America’s choice has the world on edge. And it has the average American held hostage to two unsavory options.
After a week in which Donald Trump made some outrageous claims at the Republican National Convention (i.e. the complete and total safety of all American citizens on the day of his inauguration) and Hillary Clinton launched a juvenile and mean-spirited Facebook page called TrumpYourself, it occured to me that Americans are faced with the prospect of voting either for the Bully or the Mean Girl in a campaign that is sure to reach middle-school levels of maturity and decorum. Imagine those choices for class president in eighth grade. Now imagine those choices for Leader of the Free World.
As I consider the upcoming election for President, I feel a very deep sympathy for my fellow Americans. I have been a resident of Canada for sixteen years but will always have my American roots. There are things about the U.S.A. that infuriate and frustrate me, but it is still a beautiful, magnificent country. It is a country that represents so much of what can be so right about democracy. And its people are so often outrageously generous, authentic, loving and hopeful. When I think back to being born and raised in the U.S.A., my memories are full of joy and contentment. I know there is no such thing as a perfect place on earth. I know the U.S. is fallible and caught up in its own mythology. But I feel so grateful to have been brought up an American. It was a privilege.
But from the distance I am at now, I consider Americans and the prospect of having to choose between one of two petulant and ultimately unpresidential candidates and I shutter. I don’t know what I would do if I was still a resident of the States. I feel that there must be tens of millions of Americans who feel sick to their stomachs when they consider November of 2016. I feel there must be millions of Americans who feel trapped and held captive in a presidential race that is equal parts farce and tragedy. Can this really be where we’ve ended up?
I have never witnessed a presidential race that is so joyless and devoid of real hope. And I have never witnessed one so propelled by fear and vitriol. Unfortunately, I believe it is only going to get worse from here. And because of that my heart aches for Americans, for the large majority who find themselves between the obnoxious and childish camps of Trump and Clinton. What is really at stake here is democracy and the decency and vision that has accompanied it for so long in the U.S.A. What is at stake is the average American, really. They do not deserve this circus of a presidential race. And they deserve far, far better leadership and representation.
Where is the hope in all of this? How can the U.S.A. move forward in any kind of positive direction?
I believe the answer lies in remembering what is in the DNA of the U.S.A.; remembering that the country is run not by any authoritarian, narcissistic demagogue, but by the people themselves. The hope of the country has never been in one person. And, despite what Donald Trump claims, the election of that one person will not bring the change and hope and strength you wish to have as Americans. The simple fact is that the only people who have the real power to change, to unite, to bring back the decency and graciousness and vision of the country are the people themselves. Faith in one man or one woman is misguided and naive. The U.S.A. has never been about the one but the many, despite the cult of personality that arises around candidates, despite the celebrity worship and almost god-like status of the rich and influential.
Americans, remember: They don’t have the power, you do. This campaign has made it seem like the battle is between the Bully and the Mean Girl. But that’s not true. The battle is between a deeply flawed system of government and a people who deeply want their country to remain a place of hope and peace and unity.
Trump or Clinton: Both are establishment, both represent money and power, both make ridiculous claims they can never back up, both are flawed. Don’t hang your hat on either of them. Instead, remember who you are; remember what you are capable of; and remember it is your country, not theirs.
In the end, I still don’t know what I’d do on election day. But all of us on the outside looking in around the world are counting on you doing the right thing. I don’t believe in Trump or Clinton but I believe in you. And I’m not alone.