It was not my intention to write another column about the 2016 presidential election. Last week’s installment was going to be it.
But not long after hitting “send” on last week’s piece, the news of Donald Trump’s lewd comments from 11 years ago was published. My column, which was an analysis of how people might vote this year, was posted last Sunday night, and seemed a little stale after millions of us heard the recording of what he said.
Last week’s installment also ran after the second debate took place. More staleness.
Please indulge me. I feel compelled to go around this block once more.
And although I’ll never say never, I fully plan for this to be the last I’ll write on this topic. Now, if something huge should happen (which is certainly possible), I might not be able to resist weighing in, but for now I have stated my intentions.
Months ago, after both parties had made their nominations, I predicted it would be a “race to the bottom.”
For once, I was right.
I did not realize, however, how fast we would get there.
I only saw the last 30 minutes of the most recent debate but, upon seeing clips of the first half hour, I was downright uncomfortable.
How they could shake hands with each other after all of that is beyond me, but somehow they did (after not doing so at the beginning).
My thoughts are all over the place. Like many Americans, I see the choice of candidates as no choice at all, and sitting it out is an option for me. I have not made a final decision, but I really might not vote in the presidential race.
I have considered the opinions of many folks I respect who have come to the conclusion they must vote, that they can’t shirk the privilege and responsibility.
I have also considered the opinions of many people of faith who have expressed an opinion of why they must vote a certain way. So-called “Evangelical Christians” have spoken (and written) compellingly about how, when considering their foundational beliefs, they must vote, and they must vote for (insert Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton).
That’s right. Those people of faith whose opinions I respect are coming to different conclusions.
On the one hand, there are those who say they simply must vote for Donald Trump because he is pro-life (or at least he says he is now), and/or will appoint Supreme Court justices who will be inclined to protect religious liberties. (Even though, since he has no experience in government, there is nothing to back this up other than what he says, which often varies from one day to the next).
And yes, they tell me he said those awful things about women, and has not exactly cleaned up his act, but he is much more likely than Hillary to govern the country according to principles in which they believe (again, based on speculation and believing what he says).
Then there are those saying their faith is dictating their vote for Hillary Clinton because she will support programs that help the poor and she will fight for the downtrodden (who, apparently, do not include the portion of Trump supporters she called deplorable).
Sarcasm aside, I get where you are coming from if you make either of those arguments. I really do.
I haven’t even addressed the whole idea of appearing “presidential” or trusting our national security to either of these candidates – which is plenty to keep me up at night.
It comes down to a matter of conscience – living with ourselves and the possible consequences of the vote we cast (or don’t cast). We cannot, of course, completely predict what those consequences might be, but we try to speculate and make a thoughtful decision based on that.
And I would put this out there for everyone – people of faith or people of no faith: respect the decisions your fellow citizens make in this regard. Before you make that comment, whether out loud or posted on social media, think about who might hear or read it, and how they might receive it.
As I’ve said before, I don’t have social media accounts, but when my wife shares with me some of the comments around this election, I wince, and I ask her to refrain from sharing.
I guess I’m suggesting you do something quite unlike what our two candidates have done. Don’t make it personal.
So there you have it, in scarcely 700 words – my final thoughts.
Best part of it all? In about three weeks it will be over.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, husband of one, father of three and father-in-law of two. Email him at email@example.com.