The mud-slinging, name-calling, and character assassination when I ran for a seat in the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1764 was quite intense. It was so bad, in fact, that by election time my reputation had been so completely trashed by my opponents that it was a wonder that I ever served in public office again. (I lost that election, by the way).
And to put things in perspective, it was only 12 years later that I began to achieve my greatest political successes as committee member for the creation of the Declaration of Independence, ambassador to France, delegate at the Constitutional convention, and president of the Pennsylvania Assembly!
So it just goes to show you that as vile, foolish, divisive, pointless, mean-spirited, and laughable the campaign process might be, it’s not the end of the world – although sometimes it may seem so.
As far as this latest presidential contest goes, if I may be so bold as to offer this elder sage’s opinions on what has transpired so far on the public stage, perhaps you, the reader, may find some helpful ideas to ponder and even some reassurance that America is not going to hell in a handbasket, despite what some candidates may claim.
Debates: Stick to the issues, please
One point that was made by a recent news commentator which I heartily endorse: in comparing the substance of recent candidate debates, Republicans vs. Democrats, it appeared that the Democrats had a much better ability to stay on target, and enlighten the audience with serious examination of the various issues at hand. The Republicans seemed more intent on hurling insults and brickbats at one another than discussing issues.
If the electorate is to truly make an intelligent decision come Election Day, it would be much more advantageous if candidates from both parties would thoughtfully and sensitively address the following issues:
- Income inequality – the rich keep getting richer while the middle class continues losing ground.
- Gun violence in America – the escalating number of shootings in schools, theatres, and other places is absolutely intolerable, and certainly not what we colonists had in mind when we advocated “freedom to bear arms.”
- Wars in the Middle East – it’s all too simple to think that these conflicts will be limited to that region; in this modern age, the wars often spill over not only into neighboring countries but also to friends and allies on the other side of the world.
- Racial strife in our country – despite legislation, Supreme Court decisions, marches, protests, and other events, racial discrimination continues, leading directly to unrest and civil disturbances.
- Immigration – the United States, from its very beginning, was a land of immigrants. (Even I trace my ancestors back to England). Some say this country’s greatness was built “on the backs of immigrants.” Yet there are many who would “close the door” to immigrants, and forcibly deport those already here, even at the expense of splitting up families.
- Government gridlock – I’m no stranger to political squabbling, indecision, and paralysis; it happened at the congressional gatherings to approve the Declaration of Independence. But today, I hear, it happens much too often, throwing good, loyal civil servants out of work, and creating more ill will and distrust of government.
- Voting rights – surprisingly, there are still those petty tyrants around this great country who gain and maintain power by controlling who gets to vote, and who doesn’t. We need to remind ourselves, the freedom to vote is guaranteed to all, not to hand-picked cronies and stooges!
- Healthcare - as I understand it, the costs of obtaining medical care continue to spiral out of control. There needs to be a government solution that reins in these costs, while at the same time assuring both fair pricing and fair compensation that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.
Ben: Neither a voter nor a candidate be
Finally, I wish that I could actually participate in this upcoming election myself, but there are a couple of factors which would make this impossible: (1) Because of time traveling, my residency would be quite hard to prove; (2) Having only employed horseback or horse-drawn transportation in the 1700s, I have not managed to obtain a present-day “driver’s license,” which I understand is used as a form of identification in this modern world, in some states and districts more than others; and (3) While my own grasp of 21st century political issues and controversial subjects is remarkably good for someone who has only been here in this future land for a short while now, I must confess to a large degree of ignorance of the fine points of how this government functions (in comparison to the first Congress of my day), and so therefore I’m afraid I would be neither a well-informed voter nor an experienced, well-equipped, and viable occupant of the White House.
Your humble servant,