Cynthia M. Allen

We have a lot to learn from this election

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speak during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Sunday, Oct. 9.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speak during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Sunday, Oct. 9. AP

In less than a month, the election will be over.

The nightmare of a campaign season Americans have endured for over a year will dissipate, and the losing party, which at this point seems safely predictable, will begin its ritualistic postmortem assessment in a supposed attempt to learn some lessons from its failure.

We all have a lot to contemplate after this election cycle, including some ugly truths it has revealed about our nation.

To start, voters nominated two of the worst major-party candidates in history.

While there are valid arguments about how our flawed political process favors connected, well-moneyed politicians and drives away decent men and women, in the end citizens are responsible for the name they select on the ballot.

And they got what they deserved.

Plenty has been said about Donald Trump’s lack of qualifications, never mind his character — it’s hardly worth rehashing at this point.

While he benefited greatly from a large field of candidates, which made collecting enough electorates to win the nomination extremely challenging, a profane man with absolutely no policy experience still earned enough votes to win the candidacy of a party whose values he does not — and never has — represented or shared.

On the other hand, the Democratic field was small and unimpressive, but voters still seemed satisfied to put forth as their representative a woman who is the very personification of political corruption, elitism and entitlement.

There has been little ado about the fact that Hillary Clinton was under federal investigation during most of her candidacy and received a harsh admonishment by the FBI director for her carelessness in handling U.S. intelligence.

It boggles the mind that so many voters readily wish to bring her back into the fold.

But one of the most difficult revelations from this campaign cycle is the unabashed racism, anti-Semitism and sexism that persist within pockets of our society, to a far greater degree than many realized.

These sentiments, expressed largely by a small by vocal slice of Trump supporters, have been encouraged by their candidate’s careless rhetoric.

To be fair, race relations have dramatically declined during the last eight years.

And while President Barack Obama is not wholly responsible for that deterioration, racial discord has no doubt been enhanced by liberal social policies that have negatively impacted communities long ignored by both political parties.

Now these tensions are no longer buried. They have bubbled to the surface.

No matter who wins on Nov. 8, he or she will face a fractured nation with a large number of people of various political affiliations who seem to care very little about the character of the person leading it.

Fortunately, not everyone has been sitting idly by while our nation is swallowed up by its own apathy and ignorance.

One positive thing this election cycle has confirmed is that in times of crisis, people of principle emerge to protest the hijacking of their beliefs and the distortion of their values.

We need only consider the grassroots movement to oppose Trump’s candidacy that has gained traction around the country.

Its leaders have even put forth a long-shot but principled candidate, Evan McMullin, to give voters an alternative as a write-in choice on Election Day.

Believe it or not, McMullin has a decent shot of winning the state of Utah, thanks to an electorate seeking another option for president.

And while the Republican “establishment” has begrudgingly (and ironically) supported Trump, conservative intellectuals have been vocal in their opposition his candidacy and what it represents.

Many conservative thought-leaders are not merely seeking to retake the party but are also earnestly proposing public policies that will serve the greater good, rather than simply appeasing a select group of voters.

Alas, we have not seen the same people of principle rise on the political left, at least not beyond the primary season.

The coming years will give such individuals plenty of opportunities to speak out.

In the meantime, all Americans can benefit from reflection on their role in the current political cycle and serious thought about what future elections should look like.

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