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BEHIND THE HEADLINES: Clinton the better choice


BEHIND THE HEADLINES: Clinton the better choice

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To millions of people across the United States and indeed around the world, the names Eric Holder and Colin Powell quite rightly trigger thoughts of respectability, sound judgement, integrity and an ability to get things done.

As two of America’s iconic public figures, Holder, the first black person to lead the US Justice Department and Powell, a retired four-star general who became the chief architect of America’s foreign policy at the turn of the 21st Century, have climbed the proverbial mountaintop and have emerged without a blemish.

Interestingly, they belong to different political parties. Holder, a Democrat, is a former US Attorney General and Powell, a product of a Jamaican immigrant family in New York, served under different Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush and at one stage was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before being made the Secretary of State.

As if those markers weren’t enough, both men trace their family’s roots to the Caribbean. Holder grew up in what was essentially Barbadian home in Queens, New York and Powell is the son of Jamaican immigrant parents in the Bronx. Both have either worked closely with Hillary Clinton, the front-running Democratic Party standard-bearer in the presidential sweepstake or they have followed her career. When it comes to Donald Trump, the Republican nominee and billionaire real estate mogul they can write chapter and verse.

It stands to reason why they have publicly endorsed Clinton in tomorrow’s presidential election.

“She’s smart. She is capable,” asserted Powell. “She was a good secretary of state. She is balanced. She has a temperament, and no matter what anyone says, she has got stamina.

“I think she is fully qualified to serve as president of the United States and I think she will serve with distinction.”

As for Trump, Powell was vigorous in his denunciation of his fellow Republican.

“He insults us every day. He has insulted America in one way or another almost every day,” Powell stated. “He has insulted Latino Americans. He has insulted African-Americans. He has insulted women.

He has insulted his own party. He has insulted our allies around the world one by one. He has insulted veterans.”

Holder had some intriguing words to say about Clinton.

“Our next president can’t shy away from building on the progress of President [Barack] Obama, which is why Hillary Clinton is the candidate we need in the White House,” said the former AG. “I have seen her deal with the issues that will confront the next president first hand, and she has bold plans to address police brutality, fight for common sense, reforms to our gun laws, get incomes rising, and make college [education] affordable.”

Holder insisted Trump would “tear down our progress on civil rights, health care and curbing gun violence”.

There are valid reasons why Clinton is the better choice and Trump should be avoided like the plague, including Obamacare, the landmark health care initiative that has provided millions of Americans with health coverage. Yes, it can be improved.

Also true, there must be a reversal of the skyrocketing costs of coverage. But it would be grossly irresponsible to repeal it as Trump and the Republicans in Congress have vowed to do if given the chance.

Next is Clinton’s strong stand on women’s rights including the ability to plan families. As a woman with an excellent record of insisting on respect for mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins and neighbours, a “President Hilary Clinton” would maintain a firewall around services and opportunities for women, such as equal pay for work. Instead of insulting them as Trump routinely did, she would boost respect for women.

Then there is the issue of access to the voting booth for blacks and other minorities, a right which Clinton would protect but Trump is determined to rip apart on the pretext that the electoral system is rigged.

A Clinton White House would do more. It would nominate judges to the federal bench, including the nation’s top court so as to end any further erosion of voting rights.

Once in the president’s office, she should immediately nominate someone to fill a vacancy on the court which has been hamstrung since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the conservative jurist whose sudden passing several months ago loosened the conservative vice grip on the Supreme Court.

When voters, including hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans, Barbadians, Guyanese and other West Indians  go to the polls they should be mindful that they are not only voting for a president but are backing a return of balance to the scales of justice.

As a nation of immigrants, few issues are as vital and contentious as presence of the foreign born in the US. While Trump is eager to build a wall along the Mexican-US border to keep out foreigners and to ban Muslims from entering the country while reducing the flow of people from the Caribbean and Latin America, Clinton is for keeping immigrant families together and allowing more people from abroad easier entry. Immigrants have helped to build the country and contributed to its prosperity.

Clearly, the US needs a progressive leader with an economic and social development agenda for the vast majority of people so they can feel safe and secure on the streets and in their homes. It would also extend benefits to Caribbean nationals in and out of the US and their birthplaces.

The country also needs a chief executive who respects the sovereignty of its neighbours in the Caribbean and Latin America and elsewhere. Trump is not that kind of leader.

Clinton, may not be perfect. Indeed no one is without warts. But she would bring people together and offer facilities, opportunities and services to the less fortunate and those around the globe who need a helping hand. Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, is among them. Barbados is also on that list.

What we don’t need is White House-inspired anarchy and fear at home and abroad. The lives of everyone, including those of blacks and other minorities must matter.

Rampant police brutality must end and there must be an understanding of the conditions with which the poor must confront every morning, noon and night.

If elected, Clinton would build on Obama’s legacy while charting her own course.