If you can recall your first significant hangover, and the next morning when you swore off alcohol, and how foolish you felt the next time you decided to drink, you will understand my feeling towards the presidential election. I’m hooked again, as I knew I would be. The Trump pariah has returned and there is, once again, a Kennedy challenging a sitting president. My home state of Florida will gain heavy attention with the announcement of Mr. Desantis as an official GOP candidate, and the general rule of thumb that declares the incumbent at an advantage seems not to apply this year after a shaky first term from President Biden.
My hope does not lie with a specific candidate or issue, but with my people, the American people, my fellow countrypeople. I have no illusions that the country will peacefully trot to the ballot box without word or whimper next November, but I do believe that there is an opportunity this year to return to something resembling a serious, thoughtful conversation about what candidate should lead us. Below are a few principles that we can use to get us there:
1. Your candidate is not a sports team.
Let’s give something a try. This year, don’t buy yard signs, bumper stickers, flags, etc. If you want to tell somebody who you’re voting for, try having a conversation with them that involves well-thought-out reasons, inquisitive questions, and a listening ear. Remember that originally, flags were made for war.
2. It isn’t your duty to vote for a president that best reflects your personal values and/or beliefs.
The president of the United States is a role for the people, meaning that he/she/they will become the leader of a society, not a point-person for the personal beliefs of the few.
3. The presidency was designed to veto and project.
To veto legislation that is not in the best interest of the society, and to project strength (not power), humility, and good will toward the rest of the world.
4. This shouldn’t be entertainment.
Just because you like a candidate or are entertained by them, doesn’t mean you should elect them to lead the free world.
5. The lion’s share of our country’s federal power exists in the hands of a relatively small group of people. Vote for a candidate that will advocate for the rest of us.
You don’t need to be a revolutionary to admit this fact. Power will always consolidate at the top in wealthy nations, and it is in the best interest of the powerful to help one another maintain that power. There is no need for the rest of us to hate them or to wish them destroyed, but there is a need for the rest of us to take a defensive posture when dealing with them.
6. Approach each conversation with the intention of reaching compromise.
Fight against your inherent American urge to win everything. When the sole objective is victory, we become blind to the concessions that need to be made.
7. Reject political advertisement outright.
They are carefully curated propaganda, akin to the junk food of information. We are not buying a product; we are selecting a leader.
8. Ism-terms have been hijacked. Learn their meanings before using them.
Bob Marley sang of "ism-schisms." You will hear the terms Capitalism, Socialism, Racism, Ageism, Communism, etc. a million times over the course of the campaign. Don’t blindly accept a candidate's pointed definitions, research what the original and functional meanings of the terms are.