With the requisite respect for the sentiments of friends who are sincerely supporting either major party candidate this election, I – along with a fair amount of Americans – feel that this election sucks. I won’t bother to rundown the real-life litany of horrors true of either candidate. But I am exceptionally struck by one pervasive feature of this election cycle that portends misfortune no matter what happens November 8, 2016.
The main argument for either candidate in this election is that they are not the other candidate. If you are a Democrat/Progressive, Hillary Clinton is probably not your ideal choice given her historic fence-straddling tendencies on progressive policies and her blatant disregard for basic good governance practices, among other less-than-seemly misconduct committed by her. She represents the sort of opportunistic centrism with which the left appeared to be exhausted. But Donald Trump represents an existential threat to the nation, and maybe the world, so you are more-than-ok with pulling the lever for her. If you are a Republican/Conservative, Donald Trump is a wild-card, even a dumpster fire. He openly praises individuals who just four short years ago were considered – by Republicans – to be America’s “number one geopolitical foe.” But, conceding that the election is basically Russian roulette, you’d prefer a gun with only a few bullets in the chamber (Donald Trump) than a fully-loaded semi-automatic (Hillary Clinton).
Is this it, seriously? I mean, I know every presidential election year many voters fret about choosing “the lesser of two evils.” But at least in the past, the lesser of two evils was still generally decent and semi-supportable (and I speak as someone who has only ever voted third party for president, i.e., I always found the major party candidates ultimately unsupportable). This election cycle, we are stuck choosing between candidates who reek of deception, corruption, and hubris. Begging pardon from those aforementioned earnest supporters, but only the most blinkered partisan can truly believe that all the negative perceptions of and accusations against the candidate they support are just bogus smears.
Worse yet, they are both children. For example. Whether you think Hillary Clinton’s chronic dissembling about her e-mails is overblown or not (I know this might surprise you, but I do not), consider her best defense: Colin Powell told me to do it, and he did it, too. Whether you find Donald Trump’s praising Vladimir Putin to be overblown or not (I know this might surprise you, but I do not), consider his best defense: Obama is just as bad in different ways. The respective candidates’ defenses to fundamental problems about themselves, in essence, is to rule objections categorically out of bounds by shifting blame.
The election has become its own reductio ad absurdum, and America is left to watch the infantile, schoolyard-playground antics of the two major party candidates. Actually, that’s probably an insult to schoolchildren across the country, as they have stronger moral compasses and more developed senses of decency than what we are currently witnessing between the two major party candidates – one of whom, quite regrettably, will almost certainly be elected President this November.