Election 2016: Time to Choose

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Nigel Parry for CNN

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are tightening their grips on the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.

Mickey Masterson

By Mickey Masterson ’17, Perspectives Section Editor

After one of the craziest lead-ups to an election in our country’s recent history, America is faced with a difficult choice. This election has been marked by much conflict within each party and a seemingly never-ending stream of controversies. While this year’s candidates are commonly noted as some of the most historically unfavorable, it is almost entirely certain that the U.S.’s next president will either be former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or businessman Donald Trump. It is our duty as American citizens to participate in the democratic process. While some joke about moving to Canada and 0thers wrestle with even making this choice, it is important to choose who our nation’s executive and chief policy-maker will be for, at least, the next four years.

I will give a general overview of each candidate, in which I will attempt to be objective, and then give my personal opinion on which of the candidates is better suited to serve in the Oval Office. Just as everyone else is, I too am biased. Throughout this election I have not been a strong supporter of either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. I am a left-leaning moderate; I acknowledge that both the Democratic and Republican Parties have their ideological strengths and weaknesses.

Background of Each Candidate
Hillary Clinton began her career as a lawyer in Arkansas, married Bill Clinton, and then became First Lady of Arkansas in 1979. Following her husband’s election to the presidency in the 1992 race, she became the First Lady of the United States. Afterwards, she became the first First Lady to hold elective office as the Senator from New York, in which she served for eight years. She made a strong bid for the Democratic nomination for President in 2008, ultimately losing to then-Senator Barack Obama, who then nominated her for the position of Secretary of State. As she has gladly stated on numerous occasions, she has accomplished a lot in her thirty years of public service. She is easily the more experienced of the two.

Donald Trump was born into wealth in New York. He started his business career with the infamous “small loan of a million dollars” from his father, Fred Trump. In 1971, he became President of his father’s real-estate company Elizabeth Trump and Son, which he immediately renamed The Trump Organization. His business career has been marked by many financial successes, as he expanded the company to be a worldwide conglomerate, and he currently owns real-estate assets ranging in the billions. However, he has faced many bankruptcies as well. The exact details of his financial status is unclear as he refuses to release his tax-returns. According to the Economist, a popular pecuniary magazine, Mr. Trump unquestionably possesses great wealth, but “his performance has been mediocre compared with the stock market and property in New York” and he “has not yet created a great company, raised permanent capital on public markets, gone global or diversified very successfully”. Trump has also ventured into the reality television game, hosting the show “The Apprentice”. Mr. Trump has not had an active role in politics until recently, aside from his unsuccessful 2000 presidential campaign. His political affiliation has shifted several times: from 1987 to 1999 he was a Republican, he was a member of the Reform Party from 1999-2001, he was a Democrat from 2001-2009, Republican again from 2009-2011, an Independent for five months, and finally returned to the GOP in 2012. If elected, he would be the first president to never hold a prior political office, nor be a significant military commander, such as Presidents George Washington and Ulysses. S. Grant.

Scandals
While both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump have had their respective political and financial successes, both have been implicated in numerous public scandals during their time as public figures. The negative press each have received for their blunders is unequivocally each their key detracting point.
While Mrs. Clinton’s husband is infamous for being one of the two Presidents to ever be impeached by the House of Representatives, albeit being later acquitted by the Senate, Hillary Clinton has had her share of scandals. Some of these do not have sufficient evidence backing them up, while other raise some serious concerns. The Clinton Foundation, while it does providing humanitarian services around the world, has been criticized for its accepting of large donations from foreign governments, such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates, large corporations such as Goldman Sachs, and wealthy foreign citizens. Algeria even made a sizable donation to the Clinton Foundation while Mrs. Clinton was in office as Secretary of State. This blatant conflict of interest remains a large stain on the Clinton campaign. The many controversies regarding Secretary Clinton’s emails have also severely hurt her public image. Against protocol, she used a private email server to handle state department communication. While she had dismissed the matter earlier as simply a matter of convenience, the FBI found her actions more consequential. While the FBI report found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, FBI Director James B. Comey declared Clinton’s use of a private-server as “extremely careless”. It is up for debate whether Hillary’s mistake was innocent or duplicitous, but she made matters worse by doing two things: testifying to the House that she never sent nor received classified documents, and withholding emails from the investigation, with 30,000 emails she considered “personal” being deleted by her aides. Comey found that of the emails she turned over, 110 contained material that was classified at the time it was sent, and 3 were marked classified at the time. 2,100 emails were retroactively marked as classified by the State Department. Again, no criminal charges should be brought up against Mrs. Clinton, but the optics of this situation are undeniably bad.
Donald Trump has likewise been dogged with controversies throughout his campaign. Of the many, many scandals surrounding him, Trump University has been one that has been persistently criticized. People who had enrolled in it have decried it as misleading and a scam. It is not even a real university and offers no degree. Trump’s company has also been accused of denying rental housing due to racial discrimination, employing undocumented immigrants, stiffing workers their pay, and many other things. As I referenced above, Trump has gone bankrupt four times in his career. However, Trump’s worst enemy is inarguably his own mouth. He has had said horrific things throughout his campaign, including calling Mexican immigrants murderers and rapists, suggesting that the military kill the families of terrorists, and advocating for banning all Muslims entering the country. But what he has received the most criticism for is his sexist comments towards women. His campaign was under heavy fire when a 2005 video surfaced of him making extremely inappropriate remarks regarding women, boasting of his ability to sexually assault women. But this is statement is only the most recent and most explicit in a long list of misogynistic statements made by Trump. Allegations of sexual assault by Trump have been made since the 1970s, with more than eight women coming forward, not counting the beauty pageant contestants that Trump observed changing. (Though to be fair, three women have accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault). Granted, these cases are Trump’s word against theirs, but these accusations are depressingly unsurprising due to Trump’s many sexist comments.

Platform
I will not spend a lot of time here, considering that people’s beliefs regarding positions are usually unchanging and influenced by people’s one background and belief system. As the nominees of their respective parties, the candidates’ positions on issues should reflect the platforms of their parties. Naturally, Democrats believe in being socially progressive, expansion of government for social programs, gun regulation, abortion rights, the environment, among other things. Republicans believe in social conservatism, economic liberalism, small government, anti-gun laws, pro-life, low taxes, among other things.

Conclusion
Weighing all of the above in mind, and considering the tremendous powers and responsibilities of the office of President, I have come to a decision. Simply put, Donald Trump can never be President of the United States. In this election, it is important not take either candidate at face value. I understand that there is a distinct possibility that both candidates are morally compromised. Hillary Clinton has done things that suggest corruption– a fact that some take as an absolute reason why she should not be president, claiming she is a crook. However, our justice system operates under the principle that citizens are innocent until proven guilty, and Mrs. Clinton has never been charged with a crime. While some may attribute this to further levels of corruption, I believe there is no definitive evidence that Hillary Clinton is corrupt.
Donald Trump on the other hand, is very clear about what kind of person he is. In my earlier article regarding the Republican Nation Convention, I praised Mr. Trump for his ability to stay on message and not make outrageously offensive remarks. While he made extremely divisive statements during the primary season, I seriously considered the possibility that Mr. Trump would step up his game for the general election race and act in a more presidential manner. But the more the race continued, the more Mr. Trump’s actions and words blatantly contradicted the type of person he purports himself to be to his followers. I think the debates were a truly low point for Trump. While Clinton was able to provide genuinely well-thought out responses, Trump lost all semblance of civility or intelligence with his responses which I can only describe as puerile. I cannot stress enough that while Secretary Clinton possibly may be ambitious, self-serving, and corrupt, there is no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump is narcissistic, immature, and asinine.

Even if we go with the uncorroborated assumption that Secretary Clinton is corrupt, the country would endure under her administration. She has significant political experience and is very well-suited for the role in that regard. Donald Trump, however, is totally unfit to be president. He has proven time and time again that he lacks the temperament to deal with foreign leaders, make military decisions, or influence policy in the United States. While I find Trump’s platform to have strong undercurrents of xenophobia and racism, even that fact is less significant in comparison to his overarching character flaws. When you look at the arguments against both candidates, Trump’s advantages far outweigh Clinton’s. Donald Trump cannot be president. Therefore, though I never thought I would say this at the beginning of the race, I support Hillary Clinton as the most responsible choice for President of the United States.

Side Note
I would also like to point out the very important race regarding the control of the US Senate. I think that both candidates for Senator from Ohio are good choices. Senator Portman and Governor Strickland are both very well-qualified and hold reasonable views. Personally, I favor Senator Portman as he is the incumbent with a very successful track record, is fiscally conservative, has socially tolerant views (for example, he was the first Republican Senator to support gay marriage after his son, Will ’10, came out in 2013), and also is a Cincinnati Country Day School graduate in the Class of 1974, having served as treasurer of his class.