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November 3rd, 2016

steuard: (lake)
Thursday, November 3rd, 2016 08:27 pm

I've seen lots of people talk about this year's Presidential candidates in terms of equivalency: "They're both so awful this year," or "Why do we have two people who ought to be disqualified this time?" I doubt anyone's going to change my mind at this point, but I always really want to understand viewpoints that differ from my own. And yet when I try to list huge, potentially disqualifying problems for each candidate, I honestly can't see anything approaching parity. (Especially when we limit it to topics specific to this pair of candidates, rather than longstanding policy differences between the parties.) Here are the top few points cited as "deal breakers" for each candidate that I can think of:


Trump:


  • Suggested the US might not honor NATO mutual defense obligations, which runs the risk of destabilizing the entire post-WW2 deterrence structure and courts global war between nuclear powers. (Even hints at this by a President would lead to those consequences, especially given Russia's behavior these past few years. I've seen claims that Trump having considered it publicly as a major candidate could have a negative effect, even if he loses.)

  • Suggested that the US could intentionally default (partially) on its debt, which could very easily lead to a collapse of the entire global financial system and would at least drive our cost of borrowing absolutely through the roof.

  • Actively encouraged racist and radical nationalist sentiments among his supporters, contributing to the public normalization of those attitudes to a degree we haven't seen in years (decades?): this is likely to persist well beyond the election even if he loses.

  • Bragged about his willingness to do sexual things to women without asking for consent. That's sexual assault, by definition, and even if you want to insist that doesn't mean he really did those things (despite women's claims), his words show at a minimum that he believes that behavior to be something that other men would admire. (This is just the most egregious of his many terrible behaviors toward women.)

  • Said he would insist that the US military kill the families of terrorists. This is morally breathtaking, and an obvious war crime. (He's also advocated other war crimes, like torturing terror suspects because "they deserve it" whether or not it's useful, or )


Again, that's just the absolute deal breakers that come to my mind offhand. There are plenty of truly awful policy positions that he's advocated (some of which trample on the Constitution and might deserve to be on this list for that reason), and in general he's demonstrated both serious ignorance of issues and structures in national and international policy and seemingly an unwillingness to learn what he needs to fill in those gaps (which might also be taken as a deal breaker).


Clinton:


  • Seriously mishandled classified information over email, using a private server for some State Department business. (Note, though, that the investigation was mostly completed over the summer and did not result in evidence clear or serious enough to merit prosecution.) If new evidence came to light that was substantially worse than all of the previous evidence collected, she could potentially be charged with a felony.

  • ...?

  • (Some might add "Would nominate Supreme Court justices who support Roe v. Wade", but that doesn't explain why she's framed as being so much worse of a candidate than any other Democrat in the past 30 years.)

I honestly don't know what the next item in that list is supposed to be. There have been countless investigations of her over the past 30 years (I think she has been subjected to more intense scrutiny than just about any other politician in my lifetime: you can decide how much of that was primarily politically motivated), but literally none of them have turned up actual evidence sufficient to convict her of a crime (or maybe even charge her) or to demonstrate that she abused her position or was negligent in her duties. Also, she's sometimes seen as "unlikable", but that's a different issue than "disqualifying".


I would really, really welcome help in understanding the perceived awfulness of Hillary Clinton, and while I won't promise not to push back against assertions I think are false or overblown, I'll do my best to be respectful and to try to understand.