Finally, a Real Election (Well, Sort Of)
This article first appeared in Times of Israel.
As we know, voters are sick and tired of the “schmutz” (filth) of the present US election. Whereas most of the recent negative personal publicity had focused on Donald Trump, the FBI’s renewed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails has begun to again seriously tarnish her image and place her starkly in the negative spotlight – not to mention the impact of Wikileaks.
The “schmutz factor” has substantially damaged both candidates and the entire campaign on various levels. Most of us were justifiably outraged by Donald Trump’s statements about John McCain, we were shocked by Mr. Trump’s interaction with the parents of a fallen US soldier, and we were disgusted by his “locker room banter” (hyperlink intentionally omitted).
Similarly, we are aware of the countless Clinton scandals (see also here), as well as Hillary Clinton’s emails against minorities, anti-Israel emails by her senior staff, and her emails against various other groups.
We are utterly turned off by this all. Whereas we Americans want our President to set an example and raise the bar, we are happy to forgo these expectations in various ways this time around. Not that the candidates are personally flawed in all ways – each is blessed with certain great talents – but there is obviously much to be desired.
This sorry situation engenders a most ironic result: This election must be decided on the issues rather than on the personalities. The present US election cannot boil down to a popularity contest, as do most elections, for both candidates would in that case lose. Rather, voters are now compelled to decide based solely on the candidates’ stances on the issues: the war against terror, economic growth, employment, fighting crime, international stability and security, and, for our readership, the well-being of the State of Israel.
We cannot vote based on the candidates’ personal qualities; we can only vote according to their positions on the issues. And that is largely how it should be (although we certainly always seek candidates with good character across the board and who serve as positive personal examples in most ways, and we sorely lament the problems this time).
Shlomo Ha-Melech (King Solomon) wrote: “Like rushing water is the heart of the king in God’s hand; He directs it wherever He so desires.” (Mishlei/Proverbs 21:1) This verse is often interpreted not only to mean that God controls the decisions of political leaders, but that the strings of the entire political system are pulled by God. Perhaps the incredible irony and unprecedented overall nature of the current US election will serve as the boldest contemporary manifestation of Shlomo Ha-Melech’s eternal words of wisdom.