As I went in to the voting booth this morning and surveyed the list of candidates, I had a sobering reality check: the candidates that come closest to my values and political views don’t exist. Or, let’s say, they don’t have a chance of winning this year.
These past few months have seen our political process turned upside down. Watching the debates makes me sick to my stomach. The conservative GOP, the party of Lincoln, is being led by a foul-mouthed billionaire buffoon who has alienated nearly every trading partner we have; if Trump wins, commodity agriculture will need to re-invent itself because trade wars will be next. Meanwhile the Democrats are being led by either the e-mail-challenged Hillary Clinton, who collected millions from Wall Street in speaking fees even as her campaign rattled on about ‘Wall Street Reform,’ or the socialist Bernie Sanders who has promised voters the moon – free healthcare, free college tuition, you name it. And apparently those evil Wall Street bankers will pay for it.
All of this has caused even the mainstream media to lose its collective minds. Which can’t be all bad, but I digress.
What do we ask for in a president? These are the kind of characteristics that would get my vote:
Someone who will actually care about the economy. According to the Wall Street Journal, this has been the most anemic ‘recovery’ since the 1930s.
Someone who knows how to compromise. When Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill were in office, things got done. Those two were at opposite ends of the political spectrum, but they put their differences aside when it came to Congress and making sensible laws for our country. That hasn’t happened in, oh, nearly eight years.
Someone who can gain the world’s respect with a gentle voice and stiff resolve. Things aren’t getting easier in the Middle East, Africa, or countless other global hotspots. Could Donald Trump get respect by bullying other countries? It’s a rhetorical question; you know the answer.
Someone who has a vision that includes the shared values of the majority of Americans. I don’t think my values are all that far out of line with others. I would like smaller government with sensible regulations; a government that takes care of the people who can’t take care of themselves. I want my government to do what the constitution says it is supposed to do – protect us, build our infrastructure, invest in our children’s education – but I don’t want it invading our privacy or restricting our freedoms. I want free enterprise – give people opportunities to be rewarded by their hard work and work ethic. Are these values really out of whack with today’s reality?
Someone who does not pander for political favor. I’m tired of candidates trashing businesses. Those businesses provide paychecks, and those paychecks produce tax money that pays the politicians’ salaries. Yes, I agree we should close loopholes that provoke companies to move headquarters outside of our borders. But anyone who thinks businesses are evil doesn’t understand capitalism or the role entrepreneurism played in building this nation’s wealth.
Someone who wants to find common ground on Capitol Hill. There are plenty of issues that divide us, but there’s a ton we can all agree on as well. Should we rebuild our crumbling bridges, roads and waterways? Yes. Can we streamline the federal government so that it’s not so wasteful? Why not? The next president should focus on the things we can accomplish together.
Someone who knows how the federal government works. I would like a president that does not overstep his or her constitutional authority. I agree with this USA Today editorial from July, 2014: “Congress makes the laws; the president executes them. That is what the founders gave us.”
I’ve voted in a lot of elections over the years. I don’t know who will be left standing when November rolls around, but I’m hoping there will be a leader on the list who is vote-worthy. The good news: the cringe-worthy political ads will stop after today.
At least, for a while.