It’s the day before the election, and there are two things that come to mind: The worst election campaign imaginable is almost over, and Hillary Clinton is still nursing a small lead in the polls. Yet even the end of this campaign cannot reassure us that things will ever be like they were. For the past 18 months, we have been subjected to negativism so deep and pervasive that at times it has been hard to watch. We have witnessed an almost daily barrage of lies, threats, and demagoguery. And it will remain after the election.
It would be easy to dwell on all of that, to condemn the hateful things that have been said during this campaign. But Donald Trump has dominated the media’s attention to such an extent that little space has remained to discuss the issues we are facing and the ideas that Hillary Clinton has proposed. Now would be a good time to mention these ideas, even though the divisiveness that has gripped our country will likely stand in the way of most being realized.
While she is criticized for being a Washington insider who has been corrupted by her long tenure in politics, Hillary will use her experience to the country’s, advantage. This varied experience, from First Lady to Senator to Secretary of State, will help her navigate the challenging waters of international affairs. She knows the players, she knows the dangers and risks, and she knows how to get things done. She is tough and won’t waffle when sitting face to face with Vladimir Putin and his ilk.
There is no doubt that Clinton will continue to fight terrorism and stand up for democracy around the world. If elected, she may well come into office with ISIS being kicked out of Iraq, thanks to the efforts of the Iraqi army, with American support, that have so far been effective. She will also stand up to Russian aggression and will work with NATO, not against it, to resist Putin’s expansionist tendencies. She will have her work cut out for her, with problems ranging from the Middle East to China and North Korea. She will ensure that Iran lives up to its nuclear agreement. No doubt she will be challenged on these and other issues, both from foreign leaders and our own Congress. But her knowledge and ability to focus on America’s long-term goals as well as immediate pressures will give us our best chance of success with these thorny problems.
The primary campaign evoked a heated discussion on domestic issues, from income inequality to immigration to jobs. One of the reasons that Trump was able to defeat his Republican competition was his populist slant. But Trump took a very divisive, right wing, nationalist approach, whereas Clinton would work to improve economic conditions for all. Her pledge to increase taxes for the rich only, to increase the minimum wage, to provide free public college education to middle class students, to improve Obamacare, and to create jobs by rebuilding our infrastructure and improving our energy system will help our economy while addressing inequality. Contrary to the incorrect and unfair assertion that she is in the pocket of Wall Street, Hillary has spoken strongly for a level playing field, consumer protections, and helping small businesses and the middle class, echoing some of the socialist populism of Bernie Sanders.
It’s very discouraging that climate change received almost zero attention during the campaign, despite it being one of our most worrisome problems. But Hillary recognizes the need for action, and for following President Obama’s role in international efforts to bring it under control. She understands that transitioning to alternative energy would create jobs as well as help the environment if done correctly; hopefully she will be able to provide incentives for such industries to locate in areas most directly impacted by jobs lost in the coal and oil industries. If she is elected, this will likely be one of her strongest challenges; despite real world evidence that climate change impacts are already occurring as forecast, it is still being denied by most Republicans. Given the global scope of this issue and its relationship to the economy, climate change will likely emerge as one of the most significant concerns of the next administration, and how it is handled will not only affect our lives, but will have consequences on America’s influence internationally.
It’s been stated that whoever wins this election will influence the country well into the future due to the current Supreme Court vacancy and others likely to follow. With constitutional issues such as abortion, LGBT rights, equal pay for women, voting rights, campaign financing, gun control, and others likely to be considered by the Court, Hillary will nominate justices that are progressive in these areas. But she will not nominate ideologues who are out of step with the views of most Americans. The problem will be getting the Senate to confirm them.
Regarding gun control, survey after survey has demonstrated that the majority of Americans support reasonable laws to control the sale of guns. This is one area where the country wants a logical middle ground position that would retain the second amendment while reducing the spread of firearms. Hillary Clinton has come down firmly on the side of reason on this matter, supporting this majority view. It’s important to stress that Hillary has said nothing that would threaten the second amendment.
Hillary has expressed that it’s essential to protect the right of every American to vote in a fair, unthreatened manner, eliminating biased voting requirements and restoring the protections to minority voters that are sadly still needed and that the Supreme Court stripped away. And she acknowledges how the rights, both voting rights and basic human rights, of African Americans are all too commonly violated. The Black Lives Matter movement called attention to the injustices that black people face on the streets and in the courtrooms across the country. Hillary understands that institutional racial bias is all too common and would work to eliminate it.
Immigration has been one of the main topics of this campaign, one that has exposed the divisiveness we see in American today. But Hillary is proposing a reasonable solution by promoting immigration reform that would provide a path to citizenship while controlling our borders. She would not, as Trump has stated, open our borders and let just anyone in. But she would keep families together while proposing fair laws for a group which has a long-standing heritage in this country and who make a significant contribution to it.
The most historic aspect of this election is one that has been sadly neglected: the fact that Hillary Clinton would be the first female president of the U.S. It is a shame that more voters have not embraced this, and the fact that the electorate is divided based on gender indicates that sexism is still at work. Given that so many countries have had women heads of state, from Great Britain to Pakistan to India to Israel, it is almost unbelievable that there are people voting against Hillary because she is a woman. And like the racism that Barack Obama experienced after being the first African American president, if Hillary is elected there will be those who continue to oppose her because of her gender. But in both cases, it is a step that needs to be taken if we are to be a true democracy.
These are many of the positions that Hillary has articulated during the campaign. Yet she has had to spend resources dealing with accusations over emails that have whipped Trump and his supporters into a frenzy and prevented a meaningful dialogue on the issues. When given the opportunity, Hillary has shown that she is well informed about the challenges facing us and is prepared to deal with them. She has had to ignore Trump’s insults and to endure the major distraction caused by the F.B.I. If elected, her challenges will increase. We can only hope that she can find a way to get through the obstructionism and negativism that the Republicans have already threatened and move the country forward.