“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat,”
The Man in the Arena – April 23, 1910 – Theodore Roosevelt.
As President Obama said at the DNC on Thursday we must reject cynicism and fear – that’s not who Americans are. I hope Barack is right but there is no doubt our nation is at a crossroad. We can either embrace the politics of hope or we can get sucked into the vortex of fear.
Americans like to think we are “exceptional” that nothing is impossible if you try hard enough as an individual or as a society that cares for those who have been left behind, for those living in the shadows, for those who have been marginalized - for those who need a hand up nor a hand out.
But in the presidential contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump we have a choice that many regard as a choice between the lesser of two evils. That cynicism is understandable but it’s not the foundation upon which we can build a civic culture.
Voters must navigate an election where neither candidate is without their flaws. But we live in a world where none of us is perfect. But at times I get the impression that Americans want candidates of the Immaculate Conception.
Well Jesus is not on the ballot – Hillary and Donald are. And in that reality show one has distinguished herself for over 30 years as a determined advocate for the public while the other has no public service resume. One candidate’s life has been dedicated to service, the other to ego gratification.
Hillary has been in “the arena” her entire life working 24/7 as a “change agent.” The Donald has built casinos and golf courses using other people’s money to make the quick buck just before he bails out by declaring bankruptcy. Hillary has successfully advocated for women and children, while her opponent has advocated for himself.
Yes Hillary has her flaws. But again when matched against Trump’s there is simply no contest. She has an extensive record of public service, Trump by contrast has never run for office before. For some that’s his attraction, he not a politician.
But actually Trump is a politician of another kind who has used his access to line his pockets here and abroad. Now he want to bring his skill set to the Oval Office. But what are his skills what does he bring to the job interview in this election?
So far we’ve seen him invoke fear and hate using vicious, mean spirited stereotypes of Muslims, Latinos, women, African-Americans and those with disabilities. Trump also traffics in the politics of threats by suggesting he’s not so sure about NATO. I could go on but you get the picture.
Donald Trumps America is “exceptional” because it an image based on the politics of hate, fear and bullying. With his empty promise of making ‘America Great Again’ – “believe me” - his vision of America is based on fear and a diminished America, a fortress America where he will preside over as our “law and order” sheriff aka President.
By contrast Hillary Clinton will build on the legacy of the Obama years – years of hard won victories over the Great Recession, bringing health care to over 30 million previously uninsured Americans and getting Americans back to work from sea to shining sea.
She will also bring expertise to foreign policy and the strategic use of American military power. What does Trump promise – bombast, backsliding on our allies and dangerous threats thrown at China and ISIS without any serious thought.
The so-called reality TV celebrity plans to use his ‘art of the deal’ skills to confront our enemies. I’m sure Putin and ISIS are quaking at the thought of The Donald being POTUS. But what is most shocking is that Trump doesn’t read but simply reacts to the tube. He's even more ignorant than Dubya!
Fox News will no doubt be his default expert. If that doesn’t scare you, nothing will. Yes, I know Hillary has her e-mail problem and trust issues enlarged over the years by that “vast Right Wing conspiracy? But at the end of the day – I’ll bet on her over the Trumpster anytime. She’s been through hell and back thanks to Slick Willie and numerous elections.
Unlike the Donald she’s been in the area for 30 years – The Donald is clearly on training wheels. To use Rumsfeld’s convoluted language – I’d rather bet on the “known known,” than the “unknown known” when I vote this fall.
Hillary has the gravitas, the resume and the hard knocks to do the job. The Donald is the clown, the bully in diapers…
My bet is on Hillary who as a student commencement speaker in 1969 at Wellesley College said that politics as the art of the possible is not enough – “the challenge now is to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible possible.”
That’s the “change agent” who will keep the audacity of hope alive!