Sunday, October 30, 2016

An Odd Sense of Optimism

The revelation Friday that the FBI had reopened its investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of state was politically shocking but not unexpected. In a bizarre parallel, I had a similar reaction to the Donald Trump hot-mic tape a couple of weeks ago. It reinforced something I already knew about the candidate and which I expected to emerge at some point in one form or another. In other words, neither piece of news necessarily impacted how I felt about each candidate.

I had already decided prior to hearing the Access Hollywood tape that I was not voting for Trump, primarily because of his proposed policies on immigration.

And prior to Friday, I already knew that Clinton was constantly embroiled in scandal, partly of her own doing, partly because she is a lightning rod for Republican hatred. What the email scandal told me was that Clinton will go to great lengths to control the flow of information to the public, which is a reasonable desire for most human beings, but when someone is serving in public office, there is no expectation of privacy and she should have accepted that fact (and followed protocol for handling classified documents). 

What the email scandal has not demonstrated (and the latest revelations haven't changed this - though I'll read anything further from the FBI with great interest), is that Clinton sold or traded classified information for personal gain, or that she neglectfully allowed such information to be stolen. Despite the Russian hack of the DNC, the only view we've had of Clinton's emails while secretary of state were released by the FBI itself

In short, my opinion of Clinton is still the same - she is a typical politician, slimy at times and prone to corruption, but no moreso than the bell curve of presidential candidates in the last fifty years would predict.

I hope that doesn't sound like an endorsement. (And if it does, what a sad state of politics!) I feel no obligation to defend or support either of the major party candidates, because neither are very good. But I try to avoid sensationalism in this blog, and I think blowing the latest developments in the FBI investigation out of proportion would be sensationalistic. (Though I must observe that the politics of the revelation very well could cost Clinton the election, which is different than saying it should.)

My position has been, and continues to be, that Hillary Clinton has the potential to be a good president, although I'm still an undecided voter. If I had to choose between the two, I would still prefer Clinton, more of the same, to Trump, an unknown quantity with great risk. I'm a conservative because I think change should be deliberate and incremental in the direction of greater liberty and justice, and that dramatic shifts of any kind can be temporarily catastrophic. Clinton at worst would be no different from Obama; at best, she could walk a slightly more moderate path of compromise. 

In the spirit of eschewing sensationalism, I should also be fair to Donald Trump, of whom I have been very critical over the past year. It's no secret that I disagree with Trump on policy and style. I severely dislike the way he has spoken of women, minorities, and his political opponents (or some mixture of the three). 
Relax, I just think it's funny.
That said, if Donald Trump became president, the world would not end. The senate would still have the power to confirm supreme court justice nominees, the cabinet could override the orders of a lunatic to fire a nuclear weapon indiscriminately, congress could override a veto, citizens could still protest injustices in the streets, and each of us could continue to live our lives the way that we see fit based on our personal code of ethics. 

Moreover, a President Trump would have as good a chance as anyone ever has of changing the culture in Washington. There is no denying that corruption in politics is pervasive. If Trump wins, I hope that he will focus his efforts on ousting corruption from the Capitol rather than deporting hard-working undocumented immigrants. I hope he uses his negotiation skills to bring peace to Syria rather than fighting lawsuits against his accusers. I hope he will direct law enforcement resources toward preventing terrorism rather than putting Hillary Clinton in jail. 

I hope Trump is not immune to the humility that the Oval Office bestows - the same humility that kept Barack Obama from closing Gitmo and compelled George H.W. Bush to raise taxes

I don't trust him enough to give him my vote, but let's not all apply for Canadian citizenship just yet.

Elections have consequences, and I urge everyone to make an informed decision and vote for the candidate that they choose after thoughtful consideration. But regardless of who wins, and forgive the schmaltz, America will still be a great country on November 9th and January 20th and every day that we make it great by our individual actions in our daily lives.

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