My take, more often than not, is a philosophical one that takes the long view. I’m thinking decades, maybe several generations. This year we have an unusual opportunity to vote our conscience up and down the ticket and see it make a dramatic change for the common good.
FAILURE OF THE NORMAL FUNCTIONING OF GOVERNMENT
This election is obviously about Trump vs Clinton, but it’s also about gridlock in government. The checks and balances that work so well in the hands of civil people have broken down because our elected representatives in government are not able to carry out the customary give and take that is characteristic of a civil society. A majority in congress (from both parties) are determined to block anything our President wishes to do; and in the absence of civil discourse he has pressed the limits of executive power in order to attain more of the objectives he was elected to accomplish. Congress can appeal to the Supreme Court — and has, in some instances — to roll back executive over-reach. But now a justice has died, and the Court has no tie-breaker.
Now we have established gridlock in all three branches of government.
And because the incivility continues, and our elected representatives are unable to find a way forward, the normal functioning of government has ceased. Our government is broken. How do we solve this?
A NATION-DEFINING ELECTION
In the midst of this we have a nation-defining election at hand, one that is as much about quality of character as it is about policies and plans.
Who we choose to represent us on the world stage says a lot about our own character as a people. This election may turn a harsh light on incivility in the heart of our country, an incivility that we’re already witnessing in our current crop of elected representatives, that has caused the dysfunction of our government.
We may see something many of us do not wish to acknowledge, but which may in fact be true — that we are a meaner, more selfish, more fearful, and less kind, less empathetic, less generous nation than we may have imagined. We may in fact not be the people of high moral and ethical character that we imagine or wish we might be. We may not be capable, in this present era, of viewing all our brother and sister Americans as equally worthy of the rights and privileges we believe we’re entitled to.
If so, then we’ll be relegated to the bench for a few seasons, possibly for a few generations, while other more noble and capable world leaders fill the vacuum left by our national failure and govern on our behalf from their places of power.
Character matters, and so we should observe, judge for ourselves, and vote for those people — in all the seats that are open for change — who we believe have the qualities of character that best represent our nation at this time in history, to bear the burden of aspirations and dreams we have as a people.
FITNESS FOR THE JOB
Character matters, but this election more than most in recent history is also about competence.
You wouldn’t hire a carpenter to fix your plumbing, you don’t hire a webmaster to build your dream home, and we shouldn’t be hiring a TV entertainer or real estate mogul to lead our government out of the greatest systemic dysfunction we’ve ever faced as a nation. Like it or not, politicians are professionals, and we need astute, experienced competent professional public servants to take the helm at this time and do their un-self-centered civic duty to get our government working again.
Politicians are a particular breed of people. Love them or hate them, they know how laws and regulations work to govern a people, not just in business but in every aspect of our lives. We have laws in order to maintain a civil society, in order to ensure every citizen has adequate protections and can have some assurance of personal security, for themselves, their families, their communities and their nation as a whole. We have laws to protect our shared environment and natural resources for our mutual benefit and for generations to come. And we have laws, agreements, and treaties with other countries so that we can enjoy the advanced benefits of global trade and global relations so that every person on the planet can dream of attaining a more peaceful and harmonious world.
True public servants are lawmakers with a certain relevant expertise, a fitness for the job.
Ultimately this is what civilization calls for if we hope to progress as a species. Good governance is an evolutionary process that demands an enlightened sense of the greater good. When we achieve our dreams, we create new dreams to aspire to. We cannot do this if our own people are so at odds with one another that we are not able to carry on civil dialog, help each other see beyond our own parochial self interest, and find common ground.
VOTE CONSCIENCE UP AND DOWN THE TICKET
I won’t tell you who to vote for, but I will say this election matters more than some seem to be aware; not just at the very top of the ballot but all up and down the ticket. There is a great opportunity at hand to change our government for the better, if we vote our conscience up and down the ticket. There is a stark contrast between the uncivil, oppositional, obstructionist do-nothing congress in power now and the true public servants who are vying to fill their seats. It’s high time we break the logjam, give that do-nothing congress the boot and send them packing!
We don’t have just one vote for President, we have many votes against the incompetent uncivil self-serving incumbents that have caused gridlock in our constitutional system of government. Do we understand the power we have when we exercise our right to vote?
Character and competence have always mattered, and they matter more this year because the stakes are so high. The normal functioning of our government may fail if we cannot join together as a people and work to fix it.
We have a great nation, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
I hope we can heal our dysfunctional governance long before it becomes entirely unhinged, and I hope the people we elect will be respectable leaders that the world looks to for insight and hope as we all seek to make our world a better place for everyone.