I can’t wait for this election to be over and behind us. It’s been too long and far too dispiriting. And it has left me with a worrisome feeling of unease. Unease at multiple levels. In the first place the prospect of seeing the White House occupied by a person who should never have survived a serious vetting process, like a new corporate CEO or a new justice for the Supreme Court would be subjected to, but who survived a two-year long election campaign where sense of entitlement, hubris, bluster and deceit account for more than competency and character.
Unease about the nefarious role our two parties have played in this election. The democratic party by pulling all the strings of power to deliver the nomination on a silver plate to its chosen but deeply flawed heiress and the republican party by given up control of the nomination process to the point that it ended up with a nominee who will destroy the party and is demonstrably unfit to become the leader of the free world. Isn’t it ironic that the democratic party fails as a result of being too controlling while the GOP fails as a result of relinquishing even the marginal control required to keep undesirables out of the halls of power?
Unease about the fact that in two years of bickering and campaigning we have not heard from either candidate how this proud nation can right the ship, get its fiscal house in order and begin to deal with the most serious challenges it faces: inequality, national security, climate control, the cost of healthcare and higher education, drugs and immigration.
It is now more than two years since I addressed these matters in my book NEITHER HERE NOR THERE and offered my suggestions for a more productive American political system, but in our era of being in near permanent election mode, nothing has been accomplished and our problems have only grown.
The unease that feels more uncomfortable than all of the above is the sense that the relationship and communication with my friends and my network have been damaged in the process. There is a long standing unwritten rule that politics and religion are to be kept out of social conversation, unless you have up-front determined that all conversation partners share the same persuasion. But rules are there to be broken and with my best friends I have had numerous conversations about American politics. After all, my book dealt with the subject matter, be it not in a partisan fashion. This time is different though and it is because just about everyone in my social circle sees the upcoming presidential election not as a choice for the better of two qualified candidates, but as a choice for the lesser of two evils. It is different this time because there is very little consensus on which of the two pretenders to the crown constitutes the lesser evil.
I do not trust polls, because I have seen too many times in my life that people will say one thing and do another. Thank goodness, the privacy of the voting booth is still sacrosanct and so I can easily proclaim my support for one candidate and yet cast my ballot for another. In a group of people who have accepted the Donald as the lesser of two evils, it takes superhuman courage to proclaim that they have it wrong and that only crooked Hillary can keep us safe and lead us to the promised land. So, it is better and safer to just keep your opinion to yourself. It is somewhat more acceptable to go half way and say, like governor John Kasich of Ohio says, that you cannot, in good conscience, vote for either candidate, because both are unfit in your eyes to accept the mantle of the highest office in America and the free world. (How many of us wonder now why, when given the chance, we never gave John Kasich a real shot at the nomination?). But then who do you vote for? We sorely miss a credible third party candidate.
The bottom line is that in the discourse on one of the most important issues of our lives, sincerity and truthfulness are out of the window. The factual negatives that come with each of our two presidential candidates are so overwhelming that it can only be overcome by an article of faith. Faith that, when elected, the preferred candidate will do the right thing in spite of the track record and all the rhetoric used in the election campaign to the contrary. And we don’t argue about faith. End of conversation.
Sometimes setbacks bring out the best in people. Not in this case, at least not with me. I don’t go as far as thinking of the people in my social circle who differ with me in their choice of the lesser of two evils as irredeemable dummies, but the fact of the matter is that, for the life of me, I can’t imagine how intelligent, well educated people and upstanding citizens can be so naive to think that the candidate of their choice will throw off all the ballast they have brought into this campaign and magically morph into a reincarnation of the great white knight who will solve all of our problems.
It makes me uneasy that this election campaign is making me question the good judgment of many people who are otherwise dear to me.