It’s summer, and there’s not much on TV. There are the summer reruns and scripted reality shows. (How can a “reality” show have a script?) And there are the just completed political conventions. Like I said, there’s not been much on TV this summer.
So recently, I have been watching once again the ten part HBO miniseries, “Band of Brothers.” “Band of Brothers’ is the highly praised World War II story of Easy Company, produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. The miniseries follows the exploits of the Easy Company paratroopers, from their dropping into France on D-Day, until the end of the war. It is gripping and amazing to see the heroism and determination of those brave soldiers of our “greatest generation.”
One night, after watching an episode, I switched back to the regular TV channels. The convention was on. The presidential nominee was speaking. As I became more depressed, and shortly before cutting it off and heading to bed, I thought, “You mean those guys fought and died for our country to end up with this?” (I’m not going to say which convention or candidate, Democratic or Republican. It really doesn’t matter.)
Because it really doesn’t matter that much. We all know the candidates for president, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. And both candidates have around a 60 percent disapproval rate from voters. Like I said, we know pretty much who they are.
Hillary Clinton says she will be no friend to Wall Street. But she has received hundreds of thousands in speaking fees from the very ones ($600,000 just from Goldman Sachs) who led us into the last recession. According to the FBI Director, she was “carelessly reckless” with classified emails on her personal server that may have put U.S. security at risk. Her political aides have admitted that “trust doesn’t matter” in this election.
Donald Trump is, well, Donald Trump. He says he knows more about ISIS than the U.S. Generals. He has been a presidential candidate for over a year. Yet it is apparent that he does not know any more about foreign or domestic policy than he did a year ago. And what is even more disturbing, he seems to show no desire to learn. There is much more that has been written about and discussed that rightly justifies the voter’s 60 percent disapproval rate for Hillary and Donald. You’ve seen and heard it.
So here is what we are facing. One presidential candidate is the embodiment of the System. She, and those around her, have been experts at using the System to their own political and economic advantage for nearly thirty years. But it’s a System that is slowly crushing the hopes and dreams of many Americans, and is eroding the foundation on which this country was founded.
The other presidential candidate says he is going to fix it. He’s going to blow up the System. How? Who knows? But an incompetent person with explosives is dangerous. And an incompetent and erratic person with power is a threat to blow up and damage much in our country that may be impossible to rebuild.
I have heard it often said that the presidential election this year is the choice of the lesser of two evils. Well, the lesser of two evils is still evil. And is this what the soldiers of the “Band of Brothers” fought and died for in World War II?
John Adams, the second U.S. President, saw this coming. He wrote, over 200 years ago, “Remember, that democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide.” It really doesn’t matter that much if the Democratic or Republican candidate wins this November. Unless something dramatic happens, and we can hope, America may already be on suicide watch.
But maybe that might not be the case. Last Sunday, during his sermon, our pastor, talking about change, stated, “We change only when the pain is great enough.” Maybe what is happening now will be painful enough that Americans will seriously look at the way we choose those who lead us. And at the political parties and system that gives us such candidates. We owe that to the next generation. Because the real pain will probably not be ours, but those who follow after us.
Mac McPhail, raised in Sampson County, lives in Clinton and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org