Because of that, maybe our schools won’t deteriorate, and maybe student performance won’t suffer, and maybe parents with the financial means won’t move to another town with better schools, and maybe then my town’s tax revenue and property values and long-term health and wellness won’t suffer.
I don’t know.
But I think I know that the school levy passing—despite not having a child in the public school system—is likely to impact my life more than the President of the United States does.
I say that because, since I was born in 1979, we’ve had a Democrat, a Republican, a Republican, a Democrat, a Republican, a Democrat, and now—beginning in January—another Republican.
I can’t look you in the eye and tell you that my life would have veered dramatically in another direction had any of those previous elections yielded different results.
I’m not big on talking about candidates I vote for because politics is divisive and I care more about NOT being divisive than I care about any particular political issue.
But given the realities of the 2016 shit show we called an election, I’m comfortable sharing that I neither voted for President-Elect Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton.
There are approximately 150 million U.S. citizens eligible to run for president. And in the end, Americans were asked to choose between two people, BOTH of whom were DISLIKED by 60% of registered voters.
Please skip to the next sentence, People Offended by Profanity, but how in the blue fuck does THAT happen? Because that seems totally unreasonable.
My third-grade son asked me recently as we were driving somewhere: “Hey dad! Who do you like better between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?”
I thought for a moment: “Well, bud. That’s a little bit like asking me whether I’d rather eat poop or drink pee,” which he thought was super-funny because, you know, third grade.
I continued, but felt a little bit like how teachers must feel when they teach little kids that white pilgrims in fancy black hats and Native Americans in feathered headbands sat together peacefully on Thanksgiving in the 1600s eating cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie: “What usually happens is that two people run for president and each of them shares their ideas for how to help people and make our country the best place it can possibly be. Both people want the same good things to happen, but have different ideas for how to do it. And then we vote for the person with the ideas we agree with the most.”
“Which person do you agree with most?” he asked.
I thought a little more: “I guess I agree with a little bit from both of them. The problem is that I don’t particularly like or trust either of them. And it’s more important to me to like and trust someone than it is for me to agree with them.”
The Most Important Things
That was a big moment for me. When I realized that I value things like character, trustworthiness, and likability more than I do a particular political ideology.
Think about how often you have disagreed with your spouse, your parents, your siblings, your best friends. When push comes to shove, don’t we—more often than not—want those people we know and love standing with us, or representing us more than we do people who share the same likes, interests, opinions, etc.?
Something I learned about me this election cycle is that I’m more inclined to vote for someone I like and disagree with than I am for someone I agree with, but dislike.
I’m a pretty moderate guy, so it’s easy for me to shake my head in surprise at the 2016 presidential election results without getting as emotional about it as others are feeling.
I respect and understand that people with differing political opinions will feel much differently in both directions along the political spectrum.
There are political issues pertaining to this election which have little effect on my day-to-day life, but which DO affect the lives of other people in other places, and I’m not insensitive to, nor unaware of, that reality.
Not unlike how husbands and wives sometimes have strongly opposing viewpoints in their marital disagreements, I wish more people would remember that the beliefs and feelings people have about politics (or any subject) make PERFECT sense in the context of that individual’s specific life experience.
We like to call each other stupid.
Maybe some of us are.
But we’re just different. Like a husband and wife might be, or like someone from Japan versus someone from Switzerland might be.
Japanese nor Swiss people are “weird” or “wrong” for being born and raised in Japan or Switzerland. They are EXACTLY who and what anyone would be if they were born into identical circumstances.
So when we ask a Japanese citizen and a Swiss citizen for their opinion, and they differ from, or oppose, the others, one or both of them are not stupid.
It would be weird if they were anything but what they are.
What if We Had Two (or More) Amazing Candidates From Which to Choose?
James Altucher, one of my favorite writers, wrote that he doesn’t vote in general elections.
“I have no political anti-establishment reason for not voting. I’m not an anarchist. I just don’t see why I should vote.
“A vote is a choice between two elaborate theatrical productions…
“It’s a choice between the aesthetics of Star Wars versus Indiana Jones.
“It’s a vote to see which artist more cleverly evokes our mythological and unconscious responses to the perilous world around us.”
I don’t know how to criticize what James wrote here. How is he wrong? He’s not.
We award the most prominent and potentially important job in the country—possibly the world—to whoever fudges truth, avoids scandal and smears opponents most effectively.
I hope even the most ardent Hillary supporters and/or Trump haters can find it within themselves to see the one (in my opinion) objectively good thing to come from Trump’s election regardless of how effective or ineffectively he holds office: ANYONE with a loud-enough microphone can have their ideas heard and be elected to public office.
This reminds me of the time I learned about that big, glistening ballsack being photographed with children. Because Mr. Balls proves anything is possible.
Maybe We Could Change Things If We Didn’t Do What We Always Do
You know that thing you do?
Where you REALLY give a shit about politics for a few weeks or months leading up to an election, and then once it’s over—whether or not your preferred candidates win—you tune out and get back to the business of worrying about car payments, binge-watching Netflix, job hunting, your favorite sports team, Hollywood gossip, paying for your kids’ college, etc.?
I get it. That’s pretty much what I do.
But whether you’re the kind of person who believes Trump is an answer to our frustrations with Washington politics as usual, or believes he’s a threat to our way of life, or who simply shares my dismay at the idea that we were put in the position of electing a president from two people fundamentally DISLIKED and UNTRUSTED by six out of 10 voters, I hope you’ll agree:
This can’t happen again.
Do you want real-life human beings untarnished by the Washington political machine—people with the intellect, talent, and temperament to instill authentic change—to be elected into office?
Now is the time to find and informally nominate those people. Now is the time to start building social media campaigns. Now is the time to start getting those people in front of the 2020 voters.
We can sit around waiting for the machine to spit out some more canned candidates which inspire hatred, criminal charges, and Twitter wars; or we can find kind, sane, smart people—the kind of people you know at work, or in town, or leading an organization—and we can start introducing the BEST PEOPLE with the best ideas to the future voters craving the kind of leadership EVERYONE will respect and follow, even during disagreement.
Like people struggling in their troubled marriages, this is either one of the most-important things in the world and a problem worth putting in effort to solve.
Or it’s not.
In which case, has everybody seen the new Rogue One movie trailer?