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Where the election stands heading into the final weekend

Trump Clinton
Image: WIkimedia

The election is less than a week away, and judging by the fact that both candidates are historically unpopular, you might be having some trouble deciding which one you’re going to settle for. So, before you decide, let’s just weigh the pros and cons of each one final time. And I’ll go ahead and tell you it’s as con-heavy as you might expect.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton has a long career in politics, going back decades. Supporters argue that this gives her a vital element that Trump lacks. However, many credible reports of corruption and scandal have marred Clinton’s potential to become the first female President of the United States.

Pros:

Experience

Hillary Clinton has had a long career in politics, serving as First Lady, a senator, and Secretary of State. She has a lot of experience in policy making and meeting with foreign leaders. In addition, she is somewhat unique among politicians in terms of the amount of thought she puts into policy proposals.

She’s been described as a policy wonk on many occasions. Meaning that like Obama, she would probably bring a thoughtful, cerebral approach to her presidency.

As far as the major candidates go, she’s also the only one with any political experience at all.

First Female President

Clinton would obviously be the first female president, which would be a step forward for gender equality. So if you’re down the cause of Feminism, that’s an obvious pro.

Environmental Policies

There’s no question that Hillary Clinton would be a much better president when it comes to protecting the environment than Donald Trump. While Trump continues to deny that Climate Change even exists, Hillary has described it as “an urgent threat,” and has a number of policies to help protect at-risk species and has promised to uphold the Paris accords to help fight climate change.

She’s Not Donald Trump

For whatever else people might think of her, a fair number of people will probably be voting for her on the basis of the fact that she isn’t Trump.

Cons:

The Emails

As much as you’re probably sick of hearing about the “damn emails” as Bernie Sanders described them, Hillary’s decision as Secretary of State to conduct government business on a private server is probably going to breed controversy for a while to come.

The FBI identified twenty-two top secret emails that were sent from her personal server, which might have compromised national security. That led to an investigation that didn’t really go anywhere, although that might be because her office deleted thirty thousand emails that might have been more incriminating. And recently, computers seized from the home of Anthony Weiner, disgraced politician and husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin, revealed some more emails that the FBI is currently going through for any more evidence of wrongdoing.

Is using a private email account as Secretary of State a big deal? Kind of. It was illegal. And though Clinton would argue it was a basic oversight of the law, that’s a tough line to buy into when made by someone with a huge staff of government lawyers. If we’re being honest, she probably did it because she didn’t want anyone in the general public to know exactly what she was doing.

Also, deleting huge numbers of those emails before anyone could see them is some Nixon-level connivery.

Benghazi

After an attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi led to the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, the senate launched a lengthy and expensive investigation to determine if Clinton was negligent in protecting the embassy and if she had tried to cover that up.

The investigation concluded that no, she probably didn’t. But it did criticize the lack of security in the Embassy and the delayed response to the attack.

Even Chris Stevens’s family said Clinton wasn’t to blame for his death. But Clinton’s angry response after enduring eleven hours of questioning where she asked, “what difference does it make?” whether the deaths were the result of a protest was pretty soundbite-ready and made her look like she wasn’t appropriately upset by the whole thing.  So expect that to continue being trotted out for years to come.

The Clinton Foundation

The Clinton Foundation is, depending on who you ask, either a charitable organization or a money-making making and political influence buying machine for the Clinton family.

Criticism has been leveled against the foundation stating that foreign donors made sizable contributions in exchange for access to Hillary Clinton in her capacity as Secretary of State.

A WikiLeaks revelation revealed that a lawyer hired by the foundation to review these allegations stated that at least some donors believed there was a “quid-pro-quo” relationship where they expected favors in return for gifts.

Ties to Wall Street

Clinton, like many politicians,  has long-standing ties to big corporations. Goldman Sachs, Citibank, and JP Morgan are three of Clinton’s top donors.

In addition, Clinton has received huge sums of money for giving regular speeches to those companies, tying her personal wealth directly to Wall Street.

Many worry that those ties will lead to a President Clinton who goes out her way to cater to business interests.

Her Health (if you buy into that)

Hillary Clinton’s health has been an issue in this campaign. And though most concerns are probably overblown, she does have a problem with fainting spells. Her husband has chalked that up to severe dehydration, but if you’re  that dehydrated that often there’s probably at least some cause for concern.

As far as Clinton’s campaign has publicly stated, she’s as healthy as any sixty-nine-year-old woman who’s on a lot of medication.

She Probably Won’t Be Able To Get Much Done

The fact that the Republicans are probably going to hold on to overall control of the House doesn’t bode well for a President Clinton’s prospects of working with Congress. Most Republican leaders and certainly their constituents have basically declared Clinton public enemy #1 and seeing as being too chummy or even not obstinate enough to any of her policy agendas would be poison to most Republican re-election campaigns.

Of course, that’s not really her fault, but if Clinton is elected we can expect the insane gridlock in Washington to last at least four more years. And Senate Republicans have pledged to tie her up in endless investigations whenever possible.

 

Trump

Donald Trump is one of the most polarizing figures to ever come within a hair’s breadth of the presidency. Lionized by supporters as a shrewd businessman and straight talker who will help end the corruption in Washington and help balance the budget, Trump has also been accused of sexual misconduct by over a dozen women and made public statements that offend the sensibilities of almost everyone at one time or another.

Pros:

Businessman

Donald Trump has made a lot of money from branding his name and real estate development. Though he definitely doesn’t have nearly as much money as he claims, he is probably worth at least close to a billion dollars.

When we break down the cons, we’ll see why he isn’t quite the business genius that his public persona would suggest, but he has managed to keep his personal wealth from collapsing from several bad business ventures.

Really the best thing you can say about his business skills is he knows how to deal with debt and how to promote himself. And he has made a lot of money doing that. A lot of people think that is a good quality to have in a president. If you buy into that then that argument might have some sway.

Outsider

Trump is not a career politician. And with America’s distaste for politics as usual, Trump’s appeal as an outsider is one of the main reasons you might consider voting for him.

Trump has also run a bizarrely underfunded campaign, using his ubiquitous presence in the media to make up for a lack of campaign donations. Some have argued that this makes him impervious to the kind of influence buying that comes with accepting huge campaign donations.

Tough On Immigration

If you believe that the number of immigrants coming to America is a problem then certainly Trump has pledged to take measures to stop it. Regardless of how dumb of an idea building a giant wall is, and what the potential economic fallout of following through with some of these plans would be, the threat of deportation and criminal prosecution is more likely to discourage immigration than Hillary’s policies.

He’s Not Hillary Clinton

Trump’s major source of support probably comes from people who revile Hillary Clinton since this may be one of the most obvious examples of a presidential race where people are mostly voting against the other person than for either of the candidate.

So if you dislike Hillary more than Trump, that might be reason enough to vote for him for some people.

CONS:

Not That Great At Business

Donald Trump believes that he is the sort of business genius and captain of industry that would rival and even surpass any in American history. He wants you to believe that too.

In fact, he is so desperate to preserve the image of his business acumen that the surest way to get sued by Donald Trump has long been to imply that he isn’t as rich as he claims he is. It was during just such a lawsuit against journalist Tim O’Brien for claiming that Trump was only worth a few hundred million that Trump’s assets were put on display and the court determined he was worth well under the ten billion that he claims.

In 2004, Trump applied for a loan, claiming a net worth of several billion dollars. The bank he was asking for money determined that at best, he was worth more like seven hundred million.

Trump presents himself as someone who’s very touch turns businesses into gold, but in reality, Trump’s businesses have filed for bankruptcy six times. Trump plays this off by implying that he is smart to use bankruptcy laws to protect his own assets as if driving a company to ruin and laying off workers is utterly insignificant as long as he can hold on to his own money. However, Trump isn’t as Teflon-coated when it comes to personal debt as he would have you believe and was forced to unload huge amounts of shareholdings, as well as other assets, and sell his gaudy private yacht to cover his debt.

And speaking of billions, Trump lost nearly that much when his casino empire collapsed, a loss he used to avoid paying income tax for close to two decades in a move of questionable legality.

Sexual Assualt Allegations

Last month, a recording of Trump talking with an Access Hollywood host about how he likes to grope women against their will surfaced. It included the now famous line where said that he grabs women “by the p**sy.” Coupled with his poor performance in the first debate, it sent his poll numbers into a nose dive.

In the interim, over a dozen women have backed up that claim with reports of being sexually assaulted by Trump. Trump has responded by threatening to sue them and implied that one was too ugly for him to bother assaulting.

In addition, Trump’s wife Ivana has claimed that he raped her and Trump was just ordered to have a legal representative appear at a trial for the alleged rape of a thirteen-year-old girl.

Many Trump supporters believe that all of these allegations are fiction and dismiss Trump’s lewd comments, but taken all together it’s hard to discount the probability that Trump is a serial sex offender on at least some level.

Kind of a Jerk

Trump has a personality that could at best be called “abrasive” at worst “openly abusive.” His complete inability to take criticism of any kind has resulted in him saying things that no one ever imagined a man who could potentially be President would ever get away with saying.

Taken all together, Trump’s public feuds with everyone from famous architect Frank Gehry to comedian Rosie O’Donnell give the impression that, on a personal level, Trump is kind of a jerk.

For instance, after the parents of a Muslim soldier, Hamayun Khan, who was killed in action were invited to speak at the Democratic convention about how they were troubled by Trump’s statements towards Islam.

In response, Trump implied that the reason only Khan’s father, Khizr, was speaking at the convention was that as a Muslim, his wife was not allowed to speak in public.

Specifically, he said “If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.”

Trump has also called for the intentional targeting of the wives and children of enemy combatants and suggested that using torture was both justified and necessary.

Trump is also known for making comments that could be described as racist, including implying that Mexican immigrants are rapists and drug dealers. He has also proposed a blanket ban on Muslims entering the United States, which violates the constitution, and he has the full endorsement of the KKK and numerous other white supremacist groups.

And in case that’s not a convincing enough list. Here is footage of Trump publically mocking a disabled reporter.

https://youtu.be/TqtoUFW5svQ

Misogynist

So, Trump clearly has issues with respecting women. Even if you discount the groping allegations, there’s the notable case of Alicia Machado.

Machado was the winner of the miss universe pageant, which was owned and judged by Donald Trump. After Machado gained a bit of weight, Trump persistently badgered her about it, even forcing her into a gym and bringing in a TV crew to document her exercise as he publicly shamed her, saying “this is someone who likes to eat.”

He also called her “Miss Piggy”, and to add a little bit of racism, referred to the Latina Machado as “Miss Housekeeping.” It’s also worth pointing out that he did all of this to a teenager since Machado was 19 years old at the time.

Trump even launched a three AM Twitter offensive against her during the campaign, calling her “disgusting” and referring followers to a non-existent sex tape.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg for the offensive comments Trump has made about women, and a full list would fill an article by itself, but you can find a more thorough rundown here.

Compulsive Liar

Trump’s casual relationship with the truth runs deeper than the typical political double talk. Trump lies about everything and often for absolutely no reason.

Trump has consistently said things during the debates which were outright fabrications. He also claimed multiple times to have personally witnessed Muslim-Americans in New Jersey celebrating after 9/11, which is impossible because it has consistently been determined that this never happened.

The Toronto Star has been rigorously fact-checking everything Trump says and concluded that he lies roughly 30 times a day on average. And that’s just in public.

Trump’s inability to tell the truth crosses into the realm of the pathological.

As an example, Trump was asked in an interview with ABC about what his opinion was about how the debates were being scheduled. Trump stated that he was upset about the fact that they were being aired against two football games and that the NFL had even sent him a letter saying something to the effect that they thought that was a ridiculous choice.

The NFL immediately tweeted that they had never sent Trump any letter.

Why would anyone lie about something like that? He had nothing to gain from it, it was easy to disprove, and it was about something completely insignificant.

And in what may be the weirdest example of Trump’s desire for self-aggrandizement, he even once called People magazine while pretending to be his own publicist so he could feed them a fake story about how he was dating the future First Lady of France, Carla Bruni. You can find the audio here.

Refused To Respect Democratic Process

Trump believes that he is incapable of being beaten in anything. Therefore, in his mind, he either wins or has the contest stolen from him. Unfortunately, he has applied that line of thinking to the Presidential Race. Trump has already been laying the groundwork for this narrative of being cheated by claiming that the election is rigged.

And by rigged he mostly means most people in the media are critical of him for his many many horrible comments, which Trump evidently believes is the same thing as Clinton fixing the election.

He is also alleging easily disproven claims that Clinton will use voter fraud to steal the election. As a result, Trump has reserved the right to reject the results of the election, which you may recognize as being philosophically the same justification some third-world caudillo might use to launch a coup.

It’s the sort of thing that erodes the basic foundation of a democratic system.

So Who Should You Vote For?

That’s up to you. Vote for the person you think would be a better President. Of course, odds are that if you are like most Americans, you think that neither would be a good president. It seems like this year it’s going to come down to which candidate you dislike less.

So weigh your options carefully, do your own research and decided if one of these two clowns would be more bearable to see on the news for the next four years for the other.

And remember that it’s also a totally legitimate choice to vote third party.

 

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