In Search Of The Ideal Candidate
Over the past few days, I’ve been feeling edgy. Perturbed, disconcerted, a little frantic. Afraid. It started on Friday, and it ran into Saturday night, when a bomb went off in Chelsea, about a half hour away from me. On their own, bombs are scary. This is a little different, though, because this bomb has effects that reach farther than just one blast radius. For the past month, the presidential election has been looking tighter and tighter. Polls are closer, media coverage is louder, attacks are more ferocious. And the idea of Donald Trump being elected President of the United States is looking less and less ridiculous.
I’m not writing this piece about Donald Trump; his pathetic antics are well-documented at this point. Even if we cut it down to this summer alone, there is too much material to discuss at any length. I don’t need to tell you about Trump’s attacks on a Gold Star family, his thinly veiled suggestions that his political opponent should be murdered, his absurd circus display of a convention that mixed fascistic fear-mongering with incompetent stage-managing. I don’t need to remind you that Trump is a candidate who stands for everything the United States of America stands against, that he is an unqualified, crass, reprehensible bigot with no knowledge of what the job entails whatsoever. I don’t need to remind you that he will happily appropriate the sad story of a radicalized individual and use it for his own twisted gains.
Or maybe I do. The last few months have seen the beginning of a new political narrative, one that crops up every election cycle like a tattered groundhog wandering out of its hole and biting Bill Murray. The new theme of this election, one enforced by constant media coverage and endless polling, is that the two candidates are equally awful.
There is nothing I can do to convince Trump supporters that Hillary Clinton is not the monster she has been made out to be for going on thirty years. There is no way that I can drown out their bleating cries of “Emails!” and “Benghazi!” even when the FBI and endless Republican Senate committees have cleared Secretary Clinton of all wrongdoing in both cases. At this point, I am on the same page as the Democratic nominee: There is indeed a basket of deplorables, and there is no way to reach them. Trump’s candidacy is the last stand of a dying breed, a decrepit collection of ugly hatred and baldfaced prejudice raging against the dying of the white. It is no mistake that the first female nominee of a major party is forced to square off against a boiling misogynist whose disdain for women is equaled only by his followers’ fear of a woman in the White House. These are people who care nothing for the quality of the candidates in question. They are afraid of seeing their time at the top come to an end, and so they have elevated a man who epitomizes everything vile and despicable about white, masculine machismo.
But once again, I am not here to talk about Donald Trump, nor am I here to discuss his ragtag assortment of white supremacists and neo-Nazi slime. I am here to talk about the people who consider Donald Trump a menace and a threat to our country’s safety, and still are doing nothing about it.
I consider myself an idealist. I’m eighteen years old; I don’t think there are many of us who fail to qualify as idealists at least partially. I would love to someday see a candidate who shares every one of my beliefs and values and opinions. I am also fully aware of the fact that that will never happen.
There is no such thing as an ideal candidate. No one is perfect, and no one does everything right. I think I may not in my lifetime see a President, or candidate for that matter, that I love as much as I love Barack Obama. Does that mean I agree with everything that he does? Of course not. There’s a movie out in theaters right now, Snowden, that dramatizes one of the very real problems I have with Obama’s presidency, the expansion of the NSA and its invasions of privacy.
It also features this quote, from Snowden himself: “[A] new leader will be elected, they’ll find the switch, say that ‘Because of the crisis, because of the dangers we face in the world, some new and unpredicted threat, we need more authority, we need more power.’ And there will be nothing the people can do at that point to oppose it. And it will be turnkey tyranny.”
So yes, Hillary Clinton is not an ideal, perfect candidate. She’s the ideal candidate, because only Hillary Clinton can defeat Donald Trump. Make no mistake: Donald Trump is the ‘new leader’ Snowden describes above. He’s a thin-skinned tyrant who thinks the United States can bomb their enemies into submission and ban vast swaths of people from entering our country. He isn’t just unqualified because he has none of the experience required for the job; he’s unqualified because he stands in opposition to everything our country has ever stood for. That a major political party this very day threatens to blacklist politicians within their own party who stand against him is a national disgrace. That multitudes of the frightened and the bigoted have rallied behind him in a desperate attempt to take their country back is a national disgrace. That the media has played its games of false equivalency and failed to call him on his constant and unrepentant disregard for the truth is a national disgrace. This has gone far enough. We have played with fire for too long. If half of our country is really flirting with elevating a narcissistic megalomaniac with delusions of grandeur to the highest office in the land, then it is the duty of the reasonable to stop it.
Hillary Clinton, an experienced public servant who has fought for the middle class her entire life, is the only choice to end this. There can be no flirtation with third-party candidates in this election; the stakes are too high and the rewards are so low as to be nonexistent. In 2000, Ralph Nader helped our country to eight years of an incompetent buffoon in the White House. In 2016 Jill Stein and Gary Johnson cannot and will not push us into something far worse. I don’t think it’s any accident that the only people I’ve heard professing support for these candidates are straight white people; it is awfully easy to waste your vote when the consequences for you will be nonexistent. The ultimate act of privilege is to casually cast a protest vote when there are groups of people who will suffer if you simply swallow your pride and vote for a candidate you may not love.
On Friday, the largest police union in the United States endorsed Donald Trump. Aside from once again clearly illuminating issues of entrenched racism within the police community, this news says one thing: The job of defeating this maniac will not be easy. His supporters are many; some are passionate and violent, and those who are not are so blinded by fear that they do not see the danger in front of them. They are neighbors and family members. They do not deserve our hatred, but neither do they deserve compassion. There will be time enough to kindly deal with these lost souls after America has elected a sane, rational, levelheaded individual to our highest office. Right now, we have other things to handle.
November 8th is a referendum on our national psyche. It is an opportunity to loudly and peacefully reiterate our values to the world. Vote. Get your friends to vote. Volunteer if you have the time. Do everything you can to make sure that our great experiment does not stagnate or fracture. America was founded on progress, constantly unfolding into the future. We can’t let 240 years of that progress go to waste.