In all my life I have never seen a more divisive presidential race. I have had to bite my tongue on Facebook and I've tried not to post anything on my wall indicating who I will vote for, but my choice is - as always, it seems - a choice between what I see as the lesser of two evils. I do not embrace the candidate I will vote for because well... the candidate I really liked had to drop out of the race. [No, it wasn't Bernie.]
However, I suspect many people feel the way I do. It's not the end of the world. Everyone needs to calm down. Seriously.
This morning I was watching a story on CBS Sunday Morning on New York Times columnist Maureen O'Dowd and it was amusing, in some instances, when her sister talked about voting for candidates of different parties, in different years. My parents usually voted Republican, but not always. I recalled times when my parents didn't agree on who to vote for, and Dad would get mad and tell Mom not to vote because, he said, his vote would cancel hers out. By that logic, nobody should vote.
I have voted for Democrats and I have voted for Republicans. I try to ignore the party and focus on the candidate, and try to figure out who is the best human being, not who is running the best campaign. That's not always easy to do.
One thing that I have found very helpful this year is this website, Vote411. Every year I vote I find things on the ballot that puzzle me, and I mentally castigate myself for not doing more research. Well, click that link. It's an awesome resource for learning what you need to know before you go to the polls. Thank you, League of Women Voters.
Not everyone wants to thoughtfully research candidates. Lots of people want to simply rely on what they see on political ads, or the daily newspaper, or the nightly news broadcast. WRONG. Every single network - NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX - they ALL have agendas. There is no such thing as journalistic integrity or objectivity. And guess what?! There NEVER WAS. [I'm sorry, Mrs. B, my high school newspaper sponsor, but journalism is as flawed as any other human endeavor, and it always has been.] I read a lot of newspapers from 1922 once, researching a project, and they were awful. Yellow journalism at its finest...
We all have to learn and remember that journalism is totally biased.
I worked for the Knoxville Journal for nearly a year when I was a senior in high school. We had the old-fashioned AP and UPI teletypes and news rolled in 24 hours a day, tons of stories. The managing editor decided which ones to run. News folks pick and choose their stories, based on personal opinions, audience preferences, perhaps other things. If a network is owned by a conglomerate that also owns a food company and some of the food is found to be contaminated, the news network may choose to ignore that story, or downplay it. Another network may run a lengthy piece on it.
This year, however, is different from any previous year because the country is so divided. Hillary supporters passionately hate Trump. Trump supporters passionately hate Hillary. There are couples around the country who are breaking up because one is for Trump and the other is for Clinton. Yes, BREAKING UP. Apparently nobody taught them the fine art of how to disagree amicably.
I am not immune, sadly. I have a friend that won't speak to me right now because we are supporting different candidates. I have Facebook friends who have "un-friended" me and I suspect some of those are because they suspect I do not support their candidate.
So who is going to win on November 9th? I don't know. I won't predict.
Apparently, the polls this year are unreliable. I would have said that long before today - keeping in mind the quote about "lies, damn lies, and statistics" [Will Rogers, I think].
My original premise is simple. This year we are seeing an incredibly dirty mudslinging race. We have nobody but ourselves to blame for that. Don't blame the candidates. They are simply going all out to win, and as recent history has taught us, that means slinging mud. In this day and age of constant photos and videos all over the place, there are no secrets any more, especially for public figures.
Politics shouldn't end relationships or marriages or even friendships, however.
We should be able to laugh at ourselves. We SHOULD.
Who do we listen to when it comes to voting, though? Why, entertainers and actors, of course!
Entertainers all over the place are threatening to leave the USA and/or "move to Canada" if Trump gets elected. I'm not surprised at all that the recent show in Tampa sparked this article: Hundreds Walked Out as Amy Shumer Gets Political. (My personal feeling is that she is not at all funny or talented, and I am amazed anyone would pay anything to watch her, but that's not really based on her politics.)
Comedians being political is nothing new. Anyone remember George Carlin? He was often political. Sometimes it was funny, sometimes not. I usually watched clips of his shows and either laughed and thought "how clever" or I sat there and seethed, thinking he was being utterly unfair. I didn't like everything he had to say, but so what? I've never met another human being I agreed with entirely. Very few people I've ever known were as brilliant and/or funny as Carlin.
I watched a clip of Trump and Hillary speaking at the Al Smith Dinner last week. Good thing they can laugh at themselves, unlike many of the rest of us. Afterwards, they reportedly shook hands and agreed that whoever gets elected, they will need to work together afterwards. I hope they were sincere.
See, here's where I am going to turn really cynical, so brace yourself.
I don't think it matters much who gets elected. Celebrities may flee to Canada. Or not. Marriages may crumble. Or not.
Both candidates this year are very flawed and whoever gets elected, I will sit back and watch with great cynicism, frankly, because they aren't going to be crowned for life.
Whatever they SAID during their campaign will mean little. They can SAY anything during an election. What they say is almost meaningless.
What we all need to calm down and remember is that presidents don't get in office and rule like potentates. The founding fathers set things up so no one branch of government - executive, legislative, or judicial - has too much power. Congress can pass a bill and send it up the road and the president can veto it. Sometimes vetoes get overridden. Presidents can be impeached. Presidents can resign. If we have a president who is one party and the majority in Congress is the other party, little will likely get done.
Kids in school now don't get a thorough knowledge of history or civics, and that's tragic. In order to not go crazy this year, we all need to study history.
I have thought often during this campaign about President Johnson, LBJ. He was a consummate politician. He cursed like a sailor and screwed women in the White House, asking the Secret Service to help him elude his wife. He gave interviews completely in the nude, or sitting on the toilet. Biographers have a field day with him.
As one biographer stated about LBJ: "URINATING in a sink, inviting people into his bathroom, showing off his abdominal scar, exposing his private parts: after a while nothing surprises a biographer of Lyndon Baines Johnson... Sexual conquests also helped to fill the void. He was a competitive womanizer. When people mentioned Kennedy's many affairs, Johnson would bang the table and declare that he had more women by accident than Kennedy ever had on purpose."
However, he was able to marshal bipartisan support and pass important legislation such as the 1964 Civil Rights Bill. He pushed for legislation that was part of the Great Society, which had a huge impact on our country. He started Medicare and Head Start.
"The first piece of Great Society legislation, the Economic Opportunity Act 1964, tried to give people tools to get out of poverty. The bill created a Job Corps similar to the New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps; a domestic peace corps; a system for vocational training; and Head Start, a pre-school program designed to prepare children for success in public school. The bill also funded community action programs and extended loans to small businessmen and farmers.
In 1964, 8 million American adults had not finished 5 years in school; more than 20 million had not finished eight years; and almost a quarter of the nation's population, around 54 million people, hadn't finished high school. In 1965, Congress passed the groundbreaking Elementary and Secondary Education Act which for the first time provided federal funding for education below the college level passed the Higher Education Act, which created a National Teachers Corps and provided financial assistance to students wishing to attend college."
SO... LBJ was a real jerk, a foul-mouthed womanizer, and he escalated Vietnam, but he was not 100% bad. He also did a lot of good.
Therein lies the rub. It's complicated. Politicians can be total jerks, awful, and yet good.
photo by Linda Harris