Dear Fellow Voters:
On the last day of the Constitutional Convention, a bystander asked Benjamin Franklin if we had a monarchy or a republic. He famously replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” Over the past 229 years, we’ve managed to keep that promise in quadrennial acts of passage. We are at that time again.
America is the outstanding example of the value of immigration and an open society. Those of us with Native American heritage may question this; not the rest of us. The vast majority of the readers of this column came from somewhere else (or their recent ancestors did). Candidates who seek to divide Americans are bad for business. The largest divide between Americans since our founding has been along the fault line of race. This issue alone disqualifies Donald Trump from being president of the United States.
The Trump presidential candidacy really started in 2011, when Donald Trump announced that he had grave doubts that President Obama had been born in the United States, thus lending his voice to the birther fringe, alt-right fevers. There was never any legitimate question about Obama’s birthplace. Donald Trump did not send five investigators to Hawaii who told him “amazing things.” These were lies, oft repeated by the candidate and his surrogates. These were also “dog whistles” to those who do not believe that a black man can ever have the same status and achievements of a white man. The birther lie and movement was an effort to drive a wall between all peoples in the United States and their African-American president. Dividing our people by race is intolerable in a leader of the free world.
Walls and divisions are leitmotif of the Trump rallies. Mexicans, he tells us, are “rapists.” They must be walled off. And a huge deportation force must be assembled to root out all of those who look Mexican. Mexico, we are assured, will pay for all of this. All of this is ridiculous, a figment of an alternative universe. Such a wall cannot be built. Mexico will not pay for it (says the president of Mexico). This country cannot deport 11 million people (over 2 million of whom are American citizens). One does not have to believe in the “vast right-wing conspiracy” to hear criticisms of Bill Clinton’s behavior in the Oval Office. It was said that such behavior with Monica Lewinsky set a bad example for the nation’s children and showed a lack of character. Character flaws are exhibited in other ways also. Suggesting that women cannot do their job because of their menstrual cycle, shaking and quaking and making fun of reporters with physical disabilities, suggesting at rallies that people be beaten up are also bad for the nation’s children and reveal character flaws. Donald Trump has directly contributed to a vast coarsening of our political dialogue.
Coarse and uninformed language typifies the Trump approach to international affairs. Candidate Trump tells us that he knows more than the generals when it comes to ISIS, because of his “good brain.” Yet he was unaware that Soviet troops were in the Ukraine. He has stated that we should renege on our NATO treaty commitments if unnamed countries do not pay a greater share. He has even suggested that nuclear weapons could be used in Europe if necessary, and that America can revert to the use of torture. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in a major piece in the Wall Street Journal, summed it up by saying that Trump is beyond repair. After analyzing many of Trump’s rantings, he concluded by saying “he is unqualified and unfit to be commander-in-chief.”
Candidate Trump has said repeatedly that he would vote against trade deals, and in fact rip them up. The wide consensus of economists, including many noted Republicans, has always been that open trade strengthens our economy and is good for business.
This may truly be a bipolar national election; much of the electorate seems depressed about the choice that they have to make. In any event, it’s one or the other. As Al Gore can attest, voting for a third-party candidate can give you exactly what you don’t want.
Hillary Clinton exhibits none of the problems posed by Trump. She has depth of experience, plus the vast knowledge of experts and advisors. Her experience in international relations is unmatched (certainly by Trump). And while she’s been forced to take a position against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in response to Bernie Sanders’ primary challenge, she has always been for free trade. Her election would underscore the real inclusiveness of our American society.
Of the two candidates, Hillary Clinton is clearly the better, and I urge all people of business experience to cast that vote. (This suggestion does not necessarily apply down-ballot.) If we were to confront Benjamin Franklin today, we could tell him that we have kept our Republic, but that it takes all of us to do that: men, women, people of all races and backgrounds, all religions.
The Great American Experiment will once again go through its orderly, peaceful transfer of power on January 20, just like it has for the last 229 years.
Vance K. Opperman
Remember to Vote
Vance K. Opperman (firstname.lastname@example.org) is owner and CEO of MSP Communications, which publishes Twin Cities Business.