"Let me be perfectly clear." Usually it's the politician who says those words to the public. But in this historic presidential campaign, it's the public who's made itself perfectly clear: Americans are angry--very. This has been the anger election.
And Donald Trump's supporters have been especially loud and clear in articulating their anger. How loud and clear? Let me count the ways:
You are angry about jobs going overseas and leaving you with a low-paying, no-benefits job in the service industry. You are angry about your community being hollowed out because of those lost jobs and shuttered factories. You are angry at immigrants, illegal and legal, who compete for the remaining jobs and, in the process, change the complexion of your community from what it once was. You are angry that America, the greatest country in the history of the world, appears to be losing out in a globalized economy--with bad trade deals, mainly--and that you, too, are losing out and are being left behind. You are angry at the stupid politicians in Washington who've allowed this slow-moving catastrophe to happen and at the unfeeling Wall Street bankers who bankroll it. America has always been about winning and you want to win again. You deeply want America to be great again.
Donald Trump's solution to your anger--your suffering--is to, figuratively, blow the place up: level Washington, level Wall Street, tear up trade deals, tear up treaties, even tear up the Constitution. What release it would be simply to raze the place, to lay waste! But also: What ruin it would leave. Deep down, you know anger is crazy-making, it is not a wise counsel, not when electing a President of the United States.
In contrast, Hillary Clinton as President would approach our collective problems, not as a wrecking machine like Trump, but as the repairperson, the problem-solver.
Like it or not, government has a role in our lives; in fact, America's greatness starts with its governmental framework, as laid out by our Founding Fathers. A complex entity like America can't be run from state capitals or by the Chamber of Commerce. But government hasn't been working well of late---as you've made abundantly clear in this campaign. We need government to work better, run by smart politicians.
Whip-smart, Hillary Clinton knows government, she knows Washington, she knows where the levers of power are. (Her 30 years in public life, which Trump disparages, have given her a map and keys.) Importantly, Clinton is the diplomat who works well with others, including her opponents, as she demonstrated during two terms as a U.S. Senator working with Republicans. Can you see Trump working well with anybody?
As President, Clinton would serve the 99 percent--and of course Trump supporters are part of the 99 percent (a fact forgotten in this divisive campaign).
Clinton has stressed the 99 percent in recent speeches: "Our economy should work for everybody, not just those at the top." Her stance on Wall Street is tough: "Wall Street can never be allowed to wreck Main Street again. No bank can be too big to fail and no executive can be too powerful to jail." She turned against the Trans-Pacific Partnership in response to the anger of Bernie Sanders and his supporters over unfair trade deals--anger which you share. With her trade experience, Hillary could help solve the problem of inequitable trade deals that concerns us all.
While there's considerable overlap of issues important both to Trumpsters and Democrats--unfair trade deals, jobs going overseas, Wall Street remaining untamed--it's over solutions that Hillary differs, radically, with Trump. On jobs, her solution is more economic growth, not deporting 11 million illegal immigrants, as Trump would do. Democrats believe in inclusion, Trump advocates exclusion--barring Muslims from the U.S., imposing religious tests on immigrants, etc. Trump's exclusionary policies would wreck the best thing about America: our melting pot.
Which touches, finally, on the issue not confronted head-on in this ugly campaign, but played on none-too-subtly by Donald Trump: the decline of white America. (Trump set the groundwork for his presidential campaign with the birther movement, trying to delegitimize President Barack Obama, our first African-American president.) Much of your anger is over white America's perceived loss of primacy and power in national life, a trend that, given present demographics, will continue. If it means anything, this white American believes, with all her heart, that America does best when every citizen, not just white Americans, feels an integral part of the whole.
As we go to the polls on Tuesday, we might ask ourselves: Are we America the home of the brave--or home of the fearful? Donald Trump represents a fearful America, thus his wrecking machine of a campaign. Americans are fundamentally problem-solvers, not ones to waste ourselves in anger. Elect Hillary Clinton, problem-solver, and let us solve our way out of the present chaos to a New Day.
Carla Seaquist's latest book is titled "Can America Save Itself from Decline?: Politics, Culture, Morality." An earlier book is titled "Manufacturing Hope: Post-9/11 Notes on Politics, Culture, Torture, and the American Character." Also a playwright, she published "Two Plays of Life and Death" and is at work on a play titled "Prodigal."