By Benjamin Thayer | Contributor
I cannot help but smile when I think of what wonderful options we have in this year's presidential race. In just a few weeks' time I will have to choose, and it will be difficult. I would go so far as to say that the two frontrunners-Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton-are the best choices we've had in quite some time. The president is the face of America, and these two fit us perfectly.
Now, you might ask, "What about scandals like Benghazi or Whitewater?" My reply: apparent dishonesty is an ideal attribute for the president of the U.S. "What about women and minorities? Trump treats them viciously!" I'm glad you reminded me: racism and bigotry constitute another gold star for presidential worthiness. I don't know about you, but I think accepting bribes, lacking sensitivity for others, being associated with mysterious deaths, refusing to pay taxes, having generally poor track records, saying whatever comes to mind in public and constantly changing positions on key issues are the perfect qualifications for a president.
Let me explain. These qualities are ideal in the sense that they are true not only of our nominees but also of ourselves. The 2016 race has never been about Trump, Hillary or any third-party candidate. This race is about who we are as a nation. In a nation where morality is limited at best and civility is condemned, it is not surprising that the above-named persons should be our nominees.
The problem is certainly not that there is no one around with integrity to run for president; the problem is that those individuals don't represent the population well. In a postmodern society where anything goes, we should be patting ourselves on the back for how the primaries turned out. The debates prove that all that matters now is a candidate's ability to rhetorically belittle the opponent. This begs a question: "What is America?"
We are a nation that lacks unity, cooperation and any notion of civility. A nation of people who would rather voice unfounded opinions than simply admit, "I don't know." I say "we" because as President Lincoln claimed in his Gettysburg address, the U.S. is ideally a nation ". . . of the people, by the people, for the people . . . ." America's strength has always been that we are the "United" States and that the people are the centerpiece. I think we've lost sight of this. We as a country are only a child on the stage of the world-albeit a very powerful child-compared to other actors, and it is time for us to come of age.
America has always housed a plurality of voices, but that doesn't restrict us from possessing a common national identity. Our nation must mature in its ability to work together for human rights, racial reconciliation, environmental progress, economic stability, etc. I say it is to tolerance, to civility, to unity that we must look in order to remain together.
If something is wrong in this land, it is not one person's fault, nor the fault of a group, but rather the fault of the entire nation. We live in a culture where sin thrives. As I said: we must mature.
Why is it a surprise that a frontrunner deleted thousands of emails to cover herself up when we go to great lengths to lie to others and appear to be what we are not every day? Why is it a surprise when a nominee says something demeaning about women when trafficking, rape culture and pornography are rampant?
How hard are we working toward a culture where unity is the standard? If we truly believe in democracy, then we also believe that we, the people, have brought ourselves here by our own doing. We need not put our hope in a presidential candidate, because the greatness of this nation rests squarely on the shoulders of the people. America's problems can't be fixed from the top down; they must be addressed from the bottom up. I long for a day when those who represent us will be beyond reproach. We can restore a place where unity, civility and tolerance reign; where we will listen to each other to solve problems. That will be the first step in the right direction.