Some of you may have noticed that there is an election rapidly approaching –like a tornado with no shelter in sight. I’m not here to get hyperbolic about the impending end of civilization as we know it; I don’t think the outcome of this election will bring that on, at least, not right away.
(If you haven’t noticed, I’m not what you would call an optimist. Not exactly a pessimist either, but that’s a subject for another time.)
Truth be told, even for as seriously as I take my civic duty, I’m as ready for this thing to be over as – I think rightly – most of you are.
I think most adult Americans realize that a presidential election does move the needle, but not quite as much as the media and career politicians would have us believe. Still, an election – especially this election – is important.
Elections are important, even if you don’t think either of the candidates speak to your issues, because they both illuminate and channel the demeanor of the public. By that, and I think it’s obvious when one looks, I mean that who we choose as candidates is indicative of how we are thinking and feeling, as a nation. Also, who we choose to lead us is – to some extent – determinative of what we will consider praiseworthy behavior; that which we will aspire to.
So, I am not here to tell you who to vote for. I early voted, and if you’re interested, I’ll mention who for as a post script. What I am here to do – oddly free of spleen venting – is to talk about the kind of person we want as the focus of our admirations for the next 4 years, and maybe into the future, in a general sense.
If you look back at previous presidents, for the most part they embody a sort of collective ideal of the time. In that way who we elect to the office not just leads us but fundamentally represents us, as a nation, not just in the media or in classrooms, but to the world at large.
(I understand that, regardless of who wins this Tuesday, large portions of the U.S. will feel like their voice is not being heard and no one is speaking for them. That’s a valid gripe. Only way to fix it is to get educated, and get involved. Find others like yourself and get to the venues where what you have to say will be heard and will matter.)
I realize, while writing this, that is it difficult to elucidate my point without turning this post into an endorsement or execration. Truth is, for this missive, I’m not interested in doing either.
What I am interested in is asking you, dear reader, to think about what you want the very young of our country to see and imitate? What values do we want the children of this country to absorb silently and without effort? And what direction do we want to move the country in generally?
There’s a lot of political division in our country right now. I don’t think it really matters what label you give yourself. I think what really matters is how you want your country to look. And the president is the clearest symbol of what we value in this country.
Most of the time, I think the media tries to sell us on who gives the best speech, and what that means varies by which media company is trying to sell what air time to which sponsors. So, it can be difficult to really determine who a candidate is or where any given candidate stands on many issues – even the important ones.
But there is one thing we can see, regardless of media filter: behavior.
We can see behavior, and comportment, and demeanor. We can see if someone handles themselves with dignity, and respect, and grace – even if they don’t give a good speech and don’t have much in the way of charisma.
(On a related note, all the charisma in the world will not disguise an asshole. How many times have you said, of someone, “He/she is smooth, but such an asshole.”? At least once in your life, I’ll bet. And that’s what I mean; we all know if someone’s a cocksucker, even if they’re a charming one.)
Many of the changes we would like to see in this country – economics, equality, legalization, etc… – are slow changes and take a great deal of time to come to fruition. But the one thing that will change, instantaneously upon announcement of the election results, will be the example we set up for ourselves and our youth.
Do we want maturity, respect, responsibility, specificity, and adeptness?
Or do we want petulance, baseless assertions, bluster, mean spiritedness, and incompetency to be held up as the pinnacle of American virtue?
When we tell children that one day they could grow up to be president, what kind of president do we want them to think of?
What kind of president would we want them to be?
If you have not voted, or don’t intend to vote, please ask yourself this question.
It’s not difficult, and it won’t take long to answer.
At this point, it is literally the least you can do.
Please think about it.
Then go vote.
P.S. I voted for Hillary. While she may not speak to my issues, (I was a Sanders supporter), and while I may have concerns about some of her ties to big business, she is, in my view, the more competent of the two. When in doubt, go with the one you trust to do the job best. Between the two, I trust her to be able to do the job, more than him. Sometimes the decision is just that easy.
P.P.S. Whatever happens on Election Day, good luck.