You know it’s a sign of bad times when there is a trust deficit between the candidate and most of its party members in both major political parties. While most elections are obviously marked with distrust of opposing candidates, this one seems too frequently punctuated by embarrassing distrust of candidates from their own supporters. That should be alarming to anyone who normally expects a democratic election to pump out qualified leaders.
After all, if I was running for office, I would expect most of my criticism to come from my opponents. They don’t like me or my views, so most everything I say would be attacked. I would even expect some of my supporters to be critical at times, because I would hope they have high expectations for a leader. But there comes a threshold of criticism from my own followers that should signal to me, or at most to them, that I was a bad choice. If we get to choose our leaders, and we begin by choosing the ones who will compete to be our leaders, how is it that we would end up with such horrible choices?
Conservatives are lifting up a leader against their values: a lewd, greedy reality star with an inflated ego, a man who says something undignifying and creepy every ten seconds, who has no experience as a statesman and lost countless money he inherited by financing selfish business ventures, a man who doesn’t recognize the need to ask God for forgiveness.
Liberals are lifting up a leader against their values: A politician backed by Wall Street and large corporations who puts her career before her service to her country, who voted for more interference with Iraq and increased domestic surveillance, and is soft on gun control, a woman who isn’t necessarily very progressive.
Why didn’t Democrats pick Bernie Sanders? He seemed like such an obvious choice from the left. Why didn’t the Republicans choose…anybody, really? Even early dropouts like Jeb Bush and John Kasich were men of better reputations.
You’re not going to like the answer, because the answer lies in the values of America. It’s obvious. We chose these candidates. Don’t forget that. They didn’t appear out of nowhere. We selected these candidates because they reflect the values of our two major parties. This is a sign of our times, or rather, of our preferences in these times.
Look: Republicans may not really like Trump, but the truth is that they do. Democrats may not like Hillary, but the truth is that they do. They’re embarrassed because this may be the one election where each party has chosen a candidate that mirrors what they want, what they find important, who they really are.
Republicans might be embarrassed by Trump, but they overlooked his flaws because the average Republican doesn’t think racism, bigotry and sexism are a big deal, and really likes the idea of building a wall between U.S. and Mexico. Consider the likelihood that, like Trump, the Republican party cares less about good character than it does about securing posterity. They like their leaders to be explosive, rude, unapologetic, womanizing. Shoot, he could be in a bunch of pornos and we’d still call him the best option for a nation some of us hail as “God’s country.”
Democrats might be embarrassed by Clinton, but they overlook her flaws because the average Democrat is actually very cozy with corporate capitalism, domestic surveillance, overseas invasions, and a little scandal here and there. Consider the likelihood that, like Clinton, the Democratic party cares less about truth than it does about realpolitik. They like their leaders to be secretive, manipulative, more practical than progressive, practical enough to be cozy with establishment and those nations who violate human rights.
What if Republicans really did put aside treating people with dignity just to preserve the status quo of the privileged, because they’re scared of change that could take their power from them? What if Democrats really do play the gender card (as well as the race card) at any chance just to gain support for change?
Republicans and Democrats can pretend to be reluctant about Trump and Clinton all they want, but they chose these candidates. If you had any hand in saying “yes” to either of them, you are responsible for this. Don’t act like it came out of nowhere. Absolutely no politician has ever been successful without mass support from somebody. If Republicans despised Trump enough, they wouldn’t have picked him. If Democrats admired Sanders enough, they would have picked him.
But both parties have demonized the other so much that both are willing to turn to “use a monster to defeat a monster.” You can’t, as a member of either major party, fire a single complaint at the candidates you endorsed all the way. You knew where this would lead. In fact, even now, you still have a chance at abandoning them.
So abandon them.
America doesn’t believe in integrity any more. We don’t. It’s not practical enough. It doesn’t grant us the immediate satisfaction of getting what we want. That’s our nation. Congratulations, America. You just defined yourself. Good luck this year. Either way, you’ll probably get what you deserve. You asked for it. You literally asked for it.