Clinton, Trump, and the Battle to Be Less Than Decent

Decency. The word is noticeably absent from discussion of the presidential campaign. Given the presumptive nominees, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, support on both sides amounts to an apathetic rhetoric of “At least it’s not. . . .”

Mention the potential conflict that arises from the numerous foreign donations the Clinton Foundation receives. Or Wall St. speeches. Or Tony Rodham’s (her brother) Haiti gold. The response from the left will take you down the alleys of moral ambiguity under an umbrella of greater good before arriving at this destination; a Trump presidency would be a disaster.

Mention the pending charges of fraud against Trump University. Or the casual policy of targeting women and children for bombing. Or the thin-skinned need to insult everyone from prisoners of war to a Fox News anchor to most of Mexico all while affirming erectile girth. The response from the right will offer you a course in business ethics that is not politically correct before arriving at this dissertation; anyone but Hillary.

As such, we are resigned. Should we vote, it will be less of an affirmation and more a lesser of two evils. If we do not? Then we can hope the absolution of our absenteeism offers clean hands for any damage that occurs in the next four years. Perhaps. To both, perhaps.

But what of decency?

Not righteousness. Not altruism. Certainly not perfection. I only wish to see an argument made that one of these two candidates will have the decency to do right by the hard-working families who make up this country. Those who “do most of the working and paying and living and dying” as George Bailey would say. Just one. Just once. Any moment now, a historian (amateur or otherwise) will burst in to crush such idealism with carefully cited anecdotes that prove even the best leaders were deeply flawed. I won’t argue. How can I?

However, I will offer this. The 2016 election may very well be the first time we have elected a president without even the illusion of decency.