The Presidential contest pitting Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump will be one for the record books. After many self inflicted wounds, Donald Trump is still standing and appears to be gaining strength. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, began her run with voter high unfavorable ratings and although leading in most polls, is watching her lead decrease daily. Why?
“She is untrustworthy” poll takers were saying. Clinton responded and claimed Trump was unfit for office. Trump then countered with Hillary was crooked and should be in jail. Hmmm.
Voters are left to wonder whether this rhetoric is just an example of “partisan politics” (not to be believed) or that voters should just revert to their party of choice, hold their noses, and pull that lever in the voting booth. I wonder.
Donald Trump is no doubt a successful businessman with a specialty in real estate development. His business record is also replete with dozens of bankruptcies and law suits. In his personal businesses, Trump has made great use of globalization (out sourcing) and has hired low wage (many undocumented) workers in his US projects. There is little or no connection between his personal life and business career and his promises “to make America great again”. In truth, Trump may not be “crooked” but unethical and sleazy may be better descriptors. I wonder how that will work to make America great again?
Hillary Clinton is no doubt a highly intelligent person with top level legislative and administrative experience. Unfortunately, through out her career (as wife of a Governor, wife of a President, Senator, and Secretary of State), she has been linked to questionable associations and potential conflicts of interest. Personal profit always seemed to be near by. For conservatives, the most frustrating aspect of these rumors has been that no one has been able to make charges of illegality stick.
But, IMO, Trumps despicable business career and Clinton’s proximity to conflicts of interest do not represent partisan politics. Rather partisan politics is much more about fear.
For example, the Republican Party fears Government control (and all that goes with it) falling into Democrat hands. And the opposite is just as true for Democrats. That’s partisan politics.
In 1800, when Thomas Jefferson was elected President, partisan politics had become as entrenched then as it seems today. Jefferson’s party was called the “Republicans” and they largely stood for a weak executive, small Federal Government, and a large dose of States rights. John Adams, Jefferson’s opponent and sitting President, was a Federalist. Federalists believed a a strong executive with clear taxing authorities, fiscal soundness, and a standing Army and Navy.
Beside these size of government positions, Republicans claimed vociferously that Federalists wanted to bring the United States back under Great Britain’s influence with a “king-like leader subject to a Great Britain like Constitution. (Fear)
Federalists, not surprisingly, saw Republicans as Francophiles and heading down a path towards atheism and anarchy. (Fear)
Even in times of relative peace, there was not much these two parties agreed upon despite the abundant evidence that Federalist policies had enable Americas rapid growth and wealth creation.
Today’s Republican Party also champions States Rights and claims they wish to see the size of Government reduced. Republicans are certain Democrat policies (such as medicare, medicaid, social security, and healthcare) are on course to bankrupt America. (Fear). Republicans still promise lower taxes despite all evidence that businesses prefer to pass any new earnings (due to lower taxes) onto owners and investors, not employees of customers.
Today’s Federalists (Democrats) push policies which appeal to unions, disadvantaged (women, poor, and gays) Americans, and the elderly and see no problem in increasing the size of Government or the amount of taxes as a means to achieve their goals. Republicans, Democrats say will use religious freedom to discriminate, use legislative powers to further increase income inequality, and will pack the Supreme Court with Justices who will turn back the social clock 50 years. (Fear).
This is partisan politics.
Consider that the Constitution empowers Americans to practice religion freely but not in the public square. Free expression of religious beliefs is protected providing this expression does not infringe on other Americans pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.
Capitalism and the “free market” have clearly fueled America’s economic growth but lessons from the gilded era and the great depression (not to mention the 2007 near global depression) have taught us that some rules and regulations are essential to reign in man’s natural greed.
And, even though America is the richest country in the world, there still exists a need for retirement assistance (social security), medical insurance for the elderly (Medicare), and medical coverage for those who can’t afford insurance (Medicaid). Funding these programs require some adequate amount of taxes.
Under partisan politics, religious freedom is a tool to openly pander for votes, the “free market” is pitted against socialism, and quality of life issues (social security, Medicare, and Medicaid) are framed as the expressway to bankruptcy and a lazy society to boot.
Regrettably, partisan politics skirts any direct confrontation with these large social issues. Lost too are critical infrastructure, education, and national defense funding questions. The use of data (including what other like countries might be doing) is an early casualty. Rather, the debate becomes one of style and not substance. one liners, and photo-ops.
That’s partisan politics.
IMO, Donald Trump is an unpredictable and dangerous choice. He appears to have no public policies beliefs and would be prone to cherry pick the Republican list of “must do’s” like taxes, limited immigration reform, and healthcare based upon what he thought was best for him and the Trump brand.
Hillary Clinton will be more concerned with her legacy and while progressive, will remain close to center in her policies. Both candidates, of course, would be somewhat limited by Congressional gridlock in any case.
Neither candidate, regretfully, is leveling with Americans that the “big issue”, income inequality, requires a longer term strategy and quick fixes are simply not in the cards. Instead each candidate is speaking about what they will do in the first 100 days.
Regardless, income inequality (upward mobility) remains the single biggest issue. (Otherwise how does a Trump beat Jeb Bush and Bernie Sanders almost win the Democrat nomination?)
If either Trump or Clinton ignores this issue during their Presidency, that person is likely be doomed to one term.