Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What have you got to lose?

Enough of the name-calling and bickering. This isn't reality TV. This is an election to determine what the future holds for us, for our children, and for our grandchildren. If the candidates and the media won't act responsibly, then we need to.

A few weeks ago Donald Trump asked the question: "What do you possibly have to lose by electing me?" My first response was "seriously?" But then I realized that virtually the only thing the media was focusing on was what terrible human beings each of the candidates was. Trump because of the widely demonstrated racist, sexist, bigoted and xenophobic attitudes he harbors for women, minorities, immigrants, gays and lesbians. Hillary because she illegally used a private e-mail server while Secretary of State. Yeah, equivalence!

You know, I really couldn't care less about politics or politicians. But I sure do care about how their policies affect me and my family. I think you do, too.  

Here's a news flash: political candidates lie. I know – shocker. Get over it. Their promises don't matter, but the historical actions of their parties, do. If you want to get a glimpse of what your life will be like under each of the candidates, take a look at what their parties stand for. Sort of like what your mother told before you got married – if you want to know what your fiancĂ© will be like in 30 years, take a look at their parents. It's something like that.

So, I decided to take up Donald Trump's challenge and I made up the 2 lists below. The first is a list of 13 things you and I stand to gain if we elect Hilary Clinton. The second is a list of 16 things you and I stand to lose if we elect Donald Trump.  

But first, a little history about what each of the parties supported, opposed and accomplished over the past 2 dozen years. Yes, history matters. As your shrink keeps reminding you, "past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior." That'll be $200, please.  

80 Years ago, Republicans opposed Social Security – and they are still trying to weaken it today. 50 Years ago they opposed Medicare (they still do). 7 Years ago they opposed the Affordable Care Act – the law that has recently helped over 20 million Americans obtain health insurance. Republicans have vowed to repeal it if they get the chance. A Republican President may make that repeal possible, causing 1 out of every 16 Americans to lose their health insurance.

Republicans don't believe that global warming is real, calling it a "hoax", despite the fact that nearly every single climate scientist in the world has warned about the dire consequences we all face if we don't act soon. You know, we've already given our children the lingering gift of the housing crisis, taxpayer-funded bank bailouts, enormous student debt and a near-depression. How selfish would we have to be to hand them a much less hospitable and much less habitable planet as a bonus?  Sorry, I digress.

The Republican view of economics isn't any prettier. Their formula for spurring economic activity is to cut taxes for the wealthiest and for big business. It's called trickle-down economics. If you survived through the George W. Bush years, you know how that theory worked out. The Democrats take a different approach:  cut taxes and increase minimum wages directly for the working class, while raising taxes on the wealthiest amongst us. As Warren Buffett said, it's absurd that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary pays. It's also unfair. 

Eight years ago dozens of banks failed. More had to be bailed out with taxpayer money. Wall Street crashed. Millions of people had lost – or were in the process of losing – their homes, their jobs and their life savings. U.S. businesses were shuttering their doors nearly every single day. Over 2.5 million businesses eventually closed as a result of the financial crash. For one scary weekend in September of 2008, our entire financial system teetered on the brink of total collapse.  

Today, the Obama administration's policies have created over 15 million private sector jobs in the longest streak of job growth ever recorded; the Stock Market has nearly tripled; unemployment has fallen by half; wages have increased; and the banks have been stabilized and regulated. That's a good start.

Looking back through the past few decades, you can clearly see the effect of both approaches. Economic activity soared during Bill Clinton's administration. During George W. Bush's administration, the economy tanked, leading to a near-collapse of our entire financial system and requiring taxpayers to pay for bailing out the banks. Though initially bogged down by the Great Recession, the economy during Barack Obama's administration has significantly recovered with 72 months of uninterrupted, private sector job gains – the longest streak ever recorded.

Many of us lived through all 3 of these administrations and while we may have our political differences, we saw the effect of those policies in our daily lives and on our wallets. What happened during each of those presidencies is not speculation. It is fact. Reflect and remember. As has been said before, "those who do not learn from history, are doomed to repeat it."

If you are concerned about the environment; if you are concerned about the availability of affordable healthcare; if you are concerned about preserving Social Security and Medicare; if you are concerned about preserving a woman's right to choose; if you believe that global warming is real; if you believe that gays and lesbians and all minorities deserve the equal rights promised in our Constitution – then your only way to prevent those beliefs from getting trampled out of existence over the next 4 years is to vote for the person who represents the only party that has championed and fought for those causes.


  • A $15 minimum wage that provides an opportunity for people to work their way out of poverty, instead of a meager wage that sentences them to a life of it. (Republicans oppose the concept of a minimum wage altogether, preferring to let businesses and the free market set wages.) 
  • Debt free state college options (enabling every American to get the education that employers require for good-paying jobs, without taking on a lifetime of debt)
  • A planet that is habitable and hospitable to human life. (Democrats believe global warming is real and that we must act now to preserve our planet. Republicans believe the concept of global warming is a hoax. Go figure.) 
  • A moderate and fair Supreme Court defining our rights, our freedoms and our laws for decades to come.
  • ObamaCare or, if we're lucky, universal healthcare. (Democrats support it.  Republicans obviously don't.)
  • The right for gays and lesbians to marry and be treated as equal citizens under the law. (Democrats support. Republicans don't. Hello? 2016 calling!)
  • A lower share of taxes paid by the middle class and the poor. A higher share of taxes paid by the wealthy. (Republicans skew their tax cuts toward the wealthiest, claiming it will "trickle down" to others. It doesn't. It hasn't. And it never will.) 
  • Preservation and protection of Social Security and Medicare programs. (Republicans call them "entitlement programs". Doesn't that really piss you off?)  
  • Fairness, Equality and Opportunity for all of us, not just for some. (Duh.)
  • A government that actually represents what's best for ordinary citizens rather than what's best for lobbyists, corporations and other moneyed interests. 
  • The aggressive pursuit and expansion of clean energy technologies so we can eventually eliminate our dependence upon fossil fuels. (Democrats support. Republicans don't.)
  • More of the economically sound fiscal policies that pulled us out of the Great Recession; doubled the stock market; put limits on Wall Street banks; reduced the rate of poverty; and created an unprecedented streak of job gains over the past seven years. 
  • The repeal of Citizens United, the law which allows billionaires and corporations to dump unlimited amounts of money into political campaigns in order to elect legislators who will support their interests instead of ours. (Democrats favor repeal. Republicans don't.)


  • Accessible and affordable healthcare for everyone, regardless of income or pre-existing conditions.
  • A hospitable and inhabitable planet.
  • Fairness, equality and opportunity for everyone, not just some. 
  • Regulations on banks, workplace safety and food safety. 
  • Protections for the environment, wildlife, national parks, oceans and waterways.  
  • A woman's right to obtain a safe and legal abortion.
  • Net neutrality, treating and regulating Internet services just like telephone and other monopolistic utilities in order to serve the public interest rather than corporate profits.
  • Especially for minorities, the presumption of innocence, unless and until proven guilty.
  • The Constitutional right for all American citizens to cast their vote with dignity and without intimidation, hindrance or encumbrance (through voter suppression laws, Republicans have already stripped voting  rights from millions of American citizens).
  • The fundamental assertion, embodied in our Constitution, that all of us are created equal.
  • Medicare health insurance for retirees. Republicans want to phase it out forcing retirees to seek alternative health care insurance plans.
  • A political system that represents the will of the voters as opposed to the will of billionaires and large corporations whose goals and interests are often in conflict with those of citizens. 
  • A moderate and fair Supreme Court .
  • The right for gays and lesbians to marry.
  • Laws designed to prevent the same kind of bank failures that caused the 2008 financial crisis; forced taxpayers to bail out the banks; cost nearly 9 million American workers their jobs; saw 7 million Americans lose their homes to foreclosure; and caused 2.5 million American businesses shutter their doors for good. (Republicans want to repeal)
  • More of the same Republican policies that put this country into an economic spiral and into an unjustified and ill-conceived war in Iraq which killed thousands of American soldiers; cost Americans taxpayers trillions of dollars; and gave rise and safe harbor to our terrorist enemies by destabilizing the Middle East.

Because the Supreme Court determines our rights, our freedoms and the legality of our laws, it's worth noting the extraordinary effect this election will have on it. The next president will pick at least two (and possibly as many as four) justices for the 9-member court. Those appointees will not serve for four or eight years, the term of the presidency – they will each serve for decades. With the Supreme Court having become so politicized, and the appointment of justices being equally politicized, each of the new justices will reflect the beliefs of the President and their political party. Donald Trump has stated that everyone he appoints must be willing to overturn Roe vs. Wade, eliminating a woman's right to obtain a safe and legal abortion. His appointees will be inclined to mirror Republican views on global warming, the minimum wage, banking regulations and oversight, environmental protections, voter suppression, minorities, the GLBT community, Citizens United, Social Security, Medicare and Obama Care.  

The next President's Supreme Court appointments will define our laws for decades to follow. If you care about what this country will be like in 20 years, you'd better make sure that the next president's beliefs are also your beliefs. This is what they mean when they say that elections have consequences.  

If you still are in undecided, try asking yourself the following questions:
  • Are you and your family better off today under Democratic policies than you were 8 years ago under Republican policies?
  • Which candidate's beliefs most closely match your own beliefs?
  • Whose version of America do you want your children to live in? Hillary Clinton's? Or Donald Trump's?

For the future of every citizen in this nation, and for the future of the only planet we call home, I will vote for Hillary Clinton on November 8th. It's not the vote I originally wanted to cast, but I will not allow my disappointment to cause me to throw away everything we have gained these past 8 years in an attempt to "get even" with the political system.  

There is too much at stake right now. We can change the system later.

Right, Bernie?

John P. Epstein


Differences between Democratic and Republican party platforms:

The economic records of US presidents:

Democratic Party Platform:  

Republican Party Platform:[1]-ben_1468872234.pdf

Hillary Clinton Platform:

Donald Trump Platform: