Our View: Hillary Clinton gets nod for president

hillary clintonDemocrat Hillary Clinton is our choice for president in the Nov. 8 election, after which we hope the nation can take steps toward healing after what has to be the most contentious election cycle in U.S. history.

And we don’t say that lightly. We know full well that the 1860 election precipitated the Civil War. We’re not of a mindset to assume that armed conflict of that sort is going to result from the expected outcome next month, but there will be some serious work to do to get our country back functioning at full strength again.

The burden for that will be borne by us all, and we look to two people to lead the effort: Clinton, as president-elect, and Paul Ryan, the House speaker. We don’t expect Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, to do anything other than what he has said he will do after the results become official, namely, suggest that the election was “rigged” against him, throwing into doubt the legitimacy of the election in a manner reminiscent of 1860.

Ryan will play a key role in leading Republicans back to where they need to be. The losing party in elections dating back to the post-Civil War era has swallowed its hurt feelings and played the role of loyal opposition for the good of the republic.

There will be an important role for Republicans in that respect, because there are a number of 50-50 issues facing this country on which neither side holds the absolute right answer.

The biggest issue facing Americans is the growing disparity in incomes, wealth and opportunity for advancement. Dating back to the Reagan era tax cuts of the early 1980s, we have seen tax policy result in the redistribution of wealth from the working and middle classes to the wealthy in the name of trickle-down economics that has proven to be anything but.

Supply-side economics just doesn’t work; the U.S. economy is at its best when the scale is tipped in favor of the demand side. The economic reality is that a stronger working class and middle class is what rises all boats, even for the wealthy.

Just as important is the momentum toward inclusiveness that has marked the American experience of the past eight years. It is almost hard to believe that it was only a decade ago that voters across the country, including here in Virginia, were being asked to vote on state constitutional amendments to effectively ban gay marriage. Gay marriage is now the law of the land, and efforts like the one ongoing in North Carolina to put a hold on equal protections under the law for the LGBTQ community are the ones that are under fire.

Our country is a stronger force, politically, economically and militarily, when we can all participate equally in public life.

Democrats and Republicans will need to work together to advance economic opportunity for the working class, the middle class, for LGBTQs, for racial, ethnic and religious minorities. A unified America is a strong America with an economy, military and moral authority that is second to none.

Hillary Clinton isn’t a messianic figure singularly qualified to lead us in that direction. The rhetoric from Donald Trump that he can snap his fingers to make things happen seems to suggest that he thinks he can govern from on high, but the reality is that making America great again is a team effort.

We back Clinton because she gives us the best hope for leadership from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to work with leaders from both parties to get things done. Trump, on that count, gives us no hope; casting himself as the ultimate outsider, he has shown himself unable to work with anyone not 100 percent loyal to the Trump brand, even Republicans who put him in the position that he’s in right now.

A Trump presidency would be a threat to the American republic, far beyond the political rhetoric about having a man who lets himself be piqued over tweets having access to the nuclear codes. From a practical standpoint, our constitutional system of checks and balances works far differently than a corporation set up as a cult of personality with the entirety of its value based on its brand name. It’s hard to imagine a Trump presidency achieving a single policy endeavor without being able to work with Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and if we know one thing from the past 15 months of the presidential campaign, it’s that Trump has no desire to work with anybody who doesn’t reflexively say yes.

Clinton will face her own set of obstacles in that respect. Republicans in Congress have famously committed vast public resources to investigate her email server in their effort to delegitimize her candidacy, and we can probably count, with the history of the 1990s as our guide, on those kinds of things to continue into 2017 and beyond.

She will do well to follow the lead of her husband, Bill, who was able to rise above GOP impeachment proceedings to govern from the middle in the ‘90s, and in the process preside over a long period of solid economic growth.

Clinton will need Republican support to achieve needed reforms in tax policy that can serve to undergird stable economic growth. She will need bipartisan support to deal with Russia and Europe to come to some solution to the ongoing chaos in Syria, which right now constitutes the greatest threat to international security.

Clinton, Ryan, Bernie Sanders, who we can expect to play a major role in Senate leadership post-election, assuming what appears to be an imminent takeover of that body by a slim Democratic majority actually materializes, and moderate Republicans like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, will all be important building blocks for the America of Nov. 9.

It’s important that we wake up that morning and get it right moving forward.

Written by Chris Graham/AFP editor

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