Politics traditionally is a taboo subject that easily creates rifts between friends and family. At no time is this more obvious than in the present election year. But right now, talk of the current political scene and the circus surrounding it is swirling in office break rooms, around water coolers and at dinner tables all over America.
At dinner last night, a close friend broached the subject by asking, “Who do you think you’re going to vote for?”
“I don’t know,” I responded benignly. I was actually taken aback, at first, since we generally stay clear of political conversation.
“I don’t know either,” she went on. “No one really stands out to me as someone I see as my president, so I might even abstain. How can I vote for anyone I don’t believe in?”
We were of the same mind, so I ventured into the deep political waters. “I completely agree. Just look at the sorry candidates,” I added, sharing my thoughts on our presidential options, which I now paraphrase below.
I can’t believe either party couldn’t come up with better choices. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders has great ideas, but they are just pie in the sky. How could this country that is so heavily taxed even contemplate paying for free college education? As much as that would have saved me from a mountain of debt after graduating from my private college, I don’t see how the middle class can carry the weight of yet another tax.
Hillary Clinton, well what exactly was her role in the Benghazi disaster? And what about that private email server? Unfortunately, she appears to be hiding too much. How can we trust her to run the country if she didn’t know she couldn’t use a private server for secret government business?
As for the Republicans, Ted Cruz is a holy roller who will force women into 1950s-era back room abortions if he defunds Planned Parenthood. And do we really want someone who stops the legal process by filibustering when he doesn’t get his way as he did against Obamacare?
What can we say about the antics of Donald Trump? If he fosters violent protests at his rallies, I hate to think of the national climate should he actually gain the highest office in the land. Maybe he was bored governing over his real estate empire and contemplated what’s next to control? Oh, yes—there’s a presidential election coming in 2016! What might have started out as a lark, gained momentum landing him smack in the middle of the election season. In his private quarters, Trump is probably more surprised than the rest of us at how far he’s come.
Should the unthinkable happen and Trump is elected president, I think it will play out like the final scene in that 1972 Robert Redford movie The Candidate. Redford sits on a sofa surrounded by his supporters, and the projection is announced that he will become the next president of the United States. The camera pans in for a closeup on Redford who stares with alarm escaping from his eyes. He doesn’t have to say a thing. We know he hasn’t a clue what the hell to do now. That same bewildered glare will project from Trump’s eyes on election night if he is declared the winner.
What will he do next without any prior political experience? Will he build walls across the Mexican border? Will he expel throngs of illegal aliens from this country, or will he rely on “his people,” as he calls them, to run the show? And, Donald, you don’t have time now for that obsession with Megyn Kelly. Will that carry past the election?
As for poor Governor John Kasich, who is the most overlooked, but clearly the most experienced, candidate. Winning Ohio won’t be enough to make him a viable contender. He continues to fall well below Cruz and Trump in the polls, making the inevitable obvious. Either today or tomorrow, he will be forced to give that dreaded concession speech leaving the Republicans with two remaining candidates that not even the Republican hierarchy want to support. But they will rally behind Cruz—after all he is a good old boy politician and not just some upstart billionaire real estate magnate.
“There really isn’t a clear choice. I don’t like any of them, so honestly I may not vote,” my friend laments.
To not exercise one’s right as an American citizen to vote and thus have a say in shaping the future of our country might be irresponsible. But what if there was a third option in the voting booth? What if the choices were: Democrat, Republican or Abstain?
What if the majority of the people voted to abstain? That would surely send a clear message for the political pundits to regroup. They need to start the process over and in that case both parties would have to come up with a new set of viable candidates. I don’t believe by any stretch of the imagination that this current lot is the best our country has to offer, on the Democratic or Republican side.
Should we go the route of abstention, what ramifications could we expect? The parties would have to present an entirely new list of candidates. The country would return to the campaign season. The debates would begin again and hopefully this time they wouldn’t play out as cheap carnival sideshows. One year would be added to President Obama’s service. Well, he plans to remain in Washington anyway after his term is over so Sasha can complete her education. Now he would have something to do while she’s at school.
At no other time in my life have I felt it more necessary to rethink the candidates and regroup. The American people deserve a third option when they enter the voting booth to make that major decision for our next Commander in Chief, a role that will affect our country for decades to come.
So when you enter that election booth and draw the curtain, what will it be: Democrat, Republican, or Abstain?