One can, of course, play the current journalistic game of “fair and balanced” by creating a false equivalence between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. This, to avoid the room-clearing epithet of “the lying liberal media” bent on destroying the first non-politician to have a shot at winning the White House since George Washington. In order to score points in the Fair and Balanced game, one is required to declare that the leading American political parties have nominated people who are detested by a majority of Americans.
The players in this game are obligated to bring up Hillary’s emails and Trump’s bankruptcies. One must include a gratuitous reference to their spouses’ dalliance with ménage a trois or erupting bimbos. One must state that, while not indicted for various sins and wrongdoings, each of the nominees are most certainly guilty of heinous acts, that, while falling short of the height necessary for impeachable crimes, are, at the very least, misdemeanors rendering them unfit to occupy the old marble building erected by slaves.
All of this misses the point.
Only one of the candidates has repeatedly demonstrated utter disregard for the foundational ideals of the American Republic. Only one of the candidates has repeatedly expressed admiration for the efficiency of tyranny and the strength of tyrants. Only one of the candidates has repeatedly attacked people for their religion, their gender, their looks, their body size or their disabilities.
This is not a contest between two flawed but reasonably competent candidates. One may have disagreed with Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, but only the most partisan of partisans could have plausibly argued that either of them stands in opposition to what America means. Obama over-promised and under-delivered and Romney was just too out of touch or too perfectly coiffed or too Mormon, but neither of them were bad people. They were men who loved their country and wanted to serve it with distinction. A vote for one or the other placed the voter slightly to the left or the right of a solid Middle American value system.
This is not that. This is an election about whether or not the ideals of America even matter anymore. Maybe the world shouldn’t be giving us their tired and their poor anymore. Maybe that’s something that China or Germany or even Greece can do better. Maybe we don’t believe that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Maybe we prefer a Mad Max sort of President, paving over the roads with fury.
Either way, pretending that the two main candidates for President are equal is not honest. They are not equal. One has a lawyerly addiction to parsing the truth but a realpolitik view of the world. The other has a narcissistic addiction to attention and a child’s grasp of the universe.
One is less than perfect. The other is perfectly dangerous.