Politics in America has always baffled me a bit. Throughout my life, our political system, at best, has been confusing and, at worst, terrifying. What we witness today takes terrifying to a new level. What was designed to be a representative democracy has deteriorated into a game controlled by the media, greed, dollars, and egos. I understand that the above fact is not breaking news. I also know the game of politics has never been pretty or for the weak of heart, but what we witness as the 2016 presidential campaign shifts into overdrive has broken the glass floor. We have reached new lows.
Although I didn't think it was possible, this deterioration has left us more divided than ever. A US senator recently told me he feels it is almost impossible to solve any of our problems because it is not about the idea. He said that no matter how good an idea is or how much it could help our country, the elected officials are afraid to vote for something offered by the other party. It is unheard of to cross the proverbial aisle for the good of the country. The party divide will once again get in the way of progress as this presidential campaign moves forward.
On one side of that "aisle," there are so many players that you need a scorecard to keep up. The numbers vary daily, but I think there are currently about fifteen candidates. Seven have been, or they are, state governors. Five are or have been US senators. Two businesspeople and a neurosurgeon complete the lineup.
The other side of that magical aisle seems a little less confusing. We find a senator, an ex-governor, and an ex-senator/ex-Secretary of State. Though the field is smaller, the games are the same.
After looking at the field, I have many questions. First, how can someone serve his or her state as a governor or senator while campaigning full time? They are paid for a job from which they are AWOL to pursue another job. If the state or the senate can run without that person participating, why is he or she paid? How many personal days does a governor get? And that person can't be using sick days because he or she is in front of a camera in another part of the country. Maybe it's just me, but shouldn't they at least give up their salary if they are always on the campaign trail?
Second, I question this campaign's cost. The stakes are extremely high, so the dollars are beginning to flow in a big way. The Citizens United 2010 lawsuit paved the way so even bigger dollars can be used to buy elections. The result of that ruling is that the average taxpayer's voice has been silenced again for "show me the money" governing. I am a loud person, but my voice isn't even a whisper when it is up against a multimillion-dollar contribution. Some estimate that the price tag on this election could close in on five billion dollars. Just to make it a bit clearer, this is what $5,000,000,000 looks like when expressed in numbers.
That gets us to the third troubling question. Where are the issues? The candidates don't debate issues. The entire campaign exercise is an awkward dance around the issues with great care taken to say as little as possible. Even as the candidates debate, we get hardly any insights into what actions they propose to attack any problems. Anecdotes heard here and there are used as emotional ploys to manipulate voters without addressing issues, the facts, or offering possible solutions. I would love to vote for the candidate who can tell me how five billion dollars could better be used to help eliminate the problem of homeless veterans.
My last question involves one particular candidate. Could Donald Trump be a double agent? If he weren't trying to break up the Republican Party, why would he insult voters, colleagues, women, party members, Mexicans, and the media? He is that school kid that talks about someone being fat or ugly because of his insecurities. And don't forget he has a history with the Democratic Party.
I know that to run for president, you need a large ego, but let's get real. If he is that loved, amazing, good-looking, intelligent, and huge, maybe he can get the Mexicans to put up the money to run this campaign. I understand it was a weak attempt at humor, but why would he agree to be called a racist on Saturday Night Live? Maybe we are just trying to laugh to keep from crying. However, I still struggle finding much humor in racism.
In the next twelve months, we need to decide which person in this huge mix of candidates is a great leader. Who can bring people together, rather than divide them? If we look at history to the great leaders in modern times, we find that great leaders treat both friend and foe with respect. That characteristic, more than any other, made them great leaders.
I can't tell you who the person is for 2016. We each must make that personal decision and cast our vote. But I know that we do not want to elect a double agent as our president. I hope we have reached the tipping point in this campaign season. As entertaining as Donald Trump has been, an entertainer is not what we need for president. The entertainment portion of this campaign is over. It is time to find and elect that great leader so our country can strive to find ways to leave the world better than we found it.