20 July 2016: Election about contrasting agendas

After a million casualties for the British and French forces in World War I, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill in 1915 proposed a risky venture to change their fortunes. It would become known as Gallipoli, so named for the Gallipoli Peninsula on the northern side of the Dardanelles that connects the Black Sea with the Mediterranean.

By May, the venture turned into a complete disaster, and Churchill was discredited and demoted. But Gallipoli isn’t what we remember Churchill for but rather for his resolute leadership during the Second World War.

History is replete with such leaders. George Washington, another example, was far from a war hero and chief architect of the American victory in first years of the War for Independence. In fact, some conspired to displace him. Luckily, they failed.

What distinguishes great leaders from the rest is their ability to recover, right themselves, and after being chastened, move forward by making good decisions. It requires one to develop a thick alligator hide, a crucial difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. His skin as sensitive as a playground tot’s, notoriously tender and thin.

My advice when one makes a mistake is very non-John Wayne. Admitting one blew it is not a sign of weakness but of strength. Clinton knows that; Trump never will. The reason relates not only to the thickness of their skins but also to the fragilities of their egos.

No man running for president was/is more qualified than Clinton. Being a woman rankles many, whether they admit it or not, and lies at the root of the scrutiny and judgment leveled on her. Women from their viewpoint must be perfect.

Clinton’s resume is marred by one issue: arranging for a private server to handle her official business while Secretary of State. Plain and simple, it was a mistake, one that she has acknowledged. I wish she hadn’t, but I am not one to avoid unpleasant truth.

Having said so, I also understand why she likely did so. After enduring years of personal, pernicious persecution by Republicans and the rest of the right, she sought to protect her family and her private communiques. I imagine myself being the target of never-ending witch hunts and calumnious attacks. Imagine others having access to your private communiques.

National columnist Francis Wilkinson recently penned a point-counterpoint piece about the Clintons.

“Bill and Hillary Clinton,” he writes, “are victims of a perpetual right-wing smear campaign, a highly personalized subset of a decades long, coordinated and sleazy conservative crusade to discredit government.”

This “whole terrible cycle,” he continues, “began with them.”

Actually the politics of personal destruction began with Reagan’s campaign chief Lee Atwater. It found its voice in Rush Limbaugh. It worked in 1988 with Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis, but it didn’t in 1992. That, however, hasn’t stopped the rabid sort from trying.

Next week, one woman, Hillary Clinton, will make American history. She will be the presidential nominee of a great political party. It’s a moment long past due, which makes it all the more exciting in anticipation.

The subsequent campaign will have no precedent. Yes, it will be about issues, but it will also be driven by the two disparate personalities. A starker contrast could not be created.

Clinton will be advancing an agenda and leadership style that, I believe, will resonate with the majority of voters. In next week’s piece, I will explore the day-and-night differences between the progressive platform of the Democratic Party and the regressive one formulated by the Republicans.

This election will not allow for spectators. It’s every American’s civic duty to stake a stand.

The question each of us has to answer, including every candidate affiliated with the parties, is whether you stand by your party’s platform overall. For the unaffiliated voter, which party offers the better vison of the America we want to be? For in the end, where one stands matters. It matters because we each have a stake, a vested interest in this county, state, and country.

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