I'm not really a political guy, in my lifetime, I've voted for: Bush, Clinton, Nader, Mccain, and Obama, so it should be clear I'm all over the board and have no political affiliation (If you're keeping score, that's 2 Republicans, 2 Democrats, and a Green Party candidate). In previous elections I was largely indifferent to the primaries and really only started researching a month or so before the election. The cycle, while I still ignored the primaries (largely), I did a little bit of research as the VERY broad republican field and the interesting wild card (Bernie Sanders) on the Democratic ticket was unavoidable (thanks twitter and Facebook! :).
As we near election day, I thought I'd share my observations as a person who "doesn't have a horse in the race". What I mean by this is the following:
- I don't care about political ideologies... Political Parties such as: Republican, Democrat, Green, Constitution, Natural Law, Pirate (yeah, it's a thing, look it up) all are just marketing ploys. If you're a staunch "Party person" you probably can stop reading because your unconscious bias is just going to be a problem...I know this, it's OK...you've made your decision and I'm OK with it.
- I don't care about media hype, hyperbole, ad-hominem attacks, and the 30 other ways folks are unconsciously manipulated. I prefer to challenge myself and my perspective about things to try and get to an understanding of what candidates "real" agendas are. If you're a particular fan of a candidate and have dreams about how wonderful they are, you may want to stop reading. The fact is, largely based on what I believe to be fairly strong scientific evidence, most candidates are Ego Centric Narcissists and many are probably Psychopaths. It's OK, because to do the job you need that to do the job...The only alternatives to these are #1 an almost superhuman ability to rise above the fray (I think our current President falls into this category), or #2 an almost subhuman sense of self in that you don't even care what people say because it isn't "YOU" they're talking about, it's "the party" (I'd put Bush Jr into this category).
- I think most US media outlets have a general bias so I spend a lot of time on alternate outlets. I DO still read/watch fox news and NPR (my conservative and liberal outlets), but also follow CNN (slight liberal bias), Al-Jazeera (somewhat conservative if a bit focused on the middle east), Deutsche Welle (slight conservative bias for US topics, slight liberal for German), and the BBC (seems to be all over the board, but fairly liberal...).
My assessment of the two main candidates this year follows:
- Donald Trump - He's running because he wants to 'Make Trump Great Again'...He gives zero shits about the "working man" or "America" except as a source of labor in the first case and a legal system for him to exploit others in the latter case. He's not really a great businessman but a GREAT marketer (he's probably better than PT Barnum IMHO). A vote for Trump is going to be good for America as long as he can actually do things to keep his ego afloat...anything that challenges that (like congress being in a deadlock and him being unable to actually DO anything) will cause him to lash out. He's going to be a great president for SNL and Comedy Central, but I think in general he will be unable to get ANYTHING done. As he has been unable to articular any concrete plans except "build a wall", we MAY see a jobs boost in the skilled trades and manual labor market as we hire millions of people to build this wall (assuming he can actually make that happen), but in the end I personally think it's a boondoggle. Perhaps, if we're lucky, that will translate into a better appreciation for this underserved area of the market and he'll be able to create infrastructure advances. As this will likely also serve his needs, he might be "good for America" and actually "make America greater than it already is", only time will tell.
- Hillary Clinton - She's running because she believes she wants to improve the general state of affairs (pun intended) in the United States. As an egghead and political animal, she is very qualified to actually "get things done", and is willing to wheel, deal, negotiate, strong-arm, lie, cheat, and any other political maneuvering necessary to achieve her goals. Her goals seem genuinely well intended, but we all know what the road to hell is paved with. I think personally, she will be able to make effective, but only incremental, changes to things and in general we'll see her able to both articulate plans, but also report on progress. Many of these reports might just be spin or outright fabrication, but in four years I think we'll likely be only a small increment ahead of where we are right now.
Given those two statements, the question really is: Do I take a huge gamble and possibly live through another era of "Bush Jr" where the president is an embarrassment and just grunt through it...with the potential for an upside....or do I take the safe bet and have another "Clinton" presidency. It's a tough call this year, and I might just be inclined to throw my hat in the ring with another independent (perhaps Gary Johnson) knowing that they'll unlikely to get 270 votes, and even if they did, they'll likely be ineffective, but at least more of an idealist instead of being so ego driven.
For all the folks that think Trump is going to start WW III, it's doubtful to me. For the folks that think Clinton is somehow "unfit" because of all her scandals and other sketchy stuff...you're just wrong and worrying about the wrong stuff. They're both qualified --enough-ish--, make your choice and look forward to 2 years with election drama taking a sideline to cat photos in your Facebook feed. I, for one, cannot wait...
That is all...