This has no doubt been one of the most painful presidential campaigns in America’s history, and it has certainly splintered the people of this country in a way this country has not seen since the Civil War. When, however, the smoke — or more likely the dirt — clears, we will still be the people we are, with the national, state and local problems we have been suffering from. We will all be burdened, over-burdened, with the availability and cost of health care. We will all be in need of improving our children’s education. We will all be faced with the creeping disaster of global warming. We will all be in need of a path to more and better jobs. We will all be faced with a gruesome national debt, a stubborn trade imbalance. And at the heart of all of this, we are all feeling the pain of an almost completely useless Congress and a totally dysfunctional political conversation.
We desperately need to get out of the mud of this election season, a mudpile that we have actually been in for a while now. The Trump and Clinton show was just the culmination of a years-long commitment to the strategy of personal attack. This campaign took crudeness to a non-sustainable level. The moment that the size of one’s genitals became an issue in the campaign, we had reached a point where we needed, not just to moderate, but to reject entirely the political atmosphere that brought us there. I cannot take the visceral hatred this grimy atmosphere has generated and encouraged into my relations with fellow Americans with opinions differing from mine. Liberals genuinely need conservatives with whom to arrive at a rational compromise on solutions to our mutual, critical problems. We are a nation founded on a rejection of the principle of self-interest. We hold, beyond any doubt whatsoever, that every human being is owed fundamental rights and that we are unavoidably and inescapably committed to honoring those rights. That is what it means to be an American, and we are all — Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, and yes, even Ku Klux Klanners — Americans.
So what matters to me now, and what matters to us all, is not what dirt has been thrown on one candidate or the other, but what policies are likely to arise from one candidate or the other. So here is what I want. I want the government to do what it can to help us retard or reverse the damage we are doing to the environment. I want the government to implement a program of universal care that will reduce the amount this country has to pay for health care and will extend that care to all Americans. I want the government to do what it can to improve education and make it available to everyone at a cost everyone can afford. I want the government to do what it can to encourage the creation of good and valuable jobs and make the balance of trade among nations a fair one for the American people. I want the government to do what it can to give all who have been able to live in this country for years without legal status a chance to keep the lives they have established here.
To see that my list of wishes get advanced, I support increasing taxes on businesses and on the wealthier and eliminating the loopholes that allow the wealthy to avoid those taxes. I support the regulation of emissions from cars and trucks and factories and power plants, and the installation of programs that encourage the development of non-polluting power. I support the extension of the Affordable Care Act to a program that covers all Americans and allows us to collectively bargain with the medical industry to rein in and ultimately reverse the spiraling cost of care. I support the negotiation of trade agreements that help Americans produce and sell goods and services on level ground with other nations. I support the installation of a program that provides a way for people who live in America without legal status to gain that status without seriously disrupting their lives.
This reduces the election to one simple question: who is more likely, as president, to pursue the policies I support? I don’t care if it is a man or a woman. I don’t care whether that person lied about his or her taxes or his or her income. I don’t care about his or her religion or family status or even his or her past indiscretions. I don’t even care which of the candidates initiated or accelerated this hideous campaign of mudslinging. I only care about these issues.
And, on these issues, my choice is clear and simple. Hillary Clinton will not, even if she serves for a full eight years, install a full program of universal health care. She will not accomplish the needed tax levels on corporations and the wealthy. She will not eliminate the country’s abuse of the environment or achieve a completely fair balance of trade. She will not preside over a fair program of legal status for the country’s undocumented. But she will have tried, and because she will have tried she will have made some progress in all these areas. So, plain and simple, she is my choice.
There are other areas, no doubt. She is likely to install judges and justices more in line with my juridical views. She is likely to appoint heads of departments — attorney general and secretary of state and secretary of defense etc. — that will more likely work toward policies with which I agree. Those things are important, but it is the major problems that face this country that concern me and concern us all. It is very hard to concentrate on those problems and tune out the noise of personal attacks and the ugliness of mudslinging. If I had to blame one or the other for that ugliness, I would likely blame them both. They have both made my job harder, but it is still my job, as a citizen, to look past the rhetoric and the attacks and the just plain dirt and to choose what I think will be better for all Americans. Hillary Clinton is clearly that choice. Others have other views, and I respect their right to have them. I only hope that, in the end, we all see through the mud.