Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – At a debate held in Rio last month, sponsored by the US Consulate and local think tank CEBRI, representatives of the Republican and Democratic parties spoke (always in civilized terms, hallelujah!) about their candidates. The most surprising comment was offered by the Republican spokesman, who claimed Hillary Clinton is more conservative than Donald Trump.
If the meaning of “conservative” is to conserve what now exists, he is probably right. A Hillary Clinton presidency can be expected to maintain almost all the policies common to the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. These include: “Obamacare”; increasing taxes on the rich; opposition to Russian irredentism; appointing Supreme Court Justices who support abortion; offering a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants; and implementing “free trade” agreements.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, is against every single one of those policies. He has vowed to eliminate Obamacare, to decrease taxes on the rich, to start a dialogue with Putin, to appoint “strict constructionist” Supreme Court Justices, to end funding of Planned Parenthood, to cancel NAFTA, TPP and other free trade agreements, and to deport all illegal immigrants.
On the issues, then, the election comes down to a choice between “same old, same old” and “all change”.
The problem with this year’s election, however, is that the battle is not being fought over the issues, but over the candidates’ personalities. Sadly, both seem defective. Donald Trump comes across as a blustering male chauvinist pig, the “persona” he created that made him famous on TV. Hillary Clinton comes across as a sharp-tongued feminist cross-examining lawyer.
Neither seems like the sort of person you’d consider inviting to your backyard barbecue. In fact, both seem like the type of person who, if you did invite them, would turn you down flat.
Worse yet, both candidates lie. They lie repeatedly, purposefully, premeditatedly and unrepentantly. Traditionally, the American people dislike presidents who are liars. Richard Nixon was forced to resign because he lied about covering up Watergate. Bill Clinton was impeached (but not convicted) because he lied about his sexual escapades.
Given the absence of any serious third-party candidate, voters in the USA must now choose between two people whom they do not, and probably should not, trust to preside over the country’s government. That is a perfectly dreadful choice, one never before presented to the American people.
The Curmudgeon firmly believes the United States of America has grown more conservative in recent years. Some say the essence of conservatism is resumed by the phrase “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.” If this adage is true, and if Hillary Clinton is, in fact, more conservative than Donald Trump, she will be elected President.
Early on election night 2000, the Curmudgeon predicted the result would hinge on Florida, that it would be exceptionally close. This year, he predicts that the pivotal state will be North Carolina—whoever carries its electoral votes will win.