Abby's Road: Better the devil you know

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The single issue that matters in this presidential election is whether Donald Trump is capable of being president of the United States. Any voter who believes he is not must vote accordingly. That means voting for Hillary Clinton.

It is a difficult conclusion for most Republicans and many Bernie Sanders supporters. They recognize the dangers of Trump’s rhetoric, and they do not embrace his positions. They can acknowledge why he should not become the leader of the free world.

A popular “compromise” has emerged: refuse to vote for any president at all. Or, vote for a third-party candidate. Or, just write someone in. Chuckle, chuckle.

This conflict is one that deserves sympathy. This disappointment in a choice that feels like no choice at all should not be belittled. Unfortunately, this decision cannot be driven by such emotions.

Anyone who does not endorse Trump must rally around the greater cause and bigger message this election has come to symbolize. The majority of American voters must unify around a principle, if not a candidate. Trump’s vengeful, intemperate, and polarizing world view is not representative of our collective will.

For better or for worse, the only way to reassure ourselves and the world of our common decency, our common humility, and our common pursuit is to elect Hillary Clinton.

She is not the perfect candidate. For some, she is from the “wrong” party. For others, she is too one-dimensional, an automaton so of the political machine that she does not appear to exist outside of it. She can be accused of saying whatever it takes to win. Her name is synonymous with scandals that are now shorthand: Monica Lewinsky, Benghazi, emails on a server in Chappaqua.

But Trump can be condemned for the same or similar shortfalls.

He has wanted to be president in enough election cycles that he’s toyed with it as a nominal Democrat and Independent, only to land this time with the Republicans. He is a narcissist, obsessed with portraying himself as a winner in any context. He is known for corporate bankruptcies and failed business ventures, high-profile marriages and divorces, sexualized comments about his daughter, and impulsive/compulsive tweeting.

When Trump is subjected to the same criticism that nips at Clinton’s heels, his Achilles is equally exposed.

On the other hand, Clinton has a resume that would be taken as indisputable evidence of her qualifications if she were applying for any other job. Her unalloyed commitment to public service should be respected, not sneered at. She has a track record that indicates what we’ll get if we elect her.

True, we’ll likely get more of the same, and some don’t want more of the same.

But change is only good when the change itself is for the good.

Trump promises change, but it comes as advocacy for policies and practices that embarrassed us decades and centuries ago, and from which we have worked hard to evolve. If we can predict anything of Trump, it is that he will be frighteningly unpredictable.

His decisions, his words, his actions, his reactions, will correlate to the degree of praise he receives as a prompt. When provoked, he has proven and proclaimed that he will respond without regard to the restrictions of politics, the law, proportionality or humanity. No argument is beneath him, no victory is too empty, no tactic is too ruthless.

This is not a choice between her and him. This is a choice is between the familiar and the unfathomable.

The presidency is not a lark, or an experiment, or written in erasable ink. We cannot contribute to a potential Trump victory by refusing to support his only potential vanquisher, especially where she is at worst what we expect.

It is a mathematical and practical reality that Trump will not be defeated by a blank space, or the Green Party candidate, or the Libertarian candidate, or the friend you write in as a joke.

But he must be defeated.

Perplexed Republicans and inspired Sanders supporters, vote for the person you don’t love to defeat the person you fear.

Vote for Hillary.

Imagine what could happen if you don’t.

Abby Diaz grew up in Falmouth and lives there again, because that’s how life works. She blogs at whatsleftover.com. Follow Abby on Twitter: @AbbyDiaz1.

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  • Chew H Bird

    Let us not forget that Gary Johnson is on every state ballot for this coming Presidential election. Perhaps we should use the benchmark of being on every presidential ballot in every state as a basis for including all three candidates for any televised debates? Perhaps Mr. Johnson has the proverbial “snowballs chance”, but if we could have a viable third party, even as a foil for the incompetence demonstrated so efficiently by the Democrats and Republicans we might actually come out of this election with better long term prospects than by electing the horrifying Mr. Trump or Ms. Clinton who has demonstrated so succinctly her complete lack of competence with technology (future Commander in Chief)?

    • Ted

      I’m not a fan of modern “libertarianism,” but agree with your sentiments re. a 3rd party.

      Having said that, we will never have a 3rd party under our current “winner-take-all” election system. It is mathematically geared so that only two parties exist.

      Ranked Choice Voting addresses this inequity for the most part, even with its warts and imperfections. It will be 5th on this year’s ballot in Maine. If we want to start breaking the strangle-hold that the Duopoly now holds on us, we have to start using some tools that will help do this, and we have to start locally.

      • Chew H Bird

        There is a process for situations when no candidate reaches 270 electoral votes. Also, the ranked choice voting is a trojan horse of problems that promises mediocrity at the expense of everyone. If a candidate is incapable of winning an election outright they are not qualified to hold office (in my opinion). Lets just say Johnson is the number two choice of both Clinton and Trump supporters and ends up with 55% of the “second place” votes, but only 9% of the first choice votes (winning just enough electoral votes to prevent either Clinton of trump from reaching 270)? How could anyone justify putting Johnson in the Oval Office with a straight face.

  • Ted

    Abby,

    I enjoy your opinion pieces as they are always well-stated. I wrote a rather long response to this week’s piece…unfortunately, your editor censored it entirely. I don’t know why s/he did other than that s/he might have felt that you couldn’t handle it, or that it cut too close to the bleak truth of where our political reality has left us.

    Anyway, just know that I appreciate and respect your position even though the picture you painted is not complete. In short, there really is no viable choice for president this time, no matter how much fear has to do with it.

    • Vanada

      no viable choice if limited to Trump v. Clinton. But there are others in the race: Stein, Johnson/Weld, and now Evan McMullin. Just because this columnist is incapable of seeing beyond conventional wisdom and party propaganda, doesn’t mean there isn’t a choice. Vote your well-informed conscience, if we all did that we’d be in much better shape, I’d wager.

    • yathink2011

      That’s what the Liberal Press does. Sorry you didn’t know. I’m sure my comment from a few minutes ago too will disappear. The only way you can have a voice is to stop reading the Forecaster, and more importantly stop supporting those that advertise in the Forecaster. That’s what Liberals do.

  • Charles Martel

    Another hit piece on Trump but never any in depth research on Hillary which is available if you were to ever step out of your comfort zone. Have you read D’Souza’s “Hillary’s America”, Fitton’s “Corruption Chronicles”, Schweizer’s “Clinton Cash” or Morris’s “Armageddon”? My guess would be No. More of the e-mail scandal on “pay for play” to the Clinton Foundation is coming out this week. If you really think Hillary’s resume is indisputable evidence of her qualifications or that she had an unalloyed commitment to public service, then you have been drinking way too much Kool-Aid.

  • Vanada

    I wonder what lies behind the presumption that this columnist is qualified to tell other people how to vote.

    • AverageJoe99

      How arrogant. Even YOU are qualified to tell other people how to vote. It’s up to the other people whether or not to listen to you.

  • yathink2011

    “Anyone who does not endorse Trump must rally around the greater cause and bigger message this election has come to symbolize. The majority of American voters must unify around a principle, if not a candidate. Trump’s vengeful, intemperate, and polarizing world view is not representative of our collective will.”

    So if one chooses not to endorse Hillary Clinton because she is corrupt, and sold out the United States for personal gain, violated the law by using private email, let 4 American die in Benghazi, ok I think you get my point, the reverse must be true, and that person must vote for Donald Trump.

    Thank you for pointing that out Ms. Diaz, because you are out of touch with America, and you clarified things for those new people each day who are removing their support of a criminal.