Elections 2016: Forward, backward, or just take a breath?

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In 2008 my primary reason for voting for President Obama was not so much because I was in line with his political views, but rather because I saw him as the candidate who wanted to move our nation forward. John McCain failed to convince me of a forward thinking vision and since government tends to work at a slower pace than I prefer, I felt Obama was better suited.

While he has tried to create more programs aimed at helping people in poverty to rise to a new level of success, he has failed to accomplish much in areas all of us can benefit from. Our infrastructure is in worse shape today than it was in 2008, which is a shame because we had a perfect opportunity to create more jobs that benefited the nation. Most of his “record” job creation has failed to improve the earning levels Americans enjoyed before the crash of 2008 and raising the minimum wage was never the solution.

Hillary Clinton testifying at the last Benghazi hearing (YouTube)
Hillary Clinton testifying at the last Benghazi hearing

More Americans enjoy health coverage, however, more Americans who already had coverage in 2008 now have far more expensive coverage or have had to settle for a much lesser health plan. Veterans still wait far too long to receive much needed care and our health insurance companies are more interested in approving measures that allow the elderly to exist longer while failing to offer enough for everyone else to receive well or preventative care. We still spend 80 percent of the money we will ever spend on health care on the final two years of life, which runs counter to keeping a healthy society.

I could go on about Obama’s “failings,” many of which are as much the result of a House of Representatives and Senate unwilling to work together for the common good of the nation. This is what elections are about.

Still, we are now at a point where we will be electing a new president in November and we need to look at who is most capable of leading us in a forward direction.

Clinton backers love to talk about Hillary as the progressive candidate. This is not so much because of her beliefs but rather a reflection of who the Democratic Party represents. It is a marriage of necessity and not common beliefs. All you have to do is view that 13 minute video that circulates to see how she has changed her views over the years which is not the reflection of personal growth nearly as much as the changes that have gone on within her party.

The Hillary of today has to support gay marriage, stricter gun laws, and a path toward citizenship for illegal citizens because there is no way for her to win her party’s nomination otherwise. She has to push further left if she has any hope of collecting the support of Bernie Sanders and his followers. However, the real Hillary Clinton is a huge contradiction, which is why her negatives are so low. At least with Obama, and even with Sanders, you know what you are getting when you vote for them because they truly believe in what they promise.

“Bad things would happen.” (YouTube)
“Bad things would happen.” (YouTube)

Donald Trump, is also a contradiction at best. A past supporter of both Clintons, a man whose past spoken beliefs often run counter to what he touts today, and someone more prone to self promotion than human promotion is now the GOP candidate. He promises to make America great again, but have his supporters really asked themselves whether or not he is going to do this in a way that will lead us forward or move us backward?

Does building a wall between us and Mexico, a trade war with China, the willingness to allow other nations to go nuclear, and turning our backs on Muslim refugees really move this nation forward or does it take us backward?

Many of Trump’s supporters are questionable at best when it comes to their beliefs and affiliations. Is it moving forward to have a president who is supported by leading members of the KKK, gun fanatics, and racists? Of course not. But then is it in our best interest for a president who is supported by the more angry and militant groups of the left?

How much of Trump is showmanship and what will he be like when the cameras are not rolling is anyone’s guess. However, he is now on record for supporting white, conservative, and mostly male candidates to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Is this forward thinking? More guns, more executions, no access to public health as far as abortion is concerned. Is this the mindset of the nation today or will this be what we see if Trump is elected and gets to appoint three or four aging justices?

The outlandish vitriol between both Clinton (She says she won’t respond to his negative remarks, but we all know she has) and Trump (Is he really just a counter puncher or does he prefer to incite?) shows no signs of letting up. Trump craves the attention like no other and Hillary craves the White House like no other so both just eat this up and encourage their supporters to keep it up.

Unfortunately, it seems as if the rest of the nation does too. This is the best thing to happen to cable news EVER! Social media has exploded with memes, innuendo, and just plain nastiness that adds to the massive divide in this country. It will not change once the election is over because we have changed as a culture.

No longer do we find anything wrong with deliberately posting lies about others, trashing their reputation, and inciting anger among entire large blocks of people because it is now the norm in politics. The internet, Facebook, Twitter, and even cell phones have destroyed the common decency that was once part of the political world. It was that decency that allowed the Ronald Reagans of the world to sit down with the Tip O’Neils and get things accomplished.

Bernie Sanders cannot win so he hopes for a convention miracle. (YouTube)
Bernie Sanders cannot win so he hopes for a convention miracle. (YouTube)

Can you imagine what the internet would be like if it existed when Kissinger sat down with the Chinese? Just think what happened between Obama and Iran and multiply it ten fold. We have allowed ourselves to become misguided by the very tools that were created to help us improve as a culture and not implode.

Worse, the millennial generation is just the first to know of no other way of life. We have stopped teaching them history and replaced it with occupying their free time with one new gadget after the other to the point they do not have to know how to speak in order to become a billionaire. What will this nation be like when they are the aging octogenarian class and all we have is a population of wirelessly interconnected humans with no real human connection to anything or anyone?

Perhaps our next president does not need to be so much the forward thinking or backward dwelling candidate but rather the one who can get the nation to collectively take a breath and rethink who we are becoming as individuals. Do we really need another major war to unite us on a common path or do we need a leader who can get us to see how each of us as individuals are in need of change and improvement every bit as the nation is as a whole.

One thing for sure, whomever we elect has their work cut out and unless we give that person a chance, they’re likely to be a one-term president. It comes down to whether or not we have the tolerance and decency that was once a big part of our country’s past successes.