As a career newspaperman, I’ve tried over the last half-century to approach Presidential elections with a mix of skepticism and objectivity.
In most cases, that approach appeared to work.
To borrow an old cliche, that was then and this is now.
Now, like the nation and the two political parties that each claims to represent a majority of Americans, I am divided.
Can I approach the 2016 Presidential contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump with unbiased objectivity?
As a newspaperman, I can try.
As an American, there is no way to remain objective.
We have an election with two flawed candidates: One, a flamboyant, truth-evading megalomaniac with no visible moral or value structure or experience in national leadership and the other a longtime public servant with her own problems with the truth.
A newspaperman can try to sit back and say that either candidate who wins provides a lot of fodder for news stories and opinion columns over the next four years.
As an American, I’m not sure this nation will survive those four years if one of the candidates becomes President of the United States.
My career includes a morbid venture to the dark side of America as a political operative. For 12 years, I worked in campaigns, wrote campaign propaganda, helped candidates keep their jobs and, for the final five years, ran a political operation that included what was then the larges trade association political action committee in the nation.
As Divisional Vice President of Political Programs for the National Association of Realtors from 1987 to 1992, I controlled and spent millions of dollars on contributions to candidates, directed “independent expenditure” campaigns in support of specific candidates and focused on issues mobilization for the desires of Realtors.
I walked away from the job with the sad realization that I had become a big part of a corrupt political system. I also walked away as an alcoholic with too many ambiguities in life.
A return to reporting and a visit to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous on June 6, 1994, began the long trip back to values and purpose. Now, with 22 years, one month and 23 days of sobriety, a contract gig as a reporter and photographer for BH Media and nearly 22 years as publisher and columnist for Capitol Hill Blue, my recovery — while still uncompleted — continues.
Any recovering alcoholic knows that triggers to start drinking again exist all around us. I have survived many such triggers over the last two decades, including death of a loved one, and have emerged stronger and more determined to stay sober.
As we head into the November general election, I worry if what might happen on that fateful election day will drive me, and others like me, back to the bottle.
As a newspaperman, I should be able to cover the election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump with dispassion and objectivity.
As an American, I cannot.
Donald J. Trump is, in my opinion, the most dishonest, most corrupt and most unqualified candidate for President that I have ever encountered in more than 50 years of covering politics as a newspaperman or working within the system as a political operative.
As The Washington Post editorialized after the Republican convention handed the nomination to Trump, he represents a “unique, clear and present danger to America.”
Many Republican leaders have walked away from Trump. More than 70 GOP figures with extensive national security experience signed a letter calling Trump “fundamentally dishonest” and “wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle.”
As an American, I must agree. Trump admires Russian leader Vladimir Putin, praises the late Saddam Hussein as a “superb fighter against terrorism” and is supported, in masse, by the White Supremacists in America.
Donald Trump is a major threat to America, our democracy and our Constitution.
Such a threat must not become President.
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