There is an election coming up.
I haven’t mentioned this election in this space since the middle of July, so some of you may have wondered if I had forgotten about Hillary and The Donald. Some of you may actually have been celebrating that omission, either because you don’t want to think about the election or because you can guess what I might say and don’t want to hear it.
Well, I didn’t forget. I made a conscious decision to avoid pontificating on the contest for the past two months. You might say I’m on strike against the election campaign. It’s my way of protesting this monster, which starts at least a year too early and wastes a lot of time and resources — including far too many rolls of newsprint and gallons of ink.
I realize, though, that I’m sort of nipping at the hand that feeds me with this protest. Long election campaigns mean months of advertising, much to the benefit of the news industry.
In theory, that advertising brings in money to help media outlets pay their bills, such as paying me for this column. Consequently, if my protest sparks a successful campaign that shortens political campaigns, that could end the publication of any more of my columns.
However, the presidential race actually doesn’t contribute a dime to the Powell Tribune and my not writing a column isn’t as photogenic as, say, a quarterback refusing to stand for the national anthem. As a consequence, my protest and column probably aren’t going anywhere.
Nevertheless, I think it would be beneficial if we all took a look at the current campaign and pondered just how much could be accomplished if all the money and effort invested in this campaign were instead spent on addressing some of the difficulties our nation is experiencing.
This election is marked by dissatisfaction over the choices we have. An unusually large percentage of voters have negative opinions of both Clinton and Trump, and don’t want to vote for either one. While they could vote for the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson or the Green Party’s Jill Stein, they really don’t like either of them.
Johnson’s appeal is limited because few Americans are truly libertarian. We inherited a Puritan streak from some of our political ancestors that, among other things, makes Johnson’s position on same-sex marriage unacceptable to many Americans; others oppose his position on free trade, which they believe has cost many Americans their jobs. Recently I read an evangelical minister’s opinion that Johnson was worse than either Clinton or Trump. As for Stein, her positions on the environmental issues are well outside those of many Americans and will limit her appeal.
The result is that a lot of people are at a loss about who they should vote for. Some will probably decide not to vote for anyone, and others will hold their noses and vote for the one they find the least objectionable, arouses the least fear or is likely to cause the least damage. To put it another way, they will be voting for the lesser of two evils.
Considering who to vote for isn’t always this difficult. The party you belong to, the problems you see arising around you or on the television news, and the job that feeds your family are some of the many reasons you vote the way you do.
But this year, the negative views of both Trump and Clinton attest to the fact that some people are having difficulty deciding which circle on the ballot to fill in. Personally, I’m not sure that difficulty is real, but I actually hope it’s true. We are, after all, voting to give one of the most difficult and powerful jobs in the world to somebody. Shouldn’t that decision require an examination of the candidates’ positions on the issues and some serious thought?
I think it should, so for the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about the election, which means that I’ll be writing about two extremely controversial candidates. I’ll be as fair as possible, but it is going to be entirely my opinions, and it will be biased. That’s why it’s on the page that says “Opinion.”
In the interest of creating a healthy dialogue, though, I’ll be making a mighty effort to be civil.
I think it will be fun.
See ya next time.