Shaun’s Musings: No Perfect Human, No Perfect Candidate

 

If you agree with me on 9 out of 12 issues, vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist. –-Ed Koch

Growing up, I observed on many occasions that my mother really didn’t have any opinions of her own. She read the Boston Globe regularly, and watched Fox News as if it were somehow the only news network out there. She raised me to be a conservative, but she read a liberal newspaper and watched a conservative news network. It seemed to take a toll on her ability to hold or state her beliefs consistently. For example, she would argue she was against abortion because it is the killing of an unborn child, something she’d heard from Fox, but would later say that an unwanted child is a burden on society, which she’d read in the Boston Globe.

My mother was of another generation. She grew up in the 1930s, when supposedly people aspired to rugged individualism, so it always surprised me that she seemed to change her beliefs about things as the wind changed direction.

Politicians are often accused of the same thing. While the average person, in the face of new information, may change their minds on specific issues, politicians often do this not because they’ve change their minds, but because they want to get elected. We know from audio and video that Obama opposed same-sex marriage before he was elected President. Politicians and parties want to attain or keep power, so they often compromise or switch positions on issues like this to ensure their supremacy in other areas. Many who support same-sex marriage parrot the line it is the defining issue of their lives, as if they’d otherwise be sent to the lions for their lifestyle. The same can be said of some who use marijuana. It matters little to them if the candidate who toes their single-issue line is going to raise taxes on everybody, sell America to China, or put more people in jail. All they care about is the legalization of marijuana.

Of course, there are key issues that all conservatives stand for. These are the values that mean most to us. They are the cards we hold tight to our chest. We may prioritize them differently, though. For some of us, it may be abortion. For others, it may be immigration. For me, it’s education.

But however we look at a political candidate, we must never view them as a savior.

Politicians are not messianic figures. When a people view their leader as a messianic hero, rest assured, despotism is right around the corner. Unless we’re deluding ourselves, we must all admit that every candidate holds some view, some position we disagree with. However many people there are in this country, no two people hold exactly the same views. They may vote for the same person, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they agree with each other about everything.

Both political parties are now giving the message that you’re either for them or against them. There is no more middle ground. You’re for same-sex marriage or you’re a hater. You support immigration or you’re a fascist. You agree the globe is warming apocalyptically or you are a denier — and people eat this extremism up, especially when it comes to global warming.

Many Americans now seem to think a candidate must adhere to the views of his or her base about every issue. This is absurd. While I agree with Bernie Sanders about corporations being in the back pocket of the government, and agree with him about the rising cost of education, I simply cannot and never will vote for a socialist. Many of my friends will, however, because they agree with him that there’s an elite one-percent who should be paying more of their fair share.

Americans should look at the candidate as a whole. We hear that as an excuse whenever there’s a scandal, of course, or when the past is dredged up to reveal some ugly skeleton in the closet. But there’s a serious idea beneath the admonition. Rather than being swayed by a random bunch of quotes on social media, people should ask: What does the future look like if this man or woman is elected? In the case of Sanders, in the case of Clinton, we’re looking at socialism. Time and again, Clinton has agreed with the case for taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Trump is no ideal candidate either, though he is more vocal on topics that interest me. But he has donated and supported the Democrats for years.

Face it: There is no perfect candidate. There is no one out there who agrees with you or with me 100% of the time about everything.

And that’s how it should be.

There are 12 comments.

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  1. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Yes.  Very true and well-said.

    To some extent, I’ll even vote for the candidate whose record gives evidence of actual conviction over the one who simply checks off more boxes.   I’d rather trust you to do the right thing 8 out of 10 times than have you tell me you’ll do it 10 out of 10.

    Even if you are right on 12 out of 12 things, how will you handle political reality?  What are you willing to give up?  How well can you handle a tough budget negotiation?

    • #1
  2. John Penfold Member
    John Penfold
    @IWalton

    The Argentinianization of our politics has been going on for some time and it ends with the hopeless search for a savior who gathers enough power to fix things.  Trump is the current Peronist model, Obama was the last one.  But some understanding and some positions are essential and we can reject candidates that don’t get them right. It’s all about Washington power.  The more centralized the power the more dysfunctional, poorer and fractious we become.       Fiorina strikes me as a Margret Thatcher, not a savior in the Peronist sense but a savior that will reduce Washington’s power.  So does Cruz and maybe Rubio.

    • #2
  3. Probable Cause Inactive
    Probable Cause
    @ProbableCause

    S.D. Curran:Both political parties are now giving the message that you’re either for them or against them. There is no more middle ground. You’re for same-sex marriage or you’re a hater. You support immigration or you’re a fascist. You agree the globe is warming apocalyptically or you are a denier — and people eat this extremism up, especially when it comes to global warming.

    This paragraph is a bit inconsistent.  You begin with “both parties,” but all three examples are how Democrats behave.

    (By the way, the Ed Koch quote is awesome.)

    • #3
  4. LilyBart Inactive
    LilyBart
    @LilyBart

    I don’t expect any candidate to perfectly reflect all my views. But there are some issues that are deal killers – some issues that are so far-reaching, you cannot compromise.   (This is like picking a spouse – no one is perfect, but some things you can’t live with.)

    For  me it’s immigration – because to allow the current situation to continue, or to codify it into law, will result in the destruction of our country’s culture and constitutional system.   There are too many people coming to our country, taking jobs, signing up for benefits, and these people have no love for or no connection to our founding principal and our constitution.  It does not bode well for our future – for the ‘blessings of liberty’.

    I believe that to ignore this situation, or to embrace it, will destroy what I love about this country.  I just cannot go there.

    • #4
  5. LilyBart Inactive
    LilyBart
    @LilyBart

    John Penfold:The Argentinianization of our politics has been going on for some time and it ends with the hopeless search for a savior who gathers enough power to fix things. Trump is the current Peronist model, Obama was the last one. But some understanding and some positions are essential and we can reject candidates that don’t get them right. It’s all about Washington power. The more centralized the power the more dysfunctional, poorer and fractious we become. Fiorina strikes me as a Margret Thatcher, not a savior in the Peronist sense but a savior that will reduce Washington’s power. So does Cruz and maybe Rubio.

    Reducing government power, and pulling back from expecting Washington to solve all your personal problems, is the only ‘salvation’.   There is very little encouragement from the republican party on this – they don’t seem to believe in small government.

    • #5
  6. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Sometimes I think we see the candidates not in comparison to Eisenhower but to Mark Harmon.

    • #6
  7. Adriana Harris Inactive
    Adriana Harris
    @AdrianaHarris

    I don’t need a perfect candidate. I would support most of the republican candidates if nominated with varying degrees of enthusiasm. I couldn’t vote for a democrat or Donald Trump because I believe they are one and the same.

    • #7
  8. SParker Member
    SParker
    @SParker

    There’s a Eugene V. Debs quote I’ve always liked on the subject of political messiahs and the voters who love them:

    I would not lead you into the promised land if I could, because if I led you in, some one else would lead you out.

    What? This isn’t Berniementum.com?

    • #8
  9. S.D. Curran Inactive
    S.D. Curran
    @SDCurran

    Probable Cause:

    S.D. Curran:Both political parties are now giving the message that you’re either for them or against them. There is no more middle ground. You’re for same-sex marriage or you’re a hater. You support immigration or you’re a fascist. You agree the globe is warming apocalyptically or you are a denier — and people eat this extremism up, especially when it comes to global warming.

    This paragraph is a bit inconsistent. You begin with “both parties,” but all three examples are how Democrats behave.

    (By the way, the Ed Koch quote is awesome.)

    Okay, point taken. Either you are for life or a baby killer. How’s that?

    • #9
  10. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Here’s a couple more:

    Either you’re for shutting down the government or you support Obamacare.

    Either you praise Donald Trump or you support Jeb Bush.

    • #10
  11. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    SD, you prompted me to think about my mom’s political opinions. She was born in 1942, and your description of your mother reminded me of her. Unlike your mom, she didn’t even really read the news: She subscribed to The New York Times, but when it arrived in the morning, she went straight to the Arts section (she was a musician), and I don’t know if she ever read any other news source or watched one.

    She didn’t really have political opinions of her own: She tended to agree with my father, or subsequently my stepfather. She certainly couldn’t have made a good, independent argument for any political belief she held, and I’m pretty sure she voted exactly as they did, based on their advice, every time. She would often ask me what she should think about certain issues — her questions were often phrase in a way that suggested she wasn’t asking why she should think it, but what she should think.

    I have a memory of  watching the Dole-Clinton debate with my extended stepfamily; my mom was bored and said something like, “Oh, let’s switch this off and do something fun.” My stepbrother Richard looked at her and said, “But Toby, it’s your country.” She looked baffled by that idea. I don’t think she ever had any real sense of that — that she was a full and equal member of a democracy; that it made any difference what she believed or how she voted.

    So when I read your sentence about your mom’s beliefs surprising you, given that she grew up in an era where the ideal of individualism was prized, it made me wonder if the assumption is wrong: Perhaps it wasn’t so prized, or wasn’t so prized in women, in particular.

    Anyway, I fully agree with you that anyone looking for a candidate with whom they have a perfect mind-meld is exhibiting an unwholesome and childlike desire for a savior — and a dangerous one.

    • #11
  12. Probable Cause Inactive
    Probable Cause
    @ProbableCause

    S.D. Curran:

    Probable Cause:

    S.D. Curran:Both political parties are now giving the message that you’re either for them or against them. There is no more middle ground. You’re for same-sex marriage or you’re a hater. You support immigration or you’re a fascist. You agree the globe is warming apocalyptically or you are a denier — and people eat this extremism up, especially when it comes to global warming.

    This paragraph is a bit inconsistent. You begin with “both parties,” but all three examples are how Democrats behave.

    (By the way, the Ed Koch quote is awesome.)

    Okay, point taken. Either you are for life or a baby killer. How’s that?

    The Republican Party is currently pushing for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, which is reasonably middle ground — people can still abort babies, just don’t make everyone else pay for it.

    • #12
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