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Editorial: Our polar opposite views of political reality

Sen. Bernie Sanders thrills liberals, moderates and even conservatives in a way that Hillary Clinton can only dream about — and it all has to do with the perception of honesty. When Bernie speaks, people believe him. When Hillary talks, many hear only lies, half-truths and plans to scheme more riches into her and Bill’s pockets. And then there is Trump: When the Donald talks, it’s all self-important blather with almost nothing based on fact. And yet each political camp believes in their candidate over the other.
There has become such a wide gulf between fact and fiction that Americans have difficulty finding the truth.
At a family gathering this past weekend, a moderate Republican who is head of a successful and long-standing legal firm in Cincinnati, Ohio, said he could have supported Bernie “even though he would have cost me a fortune in taxes, but I would have because he’s honest. You can believe what the man says.” With Clinton, he said in so many words: she’s so crooked she’d steal every penny form the U.S. Treasury in a heartbeat; she’s “evil and a chronic liar.” 
He’ll hold his nose and vote for Trump, he said, dismissing Trump’s habitual lying as showmanship, and his lack of foreign affairs experience as not all that important; and his overarching point is that Clinton would “ruin the country” by appointing liberal justices to the Supreme Court. At least Trump would nominate conservative justices that would abide by the Constitution.
The author of those comments is well educated, is not a social conservative and is a student of law, so while I don’t agree with him, I don’t take his criticisms lightly. But it is astounding.
He truly thinks Trump would be a better president than Clinton, who many have called the “most qualified person” to ever run for the office. (And based on her experience in the White House, as a U.S. Senator from New York, and with her years as Secretary of State, she might be; although experience by itself doesn’t mean she would be a good president. Character does matter, and she battles for the bottom on that issue with almost as many Americans disliking her as they do Trump.)
Still, how can we, as citizens, have such polar-opposite views when judging these two candidates?
Two answers seem obvious: First, the right-wing media have done a very effective job of defining Clinton’s character and her deeds over the past 20 years so much so that viewers accept it as truth — even though much of it is untrue and can be disproved as plainly as the fact that President Obama was not born outside the United States. Secondly, the Clintons have been their own worst enemies.  As many have reported, the Clintons have long tread on the fine edge of legalities in their foundation work and other business dealings. They have, in short, brought suspicion upon themselves. Clinton’s use of her personal email account for some official business while secretary of state is just one more example of her questionable judgment in such matters; and it’s one of many reasons millions of Democrats preferred Sanders as their candidate to represent the Democratic Party.
But even so, how can an educated person vote for a candidate who is seriously advocating for building a wall between Mexico and the U.S. to keep the “bad guys” out, and who swears up and down that Mexico is going to pay for it, even though the president of Mexico reaffirms they will not? It seems, in the famous line in the movie Princess Bride, inconceivable.
*******
Indulge, for a moment, in a Monday night interview between Trump and NBC interviewer David Muir, who asked Trump about his recent trip to Mexico and the Mexican president saying afterwards that neither he nor his country would ever pay a cent for the wall that Trump wants to build.
“TRUMP: And the fact is Mexico will pay for the wall, it was discussed that it wouldn’t be discussed, but they know my stance and I know their stance. And until I’m president I’m not going to press anything very much, but they fully know my stance. My stance is we’re going to build a wall and Mexico’s going to pay for the wall. It’s very simple.
MUIR: Did the Mexican president break his word in talking about it?
TRUMP: They all know the ground rules and the ground rules were there. Rudy Giuliani said it, in fact Rudy was surprised. Rudy Giuliani spoke very eloquently about it. The ground rules. And we had ground rules and that’s OK. They know my stance and I know their stance. See who wins in the end. We’ll win, 100 percent, they’re going to pay for the wall.
We’re going to build a wall, they’re going to pay for the wall, we’re going to keep drugs out, we’re going to keep the people that — we have gangs, we have gang leaders. We have drug kings. We have all of these people flowing into our country, all of those people are going to get out. We’re gonna get ‘em out. We’re gonna stop the flow of drugs into our country. Our country is being poisoned. Our youth are being destroyed. We have cities over the weekend 20 people are overdosed on drugs. Twenty people from one city and dying. They’re dying all over our country and it’s coming, mostly, from that section of the world. We’re gonna stop it.”
That is Trump unfiltered.
He is practically illiterate, and he is by far the most inarticulate presidential candidate in memory and perhaps in the nation’s history. He is often nonsensical, confused and disjointed in his thinking. And, yet, his supporters don’t seem to mind.
But clear thinking matters.
For example, just how would Trump’s wall play out. We build it at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars and then what? Would Trump send Mexico a bill? And who is going to make them pay? Certainly not international law, which would be on Mexico’s side. Would Trump threaten them militarily? Would he cut off aid, and make enemies on our southern border? Does Trump not understand it is far superior (and far less costly) to have a friendly neighbor on our southern border than one who feels threatened and becomes hostile? Is that the kind of leadership Republicans think will benefit this country?
The same type of bullying would be true of North Korea, Iran, Syria, maybe Iraq and Libya, and China, and who knows where else, except for Trump’s friend, Putin in Russia, who — at this point — has so bamboozled Trump that Trump thinks he has the upper hand.
Personal intelligence does matter; judgment matters; character matters — and Trump is seriously deficient on each count. Wednesday night’s debate will no doubt expose some of those vulnerabilities.
Clinton is not our first choice, but she knows the ropes, she understands diplomacy, she’s respectful of other world leaders and of Congress, she has a vision she can articulate, she’s fair and not a bigot. In short, she is competent and not a danger to the nation’s future. Trump is a danger, if for no other reason than he is an inarticulate buffoon who is prone to insults, bullying and braggadocio. That’s not only non-presidential; it’s a sure-fire recipe for disaster on the domestic and international stage.
Angelo S. Lynn

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