Here we go

I’ve just watched the closing arguments presented by Trump and Clinton. They’ve been flying around the country in a mad dash to collect each possible vote. I feel much the way I felt before the first debate between the two candidates.

In a nut shell, my feeling is that preparation and experience must count for something. I don’t even know if most voters are thinking in these terms, but when I hear Donald Trump try to explain what he intends to do as president, it seems to be a strange melange of imagery. It is a pep talk couched in an extremely dark and dystopian perception of the current and future situation in the US economy and our place in the world.

Hillary Clinton has had numerous punches land on her during this campaign. She has demonstrated a strong jaw, to push this metaphor. I don’t think all of the attacks against her have been particularly fair, but some of them have merit and some really don’t. For example there are still a number of people who seem to believe that Hillary somehow directly caused people to die in Benghazi. Considerable time and effort has also been spent advancing conspiracies about the Clinton Global Initiative – an organization that has had a pretty solid record of doing good work and helping a lot of people around the world.

Why countries with questionable human rights records would donate *that much cash to CGI? It’s a legit question. On the other hand, what we are talking about here isn’t illegal unless there are some specific instances where US policy was changed as a direct response to these donations; access doesn’t count as illegal. As a side note, a donation to CGI would be the most indirect type of bribe possible. Bill and Hillary don’t draw salaries and they don’t spend the money on themselves. It’s as if we are accusing CGI of accepting bribes in the form of millions of doses of HIV medications for children. This would apparently be done in exchange for US foreign policy influence. That is just a weird assertion.

Then there are the emails. What I find most interesting about the accusations about her email server is that they do not serve to explain exactly what was done. There was a serious mistake made in deleting a large number of e-mails after a subpoena was issued. The explanation for this is actually pretty believable. It is also clear that the emails in question didn’t occur during the time of the Benghazi incident – which was what the original investigation was about.

We often forget that this was a server for personal use and not for classified information. There was indeed sensitive information found on the server, which is serious, but not surprising that a small amount of sensitive information goes over the wrong channels occasionally. Furthermore, a large percentage of this sensitive information was classified after the fact. Clinton has challenged the classification of these documents and would generally prefer that they were published.

Back to the “illegal server” though. Alternatives to this server would be gmail, yahoo, hotmail, etc. Any of these choices would have been perfectly acceptable. There is some irony in the fact that Podesta’s gmail account was hacked by (apparently) Russian operatives and no such breech of Hillary’s personal email has turned up in any leaks since then. It seems to me that we would certainly have read them by now.

In this election, the lies you are willing to believe determine who your candidate is, but I’d say a few things about the Donald that go beyond conspiracies and unproven allegations. My opinion of Trump is based in large part on his record of self-aggrandizing and looking out for his own best interests.

The Trump foundation is much smaller than CGI, but it clearly has been used inappropriately. It is also true that Trump has no intention of putting his business operations into a blind trust. The reason that this is important to me is that I don’t trust him to make decisions on public policy that would hurt his own financial concerns or those of his children. If you are Donald Trump, this doesn’t feel like a conflict of interest. He is a supply-side politician and therefore, what is good for him, is also good for the country. His international concerns could very easily create a conflict of interest though. Do you play hardball with a foreign leader, if it could tank an important deal, or to you tread more softly? It’s just not a good situation.

Most important to me though are the vacuous promises he is making. It is difficult to take him seriously when he starts literally promising his supporters everything they have ever dreamed for this country and for their futures. He’s extremely vague about his Isis strategy except that he wouldn’t have warned civilians that an attack on Mosul was imminent. He doesn’t share details on how slashing taxes will reduce the national debt. How do you replace the ACA with something that covers everyone, but is wonderful instead of a disaster. Virtually everything he has weighed in on can be reduced to an arbitrary promise to fix something whether it’s broken or not. Nobody really believes that he has a deep understanding of these issues, but it is always easy enough to vote for a tax cut.

I worry a bit about the state of our divided country after this election. Part of me would rest easier with a Trump victory simply because I think that Democrats are better sports. However, I don’t think that my fear of Trump supporters causing civil unrest is a valid excuse to cast a vote for the guy – quite the opposite.

My prediction for today’s election is that Clinton will win a narrow¬†victory, and that Trump will not quietly end his campaign. I think he has fed on the adoration of his fans and now he craves it. To concede the election graciously would be incongruous with the way he has burned everything down over the past 500 days or so. Especially most recently, he has been shouting about the rigged nature of the election itself. I’m not sure how you walk this rhetoric back. I don’t know how he would go about defusing the political explosives he has set over the past weeks and months.

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