It’s finally Election Day, the moment when all the sound and fury comes down to one thing: a voter, standing in a booth, making a decision about how he or she envisions the future. Everything up until now has been so much noise, but this is what matters.
In the end, the government is not about the candidates; it is about the citizens and how they want to be governed. Presidential candidates are—or at least should be—judged as much on their policies as on their characters. U.S. history includes multiple examples of presidents with questionable morals who were nevertheless effective and left the country better than they found it. There are also multiple examples of exactly the reverse.
A crucial decision
When we vote today, we need to think seriously about what the candidates have said they will do if elected. We should consider whether they will actually be able to accomplish what they have promised. And finally, we should think about what might happen if they can’t do what they intend. Will they be able to lead anyway?
When we enter the booth, we should also remember that we’re making a decision about what kind of a country our children will live in. Think about what the candidates’ policies would mean for your kids’ or your grandchildren's lives and careers. How about your own life? Ronald Reagan’s famous question “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” remains a very good touchstone. Which candidate is best placed to let you answer that question with a yes in four years?
Finally—and here I speak as Eeyore—which candidate is most likely to have some disastrous fault or secret that will impair his or her ability to govern? Which candidate has such flawed policies that failure is almost guaranteed?
As with all of my posts on the election, I’ve tried to write this in a neutral way. With any luck, supporters of both sides will read these questions and think, Yes, that is exactly why I made my choice.
The next step: moving forward together
As is so often the case, I will be voting for the lesser of two evils. As always, both candidates are flawed human beings who seem to love their country and intend to do their best for it. Hopefully, after the election, everyone will be able to accept that and get behind the winner to help move the country in the right direction.
As I see it, the one clear takeaway from this election is that the country has massively failed a large part of the population. I hope that the winner will start to close that gap and try to mend the divisions that have become so pronounced.
I have enormous sympathy for people who have struggled with this election. I have sympathy for those who would like a different set of choices. I have sympathy for people who just want it to be over. The only people I have no sympathy for are those who don’t vote.
And remember, if you don’t vote, you can’t complain about the government later.