Okay, so finally, Election Day is right around the corner.
Now, if I had said that in years past, such as in 1992, which was the first time that I voted, or in 1996, when I was excited about the chances that a Democrat would actually be re-elected into the White House, this statement might have tipped you off that I was happy and looking forward to taking part in such an event.
Not so in this case. Frankly, I just want this damn election over with. Neither major party choice is inspiring, although we know that one or the other will be elected. The good news is that one of these two will finally go away and not be seen any longer by the American public. The bad news is that one of them will be seated in the highest office in the land and, for at least the next four years, will become the face of the country.
There was one election in my lifetime where it did seem that people felt much more hopeful. Perhaps there was a glimmer of that for me and other young people back in the 1992 election, but I am talking, of course, about the 2008 election. It came in the aftermath of America's involvement in not one, but two wars that were going badly, and which an arrogant Bush administration had sunk us into. We had seen Hurricane Katrina virtually destroy huge sections of New Orleans, and we had feared for our future with the financial practices of the "too big to fail" firms, with the bubble that much of the country's wealth was built on bursting to reveal just how flimsy and exposed we are as a country - which was not what most Americans expected. On top of it, what many people had long suspected was revealed to be an undeniably truth at that point, and that is that the economic system is staggeringly corrupt and rigged, and that the growing divide between rich and poor was real.
Barack Obama was the most hopeful and inspiring major party candidate that we had seen in my lifetime, and people really felt as if he were a breath of fresh air, sent to the country at precisely the right time to bring about much needed change, and to instill what people wanted to feel most of all: hope.
Of course, after eight years, we have seen the results, and they are not nearly so pretty. Obama did not make good on some campaign promises, such as to close Gitmo. He was not the anti-Wall Street figure that many people assumed he would be, and he did not immediately or painlessly end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was not the great environmental president that many hoped he would be, and his support of fracking and other damaging practices were a cause for alarm among many of his supporters. Greater economic and political equality and fairness was not achieved and, if anything, the country seems more divided than it was in the years leading up to the 2008 election. Race is far bigger of a surface issue than it was then, and although Obama cannot and should not be faulted for all of these racial problems, he nonetheless proved not to be the healer that so many people had (probably unrealistically) assumed he would be, or at least could be.
Now, that is not such a new story. After all, for people like me who had high hopes for Bill Clinton when he surprised many and actually became the first Democrat to break through and win the White House following 12 long years of Reagan and the first Bush, we got eight years of what was, at times, surprisingly conservative politics coming from the White House. This served as an unfortunate reminder that Clinton (take your pick which one) and Obama were both considerably to the right of an old school Republican like Eisenhower, who was not a fan of war (despite, or perhaps because of, his own obvious experience with it), and who believed in greater civil rights and economic opportunity for all Americans. Eisenhower was for unions and recognized their importance, and he believed in a fairer healthcare system. Those are things that Clinton and Obama were a bit too fuzzy on, frankly.
And so, the election of either Trump or another Clinton has led to more skepticism than anything else. Many Americans simply cannot view either of these two as potential healers of the nation's wounds, but rather as symptoms of some mysterious something that is wrong with the country. Perhaps the fact that both are elitists in their own way, and that both have an extensive history of revealing their condescending attitudes towards those they perceive as lessers, shows good reason for this skepticism.
Clinton dismissed millions of supporters of Bernie Sanders as people who lived in the basement of their parents, and dismissed millions of supporters of Donald Trump as a "basket of deplorables." Those comments seemed eerily reminiscent of the same dismissiveness by 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who cast aside the concerns of the "47 percent" who would never vote for him, come what may. He also mocked climate change during his acceptance speech, and it was with a shiver that I read Hillary's comments regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline and the peaceful Native American protests against it, where she basically came out in favor of the pipeline and dismissed the concerns of environmental activists, insinuating that they held an extreme viewpoint. This from the supposed "progressive" candidate.
As for Trump? Well, even if you wanted to ignore him and his ridiculous comments, you would probably not be able to do it these days. He has dominated the news, and this coverage has certainly given him the free advertisement that he seems to have predicted it would.
Somehow, despite everyone's expectations that this would be a blowout in favor of Hillary, the race is surprisingly close. Clinton is still expected to win, but what does it say about her negative ratings that she has not been able to put away somebody who is loathed like Trump? What does it say, that despite how frequently Trump has been caught lying, polls consistently show that she is even less trusted than Trump?
Well, to me, it shows that we are in for another four (or maybe eight - yikes!) years of uninspired "leadership" from the White House, should she get elected - and it still looks like she will, barring some kind of shocking surprise on election day. Then again, Brexit won earlier this year, so you just never know, right?
Frankly, if Hillary loses, she will have no one to blame but herself. I have no intention of voting for Trump, but let me say it: I also will not be casting a vote for Clinton, either. What convinced me that she would be the wrong choice? Why, Hillary Clinton herself. There is a reason why everyone assumes that she would be willing to say or do anything to get elected, after all. Once in office, however, it will be a different story. We can take bets as to which of her campaign promises will be the first one that she will fail to follow through on. We can expect much the same rhetoric as her husband while he was president, or Obama these last eight years. When they talk about their accomplishments, it can sound great, but the reality is decidedly less glitzy. The reality is that the country has been consistently getting in worse and worse condition steadily for decades now - since at least the Reagan years.
That is why I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton, because I do not feel that she has actually done enough to earn my vote. That is also why a growing number of people are rolling their eyes when they hear celebrities speaking of her in glowing terms, and talking about how she represents some fundamental change, some breaking of a glass ceiling. For that matter, her automatic assumption that she will win (she has a fireworks show set to go off along the Hudson River for after the election results) is itself part of the problem. No humility there.
Yet, some surprising people are cautiously optimistic about a Hillary Clinton presidency, and that includes Michael Moore. Despite the fact that he dismissed her as the "Wall Street Candidate" not all that long ago, Moore now believes that Clinton could indeed be an agent for change - but only with a qualifier. To be sure, he is not thrilled with Hillary Clinton:
“This is what we have to work with. I have no choice at this point, especially considering who the other candidate is. The best candidate to run against Trump was called Bernie Sanders. I think this wouldn’t be so close, and we wouldn’t be so nervous, were he the candidate.”
“I think and I hope that she is a different person. She says she is, she’s adopted two-thirds of Bernie’s platform.”
When pressed a bit more about his lukewarm support earlier, and his support of Bernie Sanders, Moore responded a bit uncomfortably at times, before summing up his position:
“This is what we have to work with, here. I have no choice at this point, especially knowing who the other candidate is, but to believe she is going to follow through. And if she doesn’t, as I’ve said in my movie, I’m going to be her worst nightmare, as are millions of other people who voted for Bernie Sanders. The revolution isn’t going away.”
Moore also stated his belief that liberals let Obama off of the hook, and basically allowed him to make some sweeping campaign promises without following up and holding his feet to the fire once he was actually in office. He made it clear that Hillary Clinton should absolutely not be granted that same privilege.
He's right, of course. But my skepticism towards these prominent politicians is matched only by me belief that far too many Americans - both those who identify themselves as progressive and conservatives alike - do not believe that their own responsibilities in this regard extend beyond the voting booth. Hell, many Americans do not evne feel that their responsibilities as citizens extend that far, as we have among the worst voter turnouts of any industrialized nation. Then again, when you see the politicians who keep "winning" and, increasingly, doing so in what is at best a questionable fashion that almost begs the questions of cheating (such as Bush in 2000 and Hillary earlier this year for the Democratic primaries), you can begin to understand why.
I repeat myself, but here it is again:
Michael Moore: If Hillary Doesn’t Follow Through, I’m Going to Be Her Worst Nightmare, November 4, 2016