EDITORIAL: Hillary Clinton

FOR ALL OUR READERS who support another candidate–spoiler alert: there’s news throughout the rest of The Columbia Paper about matters we have in common, about local achievements and local concerns, but here we will disagree. I believe Hillary Clinton should be the next president of the United States.

I have believed for a long time what Donald Trump said about Hillary Clinton at the end of the second debate Sunday night: she is tough and a fighter who never gives up. I go further. For me she is the toughest politician of my adult lifetime, not just the toughest woman but the most resilient political actor on the American scene for the last half century.

I have encountered her briefly a couple of times. As first lady she visited Albany during a New York Library Association conference and answered questions from a friendly audience. As I recall she praised librarians for defending the First Amendment, hardly controversial. But I wanted library trustees like me to get some of the credit and told her so. Unlike me, she knew people wanted to hear from her, not members of the audience. She responded directly to my point and turned to the next questioner.

I remember this incident because it still makes me wince and because it helps me understand why some people just don’t like her. In the past men who delivered crisp, controlled statements were judged important, powerful. For a woman that’s considered rude and icy. But she treated me seriously, paid attention to my short speech and moved on. So, yes, I’m biased.

Mr. Trump’s awkward attempts to bully Secretary Clinton by lurking behind her during the debate last Sunday was stagecraft, which he understands. But did he think it was play acting when he threatened to jail his political opponent? These statements and others suggest he doesn’t understand, or prefers to ignore, the constitutional limits on the power of presidents that are meant to prevent one person from being judge, jury and master of the prosecution. Instead he invoked a vision of oppressive government that’s alien to the core principles of our democracy.

What Hillary Clinton has already achieved in her long career of public service assures her a place in American history. Weed through the sneering and outrage that rests on misinformation and you’ll find this is true. The factual record reveals that among all the people aspiring to be president in 2016, she has done more good for more people than the rest of them combined.

She’s flawed. She mishandled the failed national healthcare insurance bill during Bill Clinton’s administration. It taught her how to work across party lines. She’s come reluctantly to the realization that secrets are, at best, temporary and sunshine can be healthy for the body politic. She has made misjudgments. But if we disqualified presidential candidates on that basis alone we’d be looking for leaders from among those who had never made any judgments at all.

Donald Trump has been dubbed a “disrupter,” someone who’ll shake up the political elites in Washington and nationwide. Maybe that’s true, but disruptions work in mysterious ways. Mr. Trump rightfully criticizes Secretary Clinton’s ties to big corporations and money center interests. But his economic proposals would give more tax breaks to the wealthiest interests and leaves the rest of us depending on the benefits of a booming economy he assures us he will engineer. The focus of his business career has been to enrich himself rather than serve the nation.

Hillary Clinton rejects tax increases for the middle class and shifts more of the burden onto the wealthy. At its heart hers is a far more disruptive plan in terms of making the economy fairer and more democratic. Her critics believe she won’t do what she says. But Mr. Trump won’t even try. I’d rather elect her and fight to hold her to her promises than try to convince Mr. Trump he’s got it wrong.

For many reasons Mr. Trump has disqualified himself as a choice for president. What’s hardest to understand is how his effort to be the nation’s disrupter-in-chief translates into governing this immense and diverse nation.

This election removes the moral wiggle room for rational people to indulge in magical thinking. Voting for minor party candidates or not voting for anyone equals a vote for Donald Trump. We are lucky that we have one candidate who has the temperament and experience to be president of the United States. I urge you to vote for Hillary Clinton.

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