Editorials

For president: Hillary Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. smiles while on stage at a town hall in Haverford, Pa.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. smiles while on stage at a town hall in Haverford, Pa. AP

Let’s stop pretending Donald Trump is a reasonable choice in this presidential election. He has disqualified himself by his broken contracts and his sealed taxes, his pouting and his tantrums, his midday statements and his midnight tweets.

That verdict is clear and not worth restating point by point. Trump is an embarrassment to his party, the electorate and the multitude of brave and selfless people, past and present, who have served and preserved America. His election would not make America great again, it would put its greatness in jeopardy.

The polls suggest that Americans in their wisdom are not likely to elect this bombastic, alleged billionaire to the highest office in the land. That is cause for relief, but that he was ever in contention is cause for worry. Trump improbably became a major party’s nominee and, if he had shown a bit more restraint, might now be favored to win the presidency.

What has brought us to this juncture in which this dangerous fool has the support of nearly half the nation’s voters? The fault is not with Trump. He has hardly crept up on us. We’ve known him for a long time, first as a fixture of the New York tabloids and later a star of reality TV. He doesn’t want to tell us what he pays in taxes, but he has never been shy about who he is.

Now he has made us consider who we are. Are we a nation soaked in the culture of entertainment and so moved by personal grievance and political partisanship that we would gamble our nation’s future on a man who lost a fortune in his own casinos? Are so many so gullible that they can hear him promise the impossible and accept it because he says, “believe me”?

Most Americans are not fooled. Clinton leads easily among women, minorities and the college educated. But Trump remains a viable candidate because he has the overwhelming support of one large demographic: white male voters without college degrees.

These white men are not saps. Most work hard, want what’s best for their families and revere their nation. They’re supporting a man for president who is nothing like themselves, but who appeals to their anxiety and anger. They have been left behind in regions stripped of manufacturing jobs by globalization. They are coping with a digital revolution that is changing commerce and work. They see the rich get richer and their own wages stagnate. Their difficulties have been overlooked by liberals focused on minorities, immigrants, gay rights and climate change. They’ve been used by Republicans who play on their patriotism, religion and values – and then deliver tax cuts to the rich.

Their discontent is not something Trump created. It is something Democrats have ignored and Republicans have exploited. And so it and Trump are with us now.

The election of Hillary Clinton will begin to close this divide. The election of Donald Trump will make it wider. His victory would give license to the worst instincts of the disaffected, turn Americans against one another by race and religion and deny the embracing and revolutionary credo of our nation, “Out of many, one.”

Republican politicians, alternately goaded or amplified by Fox News and conservative radio and websites, have falsely assailed Clinton’s truthfulness. The cynical tactic has been effective to where even Trump, the teller of titanic untruths, feels free to call her “Crooked Hillary.”

These attacks on Clinton’s honesty are themselves contrived. Hillary Clinton, to her personal pain, has been the victim of deception in her private life, but in her public life she has performed as a diligent and true servant. The endless Benghazi hearings and the false alarm about her use of a private email server represent the flagrant abuse of congressional oversight.

As a candidate, Clinton will not win by dividing and offering hollow promises of huge tax cuts and restoring some mythical former America. She will win on knowledge, competence and grit. On the campaign trail, she connects with crowds by acknowledging their needs and raising their hopes. Trump says America is in decline. Clinton sees it rising into the promise of a new century.

No candidate has ever been more qualified. She will be an excellent president. Vote for Hillary Clinton.

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