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Trump denies actions he bragged about on tape

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump stands next to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Political pundits have characterized the 2016 presidential election as the lesser of two evils.

That may or may not be the case, but we do know one thing — there is one candidate with a lengthy resume of public service. The other candidate has damaged himself through controversial positions, poisonous rhetoric and, in the weeks leading up to the election, allegations of sexual misconduct.

Hillary Clinton is the most qualified to carry out the duties of president of the United States.

Although she is admittedly a polarizing figure with high unfavorables, Clinton’s experience in government, her understanding of the issues, her temperament and her ability to withstand the pressures of public life make her the choice in this election.

As Secretary of State, Clinton learned the subtle nature of diplomacy that is necessary to keep this earth from bursting into flames. As a two-term senator from New York, she is aware of the workings of the Congress and still has numerous friends on Capitol Hill.

Is she the perfect candidate? No.

There are troubling aspects with her candidacy. It would have been better for the country had she distanced herself from the Clinton Foundation. Her lack of media availability through the summer is problematic, as are allegations of her campaign unfairly acquiring a Democratic primary town hall question in advance, and Bill Clinton’s visit with Attorney General Loretta Lynch while Hillary’s use of a private email server as Secretary of State was under investigation by the Justice Department.

But, by the same token, no candidate has been more scrutinized than Hillary Clinton. She has seemingly been under constant investigation by Republicans in the Congress for about a dozen years. It’s difficult to imagine a candidate that has been more thoroughly vetted.

At this moment in our history, America needs a solid, careful leader. It is that trait that most clearly separates Clinton from Donald J. Trump.

Trump has proven that he does not have the temperament to be a viable candidate for president, even without recent sexual assault allegations against him.

He began his campaign by insulting Mexicans. “They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,” was the opening statement of the Trump campaign. And, his obsession with building a wall along the Mexican border is both a simplistic and jingoistic approach to a real issue facing America.

His stance on a ban of Muslim immigration remains an affront to the very ideals this country was founded on.

As distasteful as these statements are, they are far from the most frightening.

Trump’s recent comments that the election is rigged are particularly troubling. America has seen its way through far more difficult times than the nation is currently facing, but one of the nation’s proudest attributes has been the peaceful transition of power.

Attempting to delegitimize the election before the first vote is counted undermines one of the foundations of our democracy.

An equally troubling aspect of the Trump campaign is his threat to jail Clinton if elected. In America, we debate political opponents vigorously. We don’t jail them. That is the work of dictators and despots.

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The lengthy campaign season has proven one point — Trump is temperamentally unfit for the office. Trump can be baited by a tweet, and by political satire, as he demonstrated when he called for "Saturday Night Live" to “retire” after it featured skits mocking him.

His inability to absorb even the slightest criticism or provocation shows that he would be a danger to domestic tranquility and world peace.

All of these things make Trump unworthy of the office — without considering his threats to stifle the free press.

We understand that Southern Illinois is losing jobs and resources. We understand it is easy to feel left behind by a political system in which it seems like no one fights for our interests. The idea to vote for change and to vote for a political outsider like Trump is tempting.

We do get it, but Trump isn’t that person.

We understand that our political system favors a war between two parties. Many of us feel we have to choose between two candidates who are roundly disliked. There are two other names that will be on the ballot — Jill Stein of the Green Party and Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party. We would like to see third-, fourth-, and even fifth-party candidates gain more ground in the American political system. We believe there is a place at the table for representatives outside of the two prevailing parties that have shared power for generations.

However, neither Jill Stein nor Gary Johnson are our next president. Johnson would do away with vital federal departments, including Housing and Urban Development, which is currently helping to turn around the mess that was made of the Alexander County Housing Authority. He also was not familiar with Aleppo, a city that is going to often be on the lips of our next president. Stein has noble ideals, but no solid plan to achieve them in the real world.

Hillary Clinton is the best choice in this race.

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