How did we reach this point? The next President of the United States may very well be... Donald Trump?! A blustering, carnival barker with absolutely no political experience? The office held by Washington, Lincoln, FDR? Donald J. Trump? Or, even worse, it may be Hillary Clinton. A corrupt, grasping, transparently phony, self-aggrandizing liar of long standing? This is the best our electoral system can produce?
I feel ashamed as a citizen of the U.S. before the audience of the world. Not that I normally care much what the world thinks of us in general, or of me in particular, but this is really embarrassing. No, it's a disgrace. These are the two worst candidates for president of my lifetime; there really is no choice between them -- a clown and a criminal, a lout and a liar -- and so, for the first time in my adult life, I may not vote at all. That saddens me. I take my right to vote seriously (even though the courts religiously call me for jury duty every two years!), and I don't believe I have ever missed an election on any level. I even vote for members of the local school board. And I do my research. I actually read the candidates' statements, and look them up on the Internet to try to find out who they really are and what they really stand for. Then I mark my sample ballot and take it to the polling place so that I don't make any mistakes. No hanging chads for this voter.
But not this year. In its dysfunctional wisdom, the American electoral system has given me no serious choice. This is a bad joke, played on us, I think, quite deliberately by what is being called every fifteen minutes on cable news "the establishment." Both parties have failed us; the entire lousy, rotten establishment has delivered the nation into the hands of poseurs and phonies; the dreck has floated to the surface, and the flotsam is overwhelming us. And I sit here at my dining-room table gazing at my sample ballot, unable to begin filling it out.
Oh, I suppose I will vote for what they call the down-ballot candidates: senator, congressman, judges, city officials. But my presidential preference will not be proffered. Not this year. Not with these pathetic excuses for a commander-in-chief.
Maybe things have gotten so rum-runner rotten that it may be necessary to shake up the establishment -- give it a good dressing down, make it tremble until it collapses under its own putrid weight. Maybe Donald J. Trump is exactly what it needs, and deserves. Maybe I should just roll the dice and hope that we manage to avoid Armageddon while we bring down the whole, filthy, despicable mess that politics in this country has become.
Maybe I will vote, after all...