The Future of this Country I Love
*Caveat–I wrote a few months ago much kinder words about Donald Trump than you’ll find here. That was in order to speak to a much different point. Today I wanted to write how I genuinely feel about the 2016 American presidential election.
I try to be light on my blatant patriotism, but the fact is, I love this country. Sure, its history has been mired at times by terrible and unjust acts. And yes, its current political culture appears to be in a bipolar tailspin from which there seems to be no escape. But despite all the fear and doubt surrounding this land and its destiny, I still regard it as the greatest nation to ever grace this planet–apologies to my friends and family in Germany.
So I wonder about its uncertain future as the presidential election unofficially begins with the Iowa Caucus only a few days from now. This is a strange moment in America. While our most recent presidents, from Ronald Reagan all the way to Barrack Obama, have in truth been fairly conservative in nature, most candidates from this election could hardly be characterized as conservatives as they are earnestly seeking to change the status quo.
Now, one might consider the younger Bush a radical warmonger and Obama a progressive communist, but neither of these are true. They were both conservative in their policies at heart, seeking to appeal to the moderate, middle-class American and pull them one direction or the other rather than shattering the foundations of American culture in order to replace it with something deemed better. Bush responded to the American anger of 9/11 with real politick and aggressive foreign intervention–despite not starting out that way–while Obama responded to American frustration with failed occupations by following the pendulum swing the other way and refocusing on domestic problems like healthcare.
The leading candidates so far this election cycle are markedly different. Of the three holding the most support going into primary season, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump (and you can throw Ted Cruz in here as well), are not conservative in this wise. Rather than trying to make small changes over the course of time, they are pledging to rip down the house in their own way and fundamentally change our country, which I will explain by each candidate below:
Bernie Sanders: a self-professed socialist, Sanders wants to transform America to match European models, which he believes reflect the best understanding of the ideal societal condition. Yes, we ought to pay taxes, lots of them–especially the rich–to ensure that we are equally educated, healthy, and socially wealthy.
Donald Trump: It’s hard to explain how Trump 2016 actually intends to make America great again, but he’s pretty confident it is broken and needs to be rebuilt from the bottom up. It is almost like he’s unaware that he can’t just enter the White House and fire the rest of the government. His ambitions supposedly stand opposite to Sanders, yet he won’t have a foot to stand on if he somehow wins the presidency. Trump would change the status quo society-wide, but rather in a different sense. He would change the way we view the presidency and make it a joke. His lack of character, along with his blatant disregard for his fellow man, would essentially leave America morally leaderless.
There you have it, two candidates I believe fundamentally disrupt the status quo, each in his own way, though I suggest that Trump won’t actually be able to make much of a difference with how he wants to approach the presidency. Their rise in popularity implies just how frustrated Americans are with the way things are. Many of us are indeed disgusted with the status quo, enough so that we will take anyone promising to take us far away from our present trajectory.
Incidentally, this is how FDR came to power after the great depression. Extreme ideas, good or bad, generally have a difficult time gaining ground unless the conservatives have failed us in some way. Yet, my problem with these candidates is not that they have paradigm-shifting ideas. After all, I do believe that America could use a good kick in the pants. My problem with Trump and Sanders is that I don’t believe they are good for America. I don’t believe that the ideas they are promoting will actually make America great again, or even help it recover much from its biggest problems.
And so I look to the one candidate who I believe can make the best difference this election, ultimately by not making a difference. A true conservative. Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton: a Conservative
Yes, she’s been caught in lies and shady dealings. She can be pretty bland. Oh, and she seems to flip flop on things–like most every politician you’ve ever liked or voted for. Yet, she is a conservative through and through, and that’s why I will likely vote for her–and would advise everyone else to in the absence of a better candidate.
The best way I can explain why I’ll vote for her is through an analogy:
Imagine that an airplane has only one person on board with complete knowledge of how to fly it (the pilot). As the plane drifts into a storm, the pilot becomes terribly ill, having to retreat to the bathroom and thereafter becoming so weak he can hardly stand. Panicked, the people on the plane search for someone, anyone, who can at the very least keep the plane from crashing.
Hillary Clinton is, for me, that person who won’t crash the plane. She hurl us toward a fiery doom, and I like that about her.
In truth, I don’t have much good to say about her policies or strengths. She seems to have messed up Benghazi pretty badly from what I can tell, and I don’t personally attribute any great act to her name. Yet, she is up for the presidency, and I’m glad she is.
A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for a second chance. A second chance for better options and leaders to be able to try to help this country four years from now. She will do her best to help us through problems and crises without dividing our country even further.
Maybe she will prove me wrong and become a great president. I’d gladly welcome that surprise. But even if she doesn’t, an average conservative seems fine to me.