October 6, 2016

Sometimes Party Loyalty Demands Too Much

by Hal Gershowitz

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We do not plan to vote for Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton is, for many reasons, a problematic candidate for us. Yes, both sides have lectured us. Trump supporters tell us not voting at all, or voting for 3rd Party candidate, Gary Johnson, is a vote for Clinton. Funny thing is that Clinton supporters tell us the same thing in reverse, i.e. not voting (or voting for Johnson) is a vote for Trump.

Well, no it isn’t. A poor turn out on Election Day, which we fear and would deplore, would, nonetheless, send a message to the ruling Parties — you haven’t secured our vote simply because the other Party’s guy (and the platform handed him) is so bad; your guy (and your platform) isn’t so good either. Similarly, while Gary Johnson seems to have little chance of becoming President (he’s had one Aleppo moment too many) a strong enough Johnson showing would deny either a President Trump or a President Clinton any semblance of a mandate. And neither is deserving of a mandate, assuming “mandate” means setting the future direction of our country. In fact, an election, short of a mandate, might cause the two Parties to work together for a change. Okay, maybe wishful thinking.

Donald Trump isn’t deserving of a mandate because the sanity rate in America is still many notches above moronic. Hillary Clinton, in our judgment, isn’t deserving of a mandate because, we fear, she has been pulled irretrievably to the nethermost reaches of the leftward kingdom. She is committed to initiatives she has to know would be detrimental to the health of the nation, the prospects for growth and, ultimately, the well being of the people. Besides, winning an election because your unfavorable ratings, while stratospheric, are not as stratospheric as your opponent’s should never be construed as a mandate.

College debt in America has grown to more than a trillion dollars, so promising to do away with college debt in the future plays pretty well. So does expanding Medicare to cover more Americans, and providing family leave, and rebuilding our infrastructure does too (given that the nearly one trillion we’ve already spent on shovel-ready jobs doesn’t seem to have given us first-world highways, bridges, rapid rail or modern airports). And as for entitlement reform, don’t even think about it in Hillary’s presence, and don’t think about international trade agreements or energy independence either, unless you believe solar panels and other so-called green energy such as requiring higher ethanol blends (as Hillary does) can make us energy independent.

Hillary Clinton knows she can’t deliver on these promises by simply raising taxes on hedge fund managers and the very wealthy. Clinton’s promises will, according to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, increase federal spending by $1.65 trillion between now and 2027. Debt interest alone would rise by $50 billion with Clinton’s policies according to the Committee’s analysis. Personal and business taxation would rise by $1.5 trillion. Add it all up and her plan, according to the non-partisan committee, would raise the national debt by $200 billion. For those who believe the much vaunted American dream is gone forever and must, therefore, be replaced by a government that sees its responsibility as providing for more and more of everyone’s needs, then Hillary is your gal. And maybe, that’s where we are today, but we’re far from ready to concede that.

America, today, is not the centrist nation we once knew. There was a time when a politician strayed from the political center at great peril. Today, the center has become the path of also-rans. Americans long prided themselves on self-reliance and were motivated by the belief that they could make it — that America was, indeed, the land of opportunity, for themselves and for their children. That was the very essence of American Exceptionalism as Alexis de Tocqueville expressed it.

We must face the reality that we seem to be, today, at best a center-left nation and, quite possibly, on track to becoming a European-style leftist nation. Ironic, given that the Euro-Scandinavian model is falling out of favor over there as the left rushes to emulate it over here. Nonetheless, as former President Clinton famously advises, watch the trend line not the headline, and the trend line in the United States is, today, leftist. Hillary Clinton knows that bucking that trend will consign her to a single term should she win as we, frankly, expect she will. She will, we expect, deliver or try very hard to deliver on every promise Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren exacted in return for their endorsements. That doesn’t represent a leftward drift. It represents a hard left turn.

And speaking of former President Clinton and his reference to focusing on trend lines and not headlines, he provided some choice wisdom on where his Party’s healthcare initiative is taking us. Notwithstanding his effort to walk back his rather frank assessment of the Affordable Care Act, his observations were totally unambiguous. Here’s what he had to say: “So you’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care and then the people who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It’s the craziest thing in the world,” Clinton said. “On the other hand,” he said, “the current system works fine if you’re eligible for Medicaid, if you’re a lower-income working person; if you’re already on Medicare, or if you get enough subsidies on a modest income that you can afford your health care. But the people that are getting killed in this deal are small business people and individuals who make just a little too much to get any of these subsidies.”

So what does this bit of candor suggest? Simply that a Hillary Clinton administration will be committed to getting more people on Medicare, or an expansion of subsidies for more Americans. Maybe that’s a bargain most Americans are willing to make, but we believe it’s a Faustian bargain at best–or as the ancient Chinese warned, “be careful what you wish for.”

There is no wonder that so many prospective voters are as dejected as they are with our current candidates. The Gallop organization conducted an in-depth survey last May, the results of which should give pause to anyone contemplating a mandate for either of these candidates. Approximately 40% of Democrats in this study responded that Clinton would be an average, poor or terrible president, or, in normal parlance according to Gallop, “nothing special or worse.” Republicans’ outlook for Trump revealed a similar percentage (41%) expecting him to be only average, poor or even terrible. In other words, a sizable minority in each party held no great expectations for their nominee.

What’s more 71% of these Democrats do not believe she “can bring about the changes this country needs.” Worse, 75% disagree that she “has strong moral character.” Trump fares no better. Among Republicans, according to the Gallop survey, three themes appear most problematic among those who expressed reservations about Trump. Eighty-seven percent feel he “lacks the experience it takes to be president, 82% feel he is “not likable,” and three quarters of Republican worrywarts do not believe he “would display good judgment in a crisis.” These three themes are the most negative of any tested among those who have concerns about their Party’s standard-bearers. This is not the stuff of mandates for either candidate.

So, if we have to have either Trump or Clinton as our next President, let’s not send them to govern believing they have a strong mandate to set the future course of the nation. An election that is to these candidates sobering would be far better than an election that is to them intoxicating.

Hal Gershowitz’s “The Eden Legacy”  – currently available at Amazon, Kindle and Apple I-Tunes book store.

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4 responses to “Sometimes Party Loyalty Demands Too Much”

  1. Irwin yablans says:

    What did I miss.? Am I to suppose from
    This essay that you actually accept the notion that Trump would be acceptable as president of the United States?
    You begin by saying you won’t vote for him but spend the rest of your column explaining why Clinton woulbe very bad
    Equating the two candidates is initself legitimizing the most unqualified man in history to be as acceptable as a woman with vast experience,proven statesmanship and considerable professional experience in governance.trump’s negatives are too numerous to list here. he is A Buffoon albeit a clever one who has played a frightening slice of the electorate cleverly
    just who do you want of the two? If it’s not Clinton I say you are putting party first.

    No Mr. Yablans, you are not to suppose that we feel Mr. Trump would be an acceptable President of the United States. Everything we have written about this election belies such a supposition. By Mr. Yablans’ logic, we would be putting the Republican Party first if we resigned from the Republican Party and failed to vote for Mrs. Clinton, or even if we voted for Mr. Johnson. While we do not share Mr. Yablans swoon over Mrs. Clinton, our point is that this is not an election about mandates. The polling data are clear. Most of the electorate will be voting for the candidate they dislike the least. That should be a sobering reality, not an intoxicating empowerment.

  2. Paul Silverstein says:

    The authors whom I have considerable respect for, in this case befuddle me with their inconsistent and divergent conclusion from their previously made observations.
    First let me say that Mr Trump thus-far has demonstrated behaviors that are unseemly and inappropriate. BUT, he has not perpetrated actions that have undermined subverted our justice system and the security of the country (using her own illegal server in her home to send and receive classified emails), repeatedly committed perjurious acts, denying under oath that her emails were destroyed using “bleach” which under any other
    unbiased justice department would have been prosecuted, not providing adequate security to prevent the deaths of 4 of our citizens, including Ambassador Stevens, taking credit for bringing Iran to the table to sign a flawed nuclear agreement that will enable them in 10 years to resume their nuclear programs and has surreptitiously provided Iran as much as $33 billion in cash and gold. Her husband, former Pres Bill Clinton, unashamedly and blatantly way-laid Attorney General Lynch on the tarmac only days before FBI Director Comey issued his tortured and flawed judgement about Hillary’s innocence. Comey’s department we later learn gave immunity to star-witnesses in the investigation, including Cheryl Mills. Most reasonable observers could not fathom any rationale for his actions other than to weaken his case against Hillary. I could go on for some length, but I urge you all to recall her involvement in the Whitewater scandal, the disappearance of the files for year and their sudden inexplicable recovery in the Clinton Whitehouse years later.
    With all of these failings how can you dare compare Trumps foibles with a sanctimonious candidate who has repeatedly shown poor judgement, lied and subverted the government, has helped expand our welfare state, and is now moving far to the left to capture the Sander’s socialist supporters, totally endorses it. You make the point that neither candidate deserves voter driven mandate. Rather than suggesting that the lesser of two evils is Hillary, it would be far better to NOT VOTE depriving either a mandate. You’re seemingly giving your readers a choice between a gun or a knife to commit suicide, the sane course is to chose neither and stay out of the fray.

    Dr. Silverstein imputes more to our essay than was the essay’s objective. Our point was that the next President not conflate his or her election with a presumption that the positions they hold represent the will of the people. This election will demonstrate what the voters do not like, far more than it will demonstrate what the voters do like.

  3. Sheila Stone says:

    The Republican party failed its members by running an ineffective campaign for Romney. Then they failed by not organizing the 16 primary candidates Now you acknowledge the disaster if Clinton wins, and do not offer an alternative except dive under the blankets and pull the covers over your heads. I am not a Trump fan by any means but is your solution truly viable?

    We offered no alternative. There really is no alternative to a Trump or Clinton Presidency. Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States. We were not debating, in this essay, who would be the better of the two– but rather the desire that the next President not come to the office with a mandate that presumes that their view of the future is consistent with the nation’s view of the future.

  4. Irwin yablans says:

    Your warning to voters not to give the presumptive winning candidate,Clinton ,a “mandate”is disturbing. That sounds ominously like Senator mcConnell’s clarion call immidetely following obama’s win. Eight years of obstructionism and paralysis. Worse, it perpetuates the division in our country with the proposition that the elected one is “your president” not “ours”
    Looks to me like Republicans have already started on the 2020 campaign.

    While Mr. Yablans apparently believes it is the job of Congress to do the President’s bidding, our constitutional federalist government is not designed to work that way. By Mr. Yablans logic, should Donald Trump win the presidency it would be the job of Congress to enact his agenda. Sorry Mr. Yablans it doesn’t work that way. Similarly, if a President Clinton pursued an agenda that would, according to the non-partisan Committee For A Responsible Federal Budget, raise the national debt by $200 million, raise personal and business taxation by $1.5 trillion and increase spending by $1.65 trillion, we would have only the Congress to block such a “mandate.” We hope the election makes it clear that neither candidate with their unprecedented “unfavorables” has such a mandate.

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