Joe Boyles: Guest Columnist
In the mid-1940s, the Army had some great football teams led by a tandem of running backs who won back-to-back Heisman Trophies. Mr. Inside was the fullback Felix “Doc” Blanchard who was a bruiser and pounded the defense inside the tackles. Mr. Outside was halfback Glenn Davis who was lightning fast around the end.
The 2016 presidential race is a political form of inside versus outside. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is the ultimate insider. She has been in the national political spotlight for a quarter century. As First Lady during the 1990s, she was very active in policy formation. This led to her being elected and serving as a United States Senator from New York for eight years before President Obama appointed her to the position of Secretary of State. In 2008, she ran for president as the initial favorite, only to be aced-out by newcomer Barack Obama.
In contrast, Donald Trump is the ultimate outsider. He has never run for or held political office before. The last person to become president under those circumstances was Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. Instead, Trump has made his mark on the public conscience in business, real estate, and media rather than politics.
Of course, this inside/outside difference isn’t the only factor in this race. They both carry considerable baggage. Clinton has a long history of dishonesty, or in more polite terms, she is careless with the truth. Trump is bombastic and can be insulting. They are a contrast in styles.
Change is another important factor in this race. Mrs. Clinton readily acknowledges that she is essentially running for Obama’s third term as president – more of the same. Not surprisingly, Donald Trump, the outsider, promises to “upset the apple cart” and implement many changes on broad policies effecting the economy, immigration, security, trade, and regulation.
It seems to me that if you are satisfied with the status quo, then Hillary Clinton is a safe choice. On the other hand, if you are dissatisfied with the direction of our country, as recent poling indicates 70 percent are, then Donald Trump is the best, though risky choice. I say risky because, without a proven track record, there is more risk in his selection than Mrs. Clinton’s. With Clinton, you know what to expect; with Trump, we’re not so sure.
Of course, the founders like our namesake James Madison were very concerned about executive overreach and built our Constitution with checks and balances, namely the Congress and Judiciary. A lot of criticism has been directed at the current president for what appears to many as executive overreach, unchecked by the lawmakers and courts. Both institutions, but the Congress in particular, are afraid of political fallout from checking the first Black president. Would they be equally afraid of checking the first woman president? How healthy for our democracy is that?
Donald Trump won the Republican nomination by challenging the status quo and the establishment elite. Bernie Sanders attempted to do the same from the left, but lost the Democratic race because the rules were baked-in to select the establishment favorite, namely Mrs. Clinton. This perception of a ‘rigged system’ is a major factor driving Trump’s support.
Back to the 70 percent dissatisfied number – why are the American people so concerned about the direction our country is moving toward? Look at the miserable state of the economy. Wages are stagnant. More than 94 million working-age Americans don’t have a full-time job. More people are on food stamps and other forms of welfare than ever before. Sure the stock market is booming, but who does that benefit? Home ownership hasn’t been this low in more than thirty years.
Here’s another reason people are concerned about the direction of our country -- ISIS has grown and metastasized across the Middle East and North Africa. Americans and other westerners are subject to frequent and bloody attacks in airports, Christmas parties, and even churches. There is an on-going civil unrest between the police and minorities that frequently results in violence and lives lost. Immigration is out of control and results in lawlessness; pressure on local services; and increased risk of infectious diseases. We have plenty to be concerned about despite the president’s claim that “all is well.”
So there you have it, a classic setup between the insider candidate and the outsider. Will the voters play it safe or is change in the air? We’ll know the answer in three months.