The rapidly approaching 2016 Presidential election seems to be more about voting against a particular candidate than voting for one’s favorite candidate. This may be an over-simplification, yet there are clearly large pockets of voters who seem paralyzed by an inability to commit to either of the two candidates – both of whom they deem “dangerous.” While they will not vote for Clinton, they cannot vote for Trump. This is the group I am addressing here.
I have been voting since 1960 when I became eligible to vote as a naturalized American citizen. In that election I voted for John F. Kennedy. Since then, in the more than five decades of Presidential elections, I have voted both Democrat and Republican. I have never voted for a candidate because of his political party affiliation. Policies were of course important, but my criterion has always focused on character. While political experience and know-how count, it is an individual’s character from which judgments are formed that is the rock of his/her heart and soul.
Trump has more than his share of flaws. He is constantly “shooting himself in the foot” because he has trouble controlling his mouth. His campaign has been riddled with inappropriate comments, and most of the time he stands his ground. He has no experience as a politician, but he is smart and he is intuitive. His charisma, his ability to relate to both working class Americans and the elite is what has brought him to where he is today. While he may think he knows better than the average man or woman, he does not think he is better than they are. Trump was born into wealth and grew up in a wealthy environment. He is not driven by greed, and his ego is no greater than that of any other politician. I am convinced that his motivation for wishing to be our next Commander-in-Chief is not born of the need to gloat about himself but is anchored in his deep desire to “make our country great again.” That is his passion, his sincere ambition.
Trump is frequently criticized by both friend and foe for not being presidential enough. On occasion he can become surprisingly presidential and, if he is elected, it may become a habit. On the other hand, it was precisely his un-presidential style that made millions jump on the Trump bandwagon because Americans had become disenchanted and sick and tired of the Washington establishment politicians.
Those who advocate for Hillary Clinton consistently point to her “humanitarian” nature: In her youth, upon completing her education, she chose to work with organizations whose causes centered on needy children or women’s rights instead of taking a job in a prestigious law firm. Well, weren’t we all idealists at that time in our lives? It is the route we choose to follow from that time to the present that defines our natures and our characters. Hillary’s route has been tarnished with dark shadows of suspicion that have hovered over her from the time she was First Lady — her notorious Whitewater financial schemes – and culminating in the present with very questionable Clinton Foundation activities and conflict-of-interest relationships. I cannot forgive Benghazi and I cannot overlook the scandalous email disgrace. How can a woman who has committed so many foul acts aspire to become the President of the United States? And how can Americans support an individual who is devoid of conscience? Her record of lies to the American people and to the Congress has become her reality.
While Trump is motivated to do for the country, Clinton’s motivation is to acquire for herself. Her greed for wealth and power cannot be quenched, and she would sacrifice principle for her own elevation. Clinton is calculating, cunning and corrupt. She has exploited the offices she has been honored with for her personal gain and has abused her power, covering up her transgressions, incompetence and negligence with haughty denials, lies and contradictions, and attributing accusations levelled against her to vengeful fabrications of those damn Republicans.
Is Trump a racist, anti-Semite and a Nazi as his critics claim? Everybody knows that his daughter Ivanka not only married a Jewish man but also converted to Judaism. Few may know that both of his sons are also married to Jewish women: Donald Jr. to Vanessa Haydon, whose father is a Hungarian Jew; and Eric to Lara Yunaska who were wed two years ago under a chuppah. Many of Trump’s employees — top executives in his company — are Jewish; and his campaign staff is composed mainly of Jews.
Trump is also decidedly pro-Israel. He sees radical Muslims as evil and moderate Muslims as potential allies. While Clinton parrots pro-Israel platitudes, her track record of strong-arming Israel while minimizing Islamic terrorism betrays her. Her support of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood testify to her duplicity regarding Middle East issues. Her misjudgments in Libya created further chaos in the area. Clinton would undoubtedly continue the deplorable Obama policies she helped engineer, most notably the disastrous Iran deal, further propagating the attitude of one of the most hostile US administrations toward the Israeli government.
In the arena of economics, foreign affairs and illegal immigration, both Clinton and Trump are advocating highly questionable policies. Clinton is calling for the promotion of income redistribution policies similar to those of Obama which have resulted in the slowest economic growth in decades. Trump proposes minimizing free trade which has greatly benefitted the United States and the world during the past seventy years. The hope is that Trump’s comments are intended to improve US trade agreements with other countries rather than abandoning free trade.
For improving minority economic and social well-being, it is clearly Trump over Clinton. Reducing crime in low-income urban neighborhoods will take much greater cooperation between police and citizens – policies that are much more closely aligned with Trump’s agenda.
On the subject of illegal immigration, Trump’s campaign currently seems to be in limbo. His initial unrealistic stance on illegal immigration is hopefully undergoing a review.
I often still wonder how the liberal American Jewish community could have supported Obama so deliriously in 2008, clearly knowing he had sat in Reverend Wright’s Chicago church for twenty years, listening to the pastor’s incessant spouting of anti-Semitic diatribe. Will they make the same mistake in 2016, perhaps this time around energized by the concept of the first female US President? The stakes are much higher than they were eight years ago. ISIS has come into our daily lives, Israel is in a more precarious position than it was eight years ago, and the global world has become much more tumultuous, in part because of the Obama-Clinton policies.
For the sake of a new peaceful world order – not the continuation of a declining nation — all Americans, both Jews and non-Jews, should support the candidate whose head can deliver practical solutions, whose shoulders will bear the responsibility, and whose character will be the rock we can trust. In this case I would rather take my chances on the devil I don’t know than on the devil I do know.
This story "Why I’m Giving Donald Trump a Chance" was written by Olga Zabludoff.