I recently facilitated a Sunday School class at my church on the faith and politics. During our two weeks together, the class wrestled with the question “How does our faith call us to engage in politics?” Preparing for the class was very difficult for me as I struggled to balance my life and career on Capitol Hill with the core principles I have embraced along my faith journey. At the end of the day, I concluded that it was not so much how our faith calls us to engage in politics, but rather how we engage one another at the place where our faith and politics intersect.
With that as a point of reference, I am terribly saddened that American politics may have hit an all-time low. Yet, I remain ever hopeful that together, we can shift the dialogue during the final five weeks of the 2016 Election cycle.
In many respects, the tone of the election is an reflection of the electorate. I am not trying to minimize the nature of concern of the American people, but we are so far off track and it seems as if no one cares. We can and must change the course of the conversation.
I want a Presidential candidate who is humble, visionary, empathetic, possesses leadership characteristics, and has a moral compass. I want a national dialogue on gun violence, job creation, reducing the national debt, entitlement reform, international conflicts (and how they impact American national security), and racial tensions in America – among many other important topics. We deserve nothing less.
I reject the argument that Americans are satisfied selecting a Presidential candidate without knowing where he completely stands on important issues of the day. I refuse to believe that we – the American people – are satisfied with “non-answer” answers to critical issues. And I categorically reject the notion that we are satisfied with candidates who continually re-write history, lie about their answers, make up facts, refuse to be transparent, and inject flippant, erratic, and hateful speech in public presentations to win over the electorate.
Why is this acceptable? I cannot answer that question, but I can try in my little part of the world to demand more. I am owed that from those seeking elected office, and frankly, the stakes are too high. The next president of the United States will inherit a plethora of problems that must be addressed with a steady, educated, well versed, tempered and visionary voice.
Instead of talking about these issues, today’s morning news reported on the early morning twitter rant of a man who hopes to occupy the White House. Obviously Mrs. Clinton hit a nerve at the debate with her apparent trap of bringing up the Alicia Machado matter. If Hillary Clinton is able to set and execute such an obvious distraction, what will happen on the world stage during a Trump presidency? What will happen when Congress rejects a Trump proposal? What will happen when we try to have a real debate on serious issues and something gets under Trump’s skin?
A three o’clock tirade about Alicia M three days after the debate is just the latest example of how the American people have allowed the most important election in our country to be degraded into a junk-yard dog, Jerry Springer type of reality television fight. And I for one am tired of it. It must stop. No matter who you support, plan to support, or are thinking of supporting, I think we can all agree that this is not the type of political engagement that we should settle for. It is too important.
If we do not change course quickly and demand more from these candidates, when the final episode of this series airs, the American people will be left with the reality they complacently sat by and allowed to unfold.