I spend a fair amount of time on FaceBook, and I keep a pretty diverse group of friends, so I get to hear lots of different perspectives. I have quite a few friends who are just not happy with the election. They don’t like the choices, and they think the whole thing is messed up. When people say they have to vote for the lesser of two evils, I have a tendency to feel like this says more about the nomination from the party that person is more likely to vote for, than it says about both candidates (read more here), but there are nevertheless plenty of people who just despise both choices, especially this year. When I think about the people who aren’t happy, some of them dislike the candidates as people (Hillary is a crook, Trump is a pig, etc), but I’ve been friends, at least on FaceBook, with others for long enough that I get the sense they will never be happy, with any candidate, unless that candidate fits their hopes/dreams/values/desires perfectly. It makes me wonder if we’re expecting a bit too much…maybe spoiled by modern society.
What part of modern society? Our ability to customize everything. I can go to any car company website and “build and price” a car with the options I want. We have an entire television network about finding a house that’s just perfect, or building/renovating an existing house if it’s not just right. We can order our food exactly how we want it, and we have a million places to buy clothing to find the perfect fit (and can visit a custom shop if nothing on the rack fits just right). I have a zillion different phones to pick from, and even once I’ve picked, I can choose which apps to have to make it just right for me (not to mention my ability to change the ringer, color scheme, sounds, lock screen, etc). Companies like Pandora became popular because they track our likes and dislikes, to create a playlist that’s just right for one person, me.
We are special, we are one of a kind. We’re told that over and over, and it’s mostly true. My DNA is likely unique and even if there is another human being with the exact same DNA, the environment in which that DNA is living is different (different house, different friends, different breakfast this morning). I am one of a kind.
But then I have to pick a politician to support. Like my DNA, I am very likely going to be a combination of views, maybe not unique, but at least rare. I’m sure there are others who feel like I do about issues, but maybe the relative weight I place on each issue will differ. Even if I’m not unique, it’s unlikely that I’ll find a million or more who feel exactly how I feel, including having the exact same priorities, as I feel. So no candidate will ever fit me perfectly.
When I look at my FaceBook friends (certainly not a random sample, and not a systematic view of the electorate), they seem to fall into a few camps. Let’s just set aside the folks who identify as democrats and have no problem supporting a democrat, and the folks who identify as republicans and have no problem supporting a republican. Those people aren’t part of this discussion. But let’s just look at the ones who seem to always feel left out of the political process, and who never seem to have a candidate that they can stand behind enthusiastically. These are the folks who fall into a handful camps, but of course each is a bit different, so these are generalizations:
There are those who like the idea of cutting spending, and want lower taxes. They tend to be republican-like on those issues, but they are all for gay marriage and are uncomfortable with the social leanings of the GOP. Classic model of people who are fiscally conservative and socially liberal. These folks aren’t happy because the GOP isn’t socially liberal enough for them, and the Democratic Party isn’t fiscally conservative enough for them. So they are homeless.
There are others who similarly are socially liberal, but the nationalistic side of the GOP, and the calls for a very powerful military sit well with them. They tend to vote GOP, but aren’t happy about it because they want MORE money spent on the military and they don’t like the social conservativism that comes out of the GOP. These folks are mostly homeless, especially this year.
There are those who consider themselves “consistently pro-life.” I have a few of these friends, mostly Catholic, who are horrified by abortion, and that makes them lean toward the GOP, but they are also turned off by the dehumanization of immigrants and by the death penalty, and that makes them lean Democrat. These folks are homeless too.
These aren’t the only “homeless” types, just examples. I can understand that they can’t get behind a candidate 100% because there’s one thing or another that gets to them, but what I can’t shake is the sense I get that the election should be all about them, as individuals. But it’s not a customizable choice. There can be only one president. There generally can be only a handful of nominees (seldom more than three, and usually only two). This is not a custom tailored suit, made for one. It’s a presidential election. Even if we could design the perfect candidate, I think these folks fail to recognize that if more people wanted the combination of things that they want in that candidate, that candidate would exist, and would get more votes. You can beg for a third party all you want, but I’m convinced that ONE third party won’t even come close to satisfying all the “homeless” folks out there. Even people who fit (more or less) into the boxes in the three examples above wouldn’t be happy with the same third party option, we’d need a third and fourth and a fifth party option to satisfy both of them, and those are only three of millions of unique combinations of preferences.
And, even in this election, that is made out to be the worst set of choices ever, it’s not like there weren’t choices. There was a whole panel of GOP nominees, and three pretty solid democratic party nominees to pick from. Voters spoke and we got our choices. If you feel left out because you aren’t affiliated with a party and live in a closed primary state, then maybe you should pick a party to vote with in the primary so you don’t feel so left out.
I’m not saying that everybody who is unhappy with the nominees is spoiled, but if you’re unhappy with the nominees, maybe you should ask if you’re just a sore loser (in the primary), or if you’re asking for a perfect candidate who will pretty much never exist. Spoiled? Maybe. Maybe not.