This election isn’t a close call. Only one candidate on the ballot Nov. 8 belongs anywhere near the White House, and it’s Hillary Clinton. The Globe enthusiastically endorses her candidacy, and urges voters to run, not walk, to their nearest polling place when early voting begins in Massachusetts on Oct. 24.
Clinton, who claimed the Democratic nomination this summer on her second try, hardly requires an introduction. She’s one of the highest-visibility political figures in America, having served as first lady when her husband was president in the 1990s, a senator from New York in the 2000s, and secretary of state under President Obama from 2009 to 2013.
After Clinton’s nearly 30 years in the national spotlight, voters know first-hand all of her foibles and flaws, all her strengths and beliefs. With a high degree of certainty, Americans can know that electing Clinton means picking a president who will work tirelessly to enact sensible gun control, protect the environment, keep America safe from terrorism, reform the immigration system, and grow the economy.
With an equally high degree of certainty, Americans can also be sure that Clinton will make her own job needlessly difficult, through excessive secrecy and defensiveness. As the transcripts of her speeches to Wall Street executives that were leaked on Friday show, she remains as tethered to the financial industry as ever. We know what we’re signing up for here.
Whatever her peccadillos, though, the challenges facing the country right now demand a president with Clinton’s priorities and grit. Mass shootings at schools, workplaces, and nightclubs have become common; what would be a national trauma in other countries slips from the headlines after a few days in the United States. Terrorists have easy access to advanced weaponry. Clinton, who won the Democratic nomination in part by pointing out her opponent’s coziness with the gun industry, supports reinstating the assault weapons ban.
Meanwhile, the threat from climate change grows, and Clinton is the only presidential candidate in 2016 with any workable ideas for how to fight it. Climate change is no longer an abstract problem, as storms grow more severe and insurance rates rise in coastal areas like Massachusetts. The next president needs to lead a discussion on carbon taxes and other strategies to cut emissions, while also managing the damage from the carbon pollution already in the atmosphere.
On economics, Clinton supports raising the minimum wage, and talks about instituting “debt-free” higher education. She has leveled with the American people that her plans will cost money, which she proposes to raise through higher taxes on the wealthy.
She also knows that the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants — our neighbors, family members, and coworkers — need a reasonable shot at achieving citizenship. Keeping them in the shadows is not only unjust to them, but it’s a damper on the economy. Unleashing the economic power of immigrant communities by allowing them to emerge from the underground economy would be a powerful and overdue reform. That accomplishment eluded Obama, but could be within reach if Republicans again fall flat with Latino voters in November.
Clinton’s only respectable opponent on the ballot is former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, a former Republican who is running this year as a Libertarian. Johnson, who was a successful construction executive before serving two terms in Santa Fe, brings a practical leadership background and some principled differences with Clinton.
He supports a noninterventionist foreign policy, reducing taxes, and limiting the nation’s drug prohibition laws. Unlike Clinton, he opposed the war in Iraq.
But the Libertarian ticket’s position on climate change leaves a lot to be desired: While Johnson acknowledges it is “probably” happening, he appears to believe the government shouldn’t do much of anything about the projected increase in world temperatures and sea levels. Translation: If you live near the Atlantic Ocean, Johnson may not be your candidate.
He also supports abolishing the Department of Education, which has been a powerful force to raise national education standards. And his tax plan calls for phasing out the progressive income tax. Most problematic of all, he takes a doctrinaire libertarian approach to gun control — which is to say, he opposes it.
Still, while his ideas may seem like an eclectic mix, Johnson is not a fringe candidate, and it’s a shame that he and his running mate, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, have been held to such a double standard during this election. While it’s understood that Democratic and Republican candidates never actually hew to their party platform, Johnson has been held to account for every kooky Libertarian idea. But this is not your college roommate’s Libertarian Party anymore, and Johnson and Weld are bona fide potential presidents.
Alas, that is much more than can be said for the remainder of Clinton’s opponents.
The Green Party and the Republican Party, unfortunately, have nominated utterly implausible candidates. Jill Stein, a Lexington doctor and longtime Massachusetts political gadfly, won the Green Party’s nomination again this year, and proceeded to give a wink-and-nod shout-out to alt-left vaccine skeptics, saying this year that people had “real concerns” about vaccines. She also opposed her own party’s call for universal broadband, on the dubious assertion that wireless signals could damage children’s brains.
Her campaign revolves around the notion that voters shouldn’t have to choose between the lesser of two evils. Okay. But that’s not a case for Stein.
Meanwhile, Republican Donald J. Trump has run a disgraceful campaign of ethnic scapegoating and personal insults. Voter anger at the political establishment has been palpable during this campaign, and that is certainly driving some to consider supporting Trump. But his race-baiting demagoguery cannot be discounted; it has been disappointing to see so many timid Republicans who should know better fall in line behind him, as if his obvious unsuitability for the presidency is no big deal. The lewd video from 2005 that surfaced on Friday, which showed Trump boasting of his sexual assaults against women, reinforces what was already obvious: The GOP nominee needs to see a psychiatrist, not a nuclear-launch code.
In an election with a candidate like Trump in the mix, it’s perhaps no surprise that so many voters tell pollsters they are voting against a candidate as much as they are voting for one.
Framing the choice that way, though, sells Clinton way too short. Even against far more impressive opponents, she’d still be a great choice. Over her career, she’s demonstrated the poise, intelligence, dedication, and preparedness to be commander in chief. Hillary Clinton is not just the only safe choice in this election — she’s also the right choice.