debates, Donald Trump went off on broadcasting to ISIS where we were going to attack, calling our military commanders stupid, as if that’s how it works. The moderator turned to Clinton and asked about no-fly zones, as if saying, “Sorry Donald, the adults are talking.” And Clinton dived into the potential pros and cons of enforcing a no-fly zone in Syria and potential conflict with Russia.
- While Clinton doesn’t have a perfect record on race, LGBT issues and immigration (Who does—remember how much the country has moved on these issues since the 1990s), I like what she’s saying now. It’s the polar opposite of what we see from Trump (more on that later).
- Abortion seems to be the one issue Christians especially can’t seem to swallow. To be completely honest: I think a political win for the pro-life movement is a lost cause and a waste of effort. The complete hatred that reigns in some wings of the pro-life movement has overshadowed any sense of being pro-life. Let’s get real: If you want women to have fewer abortions, don’t force the issue politically, just make it easier. Help poor women, increase sex ed and access to contraception. Abortion is down 13% under Obama. All sides should be celebrating that, but we’re too busy screaming at each other.
Hillary Clinton: The Negative
What about all the horrible things Clinton has done? Sigh. I just don’t buy it. She’s been investigated and never charged. People have been hating on Clinton for more than 30 years. They believe every charge and think the absolute worst of her.
- The email server seems to be the worst of it, yet still nothing to charge her with.
- Benghazi? Please. They had their witch hunt and they came up empty.
- Wikileaks emails? Meh. Of course Clinton and her team talk strategy and throw around bad ideas and say horrible things. That’s how this works.
I’ve never been super excited about Clinton. Honestly, I wish the first potential woman president wasn’t a former first lady. That’s not to discount her achievements, but you get quite a leg up when your husband was president.
I don’t think Clinton will be the soaring orator that Obama was, and I think it’s going to be a long term full of sexism and misogyny. It would be that way for any woman, but it will be worse because of how much people hate her.
But in the end, I think she can do a good job.
And Then There’s Trump
I tried to understand the Trump phenomena early on in the primary. I think the Anxiety, Nostalgia & Mistrust Survey can give some helpful insights into how divided we are. But still, Trump takes things to a whole new level.
I’ve also said before that I’ve never been afraid of a presidential candidate before. I’ve certainly disagreed with them, but I didn’t wonder about the future of the country. I didn’t like George W. Bush, and in the end I think he did some negative things for our country (unnecessary war in Iraq, embracing torture, great recession, etc.). But I never thought he was going to ruin America or anything like that.
But Donald Trump? I’m not sure what he’s capable of. If his campaign is any indication, he’s stoked the fires of hatred, racism, sexism and xenophobia. He tries to talk his way out of it with these grand statements (“I am the least racist person you’ve ever met,” “Nobody respects women like I do—nobody”) yet everything else he says completely undermines that (any comment he makes about the inner city, pick one of the dozen horrible things he’s said about women).
There’s a lot I could say about Trump, but most of it has already been said. American politics is all about disagreement and division, but Trump takes it to an ugly new low.
I hope this election can be a rejection of Trump’s politics of hate and an embrace of a new first for America. I think even if Clinton does succeed on Tuesday she’s going to have a difficult four years. She’s going to face obstruction and sexism and a doubling down of the hatred stacked up against her.
If she wins on Tuesday, I think she’ll really have to prove herself for four years if she would have any shot at a win in 2020.
But more than anything I’m hopeful that we can say goodbye to Trump on Tuesday and return to politics as only being mostly sleazy.
Whoever you’re going to vote for, get out and vote!