Pick your poi­son this elec­tion: un­truth­ful or un­sta­ble

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - Ruben Navarette Jr.

— It’s time for an in­ter­ven­tion. Make that a pair of in­ter­ven­tions. Friends don’t let friends vote for Don­ald Trump or Hil­lary Clin­ton.

As some­one who sup­ports nei­ther of the above, spend ev­ery day on the de­fen­sive.

I’m told that I’m be­ing fool­ish and ir­re­spon­si­ble, and that by not vot­ing for the bet­ter can­di­date, I’m help­ing elect some­one who will be a dis­as­ter in do­mes­tic and for­eign pol­icy, lacks the in­tegrity and tem­per­a­ment to lead and can’t be trusted to keep the coun­try on track and Amer­i­cans safe from harm.

And that’s just what I hear from Trump sup­port­ers. Come to think of it, Clin­ton sup­port­ers tell me the same thing.

The Pro-Trump and Pro-Clin­ton forces make it seem as if there is some­thing wrong with that wide swath of Amer­ica that doesn’t want to vote for ei­ther of the party nom­i­nees. It was re­ally strik­ing that, at both of the na­tional con­ven­tions, you heard par­ti­sans — the kind of peo­ple who put party be­fore coun­try — talk about how vot­ers had to “get over it” and ac­cept the re­al­ity that they’re faced with a “bi­nary” choice be­tween a Demo­crat and a Repub­li­can.

Al­though, let’s be hon­est. In this elec­tion, there have been days when you can’t tell which is which. There are things Trump has said that are right out of the lib­eral play­book, such as pro­tec­tion­ist poli­cies and op­po­si­tion to free trade. Like­wise, since Hil­lary Clin­ton de­clared her can­di­dacy, she has ap­peared at var­i­ous times more con­ser­va­tive than lib­eral fire­brands Bernie San­ders and El­iz­a­beth War­ren.

Af­ter Don­ald Trump ap­peared to al­lude to the as­sas­si­na­tion of a Pres­i­dent Hil­lary Clin­ton, with an off-the-cuff re­mark about the Sec­ond Amend­ment, for­mer CIA Di­rec­tor Michael Hay­den made ref­er­ence to the se­ri­ous­ness of the mat­ter.

“If some­one else had said that out­side the hall, he’d be in the back of a po­lice wagon now, with the Se­cret Ser­vice ques­tion­ing him,” Hay­den told CNN.

Clin­ton sup­port­ers cheered those re­marks, out­raged that those in se­ri­ous con­tention for the Oval Of­fice are of­ten held to dif­fer­ent stan­dards than the rest of us.

This ar­gu­ment sounds fa­mil­iar. Where were these folks, just a few weeks ago, when Clin­ton beat the rap with re­gard to the han­dling of sen­si­tive and clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion on a pri­vate email server? Repub­li­cans com­plained at the time that Clin­ton


I got pref­er­en­tial treat­ment be­cause of her White House bid.

Some­thing is bro­ken here. A reader who says he is a life­long Repub­li­can and who is pre­pared to vote for Clin­ton to stop Trump asks what many of us are won­der­ing: “How did we get to the point of hav­ing to make this choice?”

Some peo­ple claim that the “Never Trump, Never Hil­lary” peo­ple are mak­ing a mis­take, and that we’re go­ing to sway the elec­tion to the wrong can­di­date.

That as­sumes there is a right can­di­date. Be­sides, Trump and Clin­ton both seem ca­pa­ble of los­ing this race with­out help from any­one.

And here’s an­other thought: What if it’s the par­ti­sans who are mak­ing the big mis­take? What if they are be­ing fooled by their can­di­date?

Trump’s brand — as cre­ated by Team Clin­ton — is all about be­ing un­sta­ble, un­hinged, and un­re­li­able. Clin­ton’s brand — as gen­er­ated by Team Trump — is that the for­mer sec­re­tary of state is un­truth­ful, un­trust­wor­thy, and un­de­pend­able.

Dur­ing the pri­mary cam­paign, when he was ham­mered by Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Ru­bio for flipflop­ping on dif­fi­cult is­sues such as trade and abor­tion, Trump made the ar­gu­ment sev­eral times that — in pol­i­tics, as in busi­ness — flex­i­bil­ity is a good thing and a re­fusal to com­pro­mise can be a li­a­bil­ity.

And this is the per­son who many con­ser­va­tives claim to sup­port be­cause, among other things, he prom­ises to ap­point a strict con­struc­tion­ist to the Supreme Court? His prom­ises are worth­less.

As for Clin­ton, it’s a good thing that ly­ing isn’t an Olympic sport. She’s been caught in lies fre­quently and rarely ad­mits fail­ure, mis­takes, er­ror, or gaffes. This is one big rea­son that many ev­ery­day Amer­i­cans can’t re­late to her.

And this is the per­son who im­mi­gra­tion re­form ad­vo­cates sup­port be­cause she prom­ises to stop Pres­i­dent Obama’s pol­icy of end­less de­por­ta­tions and le­gal­ize the un­doc­u­mented? I wa­ger this isn’t the truth, ei­ther. She’ll take care of the unions, who sup­port a hard line on im­mi­gra­tion.

In the bat­tle of the brands, it’ll come down to “un­sta­ble” ver­sus “un­truth­ful.” But no mat­ter which one of these two can­di­dates ends up in the White House, be­trayal is un­avoid­able.

Ruben Navarette Jr. is a syn­di­cated colum­nist from the Wash­ing­ton Post. His email is reuben@ruben­navarette. com.

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