Clinton will give more Americans an opportunity to succeed

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives to speak to members of the media after a rally at the Zembo Shrine in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives to speak to members of the media after a rally at the Zembo Shrine in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. Associated Press

Based on her positions on the big issues of our time – the economy, taxes, immigration, the global war on terrorism, policing, gun control and climate change – and her huge edge in public service experience and temperament over her chief rival, we recommend Hillary Clinton as the strong, steady and compassionate leader America needs in the White House.

We recognize that Clinton has flaws, but her experience as a lawyer, an activist First Lady, a senator and secretary of state, in addition to her mastery of the issues and seriousness of purpose qualify her to be commander in chief.

Many Americans are legitimately frustrated with our dysfunctional government and the two-party system. There are many causes for the problems that plague us: hyper-partisanship; loaded congressional lines; the out-sized voice that people with money have because of our campaign finance system; the lack of civics education; the coarsening of public discourse, to name a few.

We in the media – both entertainment and news – share blame. Talk radio and cable TV play to what divides us, and too many of us have reveled in the circus the 2016 election has been. Too often, the press has valued style points and show business over facts.

Donald Trump has seized on these opportunities. He has given voice to voters’ anger and forced us all to grapple with it. He deserves credit for that. But he is not a man who would lift up America. He offers few genuine and thoughtful ideas about our country’s most pressing problems. The unvarnished truth is that Trump is unsuited and unqualified to be our president.

His business dealings have been called into question, and he refuses to release his taxes so that American voters can judge whether his domestic and foreign policy decisions would be influenced by his financial arrangements. Trump has claimed to have a secret plan to defeat ISIS only to say that his plan is to ask the generals to come up with a plan for him – the very generals he previously disdained.

He has waffled – sometimes within hours – on torture, abortion and his proposed ban on Muslims. He has threatened to abandon our allies while praising our foes. He has bragged about the size of his private parts at a presidential debate. He repeatedly has denigrated women, Hispanics and American war heroes. He claims to have opposed the Iraq War. That’s true, but only if you disregard his earlier support of the war.

Trump’s bluster, misrepresentations, intimidation and passion for litigation have served him well in the business world. Born to a wealthy family, he took a considerable stake and turned it into a much larger fortune. Throughout his business career, he has answered only to himself and his family. Whatever came his way – whether it be billions of dollars, admiration by the masses or the eternal scorn of those he swindled – went on his personal ledger. So be it.

Being president of the United States presents entirely different challenges and responsibilities. The president represents the nation and each of its 325 million citizens. The president must do what’s best for the country. The president must put each and every citizen above himself. Despite his “Make America Great Again” slogan, Trump has demonstrated neither the willingness nor the discipline to put anyone but himself first.

Think of what a Trump presidency would mean to the San Joaquin Valley. If he follows through on his tough talk about deporting undocumented immigrants, there would be no one to pick the crops of the Valley’s ag-based economy. His deportation plan would rip apart many longtime, hardworking Valley families. Trump even wants to end citizenship for U.S. born children of undocumented immigrants – citizenship that is guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

While some Valley farmers understandably are backing Trump because of his promises to restore drought-ravaged irrigation deliveries, at least one of his policy positions would harm business and the environment. Understand: Trump believes that solar energy is too problematic to be worthwhile. He said so during his rally at Fresno’s Selland Arena. He has promised to save the dying, lung-choking coal industry. And he says that global warming is a hoax invented by the Chinese. All of this suggests that he has no regard for facts or science – a dangerous quality in a president.

In contrast, Clinton would build upon the Paris accord and focus even more on clean energy, which will generate good jobs instead of more carbon. Her plans for the economy and the tax code would put millions of more Americans to work and add fewer dollars to the federal debt than Trump’s trickle-down economics and tax cuts for millionaires.

Constitutional freedoms are at stake in this election, not the least of these being the First Amendment. Trump has bullied, shunned and demonized the press. He has barred certain reporters from some of his events, and he has warned news organizations that he’s going to “open up libel laws” and “have people sue you like you’ve never been sued before.”

Religious freedoms are in his sights, as well, as he repeatedly targets Muslims. On voting rights, he has urged his supporters to go to polling places in “certain neighborhoods” to make sure “bad things” don’t happen.

Clinton has been the target of political and personal attacks for decades. Yes, some of her wounds are self-inflicted. She made a serious mistake with her private email server, and she should have done much more to wall off the Clinton Foundation from the State Department. Such missteps do not disqualify her.

Clinton also is far more in line with Bernie Sanders than Libertarian Gary Johnson, who opposes free tuition and supports unlimited campaign contributions, in direct conflict with Sanders’ warnings that big money is corrupting politics. If young people truly believe in the Sanders agenda, it makes no sense to vote for Johnson, especially since doing so will boost Trump.

There is one vacancy on the nation’s highest court, and the next president could appoint several more Supreme Court justices. Clinton has pledged to seek to overturn the Citizens United decision and would nominate justices who would protect women’s rights and voting rights. The list of potential nominees put out by Trump includes judges who have advocated limiting abortion rights and who opposed legal protections for gays and lesbians. He would nominate law-and-order judges who would set back criminal justice reform.

We know what to expect from a Clinton presidency. She is not a charismatic, inspirational leader for everyone. But she is a hardworking, smart politician who with an even moderately cooperative Congress will make America a place of greater opportunity.

We recommend that voters make her the 45th president of the United States.