There were many days when it seemed the calendar was standing still during the course of this campaign. I have not before had the experience of a campaign for President of the United States of America that reached the depths this race has reached. This is not intended to be a political statement favoring one or the other candidates. Both candidates are able to share equally in the lament I express this morning.
Abraham Lincoln was quoted as saying: “The strife of the election is but human nature practically applied to the facts of the case.” This statement was made during the campaign for re-election to President during the Civil War. Lincoln must be spinning in his grave this morning.
We may well have experienced something similar except this campaign cannot be classified as being anywhere near “civil”. Neither candidate was always above the fray holding the traditions of this lofty office out for all to see. Both candidates left a great deal to be desired by us citizens of the United States of America. We come back to the phrase: “Lesser of Evils”. If ever this phrase was appropriate, it is now.
Teachers of ‘civics’, or whatever it may be called today, have ample opportunity for materials to be gathered from this set of campaigns. And, depending on the political persuasion of the person, there is ample evidence from which to conclude that either or both candidates were guilty of a travesty so far as their personal conduct during this campaign.
We are accustomed to a rough and tumble race for our highest office. We used to be able to expect that both candidates would conduct themselves in a manner befitting the highest office in our land. Sure, there were going to be some verbal altercations along the trail, but those were usually of a more subtle nature and could be forgotten soon after their utterance.
This campaign has, unfortunately, created an entirely new convention to be worked on and added to over the course of time. There were statements from both sides of the aisle that were beyond obnoxious. Neither candidate can claim to be exempt from this scolding. For a citizen new to our country, there may well be some apprehension about what he or she did to self by becoming a citizen of this country.
Personal baggage is another segment of this criticism. We had no choice but to vote for the candidate we felt carried the least potential for damaging us internationally and nationally. One candidate was an experienced hand at politics, and the other was a political neophyte. One had significant political baggage along with her for the ride. The other had a personality that one had to fight through to be able to cast a vote in his favor. My personal decision was to cast my vote for the lesser of evils as I saw that. I feel quite sure that I was in the company of millions of others who did the same thing I did in the polling place.
So, we have done something from which we will either learn as a nation of voters or from which we will find ourselves going further down the rabbit hole in terms of our ability to be civil in discourse as we sort out the preferred candidate. I fear the latter is the more likely path we’ll follow since once a line has been crossed, it seems much easier to cross the other lines we come to on that same road.
We, as a people, have taken a step backward in our journey toward intellectual freedom, towards choosing the best person as our President. Everyone who becomes a candidate for this office will have some scars and some things about which he or she is not too proud. We are all human and we have all sinned.
We are ever closer, however, to the place where we are going to be faced with ever more difficult decisions as if this decision wasn’t difficult. This decision shows the capacity we have to become tools of something we’d never have considered in decades past. The future evils in this ‘lesser of evils’ equation are not likely to do anything but become more evil. Once we have crossed a line, the next line is easier to cross. Before we know it, we have devolved into something we can’t even recognize and we lament since we know not how we could’ve let that happen.
We have taken a very significant step in this election, no matter who is the leading vote gatherer. And it is not a step we can hold up for our future generations proudly. If you feel dirtied, you have company.