Saturday Column: Presidential candidates present striking contrasts

Let the battle begin.

The semifinal elimination contests have ended, and Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton now are engaged in the championship fight to determine who will take over the world’s most powerful elected office and, in effect, determine the future of the United States.

It’s likely to be a tough and extremely costly fight with no punches pulled. The recent Republican primary battles were the most costly in history. Clinton spent millions and has a huge war chest, and the price tag for the upcoming general election is sure to topple previous totals.

It’s not going to be a traditional presidential race where niceties and polite conduct are expected and observed. Rather, political gloves will be coming off; it will be a dirty, punishing, raw-knuckle battle.

In one way, the campaign could be described as a contest between fantasy and reality. Clinton proposing and portraying a wonderful, almost fairy-tale environment, where the federal government will assume greater control of the lives of all Americans to make sure everyone is treated equally with Uncle Sam providing the subsidies to level any inequities — and with Uncle Sam becoming more of a team player than a team leader in the international community.

Trump will focus on realities and call out what he believes to be the weaknesses, mistakes, failings and consequences of the Obama administration and how these negatives would be compounded if Clinton were to be elected. Trump will call for less government involvement and control, whereas Clinton will call for government playing a bigger role.

Trump is a champion of free enterprise and capitalism, while Clinton would use the federal government to serve as a governor, facilitator or referee to eliminate any unevenness in most every field of activity: employment, earnings, education, health care, etc.

Opinion polls taken during the recent primary elections made it clear the majority of voters dislike and are opposed to government insiders or those viewed as Washington establishment insiders. They are fed up with the inaction of those sent to Washington to make changes but who often became too comfortable in the Washington scene and became infected with Potomac fever.

Clinton certainly is the ultimate Washington insider, while Trump is just the opposite. There couldn’t be a matchup of two more opposite careers leading to the nomination. Clinton says she will adhere to the majority of the Obama philosophy as to the role of the federal government and social issues, while Trump pledges to make major changes or reject the Clinton-Obama plan for America and its citizens. Consider how the election will affect the U.S. Supreme Court.

One major advantage Clinton enjoys is the almost 50 percent of Americans who receive some form of government assistance. These individuals will be told their fiscal benefits would end if Trump is elected president.

Hillary faces the perception or belief by a majority of Americans that she doesn’t tell the truth, and Trump will hammer this message at every opportunity. Trump will be portrayed as an inexperienced blowhard, consumed by his ego, a racist who is unfit to serve as president. Clinton will talk about Trump being a billionaire with no knowledge of the challenges faced by ordinary citizens although Clinton and her husband have become millionaires many times over since entering politics in Arkansas and particularly since President Bill Clinton left office.

How many voters will vote for Clinton just because she is a woman? How many voters will oppose Trump believing him to be a male chauvinist?

By most any measurement, the public is being presented two candidates who are totally different, including how they would guide the country. Clinton is a professional and experienced lawmaker; Trump is a novice with no elective political experience.

Which will be the most honest with the public and which one is most likely to follow through on the pledges he or she makes to try to win voter approval? Which one is likely to do what is necessary to protect this country and its citizens? Who is best to improve the economy? Who is likely to bring about positive actions in Washington and start to restore respect and cooperation between Congress and the White House? What about respect by both foreign allies and those who oppose the U.S.?

And who is likely to gain and merit the respect of the American public through his or her actions, vision and commitment to make this country great in every respect?

Consider what’s riding on this election for the U.S. and its citizens for the present as well as for years to come.

It’s frightening.