Back to basics

By John Lesniewski, Vice President, SMART Transportation Division

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John Lesniewski

In the July/August edition of the SMART Transportation Division News, both SMART General President Joseph Sellers and SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich wrote extensively about the importance of this election cycle. General President Sellers detailed why Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was the obvious choice for any working man or woman, while illustrating why Republican candidate Donald Trump is not our friend, as his legacy is one of divisiveness, reneging on contractual commitments, bankruptcies that leave workers holding the bag, and producing his own brand-name products overseas.

President Previsich’s column elaborated on the importance of a Democratic president, pointing out that the numerous federal agency appointments made by the president directly affects your employment and working conditions on a daily basis. His article also illustrated numerous facts regarding the candidates and their agendas, leaving no doubt that we desperately need to elect a United States president who is labor-friendly. That candidate is Hillary Clinton.

While I certainly concur and echo the sentiments raised by both President Sellers and President Previsich from an employment standpoint, my concerns with the 2016 presidential election are much more elemental. I, too, am convinced that former Senator and Secretary of State Clinton is by far the most experienced and qualified candidate, a fact which seems to have been lost in the Trump smokescreen of outrageous comments and allegations, but the most compelling reason I support Secretary Clinton is my fear of Donald Trump’s narcissism, thin skin and toxic personality.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have been a Democrat my entire life, although I have voted otherwise when circumstances truly warranted it. I am praying now that my Republican friends, Independents and disenfranchised Democrats recognize the current presidential election as just one of those unique circumstances. My trepidation over Donald Trump goes far beyond his narcissism or his penchant to insult every group, race and religion that doesn’t look like him or share his beliefs. It goes to the ease with which he can be manipulated through compliments and to his irresistible impulse to retaliate with full force against anyone who disagrees with him, threatens his authority or disparages him in any manner. While I have not shared common political views with past Republican presidential candidates and presidents, I have never feared their impulsive temperament and lack of sound judgment would put my country, my loved ones and my friends in harm’s way. I have that fear now.

You see, I was a living witness to the terror of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I remember the terror that gripped the nation during that time and I never want to see that again. Although I was a child, and my parents did their best to shield me from the looming possibility of a nuclear holocaust, they couldn’t fully conceal the distressed look on their faces or the anxiety that permeated the air during those horrible 13 days in October of 1962. They couldn’t hide the 13 days we were glued to our black and white televisions watching for updates; or the ID bracelets parents placed on their children so they or their bodies could be identified if the worst occurred; or the emergency drills we practiced in school. They also could not conceal their relief when President Kennedy defused that crisis.

What does this have to do with the 2016 presidential race? Only that the Cuban Missile Crisis, along with President Kennedy’s assassination just 13 months later, prompted me to become a student of presidential history. Among the books I read on the subject was Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.’s “A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House,” where I was awestruck by the realm of knowledge a president must possess about every conceivable issue and contingency, and just as important, understanding the personalities and temperaments of leaders from nations around the world, both small and large. Every decision made by our president affects each nation’s leader in a different way, and their potential reaction must be considered before any and all foreign policy decisions are rendered. No decision can be made on impulse or out of emotional distress.

I thank God that during those precarious days in October 1962 President Kennedy took full measure of the consequences of his actions before ordering a full scale invasion, despite the fact he was being encouraged by many in the military to engage immediately. Had the president overreacted, and he was given ample cause to do so, the results would have been catastrophic. Post-crises revelations verified that the Russians in Cuba already had tactical nuclear warheads for their artillery rockets and bombers, and Castro was prepared to recommend their use if the U.S. invaded, regardless of the devastation it may have caused his own country.

Donald Trump has demonstrated time and time again throughout this campaign that he would not have exercised the same self-control as President Kennedy did in 1962. He lashes out immediately in response to every threat, real or perceived, and tries to justify his reaction later through subordinates. Recently he threatened, “I’ll blow them out of the water” if Iranian boats circled our destroyers and made inappropriate gestures. Really? Does the U.S. really want to trigger a war costing thousands of U.S. lives over inappropriate gestures? Apparently a President Trump would. It’s sincerely scary.

Also, forget about your guns. There have been several Democratic presidents and not one has taken away your hunting rifles. Forget about abortion, Roe vs. Wade has been here since 1973 and is not likely to change during this president’s term, nor is the president likely to change anyone’s feelings on the subject. When you strip away all of the peripheral political pundit buzz, the bottom line is Donald Trump is unstable, dangerous, and clearly governed by his own ego. If there’s even a slight chance that his irrational and impulsive decisions can trigger an unnecessary war or, God forbid, a nuclear conflict, are you willing to take that chance? Are you willing to bet your life on it? Or the life of your loved ones? You need to be, because a vote for Trump is tantamount to placing just such a bet.

Let us not forsake the most qualified and experienced candidate for president in our lifetime, in favor of the least qualified candidate who has never held so much as a city council seat. Even if you bought into the recent Republican rhetoric about emails or audiences granted to donors from the Clinton Foundation, I would much rather have a president who had been careless with emails in the past, but has our back, than a president who is so unstable he could put our country and its citizens in harms way.

Also, don’t forget that a vote for a third party candidate is a wasted vote, and equivalent to a one-half vote for Trump. There can be no doubt that Hillary Clinton is the only logical choice for president.

Fraternally,

John Lesniewski
Vice President
SMART Transportation Division