Tomorrow is the big day. It’s the day we who have chosen to participate in the world’s greatest reality TV show prostrate ourselves before those candidates who would be King or Queen. It’s been a long, arduous slog to get here and many of us can’t wait for it to be over. For a political junkie such as myself I’m almost sorry to see it end. Almost.
By now the two major party candidates need scant introduction.
One of them is a lewd entertainer who, until recently, was the target of a rather serious rape accusation. This charge has since been dropped much to the joy of the Trump campaign and much to the chagrin of his detractors. It’s not an insignificant point that the suit has been dropped amid reports that the alleged victim had been the subject of numerous death threats.
The other candidate is a woman so out of touch with reality, so hostile to sound ethical behavior, and so hell-bent on starting World War III with Russia, it seems more than extraordinary that she has gotten as close to the brass ring as she has. But here she is. And, like her Republican counterpart, she has recently been “exonerated” to some degree of any impropriety regarding her ongoing e-mail scandal. I don’t know how convincing this exoneration can be considering it came from an emasculated lackey of one of Clinton’s staunch allies. To any objective observers this is a joke, and not a very good one.
So, on this the eve of Election Day, how do we choose between these two obscene and abjectly offensive candidates for the presidency? How can we with a clear conscience cast our ballots for a woman who embodies everything wrong with our politics and government, or for a man who embodies everything wrong with our culture?
The only answer is that there is no good answer. In this most bizarre and harrowing of election seasons we’ve been coerced by the powers-that-be into a morally compromising and degrading position, one in which we find ourselves confronted by a decision that manipulates us into abandoning our convictions and substituting them for a choice that will haunt us for years to come.
To put this degrading process into perspective, let’s look a little closer at the choices and what could be perhaps their worst ideas. (It wasn’t easy to whittle the selection down to a short list of terrible ideas, there are so many to choose from…)
Hillary Clinton, the sinister incarnation of political corruption and governmental incompetence, threatens the peace and well-being of the planet with her plans for a no-fly zone in Syria. This course of action could very well lead to World War III with Russia.
On the other side of the coin, Trump, with his promise of sky-rocketing tariffs threatens to engage in a trade war with China. Combine with that his hostility to our southern neighbors in Mexico, the lack of respect he engenders in Europe, and we could be looking at an isolated America, one deprived of prestige to a degree we can’t yet fathom, one we’ll have to see to believe.
How do you choose between these two nightmare scenarios? It might actually be easier than you think.
A trade war with China, and more than likely the majority of Southeast Asia, would no doubt be a disaster for our fragile economy. We know what happens when tariffs are raised to reckless levels; Smoot and Hawley taught us this lesson the hard way back in 1930, it seems ridiculous to surmise we would follow this course of action again, what with so much well-documented history to undermine the false efficacy of such policies. But with a Trump victory we would be right to assume the lesson could very well be taught once more and to yet another catastrophic result.
But recessions and depressions can be overcome in time with the right policy prescriptions, that’s a lesson Harding and Coolidge taught us back in the 1920s. Recessions and depressions are not insurmountable obstacles though there have been presidents in the past who have done what they can to exacerbate them for no better reason than sheer economic illiteracy.
The alternative to Trump’s perhaps inevitable trade war is Hillary Clinton’s course of action in Syria. This strategy could very well lead us into war with a heavily armed nuclear state. When comparing the calamitous effects of a trade war with China against the potential damage of World War III, it should be obvious to thinking people that there isn’t much comparison at all.
Let me introduce you to the Russian “Satan 2” missile. This nuclear weapon, with its upgraded targeting technology, allegedly has the capability to wipe out an area the size of Texas. Let that sink in for a moment. Read it again if you have to. Yes, Trump could very well start a trade war with China, we could see prices on every day goods sky-rocket, but this is all quite reversible. Contrast that with a nuclear strike on Boston or Los Angeles or any other major city in our country, or any other major city in Europe.
The difference in danger between these two candidates couldn’t be clearer. One could very well make life exceedingly difficult for our economy. The other could very well make our economy non-existent.
For the past year I’ve been planning to vote third party, but as I’ve examined these two issues, and as I’ve watched our nation draw closer to war with Russia, I’ve been compelled to ask myself a simple question: Am I so selfish that I’d put my personal convictions ahead of what’s best for the whole planet? Are my principles so sacrosanct that they take precedence over the health and well-being of seven billion fellow humans? Do I have, or does anyone, really have the luxury of principles when so much is at stake?
The answer is, of course, no. And while I find Trump to be personally repulsive to my values, survival is not a moral dilemma. You do what you have to do when you have to do it, moral values be damned. Living and our way of life are more important than any of our convictions, and therefore might it not be the most moral decision to set aside our convictions and put our family, friends, and neighbors ahead of ourselves? It could be that the most responsible and enlightened thing we can do tomorrow is realize there are things at work greater than ourselves and there is, perhaps, no choice more principled than that.
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Photo: Julio Cortez/AP/NPR