Only thing worse than this election may be the next one

by | Nov 6, 2016 | Detroit Free Press, Comment | 5 comments

There is nothing more to say.

In two days, we will elect a president. Barring the release of some astonishing new information — and given the bombshells that the FBI, Julian Assange and “Access Hollywood” have already dropped, it would really have to be astonishing — people have heard all they need to hear.

What more could I add? Newspaper columns have already urged you, harangued you, belittled you. Depending on your source of media, you’ve already been told why Donald Trump is the worst candidate in the history of candidates, why he’s a liar, a tax evader, a hothead, an abuser of women and a bad businessman.

You’ve already been told why Hillary Clinton can never be trusted, enriches herself through a questionable foundation, has ink on her hands from traitorous e-mails and blood on her hands from Benghazi.

Every pundit, blogger, radio host or TV commentator has weighed in. So have former politicians, pro athletes, church pastors. There is only one common thread, thin as dental floss, that a majority of the country agrees on:

These candidates are awful. And how can they be the best our nation of 300 million people has to offer?

Which leaves me worried about the elections to come. And something almost impossible to imagine:

That the candidates won’t get any better.

Prepare for torture

Think about it. What sane, accomplished, moral individual would want to run for president of this country? No matter who you are, by the time you reach the second Tuesday in November, your every wart will be meteor-sized. Your every offhanded comment will have been national conversation. Your finances will be the world’s business. Any cause you supported, from high school on, will be used to define you — negatively if possible.

Anyone with a grudge from 40 years ago will get a TV crew. Anyone you served with or worked with will have prime-time access. If there’s an ex-wife or ex-husband, they — and the reason they are exes — will be fair game. So will your children.

Anything you ever typed into a computer can be used to destroy you. So can any conversation, even secretly recorded ones.

Our political process has devolved into a public flogging. Your clothes are ripped off, you hang in the town square, and every person with a keypad takes a spit at you from Oregon to Florida.

Sound enticing?

Consider the recently hacked e-mail (and those words alone will send most decent candidates running) in which the head of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and one of her longtime advisers discussed how to “stick the knife in” to Bernie Sanders, saying “crush him as hard as you can.”

And this was a member of their own party!

List dwindles fast

Now, consider accomplished, respected businesspeople. They have advanced degrees, know how to negotiate and lead, know finances, trade. Such people might make great presidents.

Why on earth would they run? By the end, their company would be like a feather pillow that’s been ripped and searched, all of its finances would be under scrutiny, something they might have said at a banquet 10 years ago could be international news. If they lose, they might have nothing to come back to.

Forget it. Check them off the list.

How about strong and humble philanthropists? Thoughtful artists? Pillars of faith-based communities? Why would they ever run for major office? A life of humility and civility is terrible training for a campaign. Being savaged at debates? Harpooned for not fighting back? Would you take that chance?

There is nothing in the Constitution that says a presidential candidate must reveal every single fact about his or her private life. Or that he or she must always have taken the perfect stance. In today’s Twitter world, Abraham Lincoln would have never survived his pre-election comments about blacks and whites not being able to live together, and John F. Kennedy’s lovers would all have their own talk shows.

It’s not that America doesn’t produce the best and brightest. It’s that those people are also human, and if they’re smart — which is what you want — they don’t want their heretofore good lives redefined by opponents who want to “stick the knife in.”

Which leaves you an awfully narrow pool of candidates. Either career politicians with machinery behind them who have taken these kind of darts so often, they don’t care; they can lie and false-promise without flinching. Or independently rich, bloated egotists who like the fight and somehow believe money and fame make them unsinkable.

Which come to think of it, is a fairly accurate summary of the two we are choosing from Tuesday.

And that’s what scares me. Hate is rampant in America. Media has lost all sense of perspective. You need billions — not millions — to run for the presidency, and the only way a pure, well-meaning leader will get that is political promises that will chew off his or her soul.

Voters are scared. But think how scared potential decent candidates must be. It’s no accident that if Clinton wins and wins again, two families (Bush, Clinton) will have controlled the American presidency for 28 of 36 years.

Sounds more like a kingdom to me.

But what can we expect when running for president is like a torture chamber inside an echo chamber? Tuesday, I fear, may only be the second-scariest election to think about.

And that’s really scary.


  1. Theresa Ramus

    To apply for the job of President of the United States to me should require nothing less than the core values of integrity and good character and moral code of ethics. I don’t want to accept anything less than that. We need to get back to basics. They also need to have compassion,empathy, kindness for people. The Presidential campaigns prove how ruthless and backstabbing it has all become. Regardless of what issues they stand for or what they think they want to do if we start with the core values first and foremost then to me you will get the caring kind of person that we should have as President.

  2. mercedes3

    Oh, so true! Everyone is wondering how it came down to this? I think we need to clean up and shorten the length of campaigns. The garbage-slinging in this one has been the worst ever, and all those involved should be ashamed. I believe a lot of this can be changed by our Lawmakers, and yet it keeps getting worse. Our Lawmakers need to know we are serious: “OUT with the old! IN with the new! Produce! or you’ll be out too!”

  3. jerroldw

    As I pointed out in an email to you, Election Day is not the second Tuesday in November, as you state. It’s the FIRST Tuesday unless the first Tuesday is November 1, as it is this year. Please correct.

  4. billyclark

    An Editorial:

    With the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency, I feel great sympathy for the parents and children of our country.

    I feel sorry for the parents of the 7 year old who must explain that it’s not OK to make fun of people with disabilities as our President Elect did during one of his campaign speeches.

    I feel sorry for the parents of the 8 year old who must explain it’s not OK to bully people by calling them fat pigs, dogs, disgusting losers, ugly inside and out as our President Elect has done repeatedly throughout his campaign.

    I feel sorry for the parents of the 9 year old who must explain how violence is not the way, and why our President Elect exhorted his followers to “knock the crap” out of them, referring to protesters at one of his rallies.

    I feel sorry for the parents of the 10 year old who must explain why our President Elect chose to attack a Gold Star Family who sacrificed their son, and also chose to disparage the military service of war hero and POW John McCain. They may also want to explain how our President Elect avoided military service during the Vietnam War years, while John McCain survived in a North Vietnamese prison.

    I feel sorry for the parents of the 11 year old who must explain why their family must pay 25 to 35 per cent of their income in federal income taxes while our billionaire President Elect has likely paid no federal income taxes at all for almost two decades.

    I feel sorry for the parents of the 12 year old who must explain that reading is important, and not to follow the example of our President Elect who, by his own admission, has not read a complete book in years.

    I feel sorry for the parents of the 13 year old who must explain the Ku Klux Klan and their hateful and racist ideology and why the KKK enthusiastically endorsed our President Elect.

    And I feel sorry for the parents of the 14 year old who must explain why our President Elect has been accused by 14 women of sexual misconduct, and why he is heard on tape as a 59 year old man saying because he is a big star he can do whatever he wants with a woman . . . even grab her by the . . . genitals. The message to the 14 year old from the man who will be our next President: sexual assault is OK.

    I feel sorry for all the parents and children of our country, because the President Elect, who should be a role model for our youngest generation, is truly no role model at all.

    • Mitch Albom

      Thank you, @billyclark, for sharing this here.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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