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U.S., voters have choice of two paths

So America has finally reached this historically critical crossroads, where two very different paths beckon.

On one path is the man who currently occupies the White House, insisting that he deserves a second (and even third) term based on what he has done thus far. Indeed, he has done many notable things. He has deliberately promoted division and racism, encouraged violence, and stoked fear through relentless disinformation and lies.

He disregards facts he doesn’t like by calling them “fake” and “hoaxes.” He has lied to the American people about the true dangerousness of COVID-19, “playing it down” and calling it a “hoax” despite knowing about its frightening transmissibility and lethality rate while encouraging people to ignore the recommendations of science-based experts to effectively contain and manage it. He has pushed medical quackery, continues to hold super-spreader “rallies,” and tells us “it will miraculously disappear.”

As a result, although we have only 4% of the world’s population, we now have 223,000 Americans dead (25% of the world’s total) by this coronavirus. His historic science-denying failure to effectively manage this crisis has resulted in uncountable needless deaths, as well a shattered economy.

He has called our servicemen and women “suckers” and “losers.” In terms of healthcare, he is trying to dismantle remaining protections for those with pre-existing conditions, and has no plan for providing the “beautiful” replacement plan promised. He plans to end Social Security within the next three years.

He has hollowed out our nation’s institutions and weakened existing checks and balances on his power, which he has used to attack his “enemies” and help out his friends.

He sees himself as above the law, and his desire to dismantle our democracy, to trash its Constitution, and to become its ruler is frighteningly clear. Indeed, he and his GOP enablers are now working to undermine and subvert our election process in order to bypass an unfavorable outcome and declare victory with the help of Republican-held state legislatures (such efforts are currently underway here in Pennsylvania) and/or a Supreme Court stacked in his favor.

Make no mistake — this is the dark path where democracies crumble and are replaced by authoritarian regimes.

He bullies, name-calls and belittles others, has mocked the disabled, and openly invited foreign adversaries to help him get re-elected, with Russia indeed doing so once again.

He has fashioned the most corrupt and incompetent administration in American history, coddled the world’s most brutal dictators, and alienated America’s allies, who are watching events here in horror. He has separated families seeking asylum and caged their children. He denies the reality of climate change, calling it another “hoax.”

He is clearly a sociopathic and malignantly narcissistic con man. He has no capacity for empathy or compassion, is driven by a pathological need for adulation, cannot tolerate criticism or disagreement, and thinks he knows more about everything than anyone else. He readily bullies and manipulates others to serve his own needs, and cannot fathom the idea of serving anyone or anything other than himself. He often exhibits “magical” and overtly delusional thinking, paranoia, and belief in bizarre conspiracy theories, and is emotionally unstable and prone to episodic rages.

As a retired clinical psychologist, my deeply ingrained duty-to-warn obligation warrants my saying this clearly, as have a multitude of other mental health professionals: he has shown himself to be intellectually, psychologically and emotionally unfit for the office of President.

On the other path, we have a man who, although far from perfect, exhibits characteristics which have been sadly absent from the White House for the past four years, such as basic human decency, empathy, and compassion. This is a man who respects our Constitution, the rule of law, our democracy and the institutions which serve as its foundation, and our three co-equal branches of government and interwoven system of checks and balances. He displays humility, a willingness to listen to experts and science, and an understanding that this pandemic and climate change are both real issues — not “hoaxes” — needing to be addressed in a fact-based science-driven manner. He will assemble an experienced, competent and committed team to help restore America’s true greatness, deeply respects our servicemen and women, and will re-establish good working relationships with our allies and stand up to dictators.

This man actually will protect and strengthen our nation’s healthcare system, Medicare, and Social Security, and truly understands the term “public service.”

He is the one who has the skills and character to begin the process of healing and unifying our now tattered and divided nation.

Two paths. This election is the most critical election of our lifetimes, and will determine what kind of America we will become for generations to come.

We must all look at these two choices clearly, with our eyes and hearts wide open. History awaits our choice. May we choose well.

Dale E. Buonocore is a Warren resident.

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