We’ve done it. In what can only serve as a stark reminder as to why the Founding Fathers feared democracy, we’ve selected Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as our presidential nominees for the 2016 election.
There are more than 300 million people in this country, and this was the best we could do? One candidate is a Saturday Night Live skit somehow becoming horribly real, and the other is Nixon in lipstick. I cannot remember another time that the political process has ever sunk as collectively low as this, but we certainly have now. For those who have been screaming at one or both of the presidents we’ve had for the past 16 years, suddenly Bush and Obama aren’t looking so bad – are they?
Yes, I get it – your candidate is not as bad as the other. But come on, aren’t you a little tired of both campaigns taking the same position: “As bad as our nominee is, yours is so much worse, and here’s why…” Let’s just acknowledge that we blew it, that both parties fell asleep at the wheel, and when they woke up, all the good candidates who didn’t get selected were at home shaking their heads in disbelief and all the potentially good candidates who chose not to subject themselves to this nightmare of a process were at home patting themselves on the back.
But it doesn’t matter. We have a choice to make, and we’re left with these two. Solomon himself would struggle to find a good answer. But there are no “do-overs,” and come Nov. 8, we will elect one of these two candidates as the 45th president of the United States.
So rather than continue to lament our self-imposed options or trade barbs about their flaws, let’s look forward. While I hate to do it, because our president should motivate and inspire, let’s drop the bar to the point where one of them might be able to jump it. How about we try to determine which candidate could possibly get us through the next four years without plummeting us into a war, a recession or the Dark Ages of civil liberties? Which candidate has the experience and temperament to at least keep us at the status quo for 1,461 days until the 2020 election?
If we make it through the next four years, perhaps we will have learned our lesson and will nominate candidates who can focus on the future, lead us into peace and prosperity, and bring our nation together in the vision shared in the past by leaders like John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Ronald Reagan. Let’s find a candidate who would rather build space rockets than walls; who believes all Americans should be treated equally, regardless of race or gender; who is more concerned about reducing the prison population than becoming a part of it; and perhaps most important, who already believes that America is great and can become greater.
Let’s nominate two candidates who we can fully support, not because they’re not as bad as the other guy, but because they have unquestioned character, unquestioned love for this country and its people and ideas and policies that you support. Let’s have spirited, honest, passionate debate between two people, between two parties (and maybe, by then, a third) about how to make us an even better nation. Let’s agree right here, right now, that this election is the low point in American presidential politics and that we deserve better, that we will have better. Let’s take responsibility for the choices we have made to date, learn a hard and painful lesson and work hard to ensure we don’t blow it again.
In the meantime, we have a choice to make. Let’s hope in the next few months that either Trump or Clinton steps up, takes the high road and gives Americans what we so desperately want – someone to vote for, not against.