March 16th, 2015 // 12:30 pm @ Oliver DeMille
If you follow my articles on a regular basis, you’ve probably noticed that I seldom write about topics that are in the current news cycle. I usually address such issues a week or more after they stop dominating the nightly news. There is an important reason for this.
The way the television news presents many political topics can be very emotional. This often leaves watchers strongly influenced and emotionally geared up—one way or another.
Instead of jumping into that emotional boiling pot, I prefer to take a more reasoned approach. And waiting a few days or weeks can allow people to absorb the news, think about things, and then take a fresh look at the topic once emotions have calmed a bit. This usually leads to deeper thinking and more wisdom.
The topic of the Hillary Clinton emails is just such an issue. Here’s my take on it, and though I think you’ll find it quite different than the various news reports on the subject, I believe this view is well worth considering. So, here goes…
Our current “gotcha” method of politics is a stain on our society. Watch the national news on almost any given evening, and a politician or potential candidate is being attacked for his or her latest weakness, mistake, or controversial choices. And in presidential politics, the din is even more constant.
The latest series of commentaries and diatribes against Hillary Clinton’s emails is yet another example of this problem. News programs clamor to break the latest development, talking heads line up to add their two cents of criticism, and potential 2016 Republican candidates jockey to call for the strongest censure.
Is it any wonder that most Americans don’t like politics very much? Or that many of those who do enjoy it too often treat it all like a reality show—a la Bachelor, Survivor, Celebrity Apprentice, the tabloids, or even the latest Kardashian saga? No surprise that independents shake their heads in disgust. Whichever party is the target of the latest news, the critics from the other side seem to pop up in droves.
Just once I’d love to hear a serious presidential contender step forward and take the high road. “I don’t really care about these allegations,” he or she would say. “I’ll leave that to the press and to people who are interested in these things. For me, they’re just a distraction.
A Better America
“The real question is a lot more important: Is Mrs. Clinton the best person for the job of President? Are her values, goals, and vision for this country what we want to lead us into the years ahead? Will her policies get us where we truly want to go? Because I believe in something I think is better for America, and I’d like to focus on that.
“I believe in an American future where…
“I see the United States making the hard choice to…
“If America is going to get back on track, and really live up to our great potential, every citizen needs to…
“Free enterprise is the hope for our future because…
“What really matters most to America’s next decade is the genuine, heartfelt decision to…
“…and that’s the kind of nation I want to pass on to our children and grandchildren. The policies I’ve outlined will get us there. So I’m not going to get sidetracked by these attacks on my opponent. There is too much at stake. No leader is perfect. Everyone in public office can be attacked by those who have nothing better to do.
“But that’s not really what this election or this nation is about. Not at all. There’s something much more important going on. If Mrs. Clinton is the best leader to take America into the future, then you should vote for her. The rest is mere distraction. If you share her vision and goals, then support her. If not, if you share the vision and direction I’ve outlined today, vote for me.
“These other things may be important, or not, but they aren’t as important as the real challenge—not by a long shot. The true question we should be addressing today is what kind of America do we want, how are we going to get there, and who is the best leader to make it happen? That’s the real issue. And ultimately it’s the only issue that really matters.”
Of course, both parties like to point fingers, make accusations, and jump on the bandwagon when they spot a potential weakness. But that’s not what America is about. Or, if it is, then we’re going to continue into decline. Period.
Taking a Stand
I’m convinced most Americans don’t like the negativity. Yes, it seems to influence elections. And that’s sad. Because it shows a certain lack of independent thought, a missing element of leadership on the part of some voters. A nation dedicated to an ongoing game of gleeful whack-a-mole against the latest candidate’s foibles simply isn’t all that serious about its own future.
I’m not suggesting that the media shouldn’t report the news. Journalists have a job to do, and the nation is more informed when they do it accurately. But voters, candidates and party leaders shouldn’t give in to every temptation to jump into the muck, get happily worked up over every personal flaw in their opponents, or go negative whenever a glimmer of opportunity to criticize someone presents itself.
I know, that’s just politics. But that’s the problem. Politics should be better. “It’s not,” the experts say. But let’s not listen to them. Candidates can choose the high road. If that brings about their loss, they should be proud to lose. To paraphrase Thoreau, if being petty, vindictive, and/or negative is what it takes to get elected, anyone who wins an election should be deeply ashamed.
Besides, we’re tired of candidates who really want to win. We want a candidate who really wants to stand for a great America, and to do so regardless of how many votes such a stand garners or repels. Yes, that might seem naïve to those inside the Beltway, but it’s still true. We want a leader. Really.
Moreover, voters can stop boosting the ratings of those who feed on the negative. If this is idealistic, it’s only because the ideal is worth supporting.
I, for one, am going to just pass on muckraking politics. I’m no fan of Hillary Clinton’s suggested policies, and I won’t be voting for her, but the candidates who jump on the bandwagon to attack her over every new potential negative—I just don’t respect them. Get a platform, take a stand, make us support you because of what you represent, stop grasping at straws and throwing rocks at Hillary. Or at anyone. Stop going on every television program you can and talking about your opponent’s flaws. It makes you look small. It is small, in fact.
I’ll vote for the candidate who takes a stand—not only for the issues I support, but also for the dignity to be professional, classy, positive, and optimistic. And yes, even idealistic and noble in the way he or she treats opponents and those who disagree.
Present and Future
Leaders like George Washington, Winston Churchill, and Ronald Reagan didn’t win by tearing down the other guy, relying on distasteful personal invective, or playing “gotcha” games. These tactics were too petty for them. They laid out a bold vision for their nation, made a case it for it, and let the voters decide whether or not to support it.
And they stayed on message. (For example, Washington spread his influence and vision mainly through letters, not by campaigning. Churchill was notoriously congenial with opponents, and Reagan was famously optimistic even in addressing controversial topics.) They didn’t let the media, polls, or ratings set their talking points.
I want to vote for a candidate with a powerful vision for America’s future and a new era of greater freedom and prosperity, a realistic and principle-based plan to achieve these things, and a firm stand against wasting time attacking others. And I want to live in a nation of voters who turn off the TV or stop watching programs full of angry jabs about little issues.
It’s time for us to get real. Let’s finally get to the big things: Like what we truly want to be as a nation, what policies will take us there, and which leaders can effectively help it happen. Anything less is a vote for more of the status quo—a nation of bickering, blaming, backbiting, and decline—and that’s a bad decision for all of us.
We can do better.
Call for Greatness
So when candidates or their campaigns join the petty negative attack bandwagon, like a group of mean girls bullying on Facebook, instead of just leading us in a Reagan-esque focus on what we need to truly make America great again, I’m going to scratch them off my list. I don’t want a finger-pointing president, or one whose main goal is to win the White House. We’ve had those—from both parties—and they made things worse, not better.
We need a great president. Just look at our economy, the rising national debt, Russia, China, the Middle East, race disputes in our cities, etc. We face real problems, and many of them are incredibly dangerous. No mediocre president will do.
Whoever you are, we need you to be great. And the surest way to be a great president is to be great, to do great, to simply act great. Starting by focusing on your great plan for America rather than trying to win by exposing the flaws in your opponents. We’re tired of small-minded, petty candidates and “leaders.”
I hope a lot of voters will join me in this watch for a real candidate, one whose bold vision, effective plan, refusal to go negative, and deep understanding of freedom and prosperity will make us all proud to be Americans again. If there’s no such candidate out there, then I really don’t care who wins. Anything less just guarantees further decline.
We need a great president, or bust…
And “great” includes positive, optimistic, and unswervingly focused on the big things that really matter.