I don't really like either candidate. This is not a unique position. Plenty of people like me have chosen to support a third party. But who are we kidding? None of them has a chance to win. The leading contender, Gary Johnson, keeps betraying deep international ignorance. There's also Jill Stein, but then there's also your neighbor, who you could vote for as a write-in, if you were so inclined. Or Mickey Mouse. I mean, Disney is pretty popular these days, right?
Trump is the consummate businessman, Clinton the consummate politician. That's really all you need to know about either of them. Strip everything else away, the specifics about what they've said or done, whatever their triumphs might be and of course their gigantic mistakes, how they conducted themselves in the first debate, all of it. I think anyone can agree with that assessment: this is a battle between the two ruling classes of this country, the business people and the politicians.
I think we can agree that the country needs some work. Both of them do. Of course they do. The only thing that bothers me is the persistent media insistence that Clinton is the obvious choice. The media exists to be objective. Theoretically, anyway. If Clinton were such an obvious choice, it wouldn't be so easy to disagree. It's not just diehard partisans and conspiracy theorists who think she isn't so easy to root for. This is the not the basis for an argument. You can't just say the other side is a poopyhead. That's grade school reasoning, and I'll thank you to raise the bar of your self-worth before addressing anything adults might be considering before addressing the topic.
Because as adults, we owe it to ourselves to make reasoned decisions. I get that we have a two-party system, and that most people tend to side with one of them, and that as a result they despise the other one. I'm registered as independent. Always have been. I despise partisan politics. Always have. This country's history is a tapestry of partisanship. George Washington was referred to as King George. I kid you not. People got fed up with Virginian politicians and Boston brahmans. So we ended up with Andrew Jackson, a man so thoroughly likable and also so thoroughly incompetent that he sent the nation into a financial quagmire for decades, and we thank him by putting him on the $20 bill. That's the kind of people we are. We're basically idiots. We're a nation of idiots, and happily so. We're incredibly passionate about everything, no matter how stupid our opinions are, just so long as there are other idiots supporting us.
That's how we got Trump and Clinton as candidates for president. This would hardly be the first time we've had less than ideal options. The list of presidents is littered with incompetents. We also thought Lincoln was incompetent, by the way. We voiced this opinion loudly throughout the Civil War, right here in the Union (where we technically all reside today, thanks to him). The famous anecdote about the Gettysburg Address is that he wasn't even the keynote speaker, and Lincoln's future historic speech was little noted that day (heh). It took his assassination, and a lot of follow-up incompetence in the White House, for us to realize what we had with him.
Because we hardly ever know what we have. We're too busy shouting our idiot opinions to stop and think what they actually indicate, about ourselves, our times, and least of all what history might say about us.
History is a fickle bitch. The play Hamilton is a noble and worthy artistic achievement, but it also plays fast and loose with Alexander Hamilton's legacy, who he was, how he found a place for himself, and what led to the fatal shootout with Aaron Burr. You'd expect the man to have been destined to shape the country into something truly great, instead of what we actually got. Listen, a lot of Founding Fathers went on to become president, and none of them were universally loved, even amongst themselves.
The United States of America is a unique creation. It's continually a work in progress. We find ourselves in an election that seems destined to put it in a new direction. But I say, as I've suggested in the past, neither of these candidates will be the cause for change. Actually, they will be. We don't like either one. This is hardly likely to change once they're elected. But it will force us to think more carefully about who we want to elect next time. Because I don't think any of us wants a repeat of this campaign season, and it's somewhat safe to say whoever's elected this November, they're destined to be a one-term president (hopefully).
The thing is, this exact thing happens every campaign season. We allow ourselves to be suckered into partisan politics because it's supposed to make things easier. In reality, it just keeps things in a holding pattern. That truly is the American way.
No, I haven't made up my mind yet. Despite how despicable they are, in their separate ways, Trump and Clinton both offer things that could incrementally benefit the country. A vote for Clinton is essentially a vote for Obama's vision of America. If you think Obama was a pretty decent president, Clinton's your woman. (The historic nature of a woman as president has its own unique appeal.) If you think four more years would be enough to fix glaring oversights from the last administration, even, vote Clinton. The checks and balance system worked pretty well the last time a Clinton was president. If you think the last eight years have seen a lot of egregious mistakes, Trump is your man. There's really not a simpler way to explain him. That's how Obama was elected, plain and simple. Again, the checks and balance system would curb Trump's worst impulses. We know this. Put rhetoric aside. Stop letting the pessimists convince you. I understand pessimism. Most of the time, I'm a pretty pessimistic guy, but this isn't a time for pessimism. If you think Trump's worse impulses are themselves not worth supporting, then by all means don't take him seriously. If you think Clinton doesn't have a decent enough record, then by all means don't take her seriously. But one of them is going to be president.
You have to weigh a lot of things, and above all keep things in perspective. Don't allow yourself to be convinced by rhetoric. Presidencies don't succeed on rhetoric. There's a reason history still doesn't think Kennedy was a great president, because the best of him was essentially rhetoric. Presidencies are what happen once you're in office, not what you said on the campaign trail or in your best speeches. Anyone who says differently is just trying to get elected. ("Read my lips;" still one of the cheapest campaign tricks I ever saw, those ads.) The realities of the office are very different from what you tell your supporters. It suddenly becomes far less easy to tell what the right thing is.
Kind of like being a voter. That's why we have these ridiculous campaign seasons to begin with, to try and come to a reasoned decision. Anyone who decided last year, or four years ago, or twenty years ago, isn't taking their responsibility seriously. There are too many distractions for anyone to make up their mind that easily. If you're depending on what other people are saying to choose your candidate, then you're not doing it right. If you're depending on what the candidates are saying about each other, then you're not doing it right.
Try to be objective about it. That's what I'm trying really hard to do right now. I registered as an independent. That's got to mean something. I realize most people are registered to one of the two major parties, or are trying to get smaller ones off the ground. Most of them have already made up their mind. I can't do that. I'd like to think more people are capable of reaching their own conclusions, too. It's a messy process. So's democracy. Clearly. This is exactly what it looks like. It totally sucks. But there you have it.