Monday, November 7, 2016

My Ballot for the 2016 Presidential Election

This election isn’t the first to win my attention. This blog started as a response to the ’04 Presidential contest, and twenty years before that, having been raised in a household of Democrats, I remember my Grandmother comforting me after Mondale’s defeat. I’ve followed every contest since that (then) bitter Reagan win, and been fascinated with the workings of Presidential elections, from the time of the Founders until today. There’s not much that I thought could surprise me.
This election has turned into a circus, a free for all between a blowhard celebrity and a ruthless member of the political machine. It’s a farce, a down and dirty tussle in the mud; there is no line that cannot be crossed, no allegation a step too far, no behind the scenes machination that is ruled unethical. Unquestionably the worst ballot in my lifetime, it is a mess, a travesty, and nothing short of a schoolyard brawl.
I love it.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I believe everything I wrote in the last paragraph, and I think this is a near perfect example of what an election should NOT be. But, on principle, I enjoy the tussle of an election year: it is the one time when Americans discuss something more important than celebrity gossip and fad diets, when debates on the direction of our country take place in offices, homes, and online – even if discussions are shallow and revolve around memes and talking points.
You might hate to hear it, but the 2016 election is the American political experiment in action, and it is to be celebrated.
Alas, neither candidate is worth the hoopla.  
I dismissed Trump early, convinced that more experienced, thoughtful Republicans like Jeb Bush would carry the day. I misjudged the anger of the common man, and Trump barreled through the primaries. I thought he would moderate, if not his views, than his approach, once he had the nomination. Wrong again. I understand the gut appeal of a candidate that speaks his mind, that isn’t handcuffed by the rigid and empty scripts most politicians regurgitate. But a nice bit of Presidential decorum would have been nice to see.
And then Hillary. My word. She’s the unwelcome guest at dinner that just never leaves. For thirty years she’s been despised by the Right, barely tolerated by the Left, and repeatedly passed over by the center.  She’s on pace to become the first female American President, yet the resume of this “most experienced candidate ever” is an unimpressive carpetbagging stint in the Senate, a deeply flawed run as Secretary of State, and a marriage to a former President. She could barely knock out a 74 year old Socialist in the primaries (and then, only with a little help from the DNC), and has stumbled and bumbled her way into almost losing the general election to a much disliked television star.
My word, THIS is the best American female we had to offer? 
We really should be allowed a mulligan on this election.

So they’re both awful, awful candidates. But you have to vote for someone, and assuming you correctly believe voting 3rd party is about as valuable as staying home and watching bread mold, whom do you choose?
(Disclaimer: Here in Wisconsin the state’s electoral votes will almost certainly go to Hillary, relieving me of any obligation to vote one way or the other. Alas, with a crucial Senate race at stake, I’ll be in the voting booth, but with a conscience free ability to vote 3rd party if I desire)
I’ll give you another disclaimer at this point, and I won’t even hide it in parenthesis. There is one part of me, the part of me that is contrarian, the part of me that’s blunt by nature and appreciates it in kind, the part of me that recognizes the duplicity and ignorance of the media . . . well, that part of me would love to see a Trump victory just so I could collect and drink the tears of the Left. The very thought gives me shivers.
Alas, so does the prospect of a Trump win.
He wouldn’t be the worst President ever. You’ll never convince me that a man of his great and long lasting business success would somehow surpass Millard Filmore and Andrew Johnson on that score. I don’t care how many bad words he said, or how many millennials he triggered into running for their safe spaces, or how many people somehow equate protecting our border with racism. I don’t buy the propaganda, sorry.
But I think that Clinton would do a better job at managing the ship of state. I think she’d govern from the center, with occasional veers to the Left for show, ala her husband, and that overseas she’d continue in the vein of a closeted warhawk, just like Obama. I believe she’d do a decent job, with most of her egregious errors being unrecognizable in the short term, which is what a President needs to maintain a decent poll rating. No big snafus like invading Iraq only to come up empty on WMD’s – no, her mistakes will be subtler, like the Arab Spring she promoted. It led to ISIS, and Syria, and God knows what else, but at a comfortable enough distance that it’s rarely (but properly) laid at her feet except by the partisan opposition.
The problem is, she’s dishonest. Not dishonest in the vein of all politicians, or dishonest in a “I’ll lie in my campaign promises” way. She’s dishonest in a manner I’ve never come across in a politician, the consistent and pervasive lies of someone that’s skated on thin ice for decades but come out with nary a scratch, and assumes that streak will continue into the future. A crook properly caught and punished may change their ways; a crook that constantly avoids conviction is just emboldened. If she isn’t indicted for her perjury to Congress over her email snafu, then mark my words: at some point, probably just when the administration is going well, she’ll screw up anew, and the lies will catch up to her. We’ll watch another Clinton Presidency become bogged down in an impeachment, and unlike Bill (whose impeachment I thought was undue) she won’t come out a winner.
I don’t want to see the already much tarnished reputation of the Oval Office roughed up even more. I don’t want this nation, at a time of turmoil, when our traditional enemies are rising yet again, to be preoccupied with bulls**t and scandal.
I can’t, in good conscience, vote for her. I’ll acknowledge her as President if she wins.  I’ll root for her general success, as it is America’s success, when she’s in office. But I know what trouble awaits, and I can’t mortgage this nation voluntarily. I can’t.
You want an answer as to who to vote for? Who *I’m* voting for? Good luck, because the best I can give you is this: I won’t vote for Hillary.
To those who fret  and panic over this election; to those who label it “The Most Important Election of Our Lifetime,” (as opposed to the last “Most Important Election,” and the next), breathe easy.
This might be the least important election ever. The country is starkly but civilly divided, and whichever candidate takes office will face a determined and obstructionist foe in Congress. We’ll get bogged down by bureaucracy and the status quo. Critics will cite this as proof the system is broken, but critics are morons. The system is designed this way. It’s built to put a check on the President, to avoid a rubber stamp on Executive Power. It was designed to lumber along, and that’s what it will do.
The Republic will survive. Will it be the better for it after this fiasco? That’s not up to me. That’s up to the voters of the 2020 “Most Important Election Ever” to decide.

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