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Still Undecided?

Still Undecided?
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BY DON PORTOLESE

There are only three days left before our presidential election, and many people are still undecided. This says a lot about how our electorate views the two candidates. Yet, if the sight of Clinton or Trump turns your stomach, try to look beyond their personas and consider what is at stake in this election. We need to analyze each candidate’s promises and priorities as well as what their party stands for. In doing so, we will find that this election is not about choosing the lesser of two evils.

Let’s start with Donald Trump. He has promised to build a wall along our border with Mexico. This would be hugely expensive, and very difficult to pull off. He claims he will strong arm the Mexicans into paying for it, but Mexico has made it clear. They are not going to pay for that pinche wall. Regardless, a wall will do nothing to stop the almost 50 percent of illegal immigrants who come into the U.S. and overstay their visas. We need to reform our immigration system not keep it mired in unrealistic and unachievable goals.

Deporting some 16 million illegal immigrants is equally costly and difficult to accomplish. Going door to door to round these people up would be next to impossible. The cost of processing and deporting them would be enormous. The tearing apart of families would be devastating. Trump claims that these illegals are drug dealers, rapists and terrorists. However, a study by the Immigration Policy Center found that immigrants, regardless of their legal status, are far less likely to commit serious crimes than American citizens.

Banning people based on their religion, is another of Trump’s xenophobic platforms. Once again, American citizens are far more likely to commit terrorist acts than foreigners. Omar Mir Seddique Mateen was born in New York. Timothy McVeigh was also an American. Every year, unstable people who have more access to guns than psychiatric care, kill thousands of innocent people. These are terrorist acts, and they are almost always committed by Americans. We don’t properly vet people who want to purchase a gun, yet we should vet others based on their religion? This is as anti-American as it is unconstitutional.

Trump’s economic promises are just as difficult to achieve. Renegotiating trade deals like NAFTA is certainly laudable. However, wringing concessions out of our trading partners requires a level of diplomacy that Trump simply doesn’t have. We can’t just pull out of these trade agreements without causing our country serious economic harm. While Trump rails against these trade deals, it is his party that has paved the way for offshoring jobs. Trump himself has benefitted immensely from offshoring jobs and globalization. Many of his signature brand items are made in Mexico and China, and his other businesses have also profited. For all his posturing on this issue, it is hard to believe that he or his party will do much to upset the status quo.

Trump also claims he will bring back the 4 million manufacturing jobs we’ve lost over the last few decades. While many of our manufacturing jobs have been lost through trade deals, economic analyses show that many of them would have been lost to China or other developing world economies, anyway. Others have been lost due to technological innovations. Like it or not, in this globalized and ever-changing world, we need to do more than pine for jobs of the past. We need to look to the future to find new economic engines to spur job growth.

Trump’s ideas for tax reform and job growth are just more of the same. He claims that he is going to kick-start the economy by using the same voodoo economics republicans have been proposing all along. He has given no precise policy details except to slash corporate taxes by more than half and give tax breaks to the rich. While these might initially jumpstart our economy, our national debt and deficit would sky-rocket. His reforms would do nothing to correct the inequality inherent in our economy.

Another of Trump’s unrealistic promises is to repeal The Affordable Care Act as soon as he becomes president. It would literally take years to phase out all parts of this law. It certainly needs some work, but a full repeal would cause a major disruption to our healthcare system. Had republicans not worked so hard to undermine and water-down the safeguards of this law, particularly the public option, we wouldn’t be experiencing problems like rate-hikes in the first place. Had they put their energies into improving this law rather than repealing it, we would have a fully-functioning health care system that benefitted all Americans.

Now let’s take a look at Hillary Clinton’s promises to the U.S. electorate. Her policies seem to hail from an alternate universe both in their focus and level of detail. Unlike Trump whose website offers little in the way of specifics, Clinton’s website wonkishly walks us through a dizzying amount of detail. She clearly knows how government works and how best to accomplish the goals she has promised the American people.

Unlike her adversary, Clinton would keep The Affordable Care Act and improve upon it. There is a lot that needs fixing with this law; however, that doesn’t mean it should be completely scrapped. It has provided protections for our citizens by preventing insurance companies from denying insurance based on pre-existing conditions. It has also extended insurance to millions more Americans. Clinton intends to bring back the public option which would force insurance companies to compete with federal or state insurance plans. We need to put our energies into making this law work, not repealing it.

Another of her diametrically opposed policies is the promise of immigration reform with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Contrary to what Trump says, she is not talking about open borders. Clinton believes that we should have stricter border security; however, walls and mass deportations are not going to solve our immigration problem. Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric is already scaring away immigrants who could significantly contribute to this country. There is a lot of talent outside of our borders; we need to welcome it by allowing the world’s best and brightest to study and live in the U.S. In fact, our economy needs immigrants at all levels in order to prosper. This is the only way we will be able to afford social security and remain innovative in the coming years. We have neither the money nor the moral capital to squander on demonization and deportation, and Clinton understands this.

On the economic front, Clinton has promised to invest $275 billion into our crumbling infrastructure which would be paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy and borrowing money while interest rates are at their lowest. While this would add to the debt initially, it would create millions of jobs and develop crucial infrastructure projects. This is what will pull us out of our economic slump. More employed people means more tax revenue which would pay down our debt faster than more austerity measures.

Clinton also plans to invest in the jobs of tomorrow, rather than try to recover the jobs of the past. We must stop playing “The Tortoise and the Hare” with the rest of the world. Countries like China as well as European countries are investing in wind and solar energy. They will dominate these markets while we have our heads buried in the sand looking for more fossil fuels. If we want to maintain our technological hegemony, we need to focus on research and development and train our workforce in the skills of the future.

In addition to these, Clinton has promised to tackle important issues like pay discrimination, increasing the minimum wage and leveling the playing field for all Americans. She also wants to pass common sense gun control legislation and overturn Citizens United. She advocates for the rights of minorities while her opponent and his party try to suppress them. She believes climate change is very real and has put forth proposals that will address not deny this problem. These humane initiatives are what set her apart from her disrespectful and divisive opponent.

Which brings me to what’s at stake beyond the presidency. If these two clearly divergent paths don’t pull you out of your cynical funk, then think about this. We have three Supreme Court justices who may not see the other side of the next president’s mandate. Whoever reaches the Whitehouse could have significant influence over the kind of nation we will be. Granted, this also has a lot to do with the senate. However, a more liberal tilt to the court would ensure that we work toward obtaining more protections for all Americans instead of working to repeal them.

Both candidates face an uphill battle in making good on their promises. While one could argue that Clinton will have difficulty keeping any of her promises because of republican obstruction, Trump will be fighting a two-front war with elements from within his own party and democrats as well. His lack of detail and diplomatic skills leave him ill-equipped to accomplish even his sanest proposals.

The biggest question any undecided voter needs to ask him/herself is this, what kind of country do I want to live in? Your decision this coming Tuesday could have lasting consequences on all of us. So, look deep within yourself, beyond all of the bias and media spin and choose the candidate and party who will do a better job of looking out for your interests. At the risk of sounding subjective, I think the choice is more than clear. I’m voting for Hillary Clinton, and I’m not ashamed of my choice or my candidate!

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