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Let's Forget About Character in This Election

With the two most unpopular presidential candidates in memory, both of them apparently quite willing to bend the truth (but what politician isn’t?), we should stop making character an issue in the campaign. I say this with some trepidation, since in my lifetime we’ve had Richard Nixon, the most dishonest and vindictive president in recent history, Bill Clinton, whose personal sexual escapades nearly got him impeached, and George W. Bush, whose judgment an honesty about the reasons for starting a war have led our nation into a never ending conflict in the Middle East. But both Clinton and Trump can be faulted for playing fast and loose with the truth, and accusations back and forth by their supporters concerning who lies most seem pointless. Even in the case of Donald Trump, whose words are often ill-considered and require retractions and incite racism among his supporters, I’m tired of his opponents seizing upon every questionable utterance and misstep of his campaign to malign his character.

It’s not that character is unimportant in a president. It’s that the current debate seems to consist almost entirely of accusations from each campaign about the other candidate’s character and the media is consumed with grasping at candidates’ missteps and verbal faux pas to make exaggerated claims about their significance. The debate is going around in circles while real issues languish on the sideline and receive no attention.

The real issue in choosing a president is to determine, to the best of one’s ability, what that person will do, with regard to the important issues of the day, when elected. And there are real issues of the day, to wit:

  • ·      How to approach the turmoil in Syria and Iraq
  • ·      How to define America’s role on the international scene, both in terms of economics and international peace
  • ·      How to keep the economy growing
  • ·      How to keep our citizenry safe from terrorist attacks
  • ·      How to formulate a sensible immigration policy
  • ·      How to improve education within the United States
  • ·      What to do about our  soaring gun deaths
  • ·      How to reduce income disparity
  • ·      How to regulate Wall Street so we don’t have another economic crisis
  • ·      How to increase wages at the bottom of the pay scale
  • ·      How to provide affordable health insurance for everyone
  • ·      How to provide equal access to education, instead of making access dependent upon a family’s  financial means
  • ·      How to reduce the debt burden caused by attending college
  • ·      How to correct the clear racial bias in policing within the United States
  •        How to protect our environment and reduce climate change


Other people may have a different set of issues, but these are at least some of those that deserve a debate between the candidates and about which voters need to know where each candidate stands. The current issues—who lies, who lies most, which candidate is racist, which has been involved in dishonest business practices, who is most sexist, etc. are being debated endlessly and with both sides making accusations, convincing no one to change their mind and wasting our time. When election time comes we will vote on what we imagine each candidate will do, not on what information from the candidates told us they would most likely do.

As the election campaign is progressing, we are becoming increasingly uninformed by a national obsession with trivia, which for some reason, people think gives us a profound insight into what kind of president each candidate will be. I sincerely doubt that it does.




Reader Comments (3)

Casey Dorman's logic and choice of issues are reasonable and practicable. Of the two candidates, Hillary Clinton has indicated the more formal plans on these issues. The forthcoming debates will establish the evidence as to which major candidate is better prepared to undertake these issues as a matter of state.

July 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSara Murrieta

Thank you, Sara. An important omission on my list has been corrected. I have added protecting the environment and reducing climate change as an issue.

July 8, 2016 | Registered CommenterCasey Dorman

I listen and watch, and sometimes I speak.

I hear people who are defending the systems we use claim that we need to be patient, and let the systems work. They claim that a real impediment to the systems working properly is the public not participating.

As if the public has any access to that legislative process.

So, let me ask this and I really hope you consider this.
While the police were stuck defending the public from a violent angry asshole, while they were being killed standing in a line, defending the system from an angry public protesting the lack of resolutions to the problems we see in bold detail, WHERE WAS CONGRESS???

Were they in session, frantically searching for answers, speaking in committee, asking for research, getting public input, discussing solutions and costs?? WERE THEY ACTIVELY WORKING ON SOLUTIONS???

Well, no. They were not.

If the police are standing in a line, being killed to defend the system from an angry frustrated public, how does that advance solutions, when those people entrusted to find and implement solutions are protected and insulated from that consequence of inaction?

If those elected to fix problems are not actively engaged in FIXING problems, then why are the police defending them, and that process??

Is this just another iteration of the blue line, protecting their boss from the serfs? Are they merely muscle being used to squeeze the blood from the public??

Where is the success of the experiment we started with our declaration of independence??

When do we look at the evidence and conclude that the process outlined in our constitution is not a viable process? When do we start seriously accepting that it is time to search for a better process?

When do we start testing new ideas and debugging those and seriously start looking for BETTER ways of self governance??

July 9, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMike Anderson

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