I was one of the estimated 84 million viewers who tuned into one of the 13 TV channels carrying the first debate between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. In the 98 minutes of what was supposed to be a debate between the Democratic and Republican nominees, I came to several conclusions, none of which were encouraging or positive.
First, as I sat with my children watching what was more of a three-ring circus than a Presidential debate, I wondered how we as a nation of 319 million individuals decided the representatives from the two major political parties would be Clinton and Trump. How is it those two emerged victorious among the rest of their respective opponents — a duo which solidifies an old saying my grandmother has told me my entire life, “show me a politician and I’ll show you a liar.”
Now — as a token of transparency — let me tell you that I am not a fan of either Clinton or Trump and will refuse to vote for either of them on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. Let me also reassure you I am neither Democrat or Republican, as I believe both parties have sold out their constituents long before I ever reached the age to vote in 2000.
The encounter between the Democratic and Republican nominees was nothing less than a critical reminder of just how far this nation has fallen when it comes to selecting a leader. As I watched interruption after interruption and plugs for one candidate’s book and another’s club and resort during Monday’s telecast, I thought of a line from my favorite TV show, “The West Wing”.
The line comes from the fictional character Leo McGarry in the season two premiere titled, In the Shadow of Two Gunmen. In a flashback scene, McGarry is asked why he is trying to get Josiah “Jed” Bartlet elected President of the United States. His reply has stuck with me since the first time I saw it.
“Because I’m tired of it; year after year after year after year, having to choose between the lesser of who cares. Of trying to get myself excited about a candidate who can speak in complete sentences. Of setting the bar so low, I can hardly bear to look at it. They say a good man can’t get elected president. I don’t believe that. Do you?”
Like Leo, I’m tired of it. I’m tired of the collective bar being set so low, you look at the two major candidates and can’t stomach the idea of either of them taking the oath of office Friday, Jan. 20, 2017.
We as a nation have to do better than this, especially if we wish the experiment started over 240 years ago — when a collection of colonies grew too tired and eventually set up a government giving the people the power to self-govern and not a monarch or dictator. Let’s not be the reason that experiment fails.
I encourage every individual reading this to sit down and take a moment and look at the candidates running for president. Do you honestly believe Clinton or Trump is the answer this nation needs? Can you actually cast your vote for either of them in good conscience? Are you okay with continually setting the bar so low that both major parties have nominated individuals with record-setting high unfavorable numbers?
If so, that’s fine, you will get no grief from me. However, as for myself, I cannot bring myself to that low. I will not be voting for either nominee from the Democratic or Republican party. Instead, I will be casting my vote for the Libertarian Party’s ticket, former two-term Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson and his running-mate, former two-term Governor of Massachusetts William Weld.
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext. 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.