If you’re going to run for president, you have to have a slogan. Democrat Hillary Clinton (“Stronger together”) has one, and so does Republican Donald Trump (“Make America great again”). You don’t need a slogan to vote, of course. But if you did, this year’s top choice would be something like “2020 can’t come soon enough.” Have two candidates ever been so distrusted by so many?
But enough whining. While both candidates are deeply flawed, one — and only one — is qualified to serve as president of the United States: Clinton. Voters in Central Oregon should help her get there.
If this were a normal presidential election, we’d probably spend the next several paragraphs comparing Clinton’s policy positions with Trump’s. After that, we’d make a case for the candidate whose views lined up with ours more frequently on the most important matters. That’s how we came to endorse Republican Mitt Romney in 2012, Republican John McCain in 2008 and Republican George W. Bush in 2004 and 2000.
Such an exercise would be beside the point this year. It doesn’t matter what a candidate thinks about, oh, tax policy and federal land management if that candidate is neither qualified for the nation’s most important elective office nor temperamentally suited to it. Such is the case with Trump, who has never held elective office of any kind. To be sure, a presidential candidate could compensate for such a deficit with the right mix of experience and temperament. But The Donald comes up well short here as well. He has shown himself to be a gleefully offensive narcissist who mistakes demagoguery for debate. Is this the sort of person who ought to be, say, nominating justices to the U.S. Supreme Court?
Clinton would come to the office with her own basket of controversies and failings, including the fundraising practices of the Clinton Foundation and her improper use of a personal email server while secretary of state. These are serious matters, and so, too, is her lack of honesty in accounting for her questionable e-judgment. Clinton is far from a perfect candidate.
But she is a qualified one. Exceptionally qualified. She’s served in the United States Senate for eight years, from 2001 to 2009. She subsequently served as secretary of state for four years, from 2009 to 2013. Before all of that, of course, Clinton spent a tumultuous, though in many ways successful, eight years in the White House as first lady. Whatever her shortcomings, Clinton understands the job she seeks: its demands, its limitations, its seriousness. It’s not an office for beginners or buffoons, and she is neither. She is likely to be a highly competent president and perhaps even a good one.
An unusually large number of voters may be tempted this year to vote for neither Trump nor Clinton, instead lodging a protest vote in favor of a minor party candidate like Libertarian Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Clinton’s going to carry Oregon anyway, right?
Before voting in protest for one minor party candidate or another, Oregonians should ask themselves whether they really consider a Clinton presidency as objectionable as a Trump presidency. If the answer is “no,” even by the slimmest margin, they should vote for Clinton. Imagine waking up on Wednesday, Nov. 9, to discover that she has prevailed in the Electoral College but lost the popular vote. That’s no way to encourage Trump to quit politics and pursue other interests.