Although this Presidential Election includes two far from perfect candidates, The Bates Student Editorial Board has no hesitation in endorsing Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.
A lot has changed from eight years ago. We have seen some of the greatest strides in social progress in decades, from the legalization of same-sex marriages to protection of transgender rights to addressing gender disparities. President Obama has rescued a suffocating nation from the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression. With an increasingly globalized society and diversified American culture, we now realize that we must face unprecedented questions of racial tension. Now more than ever, we face deep racial wounds and are coming to terms with questions involving police brutality, Native land rights, immigration, and Islamophobia. We are aware of the discomfort of far too many citizens who questioned our first African-American president’s legitimacy with the overtly racist birther movement. We have witnessed the President face unprecedented obstructionism, from government shutdowns to a refusal to uphold Constitutional duties of voting on Supreme Court nominees. We find ourselves at a delicate crux, when decades of civil liberties will be determined by the next President and influence the social climate of our nation.
A deplorable man is the Republican Nominee for President of the United States. A man who has attacked Mexicans, Muslims, women, the disabled and countless other groups could be the Leader of the Free World by the time we publish our next issue. How did we get here? It may not be pleasant to admit it, but large sects of the Republican Party have endorsed an ideology of aimless anger, racism, sexism, Islamophobia, and bizarre conspiracy in the last 15 years. When you add on top of that the absurd culture we live in, where entertainment and gratification trump basic values like respect and civility, you get Donald Trump. He is not the hero we deserve or the hero we need. He is not even a hero, but he is the man we must confront, the man we must acknowledge as a legitimate candidate to be the boss of the United States.
We are left to decide between two of the most unpopular major party candidates in American political history. We are left to decide between a candidate many Americans view as an untrustworthy politician with a history of hawkish tendencies and a lecherous orange man enabling white power. This may help to explain why many are turning towards either Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, the nominees for the Green and Libertarian Parties, respectively. While holding distinct ideological views may appear sincere or attractive, both Stein and Johnson fail to make a legitimate impact in changing political dialogue or posing as practical alternatives. Though democracy encourages and, indeed, fosters a diversity of opinions, our current political system is run by two major parties with little if any hope for other candidates. As noble or sound as voters may feel giving their votes to third parties, they must also acknowledge that either Clinton or Trump will be our next president. And more importantly, the difference between Clinton and Trump is not one of degree, but one of kind. Saying that this election is between the lesser of two evils, as it were, is to be willfully ignorant of the glaring differences between the candidates and their policies (or lack thereof).
Outside of salacious issues like Donald J. Trump’s hair, or Donald J. Trump’s attitude towards Rosie O’Donnell, or Donald J. Trump’s latest tweet about a sex tape, we have to assess which candidate is best equipped to represent America on the world stage and make crucial decisions about the direction of our country. The most difficult part of doing this is separating the drama of wondering what ridiculous thing Trump might say next from his fitness to lead. The simplest way to make such a judgment is to ask which candidate has the best character. And the sad reality is that Donald Trump’s character is disqualifying: Giving a volatile, sensitive buffoon like Trump control over the nuclear codes would, quite literally, be a disaster. Giving a man who thinks it’s acceptable to sexually assault women because of his stardom reign over America would be, to put it mildly, morally repugnant. Even with her numerous faults, Hillary Clinton has proven herself to be, even to her worst skeptics, a mature, reasonable, and principled person during her 30+ years in the public spotlight.
We disagree with Donald Trump when he says all of Clinton’s years in public service are “bad experience.” Hillary Clinton has a long, consistent history of advocating for women and children’s rights, from her early years working for the Children’s Defense Fund and fighting for children’s healthcare, to her support for educating young women across the world as Secretary of State. This record is especially important to consider in the context of appointing our next Supreme Court Justices, as Clinton has proven that she will select Justices who will protect women’s reproductive rights. After an intense primary battle with Bernie Sanders, Clinton has embraced a more progressive platform, taking an aggressive stance on urgent issues such as climate change, removing money from politics, and providing tuition-free college education for any family making less than $125,000 per year.
That said, Hillary Clinton is far from a perfect candidate. A part of the untrustworthiness surrounding her comes from radical changes of her stances, from opposing marriage equality to coming around a few years ago, to considering the Trans-Pacific Partnership the “gold standard” of trade to eventually opposing it. Even today some of her stances remain problematic, such as not yet taking a staunch stance on the North Dakota Access Pipeline, both for environmental reasons and for Native rights’ sake. From once calling black children “superpredators” to now understanding Black Lives Matter, Secretary Clinton has changed her views on a number of issues in a drastic manner that leaves some unnerved. There are serious questions to be raised regarding her view on America’s role abroad. Was her vote for the War in Iraq a precursor of military interventionism? Will the United States send troops into Syria to overthrow Assad? What role, if any, ought the country play in defeating ISIS? These are tough foreign policy questions that require a seasoned, rational adult to answer, and given Clinton’s history of changing her publically stated stances, it’s understandable why some would doubt her ability to stay true to her word on these matters.
It’s important to recognize these deficiencies while also acknowledging that Clinton’s flaws are in no way comparable to those of Trump. Our nation does face some grave problems, and one of these is Donald Trump. It may be typical for the media to treat the two major candidates as equals, but we feel it would simply be false and irresponsible to do so this election. Only one candidate in this race is capable of competently addressing the pressing issues of our country, and her name is Hillary Clinton.