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The Candidates 2016

The Candidates 2016: Preamble

The Candidates 2016
I refuse to consider only two options
Every four years, I endeavor to look at the candidates for the United States presidency with an objective eye, to weigh the stated policy positions of each against my own beliefs in good faith. I do not claim to be an unbiased observer--because that would be an absurd claim for anyone--but this year, I feel the need to begin my analysis with an especially large disclaimer: I believe that the two major party candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, are habitual liars who cannot be trusted at their word. Since that is precisely what I will be doing--taking them at their word--it will be more difficult than ever for me to maintain even the appearance of objectivity. With that disclaimed, let me air my dirty laundry with each candidate.

By coin toss, I will start with Hillary Clinton. Despite not agreeing with her husband's general political leanings, I do not believe Bill Clinton was a bad president. He was capable of rational compromise, a modicum of fiscal discipline when working with a Republican-led Congress, and a generally competent approach to governance. I don't care about the sex scandal that mired his administration (and destroyed the credibility of Congressional impeachment hearings), but I do think his overall dishonesty in the face of that and other scandals is cause for concern.

His wife, Hillary Clinton, though, is far more concerning. She's already faced scandal after scandal, and she has demonstrated a pathological inability to tell the truth to the American public. It's not even up for debate: she is a proven liar. On top of that, her tenure as Secretary of State under President Obama lacks any major contributions while being rife with failures in places like Libya, Syria, and especially Russia. The fact that she may have offered favors to foreign actors in exchange for contributions to the Clinton Foundation is horrifying, and the evidence fairly damning.

Unfavorables
Submitted without comment
Worst of all is the e-mail scandal, which proves that she is either too selfishly nefarious or too incompetent and careless to be trusted with national security. The only reason she isn't being indicted is because she's running for president, and that is a brutal stain on the rule of law that makes it very difficult for the public to see anything resembling fairness or equity. In short, I think a Hillary Clinton presidency would be a foreign policy and national security disaster of epic proportions, and I don't believe we can accurately gauge any of her policy positions, since she will say whatever she feels she needs to, with no relationship to what she will actually do as president.

That brings me to Donald Trump. Regular readers know that I am fairly rabidly #NeverTrump, and I have written extensively about how he is not a conservative, is a borderline fascist, is unequivocably racist, and would most probably be the worst president this country has ever seen. I write that without hyperbole, because I genuinely believe it.

He is crass and arrogant, open about his desire to abuse executive power in office, dangerously protectionist, eager to commit war crimes against our enemies, gleeful about his plans to start trade wars that would provoke hostility and do severe economic harm here at home (one with China over alleged job thievery and bad faith, and another with Mexico over the building of an ineffective wall), prone to the wildest of conspiracy theories, brutal in his demagoguing of his political opponents, hostile to the press, completely intransigent, willfully ignorant of the Constitution, and perhaps worst of all, ideologically inconsistent and incoherent. His popularity is as inexplicable to me as it is terrifying.

Clinton v. Trump: No matter who wins, we lose
Please, America, do better
If I had a gun to my head and was forced to choose between Trump and Clinton, I would easily pick Clinton (or perhaps I'd just pull the trigger), even though I vehemently disagree with her politics and don't believe she can be trusted with the reins of government. Before I've even begun this exercise, I must disclaim that I could never vote for the ruin of my country, and thus, I will not be voting for either Trump or Clinton. I promise to try to be as objective and trusting as I can for the purposes of this series, but there's only so much doubt I'm willing to benefit.

With that in mind, I'll try to stick to policy positions the candidates have taken since formally announcing their 2016 candidacies, and I'll attempt to ignore anything that precedes that. This will avoid the stuggle of reconciling their many contradictory statements over the years, especially in the case of Trump, who was, until quite recently, a socially left-wing Democrat with overt disdain for Republicans. I will try to stick to the positions outlined by their official campaign websites and to statements they've made on the public record. If those are insufficient, I will look to the most recent party platforms and, only as a last resort, go digging into positions they've taken before the campaign. As always, I will assume that every statement is truthful, that they will do precisely what they claim they will do once they get into office, and I will weigh those prospects against my own beliefs.

I will also be including third party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, because now it is more important than ever that the American people shake off the two-party duopoly that has plagued our country for so long, sowing bitter division and polarization to such an extreme that we may never recover. A third party vote is not, in my humble opinion, a wasted one, and with the two main candidates having historically low approval ratings, I find it hard to comprehend why so many Americans refuse to even consider voting for someone else.

So there you have it. Starting in the near future, I will go issue by issue, explaining my beliefs alongside the stated positions of the four biggest candidates for president. I will cover scientific issues, social issues, civil rights, foreign policy, economics, and more, and with each entry, I will pick the one who would best speak for me. I am not trying to tell anyone who to vote for, but I am trying to show my readers how to be responsible voters and enlightened citizens in this democratic republic. I urge everyone to look carefully at the candidates for themselves and make an informed decision of their own, not trusting talking points, media pundits, or gut feelings. Don't even trust me, because I'm clearly quite biased.


-e. magill 7/20/2016



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