From its founding, America has been a beacon of light and liberty in a world often fraught with demagogues and dictators. Whether living in a big city or the hollows and hills of Appalachia, our national values eschewed government by bullies employing strong-arm tactics to rise to power and rule with iron fists.
On Nov. 8 voters will determine who is the best qualified presidential candidate to ensure we remain true to our ideals, improve economic opportunities at home, and continue to strive to build a safer, more peaceful world for people everywhere.
The Bluefield Daily Telegraph, having considered whether Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump is up to the enormous task, comes down on the side of Clinton. Her experience and public service to the nation as First Lady for eight years, U.S. Senator for eight years and Secretary of State for four years have prepared her to be president and commander in chief. Trump, while inviting to some as a chance for dramatic change, has zero public service experience. For the past 1 1/2 years of his campaign, he has raised serious questions about his values, his temperament and his bombastic promises.
In coalfield country, our choice is not an easy decision. President Obama's environmental and energy policies have created economic hardship in West Virginia. And we realize it would be easy to mark a ballot based on bitterness and anger over loss of jobs associated with coal mining. Yet no one can dispute that we need to expand our economic base beyond its coal dependence in a world that is increasingly moving to other forms of energy.
However, we can not embrace Donald Trump, a candidate who lies, disparages women and minorities, and lacks fundamental skills in politics, worldliness and demeanor. Trump may be a reality TV star, but he is in no way qualified to lead our country in this tumultuous and dangerous day and age.
We must ask ourselves which candidate is best qualified to work with Congress on critical domestic issues such as immigration, health care reform, national security, economic inequality, the growing deficit, racial discrimination, criminal justice and more.
Is it Donald Trump? We don't think so.
And who can best work with foreign leaders to combat ISIS and other terrorists, nuclear threats in Iran and North Korea, Russian excursions in Ukraine, China’s aggressive claim to maritime rights over crucial trade routes in the South China Sea, foreign trade agreements and more.
Again, the answer is not Trump.
The presidency is not an entry-level position. It demands a steady hand, cool head, thick skin, mental toughness, diplomatic skills, bipartisan spirit, patience and ability to think rigorously before acting.
Hillary Clinton has honed these necessary traits during her years of public service. She has a record of reaching across political lines to improve the lot of children's health, provide health insurance and compensation to victims, first responders and other heroes of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, and of negotiating peace agreements with our allies. She's also stood up to Russian President Valdimir Putin, a bully dictator, and to Chinese officials on human rights violations.
Trump is a fan of Putin, calling him a strong world leader. Trump also suggests discarding our defense agreements with NATO, Japan and South Korea unless they fork over billions of dollars in additional dollars to support our troops helping to keep world peace. Trump's message is if our allies disagree, he will bring our military forces home, reducing our ability to react to and defend America against threats in hot spot regions of the world. He also wants to abandon efforts to control nuclear weapons, suggesting that Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia should have nuclear bombs for self defense.
Do we really want a president whose most noted qualities are playing on public fear, anger and incomprehensible policies? We say that would be a high risk and low return gamble.
Hillary Clinton is not without faults. No candidate with electoral experience ever is. She mishandled the contretemps over her private email server while secretary of state, and her initial public statements on the terrorist raid on the U.S. post in Benghazi. She should have put a firewall between the Clinton Foundation and her office to avoid the perception donors were buying access.
Yet these flaws pale in comparison with the irresponsible conduct demonstrated by Trump during the campaign. His smash-mouth performance has left even some partisan Republicans aghast. He berates a Gold Star family who lost their son in the Iraq war, suggests all Muslims should be banned from entering the U.S., demeans women who criticize him, describes our foreign trade agreements as “stupid,” launches into name-calling when he is called on his factual errors and lies, and boasts about being “smart” in running up huge private business debt and avoiding federal income taxes. But he refuses to release his tax returns, rebuking a tradition presidential candidates of both major parties have adhered to since 1976.
Donald Trump’s resume as a wheeler-dealer real estate tycoon does not qualify him for the presidency. He is attracting hard-working Americans to his camp with false promises and little knowledge of how to improve their lot. His economic centerpiece is more tax breaks for the wealthy so their riches will eventually trickle down to the middle class and poor. That didn't happen in the past, and it won't happen in the future. That's a formula for another deep recession.
Hillary Clinton has the credentials, political knowledge and battle-tested competence to deal with the consequential issues the nation will confront in the next four years. She is qualified to become our 45th president.