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I’m sitting it out

July 31, 2016

So it’s come to this, Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump for the Presidency of the United States come November.

I have voted in every Presidential election since 1976. I turned 21 that August and not to get theatrical but I felt if I didn’t vote I would be dishonoring all those who sacrificed a lot to give me that right.

I felt a sense of moral obligation to do so. I’ve voted for Republicans, I’ve voted for Democrats. My credo has always been I don’t care what “party” they belong to, what their sex is, what color, what religion…who best can move the city, state, nation forward. With me that’s always been the bottom line.

Full disclosure, I consider myself a moderate Republican in the mold of a Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp or George H.W. Bush. Yes such things do exist.

I will not be voting for President this November.

Why? Well look at my choices and death is not an option.

Both “candidates” are elitist, both are incredibly wealthy, both are known liars, both have milked, bilked and gamed the system for years. Trump has declared bankruptcy multiple times and gotten his debts wiped away. Trump University has been shown to be a sham.

Clinton accepted $675,000 for three speeches from Goldman Sachs, then said she was going to tear down Wall Street.

Both have made ridiculous statements in an effort to garner votes. Clinton said she was going to close all the coal mines in the country and put all the miners out of work, she later apologized. Her comment at the Benghazi hearings of “who cares?” still rings out.

Trump’s nonsense could fill an entire newspaper… some of his “highlights” were saying he was going to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, build a wall on the Southern border, potentially pull out of NATO, claimed a judge was biased against him because he was of Mexican heritage and belittled his Republican primary opponents by talking about the size of their sexual organ.

Both candidates have been mired in scandals for decades. With Clinton the list is long and voluminous. Whitewater, Benghazi, her e-mail account… from saying they were all turned over (the FBI reported they weren’t) to her claim she only used one device (the FBI said she used multiple devices) to her claim that none of the e-mails were classified (the FBI said more than 100 of them were) and the latest, the revelation by WikiLeaks that the Democratic National Committee had made plans to torpedo Clinton’s chief rival Sen. Bernie Sanders. Somewhere former Chicago Mayor Richard J. “Boss” Daley, the man who stole the 1960 Presidential election, was smiling. Lies, scandals, milking the system.

Like Clinton, Trump is no stranger to scandal. He’s been sued over 3,500 times, many by companies that did work for his properties.

He’s been accused of discrimination from as far back as the early 1970’s when he and his father were alleged to have discriminated in renting their apartments in New York City. From his divorces to Time Magazine’s allegations that despite his claims to have paid for his candidacy out of his own pocket in reality he’s been using his properties for events, paying his children for working in his campaign then writing the deductions off…gaming the system yet again.

These are my choices? Seriously??

But here’s the thing. I don’t blame Clinton or Trump for running. Clinton craves power, it’s who she is. She needs it as much as an addict needs their narcotic. Trump wants power, not for power’s sake, but to satisfy his ego. Time Magazine recently had an interview with him from his office in Trump Tower and noted that he had every magazine cover that he was ever on either on the walls of the office or on his desk.

Even some of his former staffers admitted that Trump got into the race simply as a lark and was shocked that he was being taken seriously. He was running for ego purposes only.

I don’t blame them, that’s who they are.

I blame my fellow citizens for believing their nonsense.

What do you expect though? The dumbing down of America which started in the 1960’s continues to have repercussions. It’s an unfortunate fact that if you give a lot of Americans a map of their own country, no names…just state outlines, they couldn’t tell you where North Dakota is…or Vermont…or Kansas. Many of these same citizens would rather go to a dentist for a root canal than sit down on a Sunday and watch NBC’s “Meet the Press” or “Fareed Zakaria’s GPS” on CNN to learn a little about the issues going on in their country and around the world. These same folks though wouldn’t dare miss their favorite weekly reality show on TV. Kardashians anyone?

Once upon a time Americans actually cared about their country. They voted and nominated individuals whose strengths greatly outnumbered their weaknesses like Eisenhower, Stevenson, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton just since I’ve been around.

They weren’t perfect. Richard Nixon was example #1. Kennedy’s infidelity made Bill Clinton look like a committed spouse plus he, his brother Bobby as Attorney General, and LBJ authorized more illegal wiretaps than Nixon ever dreamed of. Reagan often lost focus and didn’t care about the details.

But their strengths were unimpeachable. Eisenhower helped beat the gravest threat to Western freedom in World War II as Commander in Chief of all Allied Forces in Europe. He personally knew about war and tried to keep the arms race under control. To a certain extent he did. No President before or since had Kennedy’s understanding of economics…and least we forget his calm, sound logic during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Johnson spent years in Congress and knew how to get things done. The foreign policy of the U.S. was never better than under Nixon and Henry Kissinger. We had better relations with the Russians and Chinese than they had with each other.

Ford sacrificed his own political future by pardoning Nixon because he knew the country needed to get over Watergate. Reagan helped end the Cold War and actually found a way to work with the Russians and reduce nuclear arms and H.W. Bush and Clinton helped take the country into a tremendous period of economic growth.

This country has gone from that to individuals like Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Good people, people who meant well but who were totally and completely unprepared to hold the Presidency and it clearly showed.

Now a new low, Clinton and Trump... the two politicians with the highest “dislike” factor in U.S. history.

You wanted it America and now you’re going to get it.

Trump’s “judgment” is akin to an individual who has little to no knowledge of the realities in the world and worse doesn’t care to. All you need to know about Clinton’s “judgment” was said by FBI Director James Comey in his investigation regarding her e-mail’s, “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”

And let’s be practical here shall we? Someone is going to get elected. If you thought “gridlock” was bad under George W. and Obama wait till you see what happens come next January.

Clinton has been public enemy #1 to Republicans for decades…think they are going to support her ideas, judicial nominations and so forth? Trump is so out there, his almost insane ideas will get no support; mark it down, from any Democratic politician north of the Mason-Dixon Line. It’s not happening.

Plus if the Republicans hold on to at least one of the three branches of power and the Democrats one or more of the other branches it’s guaranteed given the personalities that pass for politicians today, that the gridlock is going to continue unabated. The days of Ronald Reagan finding common ground with Tip O’Neill or Bill Clinton reaching an understanding with Newt Gingrich to move the country ahead are long gone.

That’s what you get when people feel compromise is a dirty word, when common sense is thrown out the window and when the fanatics on both the left and the right think all the issues in the country can be solved if only all their ideas were authorized to the letter.

To use a ’60s term, “I want no part of that scene.”

I’ll still be voting come November…voting for the folks I think can move the city, state and congress forward. I just will be following my conscience and not voting for President for the first time ever. The choices are completely unacceptable to me. Hopefully things are saner in 2020, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that.

Mark Liptak and his wife Zoe have lived in Pocatello since 1993. Mark, originally from Chicago, has been in the sports media business since 1978 working in television, radio and for newspapers. Currently he is the color analyst for Idaho State University football and the play by play broadcaster for ISU women’s basketball. He also covers the Bengals for the Twin Falls Times-News.