presidential debate #2...

It was unpleasant and sometimes disturbing. It was a race to the bottom a la Jerry Springer et al as is the core of Donald Trump's persona and candidacy. And, with the exception of a highly unsatisfying episode re: deleting State Department e-mails,tonight's second presidential debate showed Hilary Clinton "going high when he went low." Don't get me wrong: she is a barracuda politician who is as ruthless as they come and plays to win. That is both a strength and a weakness depending on who you talk to about her (or any politician, for that matter.)  Nevertheless, her commitment to answering most questions with insight and clear responses stands head and shoulders above Mr. Trump's insults, threats and hyperbole. 

And Mrs. Clinton's reply about the character of both the candidate and the campaign resonated with my values of caring for the common good. She has a big heart - as well as a number of personal and political flaws - in addition to her 30 year track record of caring for others. All that can be said about "the Donald" is that is is a self-promoting narcissist. Sure he has tapped into a long history of manufactured Clinton hatred. Without a doubt, he has grasped that 40% of the American people are afraid and/or confused - for various of reasons ranging from loss of blue collar jobs and the changing demographics of race to terrorism - and has hired the right people to articulate this fear and hatred into wildly emotional sound bytes that make his crowds roar. And let's not forget his mastery of reality TV crudity.  He's a player - good at what he does - but dreadful for both the USA and the world. His erratic and skulking performance tonight was ugly, focused only on cleaning himself of self-inflicted filth, and stopping the loss of political credibility born of his own belligerent hypocrisy. In so many way he was a stalker - and it was creepy.

Let me be blunt: I like Hilary Clinton. Many people - liberals, independents, etc - feel the need to qualify their support for HRC. She's the lesser of evils. She's the realist compared to Trump's lunacy, Stein's ideological rigidity and Johnson's intellectual fog. She's really a Republican but I don't want to throw my vote away. There are probably more reasons why some qualify their support of her bid for the presidency, but not me. I like her thoughtfulness. I like her long history of caring for people on the margins. I like that she can stay focused and poised when bullies try to pull her into the sleaze. I like that she wrestles with the politics of the possible and goes for it with a realistic strategy. I like that she is a Christian realist who understands that most of the time we act in the world in ways that are compromised no matter how  noble our planning or prayers.  I don't like that she's so close to Wall Street. I don't like that she sometimes flirts with telling the whole truth. But I also don't like that she has been forced by those who hate her to carry around a tarnished reputation that is fundamentally untrue. At her core, she is a person I respect and value.

I get that most people - even bright, successful and well-educated people I know and love - don't go much deeper than headlines and bumper stickers so they don't know this aspect of HRC. Who cares why this is true, it is. Hilary has a lot of negatives to overcome and she won't win everyone's hearts by Election Day. Still, I cannot for the life of me understand how people of compassion and conscience can conclude that she is evil incarnate. Or that she is morally compromised - especially when Mr. Trump is her adversary. His record of greed, unethical business practices, bankruptcy, misogyny, race baiting and Islamaphobia disqualify him  from anything related to the common good.  As Dan Rather said, "He gives even con men a bad name."

America has been in murky political waters before: the cronyism of Andrew Jackson, the racism that defined appointments to the Supreme Court up until Harry Truman, the long arm of the robber barons, Watergate, the Democratic machines of Daley and JFK's purchase of the West Virginia's vote are just the low hanging fruit. In time, we weathered these storms and learned from our failures. I trust this will happen again as we find a way through our current morass. I think Mrs. Clinton can help. That's why I will not take take a pass in silence and ignore the destruction Mr.Trump promises in word and deed.

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