Editorials

As polls tighten, all votes count

Hillary Clinton returned to the campaign trail Thursday in North Carolina after a bout of pneumonia that sidelined her for three days and revived questions about both Donald Trump's and her openness regarding their health.
Hillary Clinton returned to the campaign trail Thursday in North Carolina after a bout of pneumonia that sidelined her for three days and revived questions about both Donald Trump's and her openness regarding their health. The Associated Press

Every vote counts, some years more than others. With early voting due to start as soon as the end of this month in some states, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were virtually tied for the popular vote this week.

Though Clinton’s lead held in the Electoral College, Trump gained in the swing states of Florida and Ohio. It’s early, but still. As economists have noted – more on this later – we can’t afford the wrong presidency.

There are reasons for the closeness of this race, some good, some deplorable, as Clinton accurately put it. One understandable reason is that this economic recovery has taken too long to reach anyone but the rich.

Though census data this week showed, at long last, an increase in median household incomes, the improvement didn’t extend to rural areas robbed of unskilled jobs by globalization. Most of us have clawed our way back to where we were when the 2008 recession started. But some – too many – have been handed the bitter pill of diminished prospects.

In a perfect world, all candidates would be honest, experienced and charismatic. The world is not perfect. We believe that Clinton’s flaws, such as they are, pale next to those of Trump.

Trump has exploited these dashed hopes, which is why so much of rural America is now Trump country. And it’s despicable, really: From the charitable “donations” that actually came out of others’ pockets to his Trump University get-rich-quick scam, Trump’s actions have reflected an utter contempt for struggling folks.

But part, too, is Clinton. Never mind that while Trump served himself, she has served the public. Never mind that while the most notable expenditure of Trump’s foundation was – wait for it – a giant Donald Trump portrait, her family foundation was paying for disaster relief and AIDS drugs. Her defensiveness has undercut her, to the point that Trump – orange, obese and formerly bankrupt – got a veritable pass this week on his health and tax records while she went to work sick and got accused of hiding something.

In a perfect world, all candidates would be honest, experienced and charismatic. The world is not perfect. We believe that Clinton’s flaws, such as they are, pale next to those of Trump, with his lies and insults.

The challenge to voters, though, will be to rise above all this imperfection and do right by the country. So much hangs in the balance: Forecasts by economists at Moody’s Analytics predict that a Trump presidency, at best, “will result in very large deficits and a much higher debt load” and, at worst, would cause a “lengthy recession.” Clinton’s policies, they found, would boost GDP and lower unemployment.

That’s one reason to defy the polls and turn out. There are many more.

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