By Vernon A. Williams, Gary Crusader
The presidential debates may determine the outcome of the November 8th election. The wait is over. With a level of anticipation comparable to the Super Bowl, millions are expected to turn their rapt attention Monday night to the first of three clashes of the 2016 political titans – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Unlike the NFL championship game, believe the hype. This is not a game. The winner will emerge leader of the free world.
Never has the GOP standard bearer garnered less support from Republican ranks as Trump. Few enthusiastically support his candidacy. Those that do more often than not, attribute it to loyalty over the worthiness of the candidate.
Some disdain the notion of voting for Trump and vow to sit it out this November. Former President George H.W. Bush this week joined the growing number of those who shun the party altogether to say, “I’m With Her” – Clinton’s battle cry.
Ordinarily these negatives would automatically translate into a “slam dunk” victory for the Democratic presidential hopeful. Not even close. They enter the debate virtually tied in most so-called battleground states and various national polls given either leads so slim that they come within the margin of error.
Why? Because Clinton’s quest is seriously complicated by perceptions that she can’t be trusted, exercises poor judgment, and lacks the physical stamina to lead.
Clearly, there are no other options so one of the two most unpopular choices in the history of presidential politics will be inaugurated in January. Either way, you can expect major reassessment of the entire election process—which is probably long overdue.
Most point to the Electoral College and super delegate commitments as areas in need of scrutiny. Critics have long questioned the length of the campaign, wondering if primaries even serve a purpose. Campaign fundraising is constantly under fire and the role of super PACs evokes the ire of many.
Worthy pursuits, but we need to dig much deeper. How about starting with the question of who can run for president. I know. Right now, the answer is literally ANYONE. But what kind of sense does that make when we prioritize qualifications in every other field. Yet for the most demanding career choice on earth, there is no criteria.
Position: President of the United State of America. No actual job description. No experience or requirements for aspirants. Unimaginable.
Consider that criteria is more specific for positions at a day care center, campus library, downtown hotel, or physical rehabilitation facility than that of Commander in Chief of the most powerful militia on the planet.
I know. The politically correct perspective is that it assures that any American-born citizen of a certain age can ascend to leadership of this great democracy; that there is inherent rights accorded any aristocracy or preference for individuals of a particular class, income, or status.
It’s as if a pizza deliveryman could trade his cramped three-room flat for digs at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with no push back, or that a dental assistant could be taken seriously in a bid for the presidency. It’s no coincidence that 44 of the first 45 to hold that distinction have been white males of considerable means.
The undisputed truth is that while many have submitted their bids over the years, only certain individuals are normally taken seriously. This campaign broke all the rules.
Though white and male, Trump comes with no experience and substantial baggage—including charges of being misogynistic, racist, xenophobic, anti-semantic and elitist. Yet the reality TV star, who runs beauty pageants and a billion dollar real estate business started by his father, is taken seriously.
Those who point to the ascent of B-movie star Ronald Reagan as a comparison conveniently ignore the fact that Reagan served two terms as governor of California. Trump has never sought, much less held, public office. And the race is virtually deadlocked.
Unlike the on-the-job nurturing of an apprentice, the presidency should require professional experience related to the job, people skills and an even temperament that enhance working effectively with others with compassion, and clearly demonstrated skills that facilitate administrative and management efficiency.
This first of three debates is an event we should take seriously as voters, not sports or entertainment. You aren’t a viewer or spectator; you are a participant in the process. No matter how the debate goes, the dialogue must reaffirm commitment to work tirelessly to secure an outcome commensurate with your hopes for the future of America.
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].