Trump vs. Hillary: Who has already lost?
Little known fact about myself: I am an experienced politician. Indeed, I have both run for and held an elected office. From 1997-1998, I was Secretary of the Montgomery Blair High School Sophomore Class Student Government Association.
Not because I deserved it, mind you, but because there was a time in high school when I was one of the cool kids. You know, back when I was a cheerleader who partied a lot, and talked trash about everyone—right before I became a loser (read: Jesus Freak).
I really only ran for the SGA because I could, and unfortunately, my opponent never stood a chance. Other students recognized the name on my campaign posters; her posters bore an unfamiliar one. And in the debates? Sure she was super intelligent, probably made some important points, and maybe presented some creative ideas (I don’t know. Who was really even paying attention?) But I could move my head and voice up-and-down like Cindy Crawford hosting a TV special. So tough luck, sister.
Ergo, I was a member of the student government responsible for choosing the homecoming theme for our sophomore class that year. The overall theme for the school was Decades. So we had to chose one particular decade as the focus for all our homecoming festivities during homecoming week—decorating our class hallway, designing our class float in the parade, etc.
We were really proud of ourselves when we decided to hold an open meeting for any member of our class to attend, and discuss our respective preferences for a particular decade. A few dozen students showed up. It was an intensive, exhausting democratic process, but we eventually made our decision, and went with The Wizard of Oz.
…As our class theme.
…For the Decades-themed homecoming celebration.
I even got to be Dorothy on our class float in the homecoming parade!
¡Viva la Democracia!
This experience must have helped shape my current political intuitions, because so far, I have been on point for this 2016 presidential race. Last year, while all the various candidates were throwing their hats into a very crowded ring, as soon as I found out that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were among the contenders, I told my husband it would come down to those two. Never a question. And voila! Here we are, folks!
How did I know that? Definitely not because those two deserve it, mind you, but simply because pop culture already knew who they were! The names Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were already associated with power long before they ever appeared on campaign posters. And it is really, very hard to compete with a name.
Plus, the current administration is leaving behind some really cool shoes to fill. Whether you like what President Obama has done in office or not, it’s hard to deny that he is a pretty cool person with an even cooler family. So now, America is a little spoiled and wants to continue having a cool president who can preferably Slow Jam the News with Jimmy Fallon. We don’t want to vote for some—you know—nerd or whatever.
But when it comes to popularity, while Trump and Hillary both have that inherent cultural recognition, few people seem to genuinely support either of them anymore in the sense that we truly believe either one of them should really be in charge of our country.
Political commentary in my news feeds mostly sound like:
Yeah, Hillary may be a lying, manipulative b*tch, but at least she’s not Donald Trump!
Donald Trump may be an @$$hole, but I could never vote for Hilary Clinton!
Such resounding praise!
And then, there’s my personal favorite—a quote I heard on NPR Morning Edition from Jeff Moss, Founder of Black Hat and supporter of Hillary Clinton. He said, “Hilary is—sort of—almost status quo, and the devil we know versus [a] complete crazy unknown… I’m not willing to risk a country on the complete, crazy unknown.”
So apparently, he supports her, but still thinks she's the devil. And he seems to speak for a lot of people in the same boat! This is the situation we find ourselves in. Instead of voting for someone we believe should be in charge of our country, it seems most of us are now tasked with deciding which candidate we hate the least. Will it be Mrs. Here We Go Again, or will it be whatever is waiting behind Crazy Door Number 2?
The lesser of two evils is still not great. So either way, America has already lost this presidential election. And I'm pretty sure we did it by practicing politics like a bunch of 10th graders. By choosing the names we recognized as powerful, rather than taking the time and effort to pay attention, understand the complexities of the situations we find ourselves in, and thoughtfully select candidates worthy of the tasks at hand.
I’m not saying there is no hope for America, though. Right now, barring some unexpected miracle, it seems we’re doomed to be stuck with a bad president for the next four years. ...okay. But it’s not like we’ve never had a bad president before, right? And this probably won’t be our last one, either. But the hope is that we will eventually mature, and get better at this.
You know, in that school room full of sophomores choosing The Wizard of Oz as our decade, we did have an actual adult faculty member present—our SGA sponsor whose role was to oversee and advise. He was there for guidance, insight, direction—if only we would ask for it. But we never did. We were really proud, you know? So he just sat quietly. Observing. And in teaching us absolutely nothing in that moment, he taught me something very important—much more than he could have taught me by interrupting our madness, and forcing his authority.
By leaving us to our own volition, he taught me that we were complete and utter morons. He let me be the particular moron dressed as Dorothy while riding in the Decades homecoming parade, smiling and waving at onlookers who were likely asking themselves, "What's with The Wizard of Oz float?"
That SGA sponsor keeps popping up in my memory these days, especially when I try to imagine God in relation to this country's politics right now. I remember briefly glancing over at that guy with his arms folded, eyebrows slightly raised. I just want to go back, shush the whole room, and ask him for help. Guidance. Insight. Direction. Perhaps the definition of a "decade".
We needed so much help in 10th grade. We still need help now.
But we lacked the wisdom and humility to seek it then, and it seems we still do now.
I wonder if this country will ever come to be led by those who genuinely look up and ask for help. Guidance. Insight. Direction. I hope so. I think it starts with a people willing to do that.
Until then, The Wizard of Oz it is.