Mr. Trump has repeatedly lodged at Secretary Clinton the criticism that despite her promise to support a robust economy for the State of New York, she did not create jobs during her tenure as Senator and many jobs left upstate New York (e.g., Albany) during those years). A few points are deserving of attention.
- A Senator is a member of a 100-body chamber, and each Senator receives one vote. The more effective Senators are able to convince broad coalitions to coalesce around issues that they defend, but nevertheless, one person one vote. Even the most effective member of the Senate has her limits, and for the first six years in which she was in the Senate, she was a minority member in the already supermajoritarian institution.
- Senators are not the proper scapegoat for job creation or lack thereof. Rather, one should look to the governor and state legislature (as well as the president himself/herself).
- While Mr. Trump could seek a more general attack on the Democratic Party’s economic policy (if ignoring the reality of job losses under Reagan, Bush Sr., and W. Bush, and job creation under Clinton and Obama), the further limit that Mr. Trump would face in such a line of attack is that Secretary Clinton served as Senator during the Bush Administration, the economic policies of which set the American economy into the worst economic devastation it had seen since the Great Depression. Disentangling the federal-level depression from the potential gains that New York State might have obtained is difficult.
- To the extent that it is possible to disentangle the federal and state economies amid such economic devastation (with economic losses vastly preceding the collapse in 2008), Mr. Trump would face the further hurdle that for the first six years of Secretary Clinton’s tenure as Senator, the Governor of New York was Republican George Pataki. Thus, both the federal and state executive level offices were occupied by the members of Mr. Trump’s party.
Mr. Trump’s accusations extend to the setting of tax rates as well, again an issue that is not determined unilaterally (certainly not in a healthy democratic republic such as the United States (for now)) and certainly not by one who has occupied the roles of First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State.
Attacking one’s opponent is unappealing but expected. But ideally it should be grounded in the reality of the politics that you seek to govern. What's worse, he now routinely articulates -- even in the second presidential debate -- that he intends to put Secretary Clinton in jail should he be elected, a move that we see not within democracies but rather totalitarian regimes. Americans have the right to vote for their Commander in Chief, not the Dictator in Chief.
He appears further to have a disturbingly limited understanding of the implications of moratoriums on federal regulations, which he has also proposed. Regulations are the bread and butter of policymaking in the United States, and whether you think that's for better or worse or for better and worse, halting the entire system in its tracks would be throughly damaging to the American economy, in addition to tying the government's hands with respect to responding to crises and other critical conditions. And not only would it be detrimental to our economic system and beyond, it would be illegal given the mandatory nature of much rulemaking and the inability of the president to circumvent those regulatory requirements.
In the aftermath of his attack on the Khan family amid the Democratic National Party’s nominating convention, Mr. Trump insisted vociferously that contrary to the allegations, he had read the Constitution of the United States, all while insisting that Mr. Khan had no right to lodge those attacks. Perhaps Mr. Trump ought to have read up to the First Amendment.
The questions as to Mr. Trump’s understanding of the Constitution has been on full display with his disparagement and even press credential revocation of those media outlets that are particularly critical of him (e.g., the Washington Post). Whether politicians like the reporting or not, an independent and well-functioning press is essential to a healthy democratic republic such as ours (for now), and we have not seen from other mainstream candidates such blatant opposition to media outlets. Indeed, Mr. Trump has most recently threatened the New York Times with a lawsuit due to its reporting of the allegations of sexual harassment and assault by those with whom he previously has worked and interacted.
Whether or not the sexual assault claims ultimately prove true, they are consistent with prior patterns of behavior and are reported by one of the most well-regarded newspapers in the United States, and investigating such serious charges in the Republican nominee can hardly be construed as defamation. And indeed, so many of the great stories of our time (think Watergate) would not have been possible but for the solid investigative journalism that is all too rare nowadays (though which got a nice shout-out with the Academy Award-winning Spotlight). We cannot elect a president who fails to recognize, let alone appreciate this. Fortunately, the New York Times held its ground in responding to Mr. Trump's lawyers: "If Mr. Trump disagrees, if he believes that American citizens had no right to hear what these women had to say and that the law of this country forces us and those who would dare to criticize him to stand silent or be punished, we welcome the opportunity to have a court set him straight." Before proceeding with his case, he and his lawyers would be well-advised to take a look at the landmark Supreme Court case of New York Times v. Sullivan (1964).
If Mr. Trump intends to insist his capacity to lead the most powerful nation in the world, he might want to take a civics lesson (or three).