(Opinion) Hillary Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally at C.B. Smith Park in Pembroke Pines, Florida, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016.

 

After an election year that has nearly drowned us in accusations, counter-accusations, unseemly revelations and attack ads, we can too easily be tempted into deciding that neither candidate is worth our vote. I wish myself that I could vote with whole-hearted enthusiasm for any candidate. But we endanger our whole future if we regard Clinton as no likelier to better our country’s future than Trump. 

In the face of global warming and a mass extinction that could rob us of half the world’s wildlife in our lifetimes, Trump has declared climate change a hoax, proposes to renege on the United States' commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement and would like to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency.

In a nation where one in five children lives in poverty, where the wealthiest 160,000 families own as much wealth as the poorest 145 million families, Trump has proposed a tax plan that benefits the wealthy, opposes any increase in the minimum wage and has offered no solution whatever to the student loan debt crisis. In fact, he is due in court in December to face fraud charges concerning Trump University. He has a long, ugly record of telling contractors that he will only pay them a portion of what he owes, forcing them to settle for far less than he promised to pay or incur the costs and delays of court. When taken to court, he has repeatedly destroyed emails and documents the court has ordered him to produce. He has hired undocumented Polish workers and used Chinese steel to build his skyscrapers. 

Trump has bragged about sexually assaulting women, then threatened to sue every woman who came forward to verify that his claims were true.

We need to heal our racial divisions to move forward together. Trump was sued by the Justice Department for refusing to rent to black tenants. He has incited indiscriminate hatred and suspicion of Muslim-Americans, insulting even the parents of a soldier killed in the service of his country. He attacked the parents of a Muslim-American soldier who gave his life to save his fellow soldiers from a suicide bomber. He has been endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan.

We need a fiscally responsible leader. Trump has declared bankruptcy six times and refuses to release his tax records. He has illegally used money from his charitable foundation to pay for legal judgments against him.

We need to rebuild our democracy, Trump has declared that the election is “rigged” in the face of all logic and evidence to the contrary. Meanwhile, he praises, invites and benefits from cyber-hacking by Russians attempting to influence the campaign in his favor. He has declared that he may or may not accept the results of the election. He has offered to pay the legal costs of supporters who physically attack protestors at his rallies. He has suggested that “Second Amendment people” might be able to take care of the “problem” if Hillary Clinton is elected president and able to nominate Supreme Court judges.  

This country has never in its history risked electing a candidate so grossly unqualified, so demonstrably without morals or scruples, so dangerous to our common future. He has none of Hillary Clinton’s experience, ability to remain calm and to exercise judgment under stress, detailed policy proposals, respect for the diversity of our nation or record of public service. 

Ms. Clinton has made errors of judgment, some serious, and she has made ethical compromises that I do not admire. But to pretend that she is essentially no better than Mr. Trump is to ignore the stark differences that confront us every time Mr. Trump opens his mouth to tell us another lie and to drive us further apart. The fact that we cannot vote for the candidate of our dreams is no excuse for standing by in sullen cynicism or depressed apathy while our country marches over a cliff to the drumming of a demagogue.