Monday, September 12, 2016


There’s this virtual meme running through the media that Americans are wholly conflicted and disgusted about the upcoming Presidential election. It’s one of those persistent falsehoods that damage and will continue to damage our political discourse.

While it is certainly true that some and perhaps even many of our fellow citizens are conflicted and disgusted, it is unequivocally  true that a great many Americans are solidly behind one candidate or another. My own decision this year is clearer than it has ever been, I’ll cast my vote without the slightest hesitation.

The media loves its falsehoods, even about itself. There isn’t any overwhelming “liberal media” in this country. The most watched of the 24/7 TV news networks is Fox News with its umbilical cord-like ties to the Republican Party. Most leading newspapers are right-of-center at best. But these falsehoods and memes are insultingly easy substitutes for actual journalism or thoughtful commentary. Media counts on us not having the time or patience to research candidates and issues thoroughly.

I hadn’t planned on discussing the presidential candidates in these “Citizen Tony” columns, or at least not at great length or with any regularity. I had many reasons for this.

First, my choice for President has to be obvious to anyone who’s read my political commentary in the past. Second, I am determined to refrain from indulging in the insults that have come to dominate such discourse. Third, there are so many ongoing issues to discuss in the “Citizen Tony” columns. Indeed, I have already made the decision to continue them after the election, regardless of the outcome of that election. I would be remiss in my responsibility as an American citizen if my involvement ended with the election. However, since we are here, let me state the obvious and, perhaps, the not-so-obvious.

I am voting for Hilary Clinton because I think she is, by far, the most qualified candidate for the office and because the platform of the Democratic Party has more elements I can wholeheartedly support than the platform of any other party. I don’t find her unlikable or untrustworthy, possibly because I consider the totality of her career and life...and because, having researched both, I recognize the attacks on her honesty and integrity as the net result of the decades the right has spent demonizing her. Those attacks, for the most part, simply do not hold up when examined in a truthful and a non-partisan way.

Am I happy with Clinton’s every action and position? Of course not. To the best of my recollection, I have never been “happy” with any candidate’s every action and position. Hell, if “Citizen Tony” were to ever become “Candidate Tony,” I probably wouldn’t be happy with every one of my own actions and positions.

I don’t see myself voting for the lesser of two evils, even though I think that’s an understandable and even commendable choice. I am voting for the best candidate for the job. 

I confess I have no respect for those who say their conscience will not allow them to vote for Hilary Clinton, even though their voting for a third party or abstaining from voting might well put Donald Trump in the White House. They claim they don’t want Trump to win, but they are going to show us by not voting for the candidate with the best chance of beating him, the candidate who is most likely to pursue the progressive policies they claim they support. That makes no sense to me.

About those third parties...

I have never cared much for the Libertarian Party because it always strikes me as being Republican Lite, and not all that “lite.” The party claims to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal, but I’ve seen a shift to the right on social issues. For that matter, the party’s fiscal conservatism doesn’t seem to address the wealth disparity in this country, how that disparity hurts the majority of Americans or how their so-called “fiscal conservatism” impacts Americans who are most in need.

Gary Johnson seems like a nice fellow, but he has not impressed me with his campaign. I’m not going to knock him for not knowing what a presidential candidate should know about the situations in Syria. Libertarians aren’t about being global policemen and, while I have sympathy for that position and don’t entirely dismiss it, I think we must recognize that we are, indeed, part of a global community. For our own well-being as much as the world’s well-being, we must engage with the rest of the world. I just want us to be a whole lot smarter about how we engage.

The Green Party’s Jill Stein seems more capable than Johnson. She has anti-vaccination comments in her past, but, as I see it, these have been overly emphasized and somewhat exaggerated by the media and her opponents. The media loves its quick sound bites. Nuance is not what it does. 
Of course, my main problem with third parties is they usually want to start at the top. They want their candidates to be President, even though they’ve rarely demonstrated their ability to work with other parties, something that would be crucial if they were to be elected. I’d like to see third parties that start from the bottom and work their way up. Show me they can govern effectively on the local and state levels before I give them serious consideration for the national stage.

One of the goals I set myself in writing my “Citizen Tony” pieces has been, as noted above, to refrain from insults. That becomes a near impossible task when it comes to Trump. Is it an insult when I say he is the most unqualified presidential candidate of my life? Is it an insult to point out how many of the things he says or that he says he would do as president are, firstly, repulsive to me and, secondly, beyond the scope of a president’s powers as I understand them? The thought of a Trump presidency terrifies me.

I don’t understand how anyone can support Trump for President. The best I can come up with is that, for most of his supporters, there is one thing Trump says or one position he advocates that resonates with their darkest corners. Like Curly in the movie City Slickers, they focus on that one thing. That one thing.

I don’t want to believe the worst of my fellow Americans. I don’t want to believe they are any of the horrible things represented by Trump. I don’t want to believe they are so adamant about allowing Trump a pass on his constant untruths and his refusal to disclose the things our presidential candidates routinely disclose. I don’t want to believe they will embrace even the most absurd and already discounted conspiracy theories. But what I want to believe may no longer be the reality of my country. Maybe it never was.

Commenting further would cross the line even more than these last few paragraphs already have, so I will leave you with an anecdote from last week...

I was at the deli counter of a local grocery store. An older woman was buying small amounts of lunch meat and sliced cheese because she wanted to make sandwiches for her husband and her to eat when they went to a Trump event in the area.

After she left, the counter women, who have always been friendly to me, started talking about their support for Trump. Which basically amounted to...they hate Hilary Clinton.

The next customer in line was this well-dressed young woman in her early to mid 30s. As the deli women prepared her order, she asked them why they would vote for Trump. When they responded with “Why not?,” the customer responded back with a litany of reasons no one should vote for Trump. I’ll not repeat any of the litany because, accurate though the various characterizations of Trump were, some might consider them insults.

The deli women were flustered. They had no counter arguments. The customer was incredibly right. I believe, on some level, they knew she was right. But they looked imploringly at me, that nice man who comes to their counter once or twice a week, and asked:

“What do you think?”

I hooked my thumb toward the other customer and said:

“I’m with her.”

“Citizen Tony” will return with more commentary in the near future. Feel free to suggest topics. In the meantime, I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2016 Tony Isabella


  1. Being a Bernie Sanders supporter from the start of his campaign, it it really hard for me to switch to supporting Hillary. I don't find her crooked or dishonest, but do have to say she could have handled the e-mail situation a lot better from the start. It's more her Right of Center stance on the use of military force, her pro-fracking and pro-Wall Street policies that worry me. It isn't really a lesser of two evils situation, since her negatives don't amount to much compared to the bigotry, hatred and outright stupidity that Trump showcases each day.

    I did initially flirt with the idea of voting Green Party, but not only does Dr. Jill Stein not excite me, I really do fear that at this point any Third party vote might actually tip things into the GOP camp. I also agree that I'd like the Greens to build a broader base in local and state elections before going for the Oval Office.

  2. I heard a radio interview with Gary Johnson recently. He was asked what book best represents his worldview. He responded, '"The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand.'

    'Nuff said.