Election Reflections, and the Best Articles During the 2016 Presidential General Election

Introduction

I voted earlier this month, since Oregon sends out ballots by mail.  I decided to cast my vote early because I was vacillating all over the place about whom I should vote for, and I wanted closure in that area.

Believe it or not, I seriously contemplated voting for each candidate at some point in this election season.  Donald Trump attracted me because he is a renegade and people’s sanctimonious criticisms of him made me want to give him the benefit of a doubt, since I can be a defiant contrarian.  Yet, certain allegations against Trump ultimately discouraged me from voting for him.  Hillary attracted me because she is a policy wonk and her worldview is rather progressive, which resonates with my own worldview.  But her holier-than-thou attitude and her shadiness turned me off from voting for her.  Gary Johnson had good ideas, and he departed from conventional libertarianism in areas, but his unwillingness to display enough intellectual heft turned me off from him (not that I appreciate the condescending elitists who criticized him for not knowing about Aleppo).  I decided in the end to vote for Jill Stein.  I thought that her spray-painting a bulldozer was tacky, but at least she is out there fighting for Native Americans.  Plus, her values align most with my own.  As far as I can see, she has the least baggage of the Presidential candidates running (who were on my ballot, that is).  Don’t worry: I voted in Oregon, which (as far as I know) is a safely blue state, not a swing state!

What follows is a compilation of some of the articles or speeches that influenced my decision this election year.  Or they made points that I think are important.  I categorize them as “Pro-Trump,” “Anti-Trump,” “Pro-Clinton,” “Anti-Clinton,” “Pro-Jill Stein,” “Anti-Jill Stein,” “Pro-Gary Johnson,” “Anti-Gary Johnson,” and “Other.”  Please read the following carefully, because I can foresee people saying that these labels are not necessarily accurate when it comes to a lot of these articles.  Some of these articles fit the labels that I have assigned to them perfectly: they actually support the candidates in question.  Ann Coulter is definitely pro-Trump, to use an example!  Others do not fit the labels, but I have still categorized them as I have because they make points that, in my eyes, make the candidates in question look good.  The New York Times, the Washington Post, and PBS are NOT pro-Trump, but some of their articles have given Trump the benefit of a doubt, or have said things about Trump that elevate him in my eyes.  Thus, I included some of their material in the “Pro-Trump” category.

You may notice that the “Pro-Trump” category is the largest.  Some of this reflects my defiant contrarianism, which I mentioned above.  When lots of people gain up on someone and assert that he has done nothing good or that all of his ideas are stupid, that by itself makes me give him at least some benefit of a doubt, even if I acknowledge some validity to the criticisms.  I guess I have a soft spot in my heart for the underdog, especially when that underdog will not allow others to keep him down but gets back up and keeps on fighting!

I do not wear this conviction on my sleeve.  I have been quieter than usual during this Presidential election, largely because I have wanted to avoid the vitriol and the misunderstandings that can occur in acrimonious political debate.  This is the first election in which I have felt intimidated to voice my opinion, and I will be honest: While there are things that I respect about Trump, he has not elevated the tone of political discourse.

Please believe and remember this: I respect those who chose a different path from mine.  As the father who lost a son in Vietnam in that “All in the Family” episode said to the young man who went to Canada to avoid the draft: “My son did what he had to do, and you did what you had to do.”

You may disagree with what I say, and I accept that, but I will not engage in acrimonious political discussions.  These links are here, though, for those who are interested.

I will shut off comments for this post.  I voted as I did, I explained why, and that is that.  Don’t try to sneak your comment about this post under another post.  It will not be accepted.

Pro-Trump

Trailer for the PBS Documentary “The Choice 2016”

I love the trailers for “The Choice” documentaries more than the documentaries themselves!  This year, both were good.  This documentary was not “pro-Trump,” but it said things about Trump that I think are positive.  It talks about his alienation from elites and his success as a promoter, even if he is not as good of a businessman.  (Note: A banker in the documentary made the point about Trump being a good promoter, but not as good of a businessman.)  It says that Trump hired a woman to a high position, which was rather noteworthy in that time.  It also interviews Omarosa Manigault, an African-American woman who directs outreach to African-American voters for Trump’s campaign.

New York Times fact check on the first Presidential debate between Trump and Hillary

This is probably my favorite post-debate fact-check that I read during the 2016 general election. Yes, it pointed out Trump’s inaccuracies. But it also noted that Secretary Clinton and President Obama had some of the same foreign policy concerns that Trump expressed in the debate. It shows where Trump is accurate on the judge who declared stop-and-frisk unconstitutional, rather than just saying that Trump was wrong, as other fact-check sites did. And it does not declare Trump as totally inaccurate, when there is room for doubt: on the allegations Trump was making about Sidney Blumenthal, for example, it is basically Blumenthal’s word against a reporter’s.

Factcheck.org on Trump and the Iraq War

“There is no evidence that we could find, however, that he spoke against the war before it started, although we did find he expressed early concerns about the cost and direction of the war a few months after it started.”

So Trump expressed reservations about the Iraq War soon after it started.  Why should the Howard Stern interview be the only thing that is considered when looking at Trump’s Iraq War stance?  I am tired of “fact-checkers” who do exactly that, and act as if they are making some profound observation.  They should observe more than they do!

Two articles by Pat Buchanan: Is Trump the Peace Candidate and Bibi Backs Trump, on Putin

Maybe Trump is not stupid on foreign policy, as a lot of people think!  Buchanan presents Trump as a non-interventionist, which may not be totally accurate, but it is still refreshing to read a defense of some of Trump’s foreign policy ideas.

CIA, State Department, Pentagon Take Their Civil War to the Campaign Trail, by Rachel Marsden

I’m not sure if I agree with the main thesis of this article: that the Pentagon generals tend to support Trump because Trump is against regime change in Syria, whereas State Department and CIA people tend to support Hillary because she was for it. After all, there are many generals who support Hillary and who criticize Trump! But I still like this article, and I like a lot of what I read by Rachel Marsden (not that I have an encyclopedic knowledge of her thought). When it comes to foreign policy, she seems to be one of the prudent, non-interventionist voices on the right.

The True Story: Donald Trump Did Not Mock a Reporter’s Disability

Did Trump really mock a reporter’s disability?  This article presents a convincing case that he did not.  When I posted this, even anti-Trump commenters acknowledged its points, yet they said that it did not matter because Trump is still a boor, or that Trump was wrong to make fun of anyone.  Fine, but Trump’s critics should at least make a factual accusation on this!  Instead, the claim is still parroted that Trump mocked a reporter’s disability.

Dogma Debate’s Interview with Dr. Robert Price

Robert Price is an atheist biblical scholar.   But he is also a conservative, and (what’s more) a Trump supporter!  This interview was interesting, in areas.  Of course, many of Price’s fans ask how he can be so smart and educated and vote for Trump.  To be honest, I get tired of people making those comments over and over!  I mean, somebody already made that comment, so how does it help for somebody else to make it, like it’s a fresh, original point?  In any case, I enjoy reading and listening to Dr. Price.

What I Learned on My Red State Book Tour, by Robert Reich

Just to be clear, Robert Reich is for Hillary, although he has been critical of her throughout the election, even when her main opponent was Trump.  I respect Reich’s honesty!  This post is from a year ago, and Reich says the following:

“I also began to understand why many of [the red state people Reich encountered] are attracted to Donald Trump. I had assumed they were attracted by Trump’s blunderbuss and his scapegoating of immigrants.  That’s part of it. But mostly, I think, they see Trump as someone who’ll stand up for them – a countervailing power against the perceived conspiracy of big corporations, Wall Street, and big government.  Trump isn’t saying what the moneyed interests in the GOP want to hear. He’d impose tariffs on American companies that send manufacturing overseas, for example.  He’d raise taxes on hedge-fund managers. (‘The hedge-fund guys didn’t build this country,’ Trump says. ‘They’re “getting away with murder.’)  He’d protect Social Security and Medicare.  I kept hearing ‘Trump is so rich he can’t be bought.'”

That’s something I have liked about Trump: that he breaks with Republican orthodoxy!  Did you know that, this year, not just the Democratic national platform, but also the Republican one, called for the return of Glass-Steagall?  Unfortunately, though, Trump has also embraced traditional Republican beliefs, such as tax cuts for the rich.

Vox: 3 Winners and 4 Losers from the Third Night of the Democratic National Convention

Michael Bloomberg tried to address moderates and independents, but who are the true moderates?  I loved this part of the article, which is similar to the point that Robert Reich makes above:

“Research from political scientists David Broockman and Doug Ahler suggests that most self-identified moderate voters aren’t [Bloomberg’s] kind of centrist at all. People who want lots of government programs but also are skeptical of abortion and immigration are a more typical kind of moderate. Indeed, Donald Trump is probably closer to most real American moderates than Bloomberg.”

Trump Spurns GOP Pieties to Meet with NRA on Terror List Gun Plan

When I heard that Trump wanted to meet with the NRA to get to the bottom of why they are against gun control for those on the no-fly list, I thought, “It is in times like this that I love this man!”  Trump wasn’t just swallowing the NRA spiel, as many Republicans do.  He was challenging them.  And, in the first Presidential debate, he actually agreed with Hillary on this issue, even though he also thought that the NRA expressed legitimate reservations that should be addressed (i.e., innocent people may be on the no-fly list).  By the way, the ACLU has similar reservations.

Donald Trump, a Champion of Women? His Female Employees Think So

This article was in the Washington Post, which is rather unfriendly towards Trump (to say the least)!  It talks about the women Trump hired to high-power positions.

The Bickersons II, by Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas is a conservative syndicated columnist.  “Well, that means he’s biased, so we can’t believe anything he says!”, some might say.  But Cal made noteworthy points about Hillary’s positions on taxes.  During this election season, I have been irritated by so-called “fact-checkers.”  They perform an important service, but they don’t always tell the whole story.  When Trump says that Hillary wants to raise taxes on the middle class, certain “fact-checkers” come back and say that she does not—-that she only wants to raise taxes on the rich.  But Cal Thomas makes the case that she has favored certain taxes that would hit the middle class: the soda tax, for example.  Some fact-checkers probe more deeply than others!

The Donald Lives!, by Pat Buchanan

This came out after the second debate between Trump and Hillary.  I liked this statement that Pat made: “Sometime this weekend, Trump made a decision: If he is going down to defeat, he will go out as Trump, not some sniveling penitent begging forgiveness from hypocrites who fear and loathe him.”

My Final Argument for Trump: Humiliate the Media!, by Ann Coulter

A funny thing happened to me in 2016.  I got back to reading Ann Coulter!  I hadn’t read her since 2012, I think.  I started again in 2016 because I wanted to see how she defended one whom many thought was indefensible: Trump!  I do not care for Ann Coulter’s vitriol or demonization of the other side.  At the same time, she has offered decent arguments for many of her positions.  This particular article responds to many of the common criticisms of Trump.  I do disagree with some of what Ann says.  For example, just because women did not come forward before to accuse Trump, that does not mean they are wrong in their accusations.  They may have kept silent out of fear of being sued or hurt professionally, and they came forward when there was strength in numbers.  These accusations and Trump’s threats of lawsuits against his accusers are reasons that I decided against voting for Trump, but, to be fair, I could not vote for Clinton either because there have been accusations against her husband about sexual assault.  (Note: I do believe that those who commit sexual assault, just like many criminals, should be able to be reintegrated into society and make a contribution, but they should pay their debts to society and learn about the consequences of their acts on their victims, taking steps of repentance.)  All of that said, I still appreciate some of the points that Ann makes: about Donald’s charity, about Hillary’s saber-rattling against Russia, and about the tendency of Democrats this election year to see conspiracies, though I would add that many Republicans, and Trump himself, have indulged in conspiracy theories, as well.  I believe that there is light and darkness in all of us, and that includes Trump and Hillary.

Trump’s Acceptance Speech at the Republican National Convention

I loved this speech!  Trump appealed to Bernie Sanders supporters, saying that the system was rigged against Bernie and that Bernie was right about Libya.  Trump advocated protection for homosexuals and said he was impressed when his Republican audience applauded that.  Yet, Trump expressed humble surprise that evangelicals have embraced him, perhaps because he feels that their acceptance of him is undeserved.  He says that he knows the system, and that is why he can fix it!  That reminds me of Joseph Kennedy when FDR appointed him to police Wall Street: Kennedy knew the tricks of the trade, so he could stop the shenanigans (see here)!

New York Times: For Donald Trump, Lessons from a Brother’s Suffering

Maybe this article does not belong in the “pro-Trump” category, but it did humanize Trump for me.  And the story is sad.

Trump’s Speech at Phyllis Schlafly’s Funeral

Prior to 2015, who would have guessed?  Trump, who is notorious for his luxury, affairs, and marriages, would be endorsed by Phyllis Schlafly, a towering figure of the religious right, back when endorsing Trump was radioactive.  And Trump showed gratitude by speaking at Schlafly’s funeral.

Clinton and Liberal Media Scandalized that Trump Explored Doing Business in Cuba, by Humberto Fontova

Remember when it came out that Trump explored doing business in Castro’s Cuba?  A progressive friend of mine predicted that this would cost Trump a lot of Cuban votes in Florida!  We’ll see what happens.  But anti-Castro Cuban Humberto Fontova still likes Trump.  And Humberto is seriously anti-Castro: the vast majority of his columns are about that topic!  People can probably narrate the events differently, but check out Humberto’s narrative.  This column could be entitled “The Education of Donald Trump”!

That Time Trump Spent $100,000 On an Ad Criticizing U.S. Foreign Policy in 1987

Hillary mentioned this in the third debate with Trump, and Trump replied that he did have criticisms of President Reagan at the time, including Reagan’s stance on trade.  Although by this point I had decided against voting for Trump, this exchange increased, rather than decreased, my opinion of him.  Trump was going against Republican orthodoxy by criticizing Reagan!  The ad itself focuses on how other countries should carry more of the burden for their own defense, a point that Trump has made repeatedly during the 2016 campaign.  Many, including myself, have probably wondered what Donald’s true positions are and which he has adopted for political convenience, with all of the shifts in positions that he has made.  Well, here is an area in which he has been consistent, and it shows that he has long had a concern about public policy, meaning he is not just some blowhard or reality TV star seeking to achieve the next level of fame and prominence.  And, believe it or not, I remember having a discussion with a liberal professor who made a similar point to what Donald made in that ad.  This professor was saying that U.S. soldiers were essentially mercenaries for the Japanese in the first Gulf War, since the Japanese got more oil from the Gulf than we did.  This professor and Trump would probably disagree more than agree, and they would probably even disagree on the rationale for their areas of agreement.  Still, the overlap is interesting.

Anti-Trump

Read What Donald Trump Did to His Wedding Caterer, It Will Make You Sick

It certainly made me sick, I can tell you that!  This is an article that turned me off from Trump.  According to this article, Trump refused to pay his caterer, then threatened to tie her case up in court if she sued him.  What a bully.  This article made me hope in karma, or God’s justice, or whatever you want to call it!

When Hillary and Donald Were Friends, by Maureen Dowd

And maybe Trump will get his come-uppance after he loses the election (assuming that he loses, which I think he will).  To quote Maureen:

“One friend of Trump’s from the real estate world is worried that Trump does not understand how the groups he has derogated and demeaned will wreak revenge on him. ‘He’s alienated women,’ the friend says. ‘He’s alienated wealthy people. He’s alienated people from the Middle East. He’s alienated people from Latin America. These are all fertile ground where people could buy condos from him.'”

Aside from that, the article is interesting because it is about how Trump and the Clintons helped each other when both were on the downs-and-outs.

New York Times: “No Vacancies” for Blacks: How Donald Trump Got His Start, and Was First Accused of Bias

This article provides context for the real estate discrimination lawsuit against Trump, and Trump looks pretty bad!  Trump’s past record on this should be considered.  Yet, Bill Clinton’s record is imperfect on civil rights, too, as you can see in the third article in the “Anti-Clinton” section of this post.  Plus, there is the possibility that people can change.

Pro-Clinton

So You’re Thinking of Voting for a Pro-Choice Candidate…, by Rachel Held Evans

Nowadays, there are not too many people who throw the abortion issue into my face when I say that I am a progressive.  Maybe I am just lucky!  If you are a progressive and are not so fortunate, you may want to read Rachel Held Evans’ defense of voting for Hillary Clinton.  She says that voting for Hillary is actually a pro-life choice, when it comes to the abortion issue.  In the comment section, Rachel gives the usual spiel discouraging people from voting for a third party because then that horrible Trump would get into office, a spiel that I came to find rather boring during the 2016 general election.  Still, her post makes good points and is well-documented.

Understanding Hillary: Why the Clinton America Sees Isn’t the Clinton Colleagues Know, by Ezra Klein

Hillary Clinton became a Senator not long after Bill Clinton’s impeachment, and she had a lot of enemies in the Senate!  But she won people over by listening to them, and she worked with them on causes.  Could a President Hillary do the same?  Or is Washington, D.C. so poisoned with rancorous partisanship, that this is no longer possible?

Honest and Unmerciful: An Open Letter to Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone Magazine

A friend with whom I attended high school linked to this.  We were in an evangelical youth group together.  This article came out when Hillary was battling Bernie, and people were criticizing Hillary for voting for the Iraq War.  This article provides context for her vote.  According to this article, Hillary was far from being a mindless hawk!

Anti-Clinton

No Friend of Immigrants: Democratic Presidents Have Been Responsible for Some of the Most Punitive Immigration Policies in Modern History

This is from a left-wing publication.  You think Trump is bad on immigration?  Well, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were not exactly progressive on this issue, either!  Actually, the opposite was the case!

Clinton Expresses Regret After Assassination Remark

This article came out in 2008, not 2016.  I found it during the backlash over Trump’s “Second Amendment people” comment.  Right-wing sites were referring to Hillary’s comments in 2008 to argue that Hillary is no better, but I wanted to post the article that says that she apologized for her remarks, to give a fuller and fairer portrait of Hillary.  Still, with all the righteous indignation against things that Trump says, it is good to ask: have Democratic candidates said similar things in the past?  Maybe Hillary comes across as more refined than Trump, but her comments were pretty cold, in my opinion.

Daily Mail Article on Dolly Kyle and Bill Clinton’s Poor Civil Rights Record as Governor

I did not write down the full title because it is long and has crass quotes.  People have criticized this article because it is based on what Dolly Kyle said (Kyle says she was a mistress of Bill Clinton), and why should we trust her word?  Good question.  But some of what she says about Bill Clinton concerns his record as Governor, and it is verifiable.  Bill Clinton was accused of violating the Voting Rights Act through a bill that he signed.  See here for the case.  I have not found independent confirmation that Bill Clinton supported racial profiling as Governor, though.  To be fair, Bill Clinton did do positive things for voting rights as President (see here).  Still, a case can be made that Bill Clinton’s Presidency helped the African-American community in areas, but also hurt it (see Michelle Alexander’s article here).

Pro-Jill Stein

“We Are On the Verge of a Nuclear War”: Jill Stein on Why Peace Is More Likely Under Trump and the Threat of an Emerging Demo-Republican Party

Believe it or not, this article actually inclined me to vote for Jill Stein, which is what I ultimately did!  Maybe the “nuclear war” rhetoric is extreme, but why should we assume that Hillary is the peace candidate, whereas Trump is the war candidate?  As Stein notes, Trump may be inclined to support peace, since he has so many holdings in other countries and would want to protect them!  Commenters on this article has argued that Stein has a political motive for demonizing Hillary rather than Trump, since Stein wants to take votes away from Hillary.  That may be, but I still thought that her analysis of world events was insightful and empathetic towards other countries’ interests.  I liked the non-interventionist aspects of Trump’s foreign policy, and the compassionate aspects of Hillary’s domestic policy, so I voted for Jill, who combined (and surpassed) the two.

Stein Calls Britain Vote a Wake-Up Call

Many progressives I know were demonizing the Brexit people, calling them ignorant rubes, racists, and xenophobes.  Jill Stein rejected the bigotry that motivated many to vote to leave the EU, but she also saw in the Brexit vote a legitimate cry against neo-liberalism and globalization.  I applaud her for this.  She was accused of backtracking from this position, but even an article that claims that seems to say that she still champions the same values that were in her original statement.

Anti-Jill Stein

Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote for Jill Stein

This article goes into Jill Stein’s weird ideas.  It also presents her as somewhat cozy with Putin.  The weird ideas concern me, but I actually like that she prefers diplomacy with Russia over war.

Pro-Gary Johnson

‘What Is Aleppo?’ Asks Gary Johnson—-And NYT Gives Three Wrong Answers

Remember when people were saying that Gary Johnson was stupid because he did not know what Aleppo was?  It turns out: neither did the New York Times!  This reminds me of those journalists who made fun of Dan Quayle for misspelling potato, but they themselves had to go to the dictionary to find out how it was spelled (or so Quayle says in his autobiography).

Gary Johnson Is Still Terrible On Religious Liberty

This article is actually anti-Johnson, but I am including it in the “pro” section because it makes me like Johnson more!  Do you feel discomfort when you hear libertarians criticize the Civil Rights Act, or say that companies have a right to discriminate?  Well, Gary Johnson is not that kind of libertarian, at least when it comes to wedding cakes.

Gary Johnson Is Open to Universal Basic Income, and That’s Not Bad

Personally, I would not want a universal basic income to replace welfare, for I doubt that a universal basic income would be enough to help poor people and families.  Still, I respect Johnson for being open to a universal basic income.  His libertarianism is not a political “every-man-for-himself” (or woman for herself)!

Anti-Gary Johnson

Washington Post Article: Years Before “Aleppo Moment,” Gary Johnson Showed Little Interest in Details of Governing

This article turned me from voting for Gary Johnson.  That, and also because libertarianism does not resonate with me, and Johnson may have Koch connections (though Johnson disputes this).

Other

Forget the FBI Cache; the Podesta Emails Show How America Is Run

A left-leaning past professor of mine and Rush Limbaugh both linked to this article!  Essentially, it argues that elites look out for their own.  I hope Rush realizes that this goes for conservative elites, too!

Advertisements

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. I study the History of Biblical Interpretation at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, as part of its Ph.D. program. I have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting.
This entry was posted in Candidates, Current Events, Political Philosophy, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.