The best way to think through this presidential election is to try and ignore all the many negative aspects of both Clinton and Trump and, instead, focus on what you believe the US most needs: Disruption of the political system or continuation of the status quo.
This approach presumes that both major candidates are awful in various ways. Rather than try and weigh the specific pros and cons of each of them based on their history, however, it is best to admit that there is no useful calculus for analytically deciding which one is better than the other.
Step back and, instead, see how each of them offers disruption and change versus stability and preservation of our current political system.
This is relatively easy. No matter how many negative aspects of Trump that any sensible person can see, it is crystal clear that he represents disruption and change. Of course, this is the high risk option.
The low risk option, by definition, is what Clinton offers, stability and, at most, incremental changes in some policy areas.
In other words, when you think in these terms rather than specific historical and personality factors it comes down to how much of a risk taker voters are. The more risk averse you are, the more likely you will vote for Clinton. To vote for Trump requires a substantial risk taking decision. Risk replaces like and hate.
If you think in terms of a much needed revolution to restore American democracy, then you must see the benefit of taking major risk. This is what all revolutionaries do, including those who created the USA through revolution. If disruption and revolution is what you see as needed, then Trump is the logical, albeit distasteful, choice. Does Trump have an actual record of accomplishing this? Of course not. That elevates the risk.
Conversely, if you cherish stability and have faith that a long term member of the ruling political class will actually promote meaningful incremental changes in our political system that serves the interests of most Americans, then Clinton is for you. Does Clinton, as a senator and secretary of state, actually have a record of doing this? Not really. But not performing at pushing significant incremental changes is not the same as creating major new risks. It just means that if you think, as the majority does, that the country is on the wrong track, it will continue on the wrong track, but maybe move slower down the wrong track, rather than reverse course.
Thinking in terms of risk does not make the election choice this year easy. But it does simplify things, especially as compared to trying to consider many policy positions and personality characteristics. It is fair to believe that most Americans in nearly all their life decisions are relatively risk averse. If you too accept this reality, then you see that it is likely that Clinton will become our next president, unless the very large numbers of younger Americans are more willing to take higher risk because they see the nation in much more trouble than older citizens.
Just remember that it is not in the self-interest of pundits and media to simplify things and bring the choice down to risk, disruption and stability. They make more money by providing endless yapping about the candidates, polls and possible outcomes.
Finally, you have another option. Do not vote for any presidential candidate. Help lower voter turnout for this presidential election as a concrete way of removing the legitimacy and credibility of our corrupt, dysfunctional political system. Send a powerful message to the whole world that Americans have seen the truth: we have a delusional democracy.
(Article changed on October 7, 2016 at 08:34)