As I write these words more than 20 men and women have declared their willingness to become president of our fair land and transform it into what it used to be or could again become if only ya-ta-da-dum-dee etc. etc.....
But have any of these candidates told you the name of their dog, or cat, or pet rats, lizards or fish? Do you know what is a candidate’s favorite book, movie, poet or musical piece? When did the candidate most recently weep salty tears at a sight, sound or memory that triggered his/her brain cells?
And so on. My point is this: the public is told of a candidate’s political track record, voting history, religious inclinations and middle name. But does any of that stuff really tell us what the candidate is like, deep in the recesses of his or her soul? Very seldom.
During the past 40 years, in print and in person, I have urged that the news media discover and reveal whether a candidate owns a dog, has lately read a book or can distinguish Beethoven’s 7th Symphony from British singer Joe Cocker warbling “Mah Baby Wrote Me a Lettah!”
The media’s response to my ranting has been less than overwhelming. The result is that when election day finally arrives the average voter will possibly not know zilch about the inner workings of most of the candidates.
Which is probably fair, because many of the candidates will be just as uncertain about who the citizens will vote for. The polls may give some indication, but there will be no guarantees.
In all truth, do most people vote for the candidates who seem best-informed about important issues, and who sound fair and grown up and sensible? I doubt it.
Here’s what really goes on: Put a prospective voter up against the wall and twist his arm until he speaks the absolute truth about what motivates him on Election Day. Here are a few of the answers you’ll get:
“I’m voting for Hiram (or Harriet) because he hates the richies just as much as I do. The richies sit there in their mansions and don’t give a squat about the rest of us.”
“It’s the #!!&% immigrants and welfare chiselers who have ruined our country. My favorite candidate — Winston Slalom — says we should just lock ‘em up or send them right back to their shacks, Jack! I say ‘Win with Winston!’”
“I’m gonna vote for the same party my granddaddy voted for, dad blame it. I hate all these new-fangled notions. If Coolidge and Hoover were okay for America, then so is what-ziz-name, the new guy. I don’t rightly remember who he is, but it’s the party that counts.”
If I were a political activist, I’d try to enlist voters who are sick and tired of candidates who speak with their hands as much as they do with their mouths. I intend to vote for all contenders, male or female, Democrat or Republican, who keep their hands at their sides while orating.
I’m also prejudiced against schoolmarm oratory. Schoolmarm candidates talk to us as we are either idiots or sixth-graders flown in from another planet. These candidates seem to believe they must exhort, inspire, electrify or possibly deafen the crowd they’re speaking to. My vote will go to the candidate who quietly but firmly states what he/she believes, and then shuts up. We don’t need another Mussolini bellowing from a balcony. Remember how he ended up?
Am I serious about what I’ve written in these last few paragraphs? Mostly. I’m just trying to make a point. Which is: presidential election campaigns are quadrennial nut-houses. And if you and I, the voters, expect truth, sanity and fairness to be observed between now and November 2020, we’re in for some disappointments. But glimpses of daylight may occur. So hang on.