The “Sophie’s Choice” election

October 9, 2016
T. Keith Gurnee

T. Keith Gurnee


Never did I think I would write an opinion piece on national elections in a local paper. But never in my six decades on this planet have I seen a presidential election like this one. This year, our two-party system seems to have flatly failed us by giving us two vastly different yet inherently unlikable nominees, neither one of whom is likely to serve our country well.

When his father asked him “Who chopped down my cherry tree?,” a six-year-old George Washington responded “I cannot tell a lie, I chopped down that cherry tree.”

Over 270 years later, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, when questioned by the House Oversight Committee on why she lied about the circumstances behind the attack on our Embassy in Benghazi, she responded “What difference does it make?”

My, my, my– to the dismay of the families of those who were killed on her watch in Benghazi– how far we have fallen.

In the 1982 film “Sophie’s Choice,” Meryl Streep played the role of a Polish mother sent to the Auschwitz death camp by her Nazi captors during World War II with her two children. She was given the choice to pick one of her children to be gassed or both would be executed. She chose her son to live and her daughter to die and was haunted by her decision for the rest of her life. Just as we will be haunted for the rest of our lives, regardless of which of these two awful choices we might vote for.

Door number 1: Hillary Clinton

In Hillary Clinton, we have an inveterate liar who has been relentless in her lust for power. Hillary Clinton

Her claims that her experience makes her the most qualified candidate is nothing to brag about. Her “experience” pales before what she has done with that experience. Her tenure as Secretary of State under President Obama was an unmitigated disaster that led to the birth and rise of Isis and the creation of chaos in the Middle East.

Her self-proclaimed life-long commitment to public service has been nothing more than a 30 year of excessive quest for power. Her announced tax plan will grow government exponentially at the expense of all of us. While her lies and deliberate forgetfulness over her email scandal should have disqualified her from the race, her claim that “I did not email any classified information” was absolutely refuted by the head of the FBI. Then just the other day Wikileaks publishes some new emails that revealed her attempts to keep her true self from being revealed.

While there will surely be more shoes to drop on this issue, there she will be on our November ballots.

Door number 2: Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Then we have Donald Trump, a bellicose bully prone to tantrums who has seemed to be in the process of destroying the Republican Party.

He seems to have an innate ability to “step in it” every time he opens his mouth. He rarely thinks before he talks, and rarely uses the clutch to engage his brain when speaking.

While he has brought many Reagan Democrats into the party, he has alienated its core supporters. I actually appreciate his lampooning of “political correctness,” but not at the expense of making a religion of doing only political incorrect things.

While his tax plan may be better than Clinton’s in stimulating our economy, there remains that nagging fear about his temperament as someone who could have his finger on the nuclear trigger.

While Trump has toned down his rhetoric and was starting to sound almost “Presidential” in recent weeks, his poor performance in the first debate and his comments in the aftermath revealed that he had already begun to slip back into his old self. That was confirmed yet again with his 11-year-old interview chock-full of sexist remarks about women.

It’s Down To This…

What a choice! Do we vote for somebody else, only to guarantee that one of these characters gets into office? Or do we hold our noses and vote for the one that is the lesser of two evils? The real problem with that choice is there seems to be no lesser evil. If “none of the above” were on the ballot, it would win by a landslide.

Clearly, one of them will become president. Whichever one it is, we will likely all suffer the consequences. Indeed, regardless of who wins, this coming election day portends a national day of mourning.

We can only hope that the cornerstone of our Constitution– our system of checks and balances– will protect us over the next four years.


Actions speak louder than words and one only has to note Tiffany’s reaction to her fathers advance after the debate. That avoidance maneuver was SNL worthy material. The upside is there will be plenty of great options for Haloween costumes this year. There will probably be many Trump variations, how about Trump the clown, Creepy molester Trump, Dictator Trump, too many to list for trick or tweet night.


It is a scary thought to think of Hilary the Liar or Trump the Chump residing over us. Neither truly represents who we are as a Nation. Then again, I would rather to world see us as Big Mouthed and Rough jerks rather than a bunch of Snaky Liars! At least as wrong as he has been He tells the Truth!


I don’t like either one of them ,but when you say he tells the truth,lollollololo. Better do some fact checking. They are BOTH liars.


Keith’s “Sophie’s Choice” opinion piece is well conceived and written, and we owe him a debt of gratitude for initiating this discussion.

Keith concludes with the comment “We can only hope that the cornerstone of our Constitution– our system of checks and balances– will protect us over the next four years.” Back to that again in a moment.

But first, let’s take a step back and look at the wider picture of this election. What differentiates this Presidential election from virtually all others in recent memory is an interesting observation that has been completely obscured by the thick heavy fog of partisan political discourse:

The underlying significance of this Presidential election is that its boundaries are not drawn on the basis of the candidates, but rather, on what each candidate represents.

Hillary, on the one hand, represents the establishment order- the political establishment, the economic and financial establishment, the social establishment, the cultural establishment, and the media establishment. Many of those who support Hillary are predisposed to do so not because she is a Shining Light on the Hill, but because they know that she will do whatever it takes to preserve the establishment order.

To others, the Donald, on the other hand, represents the desire for change- true change, not the “change” promised to Americans in 2008. Many, if not most, of those who support Trump do so not because he is the reincarnation of George Washington and/or Abraham Lincoln, but because they realize that he really does intend to smash the establishment order and reconstruct our entire system.

For evidence of that fact, consider that the most recent “Right Track/Wrong Track” survey results show that Americans feel the country is 30.2% Right Track and 63.4% Wrong Track (Real Clear Politics poll), with 29% Right Track and 65% Wrong Track (Rasmussen Poll).

So, when only 29% of Americans feel that our nation is on the right path, and Hillary represents a strict continuation of that path, is it any wonder that the polls show the Presidential race to be neck-and-neck? As Hillary herself recently asked at a public appearance, “Why aren’t I 50 points ahead?”

Therein lies the bottom-lying dynamic of this election campaign: will Americans vote for four more years of the establishment order, or will they bite the bullet and vote for change?

Now, let’s go back to Keith Gurnee’s hope that our system of checks and balances will protect us over the next four years. The problem with that, which many Americans now understand, is that our system of checks and balances has been so badly eroded that Americans are not so sure that it can protect us any longer.

Consider the state of the politically-divided Supreme Court; the dysfunctional House of Representatives and Senate; the politically-motivated Department of Justice, FBI and Internal Revenue Service; and the shameful distortion of The Fourth Estate- represented by our so-called “mainstream” news media.

And here is the overriding element of this election: If Trump is elected, that “mainstream” media will be all over him 24-hrs. per day. If Trump belches at 9:00 a.m., we, and the entire world, will know every single little detail about it at 9:01 a.m. If Hillary is elected, that “mainstream” news media will likely aid and abet every action of her and her administrative minions, and she will control the Department of Justice, FBI and IRS, and the future of the Supreme Court will be in her hands. America will likely be kept in the dark, and there will be little or no effective checks and balances.

So, it boils down to this: this election is about whether America wants a continuation of the suffocating establishment order, or a change of that order- actual change. And that is why both Clinton and Trump have advocates and supporters who are so deeply dedicated to their respective campaigns- not because they are so deeply enamored of their candidate, but because of what their candidate represents.

And, for all of the rest of us, all that we need to decide is which direction we want. Set aside all the silly distractions about the quirks and foils of the respective candidates- that is fostered by those who do not want you to think about the true underlying importance and significance of this election.

And, keep in mind, if you choose continuation of the establishment order, you have no assurance that the “system of checks and balances” that Keith hopes for will actually be there to protect us. Even now, it is questionable as to whether it still actually functionally even exists.

If Trump is elected, the news media will watch him closely. If Hillary is elected, we may never really know what is going on.

Which do you want?


Well written, but the reality may be neither can affect change. Trump can’t burn the house down, because to do that would require to suspend the checks and balances. Hillary knows how deep the rot is, but she can smile and hand out lolli pops while the house falls apart.

What will happen? The Gov will get bigger because that’s its mission and the Presidency will be reduced in scope and power. One need only look to city mayors, many of whom do drugs and other stuff. That’s where the American Presidency is headed as the function becomes a powerless job no quality person wants.

Jorge Estrada

I’m setting aside my behavioral differences and will vote for Trump. He honestly steps in it, recklessly opens his mouth with toxic words but he truly speaks to the best interest of our country. He will have allot of help in refining his dialogue while in office and will not have enough years to erode into a seasoned political liar as his opponent does so well.



And now, the end is near

And so Trump must face the final curtain

My friends, I’ll say it clear

I’ll state my case, of which we’re certain

He’s lived a life that’s full of evil

He’s groped women along each and every highway

And more, much more than this, he’s lived life the wrong way

Regrets, he appears to have none

But then again, they’re too many to mention

He did what he thought he had to do, and saw it through, without consideration

He planned each misogynistic course, each careless step along the byway

And more, much more than this, he did it the wrong way

Yes, there were times, I’m sure he knew

When he bit off more than he could chew

But through it all, when there was doubt

Hillary chewed him up and spit him out

She faced it all and she stood tall and did it her way

We’ve gasped, we’ve laughed and cried

We’ve had our fill, and now he’s losing

And now, as tears subside, we find it all so amusing

To think he thought he’d be President

And may I say, not in a shy way

Oh, no, oh, no, not him, Hillary will do it the right way

For what is a Trump, what has he got?

Realistically speaking he has naught.

Our President he’ll never be

Looking forward to Hillary.


Don’t be disconcerted by the naysayers. Your talent is appreciated. Keep up the good work Pelican.


I worry not! Humor help us all get through each day.


Perhaps the federal government is really ungovernable. Someone smart recently said when you run a bank as big as Wells Fargo, you can’t manage it. Clinton knows how to turn the wheels of bureaucracy and Trump knows how to run a large organization. But, it may be that neither of them is enough to wrangle this herd.

The Presidency has to be one of the worst jobs you can pick. Your healthcare will still cost more, your schools will still have 50% non english speakers, and California will still be busted outside of SF.

Clinton would clearly be a better figurehead, Donald would be a better executive.

What do you want?


When people ask me who I would vote for I say as a Californian it makes no difference. Why this indifference? California is locked in to the Democrat’s support of Clinton. Because California is controlled by the Democrats, as everyone here acknowledges. What this means is citizens of either political persuasion here in California do not have a choice – whether Democrat, Republican or whatever. The choice of the Presidential election has been removed by California’s political machine.

Speculation as to who will be best may be big factors in critical swing States like Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, but not in California! So the ruminations by the respected author, T. Keith Gurnee, may size the probable disaster we face by either candidate – Clinton or Trump – the fact is the California voter is functionally like a eunuch in a bordello. We can talk about it but there is no hope of making a difference. That aspiration rests East of here.

Oh, there is an exception to this – the tremendous sums being spent by affluent Democrats in Hollywood and the Santa Clara Valley — to maintain their special interests. But it is not their vote, it is the money that counts. Isn’t that what Trump is talking about?


You are right again Otis. Since CA is a cinch for Clinton as a whole, none of our Presidential votes will have any effect on the outcome (unless millions start thinking like you and I). So, if your vote is going to be merely symbolic, why not say something with it.

If you like Trump or Clinton, fine, vote for one of them.

If you think we need a third party voice in future elections, vote for a third party candidate. If one of them gets enough votes, there is a chance that the media might just give them a bigger voice in the future.

If you just want to make a statement about where you think these candidates are failing, write in your votes for a ticket that reflects your concerns.

Are you worried about privacy issues? Vote Edward Snowden (not yet convicted) & Jesse Ventura. Are you concerned about LGBT rights? Vote Caitlyn Jenner & Ru Paul. Concerned about 2nd amendment rights? Why not Wayne LaPierre and Ted Nugent. (Can you imagine the entertainment value of having Jesse Ventura, Ru Paul or Ted Nugent running the US Senate in the role of Vice President?)

Even though they would say that it is a wasted vote, I think that people like Bernie Sanders & Elizabeth Warren or Ted Cruz & Ben Carson would be secretly pleased to get your votes if they didn’t detract from the electoral votes going to the candidates from their respective parties. So use your votes to make a statement.

If we keep voting for the “lesser evil”, that is the only option we will continue to receive. Choices get better — in some cases — when candidates are running for offices in smaller government agencies. Become informed and vote carefully there. We may get rewarded with better choices up high if we have a better pool of prospects locally.


You nailed it, RonHolt.


If you read between the lines you will feel better about Trump, 90% off all media is doing their all to take him out, and all they can find is an illegally recorded conversation from 11 years ago. And as awful as it was, it doesn’t compare to what Hillary will do to the country. The 20 TRILLION in debt will become 40, the Constitution will be “re-interpreted”, taxes will go through the roof, racial violence will get worse, millions of “refugees” will be brought in, the border will remain wide open, does any sane person want all that?

Noodly Appendages

The nation is divided, half patriots and half traitors, and no man can tell which from which.

– Mark Twain