Unlike the erectile dysfunction email that fills my Spam folder, I haven’t found a way to block the electile dysfunction rhetoric that is filling my Inbox, Facebook, and news feeds. And I know I’m not alone; even Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey is worried. Last week it registered a complaint about calling the election a circus. It’s giving the circus a bad name.
Given the current state of affairs I don’t have any faith that the noise will die down after November 8th. I’m afraid it’s likely to get louder when less than half the people are celebrating and more than half are cringing. Optimist that I am, I’m still looking for the silver lining but it’s not easy when the swamp is churning with smarmy, secretive truth-shaders, habitual liars, and sexual predators. Isn’t there any way we can spin this and minimize the creepy cringe worthy aspects?
What if we peel off the top layer – Hillary and the Donald – and see what it looks like underneath? Given that nobody’s perfect, I see the two Vice-Presidential candidates as more like the old paradigm – and they pass the smell test. I don’t have to hold my nose when I think about either one of them. Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence both appear to be men of good character, solid values, and proven leadership qualities. Both served their home states in Congress and have governed at the state level. I like Kaine’s politics better, but Pence, in spite of his defense of “he who shall not be named,” projects character, leadership and values honestly held. I wouldn’t be happy but I could probably live with a Pence presidency.
And then there’s the Commander-in-Chief/nuclear codes issue; neither Kaine nor Pence served in the military, but I find it reassuring to note that both have sons serving on active duty with the Marine Corps. Flash back to last summer when Pence’s avatar attacked a Gold Star family whose 100% American son, Captain Humayun Khan, gave his life to save his American comrades in Iraq. When asked to respond to Khan senior’s charge that Trump had “sacrificed nothing” for his country, The Donald said “I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard” and employ “thousands and thousands of people.” Really Mr. Trump? Sacrifice?
We haven’t had a President or VP with military experience since George H.W. Bush left office in 1993. (Don’t get me started on the cut and run antics of George W). I want a thoughtful Commander-in-Chief and I prefer to have one with some skin in the game rather than a Dick Cheney Trump-like character who avoided service with multiple deferments but has no problem sending other people’s children to war. With that in mind, I prefer either VP candidate to be my Commander-in-Chief. They both have skin in the game.
Democracy is messy and the choices we’ve been offered this time are deeply flawed – each in a different way – but deeply flawed. I don’t like either one of them. Our political system isn’t working. It isn’t voter fraud, but it might be Citizens United. It’s not working because unlimited campaign money on both sides is “rigging” the election. We have the best government money can buy and it stinks. “We the people” have been disenfranchised by wealthy donors and special interests. If Citizens United is overturned, we might regain our ability to hold elected officials to a higher standard. We might be able to apply pressure and force them to work together for the good of the country.
Every four years we elect a President, Vice-President, 30+ senators, and 435 representatives. We’ll be doing it again next week. The system may not be broken but it’s in serious need of repair. Remember Spiro Agnew? Unless you’re my age you might not, but he was Richard Nixon’s corrupt Vice-President forced to resign in disgrace when his corrupt activities and tax evasion were uncovered. And, speak of the devil; Richard Nixon, also forced to resign when his criminal involvement in Watergate was revealed. The system may be cumbersome but it does work.
I love this Barbara Kruger mural at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington. Maybe hers is the answer. Maybe we just need to restore sanity to the electoral process. We need to throw a little doubt over our belief systems in order to solve the equation.
I have faith that handicapped as it is our system can recover its balance. America is resilient, and, in spite of the current rhetoric, it is great right now. We don’t need a savior to make it great again. What we need are people of character and good values working for the common good. Kaine and Pence fit that description and I know there are others out there.
Eight years ago we had hope that our first black President would help us heal. He was, and is, a man of good character and strong family values, but he was hamstrung by a deep economic recession and an obstructionist Congress. We need honorable worthy candidates but we also need to take the “rigging” out of the system so that these people of good character can work together with Congress for the welfare of the country as a whole.
Let’s treat our electile dysfunction and get healthy again. Let’s climb out of the swamp, get cleaned up, and take the steps we need to take to rise above the dysfunction.
Exercise your franchise. Vote on November 8th – even if you have to hold your nose. Belief + Doubt = Sanity.