A strange election with a dark shadow

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable meeting with African American business, civic and religious leaders in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 2, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump — a candidate who casts a dark shadow on the 2016 Presidential election. (REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

In this bizarre election year, Labor Day means the final push for election is just 60 days away.

It is, without a doubt, a strange Presidential election year where we have two unpopular candidates from the two major political parties — flamboyant and self-promoting billionaire Donald Trump for the Republicans and former Secretary of State, New York Senator and First Lady Hillary Clinton.

Both have high negatives.  Trump is considered a racist by many, a misogynist by others and an outright liar by most.  Clinton’s honesty is under attack as well because of her use of a private email server as Secretary of State, the attack in Benghazi, Libya that left an American Ambassador dead along with others and her role with the Clinton Foundation.

Clinton has experience in elected and appointed national offices.  Trump has none and campaigns on his perceived need for an outsider as President to “make America great again.”

Their candidacies provide lots of fodder for a newspaperman like me.  As an American citizen, and political operative for a while, both give me heartburn.

As a contract reporter and photographer for BH Media, which owns The Floyd Press, The Roanoke Times and the Richmond Times-Dispatch, I now am employed by a newspaper chain where one of the papers — the Times-Dispatch — has bypassed either of the two major candidates and endorsed Libertarian Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico.

It is, to say the least, a strange year.

A smattering of Trump-Pence signs have appeared in some yards in Floyd County.  I have not yet seen a Clinton-Kaine but some are probably out there somewhere.

Trump will carry Floyd County and most of Southwestern Virginia — the Republican and conservative part of the state but polls show Clinton with a double-digit lead in Virginia with the bulk of support coming from the Northern and Tidewater regions with voting populations that easily overwhelm the rural areas of the Southwest.

I also write a three-times-a-week opinion column for Capitol Hill Blue, the national internet political new site that I founded in 1994.

I have criticized Clinton in some of my columns, but many have been about the incredible misstatements, lies, falsifications and antics of Trump.  He is, in my opinion, a con artist who exaggerates his wealth and business acumen, attacks others who disagree with him and lies without hesitation.

He is a “birther,” one who claims current President Barrack Obama, is not a natural born-American.  He says Obama was born in Kenya, which is untrue.  I am not  fan of Obama but I accept the documented fact that he was born in Hawaii when it was an American territory, which makes him an American.

As a newspaperman, I do not endorse any candidate, not do I discuss, as a genera rule, who gets my vote.  In this unbelievable election, however, I will state for the record that I will not, under any circumstance, vote for Donald Trump.

That does not mean I will vote for Clinton.  I have other choices.  I also have the option of not voting.  Voting is a right in America and rights can be used or not used.

As someone who has covered the national political scene for more than half a century, including a venture into the dark side as a political operative, the only advice I can offer is that everyone vote their conscience and do so without hatred, anger or bigotry.

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