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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 17, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

ColumnsElephant in the Room

The candidates we need

A reality television star is the Republican front-runner, and the Democrats’ top candidate is under FBI investigation. Let that sink in, America.

Moving to Canada has been the most searched term on Google on multiple occasions during this election season. Republicans say it about Hillary Clinton. Democrats say it about Donald Trump. When you examine this claim further, you will see its innate problem. If Americans are so frightened of one candidate’s holding presidential power that they would flee the country, the president has too much power.

Sure, most of these are empty threats in a hyperpartisan era, but these threats are symptomatic of two larger problems. One is the lack of quality in the current presidential candidates. The other is that we have given one person an enormous amount of power but are reluctant to recognize this. And that is dangerous, especially for a country founded after a revolutionary war to break away from an oppressive monarchy.

As a society, we value entertainment over knowledge, quick benefits over longterm solutions, the easy answer over the difficult but needed remedy. These candidates reflect that. We need leaders with policy experience, strong convictions, pragmatism and optimism. Those values in a candidate have been lost and replaced with sound bites and promises of magical solutions to large problems. Lies are now more frequent than ever, and they get pushed into society as truths that should never be questioned.

Gaffes used to ruin candidates. In the 2004 election, Howard Dean screamed, and it lost him the Democratic nomination. Contrast that to today with Bernie Sanders, who can only converse by yelling. In 2012, Mitt Romney faced heavy criticism after his 47 percent comment. Trump has made several offensive and disgusting remarks but has only boosted in the polls.

We deserve these candidates. We don’t value honesty. We deserve Clinton. We don’t value intelligence and empathy. We deserve Trump. We don’t value economic literacy. We deserve Sanders. We don’t value the candidates who actually could improve America, so these are the fools we deserve.

Clinton is the presumptive Democratic nominee. I will hold out hope that the Republicans will enter into a brokered convention in Cleveland that will allow an actual conservative to become the standard bearer of the party. But no matter what happens, I hope America will wake up by 2020 and reassess what we value in ourselves, our president and our nation.

Kyle Stewart can be reached at kstewart1@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @KyleStew107