Post-elec­tion rules of reck­on­ing

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPINION - Kath­leen Parker is syn­di­cated by the Wash­ing­ton Post Writ­ers Group. Kath­leen Parker Colum­nist

One more week, give or take.

It seems nearly im­pos­si­ble that an elec­tion sea­son that be­gan ap­prox­i­mately four years ago is near­ing its end. Af­ter al­most two years of speeches, ral­lies and raunch, this pres­i­den­tial cam­paign has be­come just an­other sound in the white noise of life. Like “Ground­hog Day,” or perdi­tion, it seemed it never would end. Ever. Now, sud­denly, only days re­main be­fore we vote. Wait, no, I’m not ready! Where’s the one I want to vote for? Can it be true that ei­ther Hil­lary Clin­ton or Donald Trump will be the next pres­i­dent of the United States? For real? Is this re­ally all we’ve got?

Next, dread set­tles in. OMG, I have to vote. Yes, of course, you have to vote. And yet, and for whom? Anx­i­ety is up, med­i­ta­tion is in. De­pres­sion is com­mon­place. Disen­chant­ment is per­va­sive. All congeal into a sort of cat­a­clysmic sense that the best of times are be­hind us.

Where, we won­der, is the in­di­vid­ual who com­pels us to cheer for the good that unites us, the virtue that de­fines us, the strength that sus­tains us and the faith that to­mor­row will al­ways be bet­ter? Where is the sunny, as­pi­ra­tional leader who un­der­stands the frus­tra­tions of Trump sup­port­ers and the sense of left-be­hind­ness of peo­ple on both left and right?

It is sad but true that none comes to mind. More dis­turb­ing, we have to un­der­stand that great lead­ers may for­ever be in short sup­ply given that de­cent peo­ple de­cide public ser­vice isn’t worth the to­tal sur­ren­der of one’s au­ton­omy and pri­vacy. Who can blame them? Thus, our next pres­i­dent will be cho­sen not with the en­thu­si­asm of a well-in­formed elec­torate but with the for­lorn­ness that comes of hav­ing no bet­ter op­tion.

Surely, there are many who find ei­ther Hil­lary Clin­ton or Donald Trump sat­is­fac­tory.

Those who would em­brace a third term of Barack Obama, or who have longed to wit­ness a woman be­come pres­i­dent, may man­age to sum­mon a spring to their step. Those who see Trump as the an­swer to po­lit­i­cal grid­lock, the men­ace of ter­ror­ism and an econ­omy that ben­e­fits only the lucky few, may be able to muster more than a slog to the bal­lot box.

But for the count­less mil­lions in the mid­dle, who can find nei­ther so­lace nor excitement in the prospect of ei­ther candidate, Elec­tion Day ap­proaches as a sun­set with­out the prom­ise of a sun­rise. Morn­ing in Amer­ica has be­come mourning in Amer­ica. No won­der. Al­ready House Repub­li­cans have promised to im­me­di­ately ini­ti­ate yet more in­ves­ti­ga­tions into what­ever re­mains un­ex­plored in Clin­ton’s life. Utah Rep. Ja­son Chaf­fetz, chair of the House Com­mit­tee on Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form, says he has enough ma­te­rial for at least two years’ worth of tax­payer-funded witch hunt­ing. This was even be­fore the FBI an­nounced Fri­day that it was in­ves­ti­gat­ing more emails re­cently re­trieved from Clin­ton as­so­ciates.

Some Se­nate Repub­li­cans have promised to thwart any and all Supreme Court nom­i­na­tions from a Pres­i­dent Clin­ton. This, when they ought to be hold­ing hear­ings on Judge Mer­rick Gar­land, nom­i­nated by Obama in March, while there’s still time. Not only would Repub­li­cans demon­strate (for a change) that they’re se­ri­ous about gov­er­nance, and not just ob­struc­tion, but they’d be wise to ac­cept a rel­a­tively mod­er­ate judge while the op­tion re­mains.

Clin­ton, mean­while, shouldn’t pre­sume to have a man­date if she wins. She’d owe more than a slice of her vic­tory to Trump, who of­fended so many po­ten­tial vot­ers that she ben­e­fited big-league by the com­par­i­son. Rather than win­ning, she’d be ac­cept­ing the tri­umph of Trump’s de­feat.

She also should make haste to keep her prom­ise to be the pres­i­dent for all Amer­i­cans and ad­dress the con­cerns that caused Trump sup­port­ers to rise out of their de­spair and rally for a re­al­ity TV star. There’s no use re­peat­ing her cam­paign quip that Amer­ica is al­ready great.

As for Trump, he seems to have rec­og­nized that it’s time to move to the next item on his bucket list, pos­si­bly as king of a new me­dia em­pire from which he’ll come combed to judge the quick and the dead. He has al­ready stopped ma­jor-donor fundrais­ing, as well as ceased spend­ing his own lu­cre, and he spent vi­tal time last week at the grand open­ing of his new ho­tel here rather than go stump­ing in swing states. He and his co­hort of fam­ily mem­bers, all poised with great big scissors to snip a red rib­bon for the gawk­ing crowd, seemed to be play­ers in a muted cel­e­bra­tion for the ring­mas­ter of razzle-daz­zle — pre­sag­ing, per­haps, what ap­pears likely to come.

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