We are long past the realization that the presidential campaign of
2016 has been, and will likely continue to be, different from any
other campaign we have ever observed or experienced.
The up-and-down quality of the candidates, polls, and political
rhetoric had been relentless, even in the usually quiet period just
after the national party conventions. I think this will continue
until election day. There will almost certainly be not only October
“surprises,” but a few in September as well. After this election,
we will likely have a new definition of what are political surprises.
As for the two nominees themselves, they will probably continue
to speak and act consistent with their lifelong personae. Hillary
Clinton will repeat the mantra that she has told the truth, even
though the evidence is overwhelming and beyond reasonable
doubt that she has not done so. Donald Trump will again and again
go off message with inappropriate statements that will disappoint
his supporters and further fuel his opponents arguments against him.
There are good-faith supporters of both nominees who hope my
comment above is wrong, and I might add that if either or both of
them would overcome these major flaws, it would likely change the
dynamic of the election. Out of concern for our nation and its
political process, I also hope I am wrong. We need a president that
Americans can rally behind on January 21, 2017 --- in these very
critical and dangerous times --- be that person a Democrat or a
My counsel, however, is not to expect the nominees to transform
themselves in 90 days. They are each about 70 years old, and set in
their ways. Each of them has been successful with their persona in
the past, and even if they do realize that running for president as
their party’s nominee is unlike anything else they have ever done,
lifetime habits are incredibly difficult to change.
My counsel to all is this: whether you are a Democrat or a
Republican, whether you like your party’s nominee or not, no
matter how disappointed you are with the choices you have,
expect the nominees to stay in character, ignore all or most polls
until late October, weigh what you think each party will bring
about in the next four years, and be true to what YOU (not any
candidate) believe in.
For those who thinking about either staying home or not voting
for any candidate in protest, I caution that this is ultimately an
empty gesture. As I have pointed out countless times in the past,
everyone votes in an election --- those who stay home or leave
the ballot blank are in very real effect endorsing the person who
does eventually win. This is not symbolic; it’s reality.
This might not be pleasant or reassuring advice to many of my
readers, be they liberals, conservatives or centrists. But there will
be a choice made on that Tuesday in November, and each of us
must live with that choice every day for the following four years.
Some might opt for voting for the other party’s nominee, and some
might choose to vote for one party’s candidates for U.S. house and
senate, and the other party’s candidate for president. That is a
deliberate strategy for stalemate, but it is a strategy. I have argued
that stalemate is not likely to be useful any longer in these troubled
times, but I might be wrong.
In any event, I know of no strategy for any voter to “opt out” of this
election. No matter what each of us does, it will affect the outcome
one way or another. If the party nominees and some of the other
candidates in both parties don’t act like grown-ups, that does not
mean we have to imitate them.
This might or might not be the most important election of our
lifetimes, but it is clearly the most difficult.
Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.