As we look back on this campaign for president of the United States and try to evaluate the two major-party choices left, it's unsettling to look forward to the next administration under either candidate. Both are badly flawed, and this ugly but rigorous process has shown us that.
In the end, though, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton remain, and despite the deep concerns we have about Clinton, a detached, rational analysis of what's taken place during this campaign makes her the obviously better choice.
There are a lot of words to describe Donald Trump as a candidate for the highest office, but perhaps the most all-encompassing term is “demagogue.” Webster defines this as “a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power,” and that's precisely what Trump has done time after time. It's sometimes hard to tell what he truly stands for because he shifts so much and even denies meaning the words that come out of his mouth on occasion. But consider that in his bid to be our nation's commander in chief and leader of the free world, he has launched largely baseless and malicious attacks on an American prisoner of war, an entire bordering nation's citizens, the second largest religion in the world, the pope, a Gold Star family and a disabled journalist. Check out his Twitter insults and you'll see that is an extremely short list. And since the first GOP primary debate back in August 2015, Trump's campaign has also reinforced his long-demonstrated misogynist views.
All of this is reflective of a man who has no business taking on the most high-pressure job in the world. But even if his temperament were above reproach, we'd be reluctant to back Trump because he's also shown little to no grasp of the complexities of the issues that our country faces. He rarely offers specific policy proposals, except for ideas that have zero chance of actually becoming reality — such as forcing Mexico to pay to build a giant wall along the border.
Clinton is certainly a highly imperfect candidate, but she's also tested and tough. As a former U.S. Senator who served on the Armed Services Committee before becoming secretary of state, she has vital experience in and understanding of world issues. She has detailed policy proposals to help grow our economy, improve upon progress in health care, work with our allies to achieve peace and protect our planet. Visit the “issues” portion of her website and you'll begin to see a person who is actually much better at governing than she is at campaigning, a reality we saw firsthand with her time representing New Yorkers in the Senate.
Clinton is also a person who is too prone to work in secrecy, and the mess she created with her use of a a private email server while leading the State Department was largely a result of that tendency. There's a long list of Republican leaders we would endorse over Clinton; unfortunately, Trump is the GOP nominee.
If Clinton wins, she'll need to be much more transparent. She'll also need to work hard to find common ground with her critics and begin to restore some unity in our nation. As a senator, she actually did that quite well, but so much that has taken place in the past eight years has undone that work.
With two candidates so flawed, it's important to give consideration to third-party entries. Unfortunately, this year's ballot does not offer any candidates who demonstrated they were qualified for the job. We also don't believe it's proper for a newspaper to decline to endorse a candidate, because our democracy requires that at the end of the day, people do their duty by making a decision in the voting booth. We owe it to our readers to offer a recommendation.
With all we've witnessed over this long, grueling campaign, it's clear that the better path forward for the United States is with Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, in the White House.