The national election is leaving people dispirited. And there is good reason for it. Those at top are not bringing clarity to the affairs of the nation very well.
Normally in an election year, the world is at some point of stability and the international economy has a rhythm to it. Neither is true in 2016. We live in a period of shifting power alliances where the governing norms seem to be unraveling in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Half of the world seems in economic recession, the other half headed there.
The same is true for the domestic orbit of political party leadership. A cluster or working ideas will typically define Democratic hopes, and another cluster the Republican outlook. But neither party has much of a core anymore. Both parties are a spread of popular volitions competing for a new center. This adds anxiety to the course of our national election syndrome.
An element of mercurial change also sprinkles itself across all candidacies. One might liken the coalitions of candidacies to five columns of behavior:
- Bernie Sanders may offer passion, but his route to power is unworkable. With a 19 trillion dollar debt, he owes it to fit his ideas to the underlying fiscal reality of the time.
- Hillary Clinton is building upon an administration whose accomplishments are either incomplete or unworkable – be they the Iran and Pacific Trade Pacts, or health care. She represents all that has come to be seen as continually unsatisfactory – and takes multiple positions on each part of this program and then wraps all of them in vague, gauzy language to “make America whole.”
- Donald Trump, on the Republican side, calls forth all that might be best labeled unsettling. He is punching through for breakthroughs, is stirring change, and coalescing around instincts of power that excite the future, but don’t have their footings too well yet.
- Ted Cruz wants to repudiate the whole crust of mismanaged issues that have gotten us to a boiling point in our national life by instant new first day executive orders which wipe the slate clean. Cruz, who has no relations to people, to leadership, to well-crafted notions eagerly waiting for adoption, seeks to be a martyred gladiator against present norms. His program lacks much context and is mostly Undoable.
- John Kasich undulates between the past and the present. Swinging his arms across a stage like a symphony orchestra director, Kasich takes us deep into the laboratory of Ohio and the mid-1980s and 1990’s in his career in DC and tries to make us feel a reasonable man can pitch past decades and get us on track with the budget and credible international life one more time.
From Unworkable, to Unsatisfactory, to Unsettling, to UnDoable, to Undulating – it’s a rotating Election Merry-go-round. Against this mindless noise, what are Americans to do?
The Public Square recommends two vantage points for voters. The first is to know what to reject in the political discourse under way. The second is to know what’s worth trying to hear.
In the end of course, the public is far ahead of our tired political establishment of both parties. The public takes responsibility for its future. They know enough when they see it, unlike politicians who want any mirage of their life to keep going as long as it can.
The pubic sees their leaders as largely bought and sold, and gains by paying more attention to its own instincts. So what should the public think about trying to hear this time?
The Public should watch to see if any candidate offers a picture of tomorrow. Are the candidates framing any future reality for us as a people? Does the picture mesh with public belief at all, or put differently, which candidate truly hits the big issues of the hour well?
If tapping into the voter, is a leader offering a bend in our course that makes sense? Beyond pie in the sky, is there a sense of plausible hope about tomorrow worth voting for this November? Is the politician talking his or her way to a vote, or is the public will being heard?
Then, are our potential leaders selling us on what difference they can make to the country, or rather the difference the people can make is their focus on the will of the leader, or the people themselves and how their lot improves?
For the candidate who seems to be with the voter, that could be the way to know the best of tomorrow is coming, and that words born of political rhetoric are not just spinning our preferences but about to guide a country anew.
Amidst the noise, The Public Square believes elections are a time for humility.