Clinton & Trump: An Appraisal With Less Than Thirty Days Left
My personal leaning is to the liberal side, and while I do favor Clinton over Trump in the 2016 election – it’s not simply because of that. While Trump has been praised for his direct, blunt speech and his honesty, I’ve found Trump’s speaking to be abrasive and contrary to progress. Abrasive because Trump has launched a litany of verbal assaults on his opponents (Republicans in the primaries, and Clinton now in the election proper). Contrary to progress, though, because ultimately the amount of influence and power a President wields is restrained by the system of checks and balances our government is built with. True – the growing use of Executive Orders by Presidents in recent years has demonstrated something of a workaround to this and the President IS the Commander in Chief, but ultimately a President must be able to work with officials of their own party and the opposition party if they hope to accomplish anything. Trump’s attacks on both political parties act as an unquestionable detriment to this.
Clinton, though, carries a different yet very real kind of baggage herself. The obvious starting point would be the high levels of public mistrust in her. Although Clinton has escaped criminal charges of wrong-doing with regards to her private server usage and her handling of Benghazi, both scandals still follow her as she attempts to make strides towards the Presidency. While these concerns tend to be the ones raised by her conservative opponents, there are concerns raised by liberals as well. Clinton’s close ties to Wall Street are an obvious example of this, but one could also draw upon her support of military interventions to question how liberal her foreign policy really would be. To many liberals – Clinton is ultimately a centrist. While this may generally be viewed as a blessing when entering into political negotiations, when it is factored against her high levels of public mistrust that benefit is greatly reduced.
This is, in essence, the problem and challenge Americans are facing presently. We are less than a month away from a four year commitment to a new President and neither option is particularly enticing for many voters. I’ll say again – my personal leaning is to favor Clinton. Despite my concerns and misgivings about her, she has clear experience and defined policy positions & plans. Additionally, she hasn’t indulged in the same extreme level of smear tactics as her opponent. That said, my support for Clinton ultimately feels like an acceptance of the lesser of two evils, and that bodes poorly for the next four years.
Based on the dismay many voters feel towards Trump and Clinton, some have turned away from the two party system entirely and are opting to throw their support behind Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. The appeal of a third party isn’t new, but it is growing (up to 57% in 2016 versus 46% in 2012 per Gallup Polling1). While I’m passionate about pulling away from the two party dynamic and giving new, fresh voices a chance to speak up – it feels like a moral imperative to speak against this. Every election is painted as being a crucial one where outside votes are categorized as unacceptable risks, but this feels especially true in 2016. Do we want someone known for going off on vicious rants on Twitter at 3 AM to hold the nuclear launch codes? Is that the character and spirit of a President to-be? Is that a risk we, as a nation, are ready to take?
I know, many Americans are aware that in the majority of present polling Clinton is favored over Trump. Indeed, in polling averages pulled from USA Today – Clinton is at 44.4% to Trump’s 39.1%2 as of October 14th. However, three things are worth remembering in closing. First – many Americans simply don’t bother to vote. It’s a sad reality, but even with a lead in the polls there’s no guarantee those who tell a pollster they like Clinton will actually go out and vote for her. Second – when the margin of support for one candidate over another is relatively low (in this case roughly 5%), many supporters of the underdog will fight even harder for their candidate. This may well lead to Trump supporters fighting even more passionately for their candidate – volunteering more hours and advocating all the more passionately. Third, and lastly – while many Americans may claim they will support a third party candidate, the reality is that once in the voting booth most will simply vote a straight Democrat or Republican ticket. While this isn’t a rationale to disregard polling numbers, it does frame them in a different mindset. We’re less than a month away from election day, and the election is still either candidate’s to win. One final debate remains: observe both candidates closely and listen well. Weigh and judge their words, policies, and demeanors carefully – and be certain of your vote. The leadership of our nation hangs in the balance.
1 – Gallup Polling shows more Americans favoring a Third Party Option: http://www.gallup.com/poll/195920/americans-desire-third-party-persists-election-year.aspx?g_source=ELECTION_2016&g_medium=topic&g_campaign=tiles
2 – USA Today’s averages of national polling: http://www.usatoday.com/pages/interactives/2016/election/poll-tracker/