At a Time When America Desperately Needs the Best and the Brightest, We Get Trump and Clinton


Where are these best and brightest Americans when we need them? Well, they’re out there somewhere across this country but most, no doubt, are involved with positive and constructive endeavors and want nothing to do with this polluted political system headquartered in Washington D.C.

The best and the brightest, let’s think about what that really means. The best of Americans are those whose character reflects honesty, integrity, and ethical and moral principles; that have a strong desire to do what is right for this country and its people. The brightest are those who possess a high level of intelligence and, in addition, are creative, innovative, and have a vision of the future. Combine those two sets of attributes and you have the kind of leaders that this nation desperately needs during these very tenuous times.

Can we find this kind of American in the U.S. Congress? Well, I’d definitely say that Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren qualify for this distinction. Each has a high level of intelligence, integrity and conviction, and is offering up viable solutions for this nation’s most critical problems. A few others might qualify, but the vast majority of the 535 members of this very dysfunctional institution would have a difficult time even earning an honorable mention.

Now in the absence of that special breed of Americans who possess the necessary attributes to lead this country, the door has been opened ever wider for those like Trump, the clever, cunning, opportunist and Hillary Clinton who many Americans see as someone they just can’t trust, not nearly as progressive-minded as they would like, and who carries a heavy load of personal baggage.

But, like it or not the American people are stuck with Trump and Clinton unless some minor miracle takes place. As this general election gets underway they will hear Trump continue talking about “Crooked Hillary”, saying that she is surrounded by scandal and should be prosecuted for using her personal server to conduct official government business. He will say she is merely a retread of Bill Clinton, and his attacks on her character, as well as his, will be relentless.

The American people don’t want to listen to that political swill; they want, instead, to have him state in explicit terms, how he plans to restore the U.S. manufacturing sector, thereby, creating millions of jobs for Americans; how he will provide solid, workable solutions for this country’s ongoing immigration problems; not about building that ridiculous wall on the U.S./Mexico border.

The loud, brash, but shallow-thinking Trump must be pressed to present the specifics of how he intends to make “America great again.” The chances of him doing that in an effective manner are slim to none and, instead, look for him to launch into his usual, well-rehearsed act of sidestepping the issues and coming up with “I’ll get back to you on that” or “We’re working on that right now.”

Trump is like a fish out of water; he doesn’t know anything about politics or governing anything but his real estate empire. One of his greatest career achievements involved the orchestration of 4 bankruptcies of companies within his corporate group; he even boasted that this was an example of why he is such an effective businessman.

The media has recently reported that, just prior to the 2008 housing crisis, Trump made statements indicating that he would actually welcome a housing bubble which would significantly disrupt the housing industry, after which he would be positioned to reap large profits. Hillary is going to really jump on that one and will be reminding millions of Americans who were devastated by that crisis just what Trump is all about; yet one more greedy businessman.

Clinton, sometimes compared to Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, the “Iron Lady”, will not hesitate to strongly retaliate against The Donald. She will call him a con artist, an opportunist, a misogynist, and continue to declare that he is extremely dangerous and not fit to be president.

But, again, that’s not what most people in this country desire. They want Hillary, who President Obama recently said is the most qualified person to ever run for president, to show why she might deserve that politically-designed compliment by explaining how she would extend health care coverage to every American; how she would convince this Congress to appropriate the funds needed to rebuild our crumbling national infrastructure, and outline the steps she would take to revitalize our current stagnant, lifeless economy.

They want her to clearly state that she will not be beholden in any way to the masters of Wall Street; that she will join with Elizabeth Warren and others to rein in their illegal, abusive practices and develop effective measures that would allow major banks who mismanage their businesses to fail, rather than continuing to bail them out using taxpayer money.

A nice thought but let’s keep in mind that Clinton is a card-carrying member, of the Establishment; she will not turn against those in the corporate world with whom she has been so closely aligned. She isn’t going to take part in breaking up these banks and don’t expect her to call for a ban on fracking across this country. Her strong support of highly aggressive military actions in the Middle East and other regions of the world will continue to provide a steady stream of highly profitable government contracts to the major defense industry corporations.

And talk about illogical, misguided thinking coming out of the Clinton campaign now we hear that the disgraced, manipulative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was just recently forced to resign as the DNC chairwoman, will still be allowed to remain in her position during the Democratic convention; and to the utter dismay of Clinton supporters Hillary has added to the stench over Schultz by naming her the honorary chair of her campaign.

The moderator chosen for the upcoming debates must be a strong, no-nonsense type who will ask hard-hitting questions on important issues and then demand forthright answers; It’s also essential that this moderator have the capability to turn off the microphone of either participant who might get out of control; think Trump.

Many Americans shudder at the thought of Trump becoming the Commander-in-Chief that determines when to use the massive power of the U.S. military, but what about Clinton?

Her tenure as Secretary of State shows that she played a very prominent role in the Obama administration’s aggressive foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa; she was directly involved in planning military operations in Libya, Syria and Iraq as well as promoting the use of deadly drone attacks on the nations of Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan which have taken the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians.

The American people are totally fed up with these wars that are sucking the lifeblood out of this country and leaving little to no funds available for America’s critically important domestic needs. If she awakened to that fact, understood that she was out of touch with most Americans on this issue; and if she assured Americans that she would only use the military when this nation was directly threatened, then she would have a clear path to the White House. But we better not hold our collective breath waiting for that to happen.

Here are the personal characteristics that most people in this country would like to see in an American president:

*         Strong leader, fearless, courageous
*         Honesty, integrity
*         Trustworthy, responsible
*         Stable, disciplined
*         A vision for the future

Which of those characteristics would we say that Trump or Clinton possesses?

In the same vein, do either of these two candidates remind us in any way of those great American presidents and patriots of the past; Washington, Jefferson, and Adams who risked their lives during the creation of this nation; and those strong, visionary leaders such as Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Roosevelt who followed? Do we see even a hint of that greatness in either?

There is no question that America, the country, created by our Founding Fathers, the best and the brightest of their time, certainly deserves better than this. But a further question is; do the American people? While they are understandably fed up with this government and especially the Congress, and thirst for positive and constructive change, they also need to understand that they share a great deal of the blame for the deterioration of this political system.

Instead of rising up and demanding change and reform, and refusing to take no for an answer, the majority of Americans have remained silent and lethargic, meekly accepting and condoning what has been happening. The average voter turnout in this country’s elections is abysmal and those millions of Americans who refuse to show up and vote, for whatever reason, have allowed corporate money and power to determine their outcomes.

Where have the American people been while their political system was being contaminated right before their eyes? They had the chance to join Bernie Sander’s political revolution, one which has the potential to turn this country in a completely new direction. But, while many rose to the occasion, far too many completely failed to seize this brilliant opportunity, and chose to follow Hillary Clinton. It appears that, once again, the Establishment is the clear winner.

So, yes, America the country deserves far better than this, but it can accurately be said that the American people are getting exactly what they deserve.


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Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense industry, and the massive control that Corporate America holds over this government and our election process; all which are leading this nation down the road to eventual financial ruin if the conditions are not reversed. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and a U.S. Army veteran.