The worst choices from the parties

American voters being mugged by practitioners of the dark arts, both Republican and Democrat.

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IT TRULY IS ASTONISHING. After filling a stage with 16 other talented and experienced leaders the Republican Party has done the unthinkable: It nominated for President of the United States a guy who may be the only person in America Hillary Clinton can beat.

To say this has been a depressing election season is to state the painfully obvious. Most voters have never seen anything like the wrenching revulsion these two candidates evoke. In fact, in the long years numbers-crunchers have been keeping track of such things, no other candidate has been as thoroughly disliked and distrusted as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Here’s how bad it is. Clinton’s unfavorables are higher than any previous nominee of either party. That would make her unelectable.

In any other year.

But in 2016 Trump’s unfavorables are even worse.

 

THIS WAS SET UP to be a change election. Historically, after one party controls the White House for two terms, Americans are inclined to reverse field and give the other side a chance. Even though President Obama’s favorable ratings are above 50 percent it’s likely a strong Republican candidate would have emerged the clear favorite.

So along comes Donald J. Trump — hustler, braggart, bully, insult machine, a depth-deprived political novice with, um, a very colorful back-story. He announced his candidacy with a stream of insults — calling Mexicans “rapists” — and never really stopped, offending huge swaths of the people along his bombastic path to Election Day.

Shocked Republican bigwigs waited for him to fall of his own bad behavior and misbegotten verbiage. But while they waited Scott Walker’s campaign collapsed. And then it was Jeb Bush. And Marco Rubio. And John Kasich. And Ted Cruz. And all the others.

Last man standing: Donald J. Trump, the new face of the Republican Party — contorted in a mean-spirited snarl — much to the chagrin of most party regulars and elected GOP leaders.

 

MEANWHILE, THE DEMOCRAT establishment bet all the chips on Hillary Clinton.

Yet the excitement on that side of the contest came not from Clinton but from a septuagenarian senator from tiny Vermont, Bernie Sanders. He showed passion. He had ideas. He brought excitement. He energized crowds.

But Hillary had the party establishment, whose weighted thumb was placed on the scale to assure her the nomination. Same old Clinton game plan. Stack the deck.

Hillary Clinton has a long resume — First Lady; senator from New York; secretary of state. She has approached each in workmanlike fashion, plugging along with the charisma of a librarian. Her strongest argument for the 2016 nomination seemed to be this: Let me make history as the first woman to occupy the big chair.

With Clinton comes a lifetime of baggage, the kind that leaves millions of Americans believing she cannot be trusted. Her paranoia and secrecy led to the stupid — at least — use of a personal email server while at the State Department, fueling more suspicions. She often seems warm as a porcupine and twice as mean.

The face of the Democratic Party — behind a mask of lawyerly dodginess — embraced with all the good cheer of a child eyeing a plate of vegetables.

 

POLLS SUGGEST FEW people will be voting for the person they want as President. Instead, most will be voting against the person they most want to keep out of the White House.

Let’s be fair. Each candidate has strengths.

Trump is an outsider in a country fed up with career politicians. His business history has been spotty — sometimes up, sometimes down, sometimes ethically challenged — but overall he’s parlayed it into a renowned brand recognized worldwide while others have been wandering around the political pasture, living off taxpayers. Even Trump’s cussed abrasiveness has attracted rather than repelled some for a reason: Many are convinced Washington is impervious to polite change.

Clinton has been on the public stage nearly all her life, beginning with her impressive early work on behalf of disadvantaged children. Arguably, she forever changed the role of First Lady by being an active partner in the administration’s political and legislative aims. Her doggedness and non-flashy work ethic earned approving nods from both sides of the Senate aisle. As America’s top diplomat she was tireless and a hard worker, if not particularly innovative or game-changing. Her deep experience and steady demeanor reassure allies in a dangerous world.

 

THERE ARE THOSE on either side — hyper-ventilating, hair on fire — insisting the Apocalypse will be upon us if the hated nemesis (fill in the blank) wins the election. We disagree. America will still be America on November 9, whatever the outcome. The nation is bigger than any individual, even either of these deeply flawed candidates. Count on the resilience of this great country.

But where is Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America?” Where is the can-do optimism of Franklin Roosevelt? The grace of George H.W. Bush? The call to patriotism and selflessness of John Kennedy? The appeal to our “better angels” of Abraham Lincoln?

Modern politics has become dark and divisive — the parties slicing and dicing the electorate, dog-whistling the baser instincts, deliberately seeking to turn neighbor against neighbor in crass pursuit of power. In that world people are no longer brothers and sisters in freedom, who may hold a few differing views and values. They are blood enemies, to be crushed by any means necessary.

It is that dark and pessimistic vision of America that gave us Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, arguably the worst choice ever to face voters. The political parties called forth the maelstrom by stirring up anger, hate and resentment at every turn.

The Beloit Daily News declines to endorse Clinton or Trump. We simply cannot, will not, suggest one of them should be President of the United States.

We recognize each voter, though, must make a choice. Consult your conscience. Hold your nose. Good luck.

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