The current presidential campaign has been characterized by more intensive vitriol, half-truths and misdirection than any other in my lifetime. Both candidates have very high “unfavorables,” the highest ever polled. Clinton supporters view Trump as misogynistic, racist, boorish and ignorant of the issues. Trump supporters view Clinton as dishonest, a political clone of Obama’s, question her judgement and feel she is hiding serious health issues. Also, they question the objectivity of most of the media. Every little thing the two candidates say and do is twisted by the opposition to support the above preconceptions. Many voters view this election as a “Hobson’s choice.” Some are so dissatisfied that they have insisted they will “sit out” the election rather than vote for one or the other candidate.
In the 1980 presidential campaign Ronald Reagan famously asked the voters “are you better off today than you were four years ago?” Some people sniggered, but it was a brilliant question. It forced people to look past the campaign rhetoric into their own lives objectively. For those of us who remember the disastrous 1970s under Jimmy Carter – double digit interest rates, runaway inflation, gas lines and Iran holding Americans hostage – the answer was obvious, and it virtually sealed the election for Reagan.
Well, this year I would like to ask you a similar question. How’re you doin? Are you satisfied with your job? Do you even have a job? Were you “encouraged” by your last employer to “retire” early? If so, were you able to find meaningful, satisfying, challenging work, or any work at all? How’s the quality of your healthcare since the advent of “Obamacare?” Is it overly expensive; are the coverages adequate? Can you afford to fill your prescriptions at the local pharmacy? If you’re a recent college graduate have you been able to find a job in your field, or are you waiting on tables or working in a deli “temporarily” to make ends meet? Hourly workers, have your hours been reduced. How do your “real wages” stack up? Have you received an increase recently? Office workers, has your workload increased substantially, because your employer is loath to hire additional employees? Are you a recent medical school graduate in your 30s who invested ten additional years of your life and racked up a mid-six figure student loan debt only to end up working for a relatively modest salary in an Urgent Care Clinic instead of in a lucrative private practice? If you’re a recent law school graduate, have you actually found meaningful work as a lawyer?
If your answer to these questions is “no,” you are not alone. Most likely, if I didn’t describe your situation, I did describe that of someone you know. The latest Gallup poll reveals that 74% of Americans are dissatisfied with the “direction” in which the country is going. That may be a vague, general characterization, but, to me, it denotes that people are frustrated, “pissed off,” and starving for a leader who will “fix” things. They may not be able to identify specifically what should be done, but they know something should be done that is different from what has been done for the last eight years.
According to that same poll, the three biggest objects of their dissatisfaction are Congress, politicians, and the government as a whole. They don’t like them, and don’t trust them. They realize that those entities, through their actions or inactions, have failed to provide the climate for hardworking people to succeed. Well, guess what. Trump is neither of those, and Clinton is all of them.
Americans say they want change: Clinton represents more of the same, a virtual third term for Obama. So, I challenge Clinton supporters to look past the campaign rhetoric and media prejudices that are meant to obscure and mischaracterize the really important issues. I think (hope) most of you are too smart to be deceived. Please explain something to me. Logic indicates that if Clinton is elected she will continue the progressive policies that have put us in the situation we are currently in. Most of you say you are not happy with the current situation and want changes made. Trump represents change. Most of you may have reservations about some of the changes he espouses. But, we have been trying things a certain way for eight years, and it’s not working. What would be the harm in trying things another way?
And, I say to Republicans/conservatives/moderates who are thinking of staying home or voting for Clinton, because they hate and/or mistrust Trump, consider this: if a Trump presidency fails we can vote him out after four years. If Clinton wins she will likely be able to appoint up to five liberal Supreme Court justices. FIVE. That will put a huge liberal majority on the Court for the next 30 years. Consider that. If you think America is going in the wrong direction now….