The choice for president is abundantly clear. Hillary Clinton is smart, hard-working — even her enemies concede she does her homework — and she has prepared for the presidency with years of experience as secretary of state, a widely praised U.S. senator from New York, and with the unique inside look at the White House and the workings of statecraft as first lady during her husband’s presidency. She has also proved resilient and cool under pressure, enduring hearings and investigations drummed up one after another by Republicans determined to hurt the reputation of a leading Democrat in what has been the most highly partisan Congress in memory.
Donald Trump, in contrast, has virtually no relevant experience. Backed by millions in family money, he’s had an up-and-down bankruptcy-plagued business career in land development and gambling casinos before the stint as a reality TV celebrity that set the stage for his unexpected venture into politics. In the Republican primaries, Trump rose past more qualified candidates with the lowest sort of demagoguery — belittling opponents, scapegoating whole ethnic groups, stoking fears and prejudices. Through it all, he revealed himself as a grown man with a strikingly adolescent and egotistical temperament, alternatively bragging and whining about polling results, showing up noticeably ill-prepared for the first debate. On issue after issue, Clinton has put forward serious policy proposals while Trump has offered assurances that he’ll take care of it. And then there’s the lewd remarks caught on tape when he was bragging about his sexual exploits to a TV personality. This man should not be president. Beyond all that, the central premise that makes the Trump candidacy attractive to many people — the notion that establishment politicians are responsible for all the world’s problems, which would somehow be magically solved with a new and different approach from a bold novice president — is simple-minded hogwash. Some policy decisions have been better and others worse, but the world’s major problems have been decades, sometimes centuries, in the making, and tagging President Obama and Secretary Clinton with responsibility for them is nonsense. Is there a business or institution anywhere that would bypass a smart, serious, highly experienced candidate in order to hand its leadership to someone who has no relevant experience and is of clearly flawed and questionable character? Voters should not do that with the most powerful office in the world.