I have but one wish for Christmas this year — a presidential candidate with some common sense who has the best interests of the nation (and not himself or herself) at heart and is occasionally honest with the American people.
I don’t care if that candidate is Republican, Democrat or Independent. I don’t care if the candidate is male or female, black or white, gay or straight, religious or atheist. All I care is that the candidate is one the American people can trust and unite behind.
This may seem like an impossible request, given the present state of political partisanship in this country and the slim slate of candidates both parties are offering for the office. But I have no doubt you’ve pulled off bigger miracles than this before and I can only hope and pray that you are able to do it again.
Look at what we’ve got now as the front-runners for the presidency: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Really? Is this the best America has to offer?
I would like to think not. But if that is the case, we are in far bigger trouble as a nation than any of us are willing to admit.
On the Republican side is Trump, an egomaniacal clown who is the perfect candidate for the Twitter generation; 140 characters of meaningless, bloviating in a medium that gives people with nothing important to say the opportunity to say it.
That Trump is the Republican front-runner is largely a result of the dissatisfaction and growing anger a significant number of Americans have with the present administration, which seems to have no clue when it comes to foreign policy, especially when dealing with threats posed by terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State.
While Islamic State launches an international campaign against everything it doesn’t like — which is pretty much everything — President Barack Obama focuses his attention on climate change and making fun of the Republicans.
We’ll show those IS thugs a thing or two by holding a climate change conference in Paris. That will send them scurrying for cover.
As for the Republicans, they don’t really need any help from Obama in looking foolish; it seems to come naturally to them.
Trump is one of those people who talks a lot but doesn’t really say much of anything. When pressed on details of how he would handle matters such as international terrorism he says only that he would be tough and hire tough people to handle the tough jobs. He apparently is too busy talking tough like the bully down the block to be bothered with such minutia.
When he’s not talking tough on Obama and the Democrats, other Republicans in the race, women and terrorism, Trump unleashes some of his more venomous vitriol on immigrants and Muslims, even going so far as to hint broadly at establishing a national database for Muslims and closing mosques. Trump supporters will argue that that is not what he said or means to say, but in this age of social media, perception quickly morphs into reality for many people and Trump has done nothing to dispel that perception.
Trump also mocks people with disabilities and his henchmen are not above roughing up protesters at his rallies — with the Donald’s blessing — as they did in Birmingham, Ala., a few weeks ago.
I really don’t like comparing anyone or anything to what happened in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, but for anyone who has studied that era there are not-so-faint echoes in Trump’s speeches and actions that are frighteningly reminiscent of a post-World War I Germany when a weak government, a soaring national debt and fear of communism led to the slow but inexorable rise of the Nazi Party and Hitler.
Unfortunately for America, Hillary Clinton may be even worse.
She seems incapable of telling the truth about much of anything. Famed New York Times columnist William Safire called her “a congenital liar” nearly 20 years ago. She has had little reconciliation with the truth since then.
Here are a few of my favorite Hillaryisms of recent vintage:
She said she and Bill were dead broke when they left the White House in 2001. They only made $12 million that year.
She said she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, who was the first of two climbers to summit Mount Everest. She was 6 years old at the time Hillary (the climber) stood atop Mount Everest.
She said she landed in Bosnia under sniper fire. A video showed her and daughter Chelsea strolling casually across the tarmac.
She said for weeks that the Benghazi attack was the result of an anti-Islam video. The night of the attack she was emailing Chelsea that it was a terrorist attack.
As my father used to say, you can never trust a liar because you never know when they are lying and when they are telling the truth.
Aside from her inability to separate fact from fiction, Clinton has some other issues that are like trip flares signaling impending trouble for the American people and the body politic.
These have to do with her lack of respect for the Constitution, particularly as it relates to the First Amendment.
Shortly after Clinton officially launched her campaign this past summer, a group calling itself the Clinton Super Volunteers — ostensibly not sanctioned by the campaign — told reporters they were being monitored for their use of adjectives used to describe the candidate. Reporters were given 13 words or phrases they should not use because they were deemed “sexist.” These words included “polarizing,” “calculating,” “disingenuous,” “insincere,” ambitious,” “entitled,” and “secretive” to name just a few.
Message control like that has a Big Brother ring to it.
More recently, Clinton’s campaign tried to intimidate several comedians who made fun of her while performing at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood. Her campaign not only demanded that a video of the performances be removed from the Internet, but that the club owners give campaign officials personal contact information of the comedians who appeared in the video.
That’s not unlike Trump’s recent efforts to control members of the media by requiring that they have an escort to go to the bathroom when Trump is in the room.
Then there’s Clinton’s recent speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York in which she said that “Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.”
If that’s the case, who are all these people committing acts of terrorism in the name of Islam? Radical Quakers? Presbyterians in disguise?
She undercut her own argument in that same speech by referring to the perpetrators of terrorism as “radical jihadists.” Is there any religion other than Islam that uses the term “jihad?” Did Jainism, one of the religions that greatly influenced Gandhi, somehow misappropriate the word?
Both Trump and Clinton are dangerous. They are cut from the same megalomaniacal cloth and are leading their respective parties, and potentially the country, into dangerous territory.
Supporting either of them is doing the country a great disservice because with either of them in office the country would be even more divided than it is now and this great experiment in representative democracy would continue on its downward spiral at a much faster rate.
So, Santa, I am hoping for a Christmas miracle this year, not just for me, but for every blessed one of us.
Ron Martz is Marine Corps veteran (1965-68), journalist and former educator. He lives in Northeast Georgia and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.