Think there’s no real difference between Clinton, Trump? You’re being ridiculous

There is one idea on which most — not all, but most — Democrats and Republicans agree.

There is a real and substantial difference between the policies, personalities and vision of the two candidates for president.

The America of President Hillary Clinton will be drastically different and wholly and unquestionably better than the America of Donald Trump.

The stakes of the election in November are as stark as I can remember, and the choice between the two candidates as clear.

While I didn’t support former Gov. Mitt Romney in his campaign for president, I never doubted that he had a sincere and deep love for our country.

And while I have deep disagreements with my Republican friends about public policy and politics, every argument begins with me knowing that we share many of the same goals: a better world for our children, safe communities, increased opportunities and a system that works for everyone who plays by the rules.

Now, we do certainly disagree on how we make those things happen. But in most instances, folks start from a place of common values and shared experiences.

But for the love of all that is holy, I cannot understand the minority view that there is little difference between electing Clinton and Trump.

If you’ve got a computer, a television or a radio, the differences are as apparent as they are shocking.

Clinton is a dedicated career public servant who has served our country as first lady, a U.S. senator and as secretary of state. Her list of accomplishments is long. And while she doesn’t have a perfect record, she is no conservative.

Consider the full-throated attacks from conservatives and Republicans that have targeted her for decades. They’re not attacking her because she’s their ideological mate.

Clinton is a realist, a pragmatist and someone who is willing to do the hard work necessary for incremental progress. Seldom do big changes come at once. Instead, they come by making improvements piece by piece.

Trump on the other hand is a demagogue, a racist, a misogynist and a bully. He lies as he breathes. And his policy proposals put our country — and the world — at serious risk.

The Washington Post editorial page, after the Republican National Convention, took the unprecedented step of ruling out an endorsement of Trump: “The real estate tycoon is uniquely unqualified to serve as president, in experience and temperament. He is mounting a campaign of snarl and sneer, not substance. To the extent he has views, they are wrong in their diagnosis of America’s problems and dangerous in their proposed solutions. … Mr. Trump is a unique and present danger.”

I’m sure some Republicans might disagree with my assessment, and the Post’s. But I believe that most of them would gladly draw their own distinctions between the two.

The Democratic National Convention got off to a rough start, fed by potential political espionage from a foreign power and the difficulty of uniting a party after a long primary.

The boo birds were there. Tears flowed as the emotion of a long campaign showed on the faces of Sanders supporters. The voice of #BernieorBust was heard.

By the time Hillary Clinton takes the stage at the Democratic National Convention, I hope that the anger and disappointment will have subsided — and that the good men and women who believe that there’s no difference between Clinton and Trump will be convinced otherwise.

First Lady Michelle Obama speaks on the first night of the Democratic National Convention. Olivier Douliery | Abaca Press | TNS

First Lady Michelle Obama speaks on the first night of the Democratic National Convention. Olivier Douliery | Abaca Press | TNS

In a speech that will surely be remembered long after this election year, first lady Michelle Obama made one of the most persuasive arguments for Clinton and against Trump.

She rejected Trump’s assertion that somehow our country is no longer great and talked of the progress we’ve made as a people since our founding.

She clearly distinguished Clinton from Trump, without ever mentioning his name.

“I want a president who will teach our children that everyone in this country matters, a president who truly believes in the vision that our Founders put forth all those years ago that we are all created equal, each a beloved part of the great American story,” Obama said. “And when crisis hits, we don’t turn against each other. No, we listen to each other, we lean on each other, because we are always stronger together. And I am here tonight because I know that that is the kind of president that Hillary Clinton will be. And that’s why in this election I’m with her.”

She reminded us of an American ideal that Trump would have us forget: “How we explain that when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is, when they go low, we go high.”

If you can’t see the difference between Clinton and Trump, admit that reality, it’s tough to understand how to even begin a political conversation with you.

You can’t sit this one out.

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken and comedian Sarah Silverman at the Democratic National Convention on Monday night. Clem Murray | Philadelphia Inquirer | TNS

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken and comedian Sarah Silverman at the Democratic National Convention on Monday night. Clem Murray | Philadelphia Inquirer | TNS

It’s time to choose sides. The consequences of a President Trump are too dangerous to pretend they aren’t real. If you think otherwise, to quote Sarah Silverman, “You’re being ridiculous.”

David Farmer

About David Farmer

David Farmer is a political and media consultant in Portland, where he lives with his wife and two children. He was senior adviser to Democrat Mike Michaud’s campaign for governor and a longtime journalist. You can reach him at