Who Do You Trust to Be Our Next President?

President Trust picWhen the election season began most people believed that Hillary Clinton would be one of the final three still in the race in May, 2016. Few people thought that Bernie Sanders would be in the picture and a viable candidate to win the Democratic nomination. Fewer still thought that Donald Trump would be scowling out at us as the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party.

Although I think Donald Trump would be the worst choice the American people could make as our next president, I suggested in a recent article that there were a number of reasons he was garnering as much attention and votes as he has thus far:

  1. Our Presidential Candidates Reflect the View We Hold of Ourselves.

I suggested that many Americans have a feeling that the world we are creating for our children, grandchildren, and future generations is profoundly damaged and we don’t feel kindly towards ourselves. As Charles Eisenstein says in his book, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible, “Who could have foreseen, two generations ago when the story of progress was strong, that the twenty-first century would be a time of school massacres, of rampant obesity, of growing indebtedness, of pervasive insecurity, of intensifying concentration of wealth, of unabated world hunger, and of environmental degradation that threatens civilization?”

It’s no wonder that rates of depression and suicide are on the rise, particularly among older, white males. Further, more and more people are suffering from chronic pain and are overdosing on pain medications.

When we’re depressed and in pain we don’t always make good choices, in our own lives and in our choices for President.

  1. Many of us Have Suffered Abuse, Neglect, and Abandonment as Children.

Those who have suffered abuse, neglect, or abandonment as children grow up to express their pain in various ways. In my own case, I grew up with a father who was depressed and tried to take his own life when I was a child. My mother was worried and anxious her whole life.

When we’re deciding who to trust with the keys to nuclear war, we should ask about their childhood wounds and how it might impact them as adults.  When we elect someone who can send our sons, daughters, grandsons, and granddaughters to war to kill other people’s sons, daughters, grandsons, and granddaughters, we should understand how their wounds might affect their judgments.

  1. In a Complex World, We Want Simple Solutions, Even If They Are Wrong

The world is increasingly complex and it’s difficult to know what we can do to solve the major problems we face. When we study civilizations in the past that collapsed, the underlying cause wasn’t that they didn’t understand the problems they faced, but that they couldn’t focus their attention on solving the problems. They would simply push the problem into the future and hope someone else would figure out what to do.

No one has better articulated this problem of complexity and how to solve it than Rebecca Costa. In her book, The Watchman’s Rattle: A Radical New Theory of Collapse Costa posits that the escalating complexity of our personal lives, technological capabilities, and government policies have led to conditions—worldwide recession, global warming, pandemic viruses—that have outpaced our ability to manage them. After identifying and articulating this dynamic, Costa offers an opportunity to address it. She reveals scientific evidence that the human brain can be retrained to comprehend, analyze, and resolve massively complex problems.

Mr. Trump taps into the anger and pain people feel about world-wide problems that we don’t seem to be able to solve and offers simple solutions that most people don’t truly feel are realistic—build a wall on our border and make Mexico pay for it, keep all Muslims out of the country, defeat ISIS simply and make America great, once and for all. But we want to believe that our problems can be solved. Without hope of a better future, we sink more deeply into despair. We’d rather believe in a magical future we know doesn’t exist, than live without hope.

How do we decide who to vote for? I think it will get down to this simple question. Who do we trust can deliver on their promises to make a better world for ourselves, our children, our grandchildren, and future generations?

Here are a few other questions to consider. If you think the system is broken and needs a complete overhaul, who can do that without throwing our country into chaos? Who truly cares about the needs of all the people, not just the rich and powerful? Who gets their money from billionaires and who gets their money from the average person?

The truth is, in a world that is changing so rapidly I can’t say with certainty who the next best president should be. I can tell you how it looks to me now. With everything I know now I would vote for Bernie Sanders. If he drops out and my choice is between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, I’d choose Hillary Clinton.

But no matter who wins in November, we’ve got a long journey ahead of us in getting our country working for all the people. I could imagine a number of interesting scenarios:

  • Revelations come out that shift the Democratic party away from Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders gets the nomination and defeats Donald Trump.
  • Donald Trump defeats the Democratic nominee and proves, to everyone’s surprise, to be a better President than anyone expected.
  • Hillary Clinton wins the nomination, defeats Donald Trump, and struggles for four years to bring the country together. In the following election cycle both the Democrats and Republicans bring forth candidates that are better than any who are running in 2016.

I look forward to hearing your own scenarios and reasons you’re voting for the candidate of your choice.

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  1. Gura Lashlee says:

    I’m Berning up.

    Senator Sanders is the first candidate since Jimmy Carter that I have felt confident could do a great job.

    I will never vote for Hilary….or Drumph.

    Since I live in California which is pretty much assured of a Democrat endorsement, if I can’t vote for Senator Sanders for President I’ll stay at home watching How To Get Away With Murder.

    I switched parties from Green to Democrat just so I could vote for him in the primary.

    Senator Sanders is the last and best hope this country has left.

    Vote early and vote often.

  2. Jed, thanks for these political posts. It’s so wonderful to have a place for a real discussion. I think there are bigger questions than anyone is discussing. Did we get to this place because none of us – not ourselves, nor our leaders – were practicing the core human prinicpal of honesty? And, if that is the case, can’t an argument be made that it is time we all started working toward that goal again?

    If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that the TWO PARTY SYSTEM has brought us scandal, corruption, dishonesty and a questionable view of reality. Let’s remember something very important about Bernie Sanders. He has won all his previous federal elections as an INDEPENDENT. So why did he run as a Democrat? Because he could not have made the kind of progress he has made in this election had he run as an Independent or on a third party ticket.

    When I say that we need to look at this honestly, I am saying that the two major political parties are not representatives of the electorate. They are representatives of their paid corporate interests. As a result, our political dialogue doesn’t even address the real grassroots issues underlying wage inequality, our failed economy, the environmental destruction of our planet, the endless slaughter of people around the world through our “All War All the Time,” foreign policy, and poor access to education.
    Rather, we console ourselves by saying that we are a “great nation,” with access to education and the promise of prosperity. That’s because the moneyed interests could not sustain thier control over the electorate if “the people,” would stand up and say “BASTA!!!!!! ENOUGH ALREADY.”
    So why, Jed, will your options most likely come down to Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? Why do you, and all of us, not have the option to vote for someone like Bernie on a VIABLE THIRD PARTY TICKET???
    Furthermore, why when we consider this debacle, do we talk only of a third party? Why not MULTIPLE PARTIES?
    What if we had Socialist Democrats, and Liberetarians, and Greens, and, and, and?
    Why is it so hard for third party candidates to even get on the ballot? What happened to our high-minded fairness doctrine, with its promise of equal access to the air waves?
    What would happen if the electorate went to the polls, voted for third party candidates on the ballot, and wrote thier own names in for president if no third party candidate were available?
    Well according to our constitution, were there no clear cut winner, Congress would decide the election. Of course that would also be a mess, given that the moneyed interests also control Congress, as every day our elected representatives spend a portion of their day working the phones asking the wealthy for money.
    Can we continue to be fearful to vote for alternative party candidates when the major two parties continue to offer us bad choices?
    Like the previous reader, both myself and my husband, had to reregister in our state’s closed primary from our membership in Oregon’s Pacific Green Party in order to vote for Bernie in the primary – something we have already done via Oregon’s mail-in ballot system.
    I’m praying for the courage to vote Green in November. That is the honest thing to do.

    • Rebecca, Thanks for the thoughtful comments. It does seem that the (political) world is changing rapidly and old systems are dying and new ones are being born. Clearly the American people are tired of the system as it is and are looking for better alternatives. I’m excited to see what emerges.

  3. Okay, my turn. First, personal history. Up until this primary season, I had been a registered Pacific Green, calling it the party that sucks least. That’s terrible, I know. However it still seems a better option than bowing to the fearmongering and voting for a major party candidate that I can’t stand, or worse still, not bothering to vote and let everyone else choose for me. It still feels like a no-win situation, now more than ever.

    But then I have to remember other movements, such as Women’s Sufferage and the absolute vitriol and abuse heaped upon the original proponents, many of whom didn’t survive to see their efforts come to fruition. Yes, times were simpler then, and how to fix a particular problem such as Women’s Sufferage(one constitutional amendment and you’re done), as opposed to say global warming which every other nation IN THE WORLD admits is a problem, but here in the US, the only nation dumb and corrupt enough to give corporations the same free speech rights as individuals and to equate money with free speech so it buries its head in the sand and says it’s all a conspiracy, how can you even start? You do what you can, but it still feels like swimming against the tide.

    I’m certainly changing my party affliation back after May 17, when Oregon has its primary. And I agree, Bernie ran in the Democratic primary because that gave him the best chance of getting his message out and actually enacting some lasting change. Do you really think the issues he’s pounding away about would even get mentioned in the “mainstream”(read corporate owned and controlled) media if he weren’t? Of course not. Even with him there, 80 percent of the coverage STILL seems to focus on horserace, who’s leading in the polls which I do not give a (expletive deleted) about. Of course, that coverage is by design, and my suspicion is to discourage those who don’t agree with their annointed views.

    Come November, I will vote for who I believe is the best candidate. This may even involve voting for Bernie as a write in candidate. But, I figure that out when the time comes later this year.

    Thanks for the post by the way.

    • Seth,

      I think Bernie, and for different reasons, Donald, are both scaring the hell out of the Main Steam media and power structures. We are seeing a change in the world, where old systems are falling apart and we’re reaching out for different leaders. I think the real issue has to do with empowering the people, which only we can do. In addition to asking about who we trust, I think we have to ask who do we feel most inspires us to get involved. I appreciate your ideas about a third party. It may be that for many that is the path to the future many of us want.

  4. Frank Hummer says:

    I am a conservative, or perhaps closer to a libertarian, therefore I cannot be happy about either Clinton, Sanders, or Trump. Part of the reason I can’t support Trump of course involves his off-and-on support of the same big-government views as Clinton and Sanders. We now have three prominent Democrats running for president, with one of them apparently being nominated by the Republican party. (The rest of the reason I can’t support Trump is that he is unbelievable at every step, and he is a vicious person who we know does not intend to abide by the rule of law – he has said so.)
    And Jed, I didn’t carefully read your last newsletter, so forgive me if I get this wrong, but I believe it was you who pointed out that Trump has narcissistic/sociopathic traits, and I strongly agree with this. He can’t be trusted. He is a Bully and a tyrant. I see his supporters as exhibiting all of the classic traits we see in the enablers/codependents that surround manipulator/narcissist/sociopaths. It’s quite a sight to see. (I’m not a psychologist — I’m a mathematician — but I’ve run across these type of people before.) The allowances and excuses and special pleadings for Trump that are offered by the pundits on Fox news (which I used to watch before they started buttressing-up the very liberal and very dysfunctional Trump) are sickening to listen to.
    Many on the right (where I place myself) say “stop Hillary at any cost [even if it means we elect the national embarrassment Trump]”. Instead, I wonder if it will be easier for conservative, constitution-recognizing statespeople (they make up maybe about 35% of the Republicans, and about 0% of Democrats in Congress) to fight a one-term Clinton or Sanders than it will be for them to fight a Trump who is — at least purportedly — a member of the Republican party. There are other overlooked dynamics involved here that I won’t go into.
    Alternatively, I think it makes a lot of sense for conservative, constitution-recognizing Republicans to vote for a third party candidate. It could be Cruz. Or it could be someone else who is put forth by the “Never Trump” movement. (“What part of ‘never’ don’t you understand?”) It has become slightly easier to find a decent, sane human being for a third party candidate, because the major parties have removed three of the most race-disparaging, gender-disparaging, freedom-disparaging candidates from consideration for this third party run.

    • Frank, Thanks for the thoughtful comments. Although I support Bernie Sanders as someone who not only is challenging the current establishment and the Democratic power structure’s choice, Hillary Clinton, but one who would make changes that I think would create a power even playing field. I know many on the left who want to stop Trump at any cost and some who would do anything to stop Hillary, including voting for Donald Trump.

      I suspect that in the future, there are going to be issues that will unite people from both the left and the right. There’s much about the conservative/libertarian views that resonate with me. Just as if you go far enough East you come around to the West on planet Earth, I’ve found the farther left I go, the more I feel more aligned with some people on the right.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.

  5. “In the following election cycle both the Democrats and Republicans bring forth candidates that are better than any who are running in 2016.”
    I think this part is more a fantasy or wild pipe dream than scenario. I have seen nothing that demonstrates that they are going to change.