Of U.S. Voter Dilemmas, Colltalers
Americans have now three candidates, and six months, to choose who should be the new president. Trump is all but certain on the Republican side, while Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have still some slaughter to do against each other.
But theirs has been the rational side of discussions on race, foreign policy, the economy, and challenges facing the U.S., in sharp contrast to the likely GOP nominee’s speeches, heavy on diatribes and light on policy, despite a free wall-to-wall media coverage.
So we’ll skip commenting on, say, his refusal to declare his income taxes, and focus instead of what seems to be a familiar aspect of presidential contests around the world, but relatively new in the U.S.: choose with your heart or with your mind?
For none of the contenders to President Obama succession, despite glaring vote dominance of one over the other, has stamped the July convention ticket just yet. Yet, their campaigns offer insights of what we expect from our political leaders, and ultimately, what defines us as citizens making a choice towards the future. Besides, obviously, their richer background compared to Trump.
They both offer a historic first for America, and one different than what the president himself represented in 2008: Clinton would be the first female, and Sanders, the first Jew, to be elected president, two counts the U.S. is sorely trailing behind the world.
That is no small feature. Instead of choosing another white, rich male, Americans may be making a statement about
race and gender. That, while still a work in progress within society, either is no longer an excuse to vet anyone aiming at higher office.
However, zeroing on the public perception about two different government and leadership views, proposed by Clinton and Sanders, is an even bigger issue. For it resonates with the way we make our most intimate, and crucial, daily decisions.
How we strike an effective balance between what we feel passionate about, and what we believe possible to be achieved, is everyone’s challenge. We all get blindsided sometimes by being too eager to see through something we’ve dreamt about for too long, or by excessive caution and lack of daring to ask for what we really want. In both cases, we have to live with the consequences.
We’re talking about perception, of course. As individuals, Clinton and Sanders seem perfectly capable of making important decisions by a combination of passion and rationality, which is, at the end of the day, what we expect from our leaders anyway.
But as such, they represent something beyond their individualities. And to those following closely this long and winding presidential campaign, they sit in parallel ideals of what the next White House occupant should be. And that is important.
Even before her defeat to Barack Obama, when she was an outspoken but publicly humbled first lady, Clinton has followed a well recognized curve of apprenticeship, which led her to become an accomplished, and elected, member of the president’s cabinet.
Along the process, her political ambitions and determination became clear, but also her preparedness to the biggest job she’ll ever want to have. These days, despite struggling in the warm and sympathy category, no one questions her knowledge of the issues.
That’s been serving her well in the campaign. The way she’s constantly questioned, and comes up with pondered, insightful opinions on a variety of relevant themes is admirable, all the slips and momentary returns to prefab answers being considered.
From the start, she’s done her homework. She’s the pragmatic candidate; flawed, questionable, and not exactly conveying sincerity in her public appearances. But one whose reassuring thick-skin approach may be what’s necessary to the job at hand.
By far, the most remarkable aspect of the Sanders candidacy has been its ability to enrapture his supporters. In fact, if it wasn’t for candidate Obama’s own take-the-country-by-storm campaign, eight years ago, this would be the most passionate on record.
In common, both Obama’s and Sanders’ campaigns share an underlying theme of integrity, of moral correctness, that arguably hadn’t been linked to a candidate since Jimmy Carter. His socialist-infused speeches have injected a humanistic soul in this campaign.
Despite being older than Clinton, it is Sanders too who enjoys stronger support on the Internet, Twitter, and other social networks. YouTube clips of the Senator, going back almost four decades, have been a refreshing testament to his unwavering character.
Lastly, he exudes genuine passion to the challenges he’s proposing to tackle. His is not a clinical view of government, and his plain talk style has spoken deeply to a despondent young, urban generation, who seems invested in making a difference.
All and all, two outstanding candidates, worth to succeeding the president in his quest to reposition America as the land of hope and tolerance. And that’s how their campaigns can be perceived as choosing a pragmatic approach, or a passionate one. In reality, we won’t choose solely based on that, and whatever we get, whoever wins, won’t be stuck with one or other approach either.
But placing Clinton and Sanders under different aspects of the human experience – the need to think hard and make decisions based on evidence, and the importance of caring, of following the intuition about things – may be useful to inform our choice.
We need integrity, respect to the truth, and deep connection being restored to the political process. As well as we need to consider even the malodorous aspects related to govern 350 million people and inspire other several billions around the world. In all, one thing is for sure. That’s the sharp contrast mentioned before, in relation to the Trump campaign. And we definitely sign on for that.
Let’s leave to another column to elaborate on potential shortcomings of both Clinton and Sanders for closing the deal, as the campaign progresses, and the GOP internal differences become less obvious. And may heaven preserve our sanity to endure it all.
In the meantime, we must not lose sight of what the world needs now, and from now on, and the possible consequences resulting of the decision we’re about to take next November, at the polls. For there’s never been so much at stake. Have a great one. WC