WRITTEN BY CASEY GOREVAN
The lesser of two evils seldom seems virtuous compared to its more nefarious counterpart. Indeed, those forced to choose between two bad options usually do so with a sense of depressed responsibility, motivated only by their fear of the more malicious alternative. But such a scenario usually implies there is some sort of equivalency between the two ‘evils’ in question — that ultimately, not much separates them. But in this presidential election, the difference between Hillary Clinton, a deeply flawed candidate, and her opponents—both within and without her party—make the former Secretary of State appear as a paragon of sanity, relative to their irrational positions.
And Mrs. Clinton is certainly a flawed candidate, for reasons both fair and unfair.
As Secretary of State her tenure was, at best, unremarkable. Clinton achieved no major diplomatic breakthroughs such as those forged by notable predecessors like George Marshall and Dean Acheson.
More concerning are potential conflicts of interest that arose during her secretarial reign as result of donations made by foreign governments to the Clinton Foundation, the massive humanitarian nonprofit founded by former President Bill Clinton. There is no definitive proof whatsoever of any unsavory transactions. No foreign countries have been found benefiting from State Department policy as a result of donations made to the Clinton non-profit. However, legitimate questions have been raised, and have contributed to the reigning narrative that the name “Hillary Clinton” is synonymous with unscrupulous, shady behavior.
This perception is, of course, compounded by Mrs. Clinton’s on-going email scandal. Setting up a private email server for convenience’s sake and, in doing so, possibly skirting the laws in place regarding the transference of classified material, was a major error of judgement on Clinton’s part— as she herself acknowledges. And this is to say nothing of decades of demonization, much of it unfair, which the former Senator from New York has been made to suffer. All this has driven her favorability rating well under 50 percent, as any poll will attest.
So why should any party choose such a flawed candidate as it’s standard-bearer in a presidential election?
Because when the only alternative is Bernie Sanders, you have no choice. Mr. Sanders is a radical left-wing extremist, whose antipathy for capitalism goes against the sound, founding socio-economic values of this country. More specifically, many of his proposals are quite simply not feasible. And this is not only the contention of his conservative critics; liberal economists and thinkers, who have remained neutral in the Democratic primary, have balked at the Vermont Senator’s economic plans.
“The numbers don’t remotely add up,” said Austan Goolsbee, former chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, when referring to Senator Sander’s spending proposals. Notable liberal columnist Ezra Klien, formerly of The Washington Post, said, “Sanders’ long-awaited health care plan is, by turns, vague and unrealistic.” Jared Bernstein, a former economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, said of Mr. Sanders’ economic proposals, “…when you put it all together, government’s role in the economy goes well beyond anything we’ve ever considered.”
And then there is Senator Sanders’ willful ignorance of foreign affairs, an issue for which he cares very little. The Vermont statesmen seldom speaks about foreign policy on the campaign trail, and when he deigns to do so, he is well out of his depth. This is why his press secretary, at a campaign event in December, told reporters present, “Don’t ask about ISIS today.” (When asked by a reporter if there was a reason he didn’t want to speak about ISIS, an irritated Sanders retorted, “Of course I’ll talk about ISIS”, before proceeding to mention that unemployment, poverty, and education were also important issues, at which point he abruptly ended the press conference).
When forced to speak on national security during debates with Mrs. Clinton, Sanders spouts talking points and avoids specifics. His campaign did not even have any foreign policy advisers until the end of February. Such willful ignorance of this country’s national security by a major presidential candidate, with recent attacks in Paris and San Bernadino, is inexcusable and unforgivable.
Fortunately, most Democratic primary voters—unlike their Republican counterparts—have resisted the urge to nominate an unelectable extremist. With a delegate leave of over 200, Clinton’s nomination is all but assured.
Shifting our gaze, therefore, to the general election, are confronted with the Republican field. Success in the GOP primary has thus far seemed to follow a simple formula: the more tenuous a candidate’s grip on reality, the more votes he receives. It is for this reason that the vaguely rational John Kasich and Marco Rubio have almost no chance of winning their party’s nomination, and will be skipped over in this prognosis.
The Republican primary has devolved into a contest between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz— the former is a crazy, bigoted narcissist, the latter is a crazy, bigoted narcissist. It is difficult to ascertain which of these two gentlemen is ‘worse’, but Ted Cruz managed to abstain from bragging about the size of his genitalia during a televised debate, and is therefore slightly less baleful.
Yet Mr. Cruz is still a man who helped shut down the government, knowing nothing would come of it other than disruption for the country. With a long history of obstructionist absolutism, some would say he is to be feared more than Mr. Trump.
But it is Mr. Trump who is the clear frontrunner of the Republican presidential primary and, as such, is the face of the party. It is difficult to overstate the threat this man poses to America. Were an individual with such a mercurial temperament to assume the Oval Office – a man who calls Mexicans rapists and drug dealers, attributes a female journalist’s supposed abrasiveness to her menstrual cycle, encourages his supporters to assault protesters, refuses to condemn the KKK, and brags about the size of his you-know-what during a televised debate watched by millions of people — it would result in incalculable damage to America’s good name.
And this is to say nothing of his policy proposals, which are often difficult to discern from what Charles Krauthammer calls his “barstool eruptions”. His protectionist economic policies, going against the bipartisan consensus established on free trade, could very well precipitate a recession. His barbaric, ill-defined foreign policy—anchored on his vows to target the families of terrorists and to utilize torture techniques, “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding”— would deprive America of the moral high ground, and place it on an equal footing with terrorists. His proposal to “temporarily” ban Muslims from entering the US reeks of fascism, and would permanently deface our reputation overseas.
And then, of course, there is the wall, for which Mexico will somehow be forced to pay. While he has convinced swaths of Republicans that undocumented immigrants damage America socially and economically, studies indicate otherwise. Studies show undocumented immigrants simply perform jobs Americans aren’t willing to, and actually commit crimes at a lower rate than American citizens.
The key takeaway is that Trump is different than other major candidates in past elections. This is due not only to his petulant, bullying, erratic temperament, but the political violence—as seen at his rallies—which he has introduced into American discourse. This is something no American living today can recall witnessing in past national elections. The man, quite simply, is dangerous.
Hence, Mrs. Clinton must be our next President. She alone prevents the ascendency of an extremist to the Oval Office – be it a quixotic socialist ideologue, a xenophobic, erratic opportunist, or an obstructionist absolutist.
None of this is to say, of course, that the inadequacies of her fellow candidates constitute Mrs. Clinton’s sole qualification for the office she seeks. She brings good, if not particularly original, ideas to the table and is running on what commentators have called a ‘third term’ of Barack Obama. And such a ‘third term’ would be the only plan proposed by the current leading candidates that sits within the mainstream of American politics.
While measured, rational adherence to proven ideals might not be the most inspiring rally cry, it is certainly a worthy one when juxtaposed with a menagerie of radical, harmful alternatives. It should also be said that some of the responsibility for the rise of said alternatives rests with the American people themselves. Indeed, it is deeply to disturbing see swaths of Democratic and Republican voters resurrecting extreme, previously discarded ideals. So to prevent the lunatics from running the asylum, vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton.