Sunday, September 11, 2016

Choosing Between the Lesser of Two Liars

After following American Politics since 1986, the first year I was able to vote, it seems clear to me that each presidential election has elicited louder and more hateful voices toward the opposition's candidate.  Bush and Dukakis in 1988 was intriguing to me because a guy named Lee Atwater created TV commercials that amazed me with the exaggerated claims made in them, but I began to see that politicians will stop at very little to get what they want.  And in the 28 years since, they seem to be willing to stop at less and less.

History teaches us the that the ugliest presidential campaigns in the U.S. were 1800 -- Adams and Jefferson -- and 1828 -- Jackson and JQ Adams.  These were truly vicious, with surrogates printing the most inflammatory, exaggerated claims about the other party's candidate.  But I think 100 years from now, historians will include 2016 in that group.

I expect campaigns, consultants, surrogates, and the AM radio parrots to spew vitriol about candidates,  and I expect campaign commercials to present embellished arguments bordering on outright lies -- that's the nature of the beast of American politics.  With the advent of social media, I can now see the vitriol and incredibly one-sided hatred that many of the big party voters spew, and I'm horrified.

Now we know this is the first campaign in modern history where both major candidates have higher unfavorable ratings than favorable -- meaning more people dislike each candidate than like them.  As a follower of presidential campaigns, I'm entertained by that.  As a voter and citizen and self-proclaimed patriot, I'm horrified.

I'm horrified to see so many people willing to spew hateful things about the other major candidate, while being completely blind to their own candidate's blatant and obvious flaws.  Hillary Clinton is  a lifetime politician, who should know better than to keep her State Department emails on a private server.  With the microscopic lens that she knew was going to be on her as she ran for President, that decision was arrogance bordering on recklessness.  She and her husband truly are world-class political agents, and they had to know this was going to be thrown back in their face.  Did they think they would just be able to explain it away, or just add it to the list of conspiracy theories their opponents would pull out of the file cabinet?

Now there are plenty of examples of why I don't trust Hillary Clinton.  For one thing, she seems to be the most manufactured candidate I've seen in my adult life.  She seems to strike whatever point she feels will get her the most support.  During the primaries, she took the position of "pragmatic progressive" compared to Sanders' "revolution."  I wonder if Sanders had taken the pragmatic road, if she would instead have campaigned as a "revolutionary."  Probably so.  Another example... one week she says, "I'm not going to apologize about the email issue."  The very next week -- the VERY next week -- "I'm sorry about the emails."  That is why I don't wish to vote for Clinton.

I don't believe all the conspiracy theories about her that emerge from numerous outlets, but I still don't trust her.  I do believe, however, that part of the reason that why the Right doesn't like her is because her husband beat them at their own game.  Republicans threw everything they could again Bill Clinton during his administration, and when he was about to be impeached, and when he left office, his approval ratings were still in the 60's.  Sorry, GOP, I know you tried.

Which brings us to Mr. Trump. He has made such blatant claims during this campaign that many well-known and respected Republicans have very publicly jumped ship.  This is perhaps the clearest difference between the two -- I don't know of any Democrat politicians who have publicly said they would vote for DJT over Hillary, though there are a Bernie supporters who have said they wouldn't vote for Clinton.

And those same followers who support Trump the most fervently are the ones who hate the Clintons to the same degree.

I believe that Trump is pathological liar, a sexist, a racist, a narcissist bordering on delusion, and a dictator in waiting.  Mental health professional don't like it when lay people do armchair psychological diagnoses, but there are plenty -- puh-LENTY -- of examples to show Trump suffers from an extreme case of Narcissist Personality Disorder. (Sorry, mental health professionals, its true, and you know it.)

Now, I could expand extensively on why I will not vote for Trump, or what I think of Trump's followers, but I will say that another truth brought out in this campaign that worries me is that DJT is exposing the rampant bigotry still exists today in the United States.  I thought we were past that in 21st century America.  It's as if DJT is the manifestation of a backlash that was brought out by the first African-American President.

But what worries me the most is complete lack of 360 degree vision of voters of both sides of the political spectrum.  I see scathing accusations about both candidates from people, accusations that I don't necessarily disagree with.  But what I don't see -- except from the people in the Middle I'm getting acquainted with thanks to Twitter -- is that the people making those scathing accusations about either candidate seem completely oblivious, or intentionally ignorant, of the issues with their own candidate.

These are people with the worldview boundary and introspective capacity of a kindergartener.  I'm reminded of the line somewhere in the New Testament where Jesus is talking about trying to get the speck out of someone's eye when you have a log in your own.  These are the people choosing our next President, and I'm horrified.

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