I am sorry you had to see that. The Second Presidential Debate was hardly presidential. No talk of the future, just mudslinging about the past. It made us all cringe.
This year’s Presidential Election has been like no other in my memory. We have two flawed candidates that over 60% of voters believe are not trustworthy. Most voters wish there was another choice.
Recently I decided to de-register from the Republican Party after the nomination of Donald Trump at its convention. As Ronald Reagan famously said of his former allegiance to the Democratic Party, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, it left me”. That’s how I feel about the Republican Party under Donald Trump.
My article “Going Independent” (below) received many nods of concurrence from moderate Republicans who were not for the Donald, but could never vote for Hillary; many expressions of support from Democratic friends who were relieved that I was not for the Donald; and many independents who said welcome to the fast growing sector of our electorate – the political free agents. What surprised me though was the considerable positive feedback I received from our younger generation – the millennials, who told me they completely agreed with my sentiments (neither for Trump, nor Hillary) and encouraged me to write more.
When I was coming of age at the tail-end of the Baby Boom, it was “morning in America”. Ronald Reagan had renewed America’s confidence in itself. The youthful hopes and optimism from the Kennedy “Camelot” years – which for a time were dashed by assassins bullets, years of civil rights unrest, an unpopular war in Vietnam, a Watergate scandal, and runaway inflation under Jimmy Carter – had returned and all things seemed possible. America was the greatest force for good in the world – freedom was available for those who embraced democracy and prosperity was available for those who embraced free enterprise. Russia was the evil empire. Communism was opposed. Success and the American Dream were available to anyone willing to work hard.
The America I grew up in was a benevolent and compassionate meritocracy based on the freedom to do as you choose as long as you played by the rules and remembered that “to those much has been given, much is expected”. It seemed to work through the Bush then Clinton then Bush years. Then we hit a major bump toward the end of W’s presidency and into the Obama Presidency when the economy collapsed, ISIS grew abroad, fear of terrorism rose at home, and we experienced a return of 1960s era civil unrest. Economic growth disappeared, good jobs became hard to find, and a feeling of common purpose left us.
As a parent, I am concerned about the world my children are coming of age in today. Much has changed since I came of age during that “morning in America”. It seems our worst traits are on display this year. The pursuit of happiness and prosperity are fine, but Donald Trump represents the greed, gluttony, rudeness and lust that can fester when wealth and fame are pursued to excess. Ambition and striving for career goals are fine, but Hillary Clinton has come to symbolize the lying, cheating, corrupting cronyism, and condescending arrogance that can develop when power and prestige are pursued to excess. It is as if our 7 Deadly Sins are running for President.
We have The Donald, whose ego has been so perverted by his celebrity that he believes he is entitled to insult minorities and assault women. We have Hillary Clinton, whose political ego has grown so large she believes she is entitled to play by her own rules and influence the Justice Department and media to look the other way.
There are those who are engaged in a sorry game of comparative malfeasance – “Hillary may be bad, but Trump is worse”. “What Trump said is bad, but what Bill Clinton did and Hillary covered for is worse”. I could go on and on. The list of justifications for picking one evil over the other has become long. People have become comfortable with their favorite justification. To me, it is a sad way to pick a President. Maybe the future will call out to a leader worthy of our vote, but for now we are stuck with either Hillary or the Donald.
America once had inspiring leaders to lead us all as a force of good in this world. Each time either Trump or Hillary speak they remind us that they are not Lincoln, JFK, Ronald Reagan, or even Barack Obama. Someone who is inspirational and aspirational – calling us to our higher angels.
So which candidate should be our President? This answer is clear – neither.