A couple of weeks ago a good friend said she felt like her choice in this fall’s presidential election was like being forced to choose between eating cat poop or cat vomit. (She didn’t say “poop” but you understand my need to paraphrase. This is, after all, a family newspaper.)
This is a sentiment I hear often, though it’s almost never as eloquently phrased. I confess that I, too, am a bit underwhelmed by the selection of candidates on offer and understand the emotion.
As far as our “presumptive nominees,” the general excitement about them is indeed underwhelming. I think it is important to note that this is the first election cycle in my memory where we have had “presumptive nominees,” ostensibly because hardly anyone can wrap their mind around the fact that this is all we have to choose from and as long as we qualify with a “presumptive,” a miracle might happen somewhere down the line and a candidate that one can vote for without holding one’s nose will somehow mysteriously appear.
Some of my friends in New York are more perplexed than I am as to how we have reached this sorry situation. They have yet to meet anyone who supports either of the presumptive nominees. Seeing as these folks live in a city of 8.4 million people which is theoretically the home of both presumptive nominees, it is not surprising that they would expect to have at least crossed paths with someone who supports at least one of them. But they say it hasn’t happened.
My results differ. I have crossed paths with quite a few Trump supporters. Here in the bowels of the Bible belt, anyone who claims to be a conservative will enjoy some degree of popularity, just by making the claim, whether there’s any basis to it or not. That is to be expected. But even so, most folks I talk to find him distasteful.
I personally know only four Clinton supporters. Two are really gung-ho; one in the suburbs of New York and the other in Houston. The other two are local but one said she only voted for HRC out of feminist guilt and the other felt it was the pragmatic thing to do. Neither of those reasons are ringing endorsements.
It is interesting to me that we have reached this sorry state through completely different means. Republicans started out with way too many candidates and in much the same way as the nastiest, vilest character on a soap opera or more precisely, a reality show, gets all the attention, the nastiest, vilest character got all the attention.
Democrats started out with not nearly enough candidates. Party elites did everything in their power to shove their preferred candidate down voter’s throats. Even going in with 440 super-delegates on her side six months before the first vote was cast, HRC found it exceedingly difficult to fend off an attack from a cranky old socialist.
But both parties duked it out until they had somehow managed to select candidates that the majority of people don’t like. An average of the last dozen polls show that 61.1 percent of people have an unfavorable view of Donald Trump and 55.2 percent have an unfavorable view of Hillary Clinton.
A system that manages to select candidates who are that unlikable is a mess. It seems to me the problem lies with giving political parties too much power in the selection process. Neither of which are doing that well in the favorability area themselves, by the way. I have no idea how to correct that problem. But continuing to do something because that’s the way we’ve always done it is not a good enough reason. Maybe the solution is more parties or maybe curbing the power of the ones we have. Again, no idea how that would work.
Maybe, the country should just put up a big sign-up sheet like in high school for student council elections. Then we all vote on all of them. That’s the primary. Then we have a run-off between the top two or three candidates. That would be the general. And it all happens in a couple of months, not a couple of years. Maybe you have a better idea. Likely you do.
But meanwhile, here we are heading into the conventions where the two most compelling arguments for voting for our two candidate are:
• No matter what, Hillary Clinton must never be elected president.
• No matter what, Donald Trump must never be elected president.
Time to pick your poison. Cat poop or cat vomit.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699 or on Twitter @BillColvard.