In a vacuum, if both presidential candidates had said/done/tweeted nothing up to this point, I would probably be leaning toward The Orange One. That’s because I am very tired of politicians. Yes, I acknowledge that politicians are necessary in government because not just anyone can do the job. You need someone who knows how to work the system and work within the system.
Then again, the system is broken.
So I would look to someone who is not a politician and wants to upset the system (or fix the antenna, at least). That person would also have to be a good manager because they would be in charge of a huge bureaucracy (and hopefully cut it down to size). We need a manager in the Executive Branch, not so much a leader. Our leaders can come from just about any other part of the government or the world.
But we don’t live in a vacuum, and both candidates have said and done things. The Orange one has made it clear that I am not welcomed in this country on account of where I was born. To him, I am a rapist, my friends are terrorists, and my other friends are existential threats to American family values. To him, my wife shouldn’t be listened to because she has 0% silicon in her. To him, he and only he can fix everything that’s wrong.
This is not to say that Hillary doesn’t think that she alone can fix what’s wrong. I believe she does. She just doesn’t say it out loud. Instead, she says that I am part of her team and that my contributions will help her fix things. This is closer to the real world than what Orange is saying. If you really think about it, there is only so much the President of the United States can really do to impact our day-to-day lives. Taxes are set by Congress. The President can only sign or veto tax bills. The safety of my neighborhood is a combination of the efforts of my neighbors and I and the efforts of our local police force. The value of my home is more dependent on my local and state governments than on federal action.
And I like it that way.
Just like I did last week with Trump’s speech, I read Hillary Clinton’s speech instead of listening to her deliver it. I didn’t want to be biased by how she looked, how she sounded, the reaction from the crowd, or what the talking heads said about it. I didn’t even read the comments about her speech on the Gawker.com post.
On the one hand, her speech was very upbeat and optimistic. It was a total contrast to last week’s speech, where the US is in shambles and we’re all going to be killed by radical terrorists. (Radical terrorists are not an existential threat, by the way. Not even close.) She emphasized teamwork and — dare I say it? — collectivism, albeit while giving individual and exemplary examples to prove her points. She explained why it is necessary for us to work together to overcome the problems that our country faces.
Hillary is right, of course. But it’s Congress that really needs to have its members learn to work together. Their collective inactions and partisan actions are tearing us apart and creating too much uncertainty. If Hillary can do as she promises and get bipartisan support for action, then sign me up. But, like a lot of people in the country, I have my doubts.
I have my doubts because of the way that so-called Republicans have been spending millions of dollars on investigating her and holding hearings about her. Were hearings necessary? Yes, but then the hearings got repetitive. They got personal. And it became clear that, like they promised when Barack Obama became president, they are going to vow to themselves and their funders that they’re going to do everything in their power so her presidency fails.
I’m also convinced that Hillary has made some strange allegiances in her time in politics. She may very well owe some favors to people who don’t have our collective best interests in mind. Or she might owe favors to governments who don’t have the United States’ best interests in mind. And that’s worrying.
But I do agree that college shouldn’t be the only way to success. Plenty of people make good livings and contribute mightily to society on only a high school degree, or training in a trade. My house would have fallen apart a couple of winters ago if it wasn’t for a plumber. Dad helped raise me while working fixing cars and machines and placing insulation on oil containers. My cousins drive the sweetest rides while working as welders and technicians. And a lot of men and women help us study public health in comfort while cleaning up after us at the school.
I also agree that going to college should not leave you with a mountain of debt. I agree that we need to get to work on climate change immediately, increasing the use of solar and wind power and decreasing the use of hydrocarbons (i.e. oil). Though I disagree that government alone should fund these endeavors. Instead, the government should make it easy (with less regulations and more incentives, more seed money) for private companies to take these alternative energy technologies to market.
As far as national security, it may seem like I don’t care because I’ve told you that there are other more pressing problems (like heart disease, diabetes, and malaria) killing more people than terrorism. At the same time, I am well aware that terrorism has the uncanny power to disrupt economies. I’m aware that Putin’s Russia wants to be made great again by meddling with the sovereignty of other countries, or even invading them. And I am aware that China has big plans for the Western Pacific.
This is where Trump’s ability to manage kind of doesn’t account for much. Here’s where the Commander in Chief needs to have experience in international affairs. While it may not be the right experience (ISIS ran amok and the “line in the sand” was stepped over and over by Assad), Hillary has the experience of being Secretary of State. It’s not an easy job. It can’t be. Pakistan could have lost its collective mind after Bin Laden was taken out on Pakistani soil by American soldiers. She was there to guide the diplomatic effort to smooth things over.
Finally, from seeing the cast of (non-celebrity) characters who came on stage at the convention and who she is likely to have in her cabinet and brain trust, I’m not worried about her handling of things if she becomes the President. I am, however, very worried about the management of things if Trump becomes the President. With her shortcomings and failures (personal and professional), a second Clinton Administration that doesn’t push nationalism and xenophobia is palatable.
So I guess I’ll hold my nose and vote.
(I’ll review the Green Party and the Libertarian Party candidates’ speeches at a later date.)
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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