The End is Here

Here we are. Stomachs in knots and bone dead-tired, we made it. In a few hours, we’ll have a new president.

All I can think is, Free at Last, Free at Last, Thank God Almighty I’m Free at Last

After a deafening and depressing election season overrun with emails, gutter talk, late-night tweets, leaks, serious accusations and ridiculous claims, we’re ready to pick whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump takes over for Barack Obama in January. Surely, we’re not choosing between Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi here. That explains the knotted stomachs and the tired bones.

Still the choice is clear to me.

Look closely. Look at what each nominee has done in a lifetime in the public eye. Listen to them; not to the rhetoric, not to the posturing, not to the tweets and the bombast and the pol-speak and the pandering to their respective crowds. Listen instead to what each says this country stands for, what it needs and how that should be accomplished.

Listen to the tone, too. The tenor of these two campaigns is as different as blue and red, as a pantsuit and a power suit, as woman and man, as light and dark. I think that’s important.

I’ve made my choice.

Why I did not vote for Trump

1) He doesn’t believe in climate change

I’m with the 97 percent of climate scientists who believe that man-made climate change is a threat to the planet. I don’t want my son to have a dirtier, deader planet than the one I got from my parents. Trump wants to ratchet up fossil fuel production of all kinds, rip up the Paris Accord and remove the limits on carbon emissions from U.S. power plants.

2) His tax plan is ridiculous and potentially disastrous

Trump plans to cut taxes for everybody, with the biggest cuts going to the very rich. Sounds great — who doesn’t want fewer taxes? — but by reducing taxes, he takes nearly $10 trillion of revenue from the federal government in the next 10 years.  His opponent will raise taxes. But most of that will be on the top 1 percent of earners. The bottom 95 percent will see little or no change. Her plan adds $1 trillion to government coffers over the next decade.

3) “I know more about ISIS than the generals do.”

No, he doesn’t.

Trump is ignorant on foreign affairs, wants to bring back waterboarding, has said he would kill terrorists’ families … He has a plan to defeat ISIS, he says. He just doesn’t want to tell us. Give me a break.

4) His immigration stance is anti-American

Trump has insulted Mexicans, called for a ban on Muslims and wants to keep war refugees from Syria out because not only could they be terrorists, but they would hurt our quality of life. Seems a little obvious to point out that this country was built, and is strengthened, by immigration. In all sorts of measurable ways. Yet Trump has made this angry, divisive rhetoric on immigration a cornerstone of his campaign. Look, no one wants terrorists on American soil. But we have ways to keep them out. You want to strengthen those ways? Fine. Say so. Calling for a ban on entire religions and nationalities is wrong.

5) He hates the press

The press can distort things — I’ve touched on that a couple times — and worse, they’re just dang nosy. But Trumps’s adversarial stance went too far months ago. It’s an absolute affront to the First Amendment. And that’s a problem in a democracy where the press is the biggest check on the rich and powerful.

6) He’s no businessman

His dad showed him the real estate ropes, leant him millions to get out on his own, opened all the doors and gave him every advantage that wealth, power and this nation can provide, yet his business failures are legendary. Casinos, an airline, a bogus “university” (Arizona State looks like Harvard in comparison), steaks, water, vodka, a mortgage company, a travel agency … I’m stunned that anyone believes he can succeed as president with that record.

7) He can’t control himself

The word “temperament” has been thrown around plenty in this campaign, and for good reason. When you’re the big guy on the block — and America is — you need to be cool when the little guys are kicking you in the shins and the big guys are aiming for your neck. Yet Trump has such thin skin that he’s been in public spats with American heroes, entertainers, beauty queens, mayor, governors, senators, reporters and pretty much anyone who dares to question him. A president can’t let that stuff get to him.

8) He has no idea how to govern

Like it or not, Trump would have to deal with Congress, with foreign governments, with a lot of people who aren’t willing to see things his way. He’s never been elected to public office. He has no idea of what it takes; the hands he’ll have to shake, the shortcuts he’ll have to take, the backs he’ll have to scratch. Heck, he doesn’t even know the hands, the shortcuts or the backs. “He’ll surround himself with smart people?” I don’t think his record shows that.

9) Much of his party hates him

It’s not only Democrats that Trump will have to appease. Many in his own party can’t stand him. Not one of the living ex-presidents, Democrat or Republican, is endorsing him. Others who have run for president from his party — Mitt Romney, John McCain, not to mention Jeb Bush and others — are against him. Question: How many Democrats have come out against Clinton? (Answer: Almost none.)

10) He’s dangerously full of himself

At the Republican National Convention, Trump said, “I alone can fix it.” I believe, from months of listening to him, that he believes that. Literally. He doesn’t need the input of generals or climate scientists or economists. He doesn’t need to work with Democrats or the Chinese or our allies. He would not feel bound by the Constitution, international law, common sense or common decency. He, alone, unilaterally, can fix everything that ails America. That’s scary thinking.

Why I voted for Clinton

1) She’s smart

This, impossibly enough I think, is underrated. But listen to Clinton speak. Listen to Trump speak. Look at their education. Look at the breadth of their experience. Trump does not strike me as particularly intelligent. Clinton seems scary smart, like nothing gets past her. Those who have worked with her and against her say the same. In a complicated world, smarts are important.

2) She’s experienced

Trump has ceded this point, though he calls Clinton’s resume full of “bad” experience. Which is a pretty dumb thing to say, isn’t it? Yale Law School, public defender, advocate for children’s and women’s rights, First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the United States, Senator, re-elected Senator, Secretary of State. She’s spent a lifetime in public service. Her opponent … uh, no.

3) She’s savvy

All that experience means she knows how to get work done. She has done it on the community level, on the state level, on Capitol Hill and has negotiated with foreign leaders. She knows the ins and outs of government, which is somehow strangely held against her. It shouldn’t be.

From the L.A. Times editorial endorsing her:

As first lady, she worked with Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides healthcare coverage to more than 8 million children. As a senator, she was instrumental in persuading a Republican president to deliver billions of dollars in aid to New York after September 11. As secretary of State, she led the charge to persuade nations around the world to impose the tough sanctions on Iran that led to the landmark nuclear agreement, and she negotiated a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

4) She cares about more than herself

It’s not only her work for women, children, better education and health care. It’s not only her efforts on behalf of the 9/11 victims. One of the biggest crimes of this mud-slinging campaign is that Trump and others have criminally maligned the Clinton Foundation, which has helped millions and millions of people in more than 100 countries all over the world. They do good, serious, needed work and have been given four stars (out of four) by CharityNavigator.com. Trump points out that the Clinton Foundation has taken money from human-rights violators. And it has. To put toward charitable causes. That is some smart money-management.

5) She has concrete, understandable policy plans

Her policies are much more thought-out, much more defined and built on much better information (because of her first-hand experience) than Trump’s. Agree with them or not, she has plans. Real plans. The Internet is full of comparisons out there on the issues, if you actually want to get into policy. The Wall Street Journal has one here.

6) She’s cool under pressure

Clinton has been called “crooked,” a “liar” and worse by her opponent. To her face. She has been vilified for what her husband has done. She has been portrayed as a failure. She has been constantly grilled by Republicans in Congress. She has been blamed for the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi (more so than the terrorists who, you know, killed them). Yet she’s chill in the face of it all. Which bugs her enemies even more.

From the Washington Times:

“Even in the middle of crisis, she listens to people, and keeps her cool, and treats everybody with respect,” Mr. Obama said. “And no matter how daunting the odds; no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never, ever quits. That’s the Hillary I’ve come to admire. And that’s why I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president.”

7) She’s cautious, not “crooked”

Trump has his scandals (including some concerning his foundation). Clinton certainly has hers. Yet she’s always stayed above them all, despite years of Republicans (and yes, this is partisan) trying to bring her down. Is there a chance, you should ask, that she is clean after all? Because, after all, nothing has stuck. Is there a chance?

8) She’s for sane gun-control measures

Trump and other members of the NRA-backed right cry that Clinton wants to take away Second Amendment rights. She, of course, does not. She is for better background checks to make sure criminals and the mentally ill can’t get their hands on guns. She’s for closing loopholes that allow for those who buy guns at gun shows and over the Internet to skirt background checks. She’d like to ban assault-style weapons. All common-sense measures. Smart measures. Your handguns and your hunting rifles are safe from Clinton.

9) She’s inclusive

She doesn’t want open borders, as Trump and his flunkies have claimed, but she knows the value of immigrants to this country. She’s sympathetic to the plight of war refugees in Syria and is willing to take them in (again, despite what Trump says, after they are thoroughly vetted). She thinks Muslims can and are useful members of American society.

10) She’s optimistic

Clinton talks of the greatness of America and the promise of the future. She doesn’t pine for a return to some idyllic past. She doesn’t say America is doomed if she is not elected. She points out the positives (the numbers are actually pretty good on crime, and on jobs, and on the economy).  She realizes the challenges we face. She knows there are always challenges, and that many are very serious. As you’ve seen, she’s a pretty serious person.

***

A couple of weeks ago, in the Fulton County library branch that’s just a 9-iron from my house, I voted for Clinton. After all the clatter of this campaign, it turned out that it really wasn’t a difficult choice. In the end, I voted for substance, not show.

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