(Desert Sun Editorial Board) — Rarely does the race for the presidency pit candidates with such vastly different backgrounds and dissimilar visions for America.
One sees failure, except through him. One sees success, working together.
With Donald Trump, we know too much about the things we shouldn’t – Playboy parties and the size of his ego. We don’t know nearly enough about the things we should – tax returns, trade policy, foreign affairs and domestic programs.
With Hillary Clinton, we hear too much about conspiracy theories and not enough about her significant lapses in judgment. Fortunately, there is an enormous record of her positions on trade and energy, immigration and health care, and her roles in Libya and Iran.
The pressure of the presidency breaks lesser beings. That’s why, along with policy, we look to character.
Great leaders tap our better angels. And greatness requires “vision, integrity, courage, understanding, the power of articulation, and profundity of character.” So advised one our most respected desert neighbors, Dwight D. Eisenhower.
By these measures, there is no other choice for president this year than Hillary Clinton. Though demonized by her critics, Clinton is supremely qualified to lead, especially compared to Trump.
We have come to this decision with tremendous respect for history and The Desert Sun’s role in this community. In 90 years, we have never endorsed a Democrat. The editorial board opposed Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy and endorsed Thomas E. Dewey twice, Richard M. Nixon three times and the likes of Wendell Willkie and Alfred Landon.
Close readers of The Desert Sun will know that our opinions have moderated over the years. Vision, policy and strength of character matter more than political party.
It is unrealistic to expect perfection from our leaders. Thoughtful citizens shift with new information and changing circumstances. So, while we differ on some issues, we appreciate that Hillary Clinton has evolved with a politician’s cautiousness.
No doubt many LGBT voters would have liked her to take bolder action on same-sex marriage, which she opposed for many years but now supports.
Clearly, though, she has come a long way from 20 years ago when her husband signed the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage for federal purposes as between one man and one woman. It took the U.S. Supreme Court to abolish that law.
In the Senate, Hillary Clinton fought for legislation to protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination, and as Secretary of State she led the United Nations to pass its first-ever resolution on LGBT human rights, as she declared to the world, “Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”
In regard to the Clinton Foundation, claims have been debunked that the charitable organization, which funds Third World crop support and access to low-cost AIDS drugs, has served as a slush fund enriching the former first family. But, concerns that donors used the Foundation to gain access to the secretary of state are valid. She should have been more diligent at distancing herself and the office from undue influence.
More generally, the Clinton obsession with secrecy that led to her use of a private email server while secretary of state brought self-inflicted, highly public wounds. Her credibility has paid a price despite countless high-level investigations that have revealed mistakes, belatedly acknowledged, but no law breaking.
Still, as the target of a decades-long crusade by political enemies, Clinton has emerged amazingly well and is a tougher, better leader for the wear.
Her efforts to help women, children and all Americans in a public life that ultimately took her on the global circuit as America’s spokeswoman make her the right choice to become our first female president.
Clinton has a record that appeals to broad swaths of Coachella Valley voters.
As first lady, she was President Bill Clinton’s main voice in trying to create a new system that would have ensured health care access to every American. Though that push ultimately failed, Clinton has worked through the years on efforts to bring better care to many different segments of society – from first responders suffering from exposure to the smoldering toxic site that was ground zero after the 9/11 attacks, to millions of children who are covered under the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Clinton’s ability to work across the aisle in the Senate – evidenced by praise she’s received from colleagues in both parties – was reflected on a broader scale during her tenure as secretary of state. The “most-traveled” diplomat tirelessly worked to bolster America’s prestige on the international scene. There’s little doubt that this experience will help her in dealing with global leaders and the nation surely will benefit from those already established relationships.
Closer to home, Coachella Valley voters should see many things to like in proposals she’s made during the long campaign. Here are four proposals most relevant to our area:
- Pushing to install 500 million solar panels across America in her first four years in office, with the goal of having enough renewable energy to power all of America’s homes within 10 years. The potential job creation and economic benefits for our area, a key solar innovation zone, are encouraging.
- “Comprehensive” immigration reform with a path to citizenship, including working to make more of the estimated 9 million green card holders full citizens and full participants in our democracy.
- Pushing passage of the Equality Act to add gender identity and sexual orientation to the list of protected classes in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- A $350 billion “College Compact” plan that gives states grants to ensure students can attend four-year public institutions without going into debt. The funds would also enable lower interest rates for those who need to borrow to cover living expenses or costs for private college tuition. Under the proposal, students would be expected to work to help pay their education costs and their parents would be expected to contribute, too.
All of these ideas, especially the massive college program, will require tough negotiations with Congress. Even many of her supporters will raise eyebrows at the price tags of these items. But having a strong, effective champion for these causes, especially one who was lauded in the Senate as supremely prepared by members from across the aisle, is something needed in Washington.
Raising these issues with sincere effort at compromise is the only way to end gridlock on Capitol Hill.
Historians will not hold this campaign in high regard.
Trump has struggled to demonstrate a “presidential” temperament despite efforts by various campaign chiefs to add polish to the erratic, boorish, belittling candidate who blustered his way through the GOP primaries.
History will not forget that Trump avoided deep policy debate through deflection, demeaning rivals in childish fashion: “Little Marco” Rubio, “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz, “Low Energy” Jeb Bush, “Crooked” Hillary Clinton.
Name-calling demeans the office he seeks, yet it’s just one unsettling aspect of the xenophobic, nativist campaign Trump has waged. He has pricked the worst impulses of a frustrated American electorate.
In the first head-to-head debate, the newly stage-managed Trump avoided pitfalls for about 20 minutes, but couldn’t resist whining about the Clinton campaign’s attack ads and Rosie O’Donnell. He backhandedly credited himself for not launching a vicious, personal attack on Bill Clinton.
“I’m really happy I was able to hold back on the indiscretions in respect to Bill Clinton. Because I have a lot of respect for Chelsea Clinton. And I just didn’t want to say what I was going to say, which is, I’ll tell you maybe at the next debate,” Trump told CNN.
That he rolled through the primaries and commands the support of so many is a sobering commentary on society. The idea that voters often act against their own interests is not new, but the Trumpian phenomenon is a perversion of this syndrome.
While Trump’s misogyny and demonization of Hispanics and Muslims has ushered him to the threshold of the White House, a coalition built on “us vs. them” bodes ill for the nation’s future. The world will be a much more dangerous place if our next president is motivated by personal vendettas conveyed through vile, monosyllabic utterances
The next most recent candidate who promised to make America great again, Ronald Reagan, was able to articulate a coherent strategy. Trump has not, and is quite possibly unable. Trust him, he urges, to cut better trade deals, trick Mexico into building a wall, convince U.S. companies to brings jobs back home.
We can’t possibly trust someone who can neither control his Twitter finger nor summon intelligible arguments.
Reagan and Trump were aided by circumstance.
In 1980, the Iran hostage crisis and stagflation (high unemployment and high inflation) weakened the country’s resolve. Middle class workers, many longtime Democrats, abandoned President Jimmy Carter to lift Reagan into the White House.
Today, ISIS and the unease we feel about random acts of terror, has created space for a candidate who preys on fear. The current economic recovery, unable to save blue-collar jobs, contributes to our impatience with the White House and Congress.
But Reagan, like President Barack Obama, took office after the economy cratered. Today, employment rates have rebounded and economic expansion, while slow, is steady.
The next president of the United States will take the reins of a country in much better shape than when Carter or George W. Bush left office.
There are enormous challenges ahead. The U.S. Supreme Court still lacks a ninth member. Conservatives fear Clinton will tip the court to the left. Unfortunately, the Senate is obstructing a centrist jurist appointed by Obama, Merrick Garland.
The great irony of this election is Clinton is a centrist, pulled left by Bernie Sanders, and Trump is anything but a reliable conservative.
We need a president who can deliver a clear message at home and abroad.
Racial divisions are feeding unrest, which the next president must calm not inflame. Overwhelming odds face U.S. interests abroad. Non-state sponsored terrorism has destabilized the Middle East, continues to threaten Africa and Asia, and has disrupted the European Union.
We need a president who doesn’t court dictators or undermine NATO.
We need to protect the American workforce while educating and training the next generations for a global economy that is smarter, faster and technologically superior to any before.
America can be so much better, but it remains great.