By Harvey Neiman, Author of Customize Wall Street
With the presidential election now less than a week away, most public opinion polls show the race to be much closer than people assumed just a few weeks ago. After looking at a cross-section of the most current polls, taken through the end of October or first couple days of November, Clinton is ahead in most of them, with Trump and Clinton tied in a couple. In the ones in which she is ahead, her lead is substantially lower than it was after the presidential debates.
In my opinion, this reflects a great deal of uncertainty amongst the voting public. It’s hard to tell if this reflects national sentiment of people favoring their chosen candidate, or the opposite; reflecting the sentiment of many people disliking one candidate more than the other.
The purpose of this commentary is neither to convince you which candidate to vote for, nor to re-hash all the negativity that the candidates themselves, and the media, have dug up and publicized throughout this contentious campaign. My purpose is to present a few final thoughts that might possibly help undecided voters, in making a meaningful choice.
As I have written in other commentaries, the one decision you must not make is to “throw in the towel” and to refuse to vote. If you do that, then you’ve allowed two “battling” candidates to make you forego our nation’s hard-fought-for constitutional right (and duty) for each of us to play a part in selecting our leaders and representatives.
If you can’t decide between the nominees printed on the ballot, at least write-in a name of your own choosing. Whether that person does, or does not, win is not the point. The point is, you’re exercising your precious right to participate and to be counted.
How can an undecided voter make up his or her mind for whom to vote, especially if one is not enamored by either candidate? It’s not easy, and to some degree it’s a very discouraging commentary on the status of our election process. My suggestion is to perhaps modify the measure or criteria by which you make your selection for whom to vote.
Is it important to “like” one of the candidates? There is no question that in recent history, voters indeed liked John Kennedy, and they liked Ronald Reagan. But, our nation has also chosen, and made victorious, candidates not so likeable, such as Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson.
I have overheard many people saying they don’t like either Trump or Clinton. Based on the nature of this year’s campaign, I don’t find that very surprising. So, how can one decide between them?
Let me offer two basic measures or criteria, that might help. One is “don’t” and the other is “do”.Both require looking at the bigger picture.
First, I recommend you do not allow the presidential campaign in your own mind to become a criminal prosecution. The fact that one candidate has used harsh words, or even been downright nasty and bigoted in the past, is not proof of conduct in the future. The fact that the other candidate has misused technology or even violated certain protocols, does not preclude corrective action that will avoid such situations in the future. Who among us has not committed some transgression that we’d love to undo if we could? Isn’t that what repenting for our “sins” is all about? Staying with this point a bit further, also consider the source of who is complaining about the past wrongdoing. If it’s the opposing candidate who’s making the fuss, doesn’t that just speak to the lack of dignity to which the campaign has lowered itself. Seriously, is there a single past President of the United States who has not done something that he wished he’d never done?
Secondly, considering both the world stage and here at home, which candidate do you feel will address the most demanding global and domestic issues with rationality, with dignity, and with a high-quality team of advisers to help put all appropriate issues and potential solutions on the table, before taking action? Major issues, such as the economy, both at home and abroad, education, employment, global terrorism, population growth, ecology and the environment, just to name a few, will need continuous attention and resolution by the next occupant of the White House. Which candidate do you feel might handle these situations better?
Again, you don’t necessarily have to like the next president, or choose the one who looks best on TV or in photo opportunities. You might want to lean toward the one with the potential to allow you to sleep better at night, knowing there’s someone looking out for our best interests, today and for future generations.
These few focus points don’t necessarily make your selection process any easier, because the answers may not be clear cut. For many voters who are loyal to their own political party, certainly you will want to support your party’s nominee. That’s in line with how our political election process works.
But, if you are undecided, or you’re just not happy with the nominees of either party, then I sincerely feel you would well serve our country by taking a big picture approach. By that I mean, asking yourself, which candidate will do better than the other for our country as a whole over the next four years? You might say to yourself, I don’t like him or her, but I’m going to vote for the person I feel will make every effort to do a good job.
No matter what, please vote!