Gary Anderson

Gary Anderson

A real leader isn’t someone who tells you what you want to hear but what you need to hear. They’re not leading if they ask you to accept the status quo or a slight modification of it, or to return to a glorified past that only some did well by. A leader is someone who has the visionary strength to convince you that progressive change is both needed and achievable.

Nov. 8 is just around the corner. Despite whatever new chaos might yet play out in these few remaining days, the question remains: “Who will finally win out as our next president?”

If there’s one thing we should all be able to agree on it’s that nobody’s had a crystal ball in predicting the seemingly endless race thus far. About all that can be said with assurance is that our next president will be either a Democrat or a Republican. In that sense, Donald Trump’s claim that our political system is rigged is indeed true. Third party candidates need not apply.

Much has been said about Mr. Trump, both personally and as to his qualifications to take command as head of our government. He’s been castigated by his own party’s establishment despite galvanizing its rank and file. He’s been demonized by an opposition that can’t abide Trump’s own demonization of others. Whether a conservative messiah or pariah, he’s a formidable change agent defying the status quo.

Much has been made of Secretary Clinton’s bona fides. Defined as credentials, her bona fides handily trump those of The Donald. Defined as evidence of a person’s honesty and sincerity of intention, they are found deeply wanting.

Traditionally, elections are predominantly issue driven. In this election it’s character, or rather the lack of it, that’s eclipsed all else. This election’s been boiled down to an either-or determination of whom is the master mudslinger, or who most fearfully threatens our core values.

The greatest takeaway from this sordid presidential slugfest is that the traditional two-party system was turned on its head by two insurgent outsiders successfully hijacking their respective party affiliation. Both parties were sandbagged by a grassroots populism rejecting the establishment’s lock on power.

The greatest surprise is that it was Bernie Sanders that was bested by covert manipulation of the primary process and that it’s Donald Trump that has bested all that the GOP good old boy machine could throw at him.

Overflowing with unprecedented crowds, both of their campaign venues repeatedly demonstrated the establishment’s need to embrace truly substantive change from the existing state of affairs. How both parties acknowledge that sobering reality going forward will likely be crucial to their continued dominance.

Heading into the homestretch, each party only seems to see as far as the finish line. Considering the long game, it would almost be better for either party if they were to loose, and loose big. Only then might a long overdue wake-up call finally be acknowledged.

Few on either side of the aisle are encouraged to believe that their candidate will win by a landslide, and doing less will do little in strengthening their existing brand. Many powerful Republicans have publicly voiced hope that Trump looses if it doesn’t contribute to down-ballot party losses. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders’s coerced endorsement of Clinton hasn’t resounded among the insurgent faithful.

If Trump should pull off the ultimate upset, the Republicans will have an almost impossible time controlling their party.

Despite a tepid eleventh hour conversion to seduce Sanders loyalists, a Hillary win will provide little inclination for her party to seriously overhaul their further drift to the right.

Post election day, both parties, win or loose, will be back to square one in a stalemated game neither can provide leadership out of without addressing the real needs of the electorate and not just the privileged elite.

Post election day, no matter how the popular vs the electoral vote pans out, we’ll have a president elect that falls far short of the definition of true leadership. He or she will simply be a successfully duplicitous victor in a two-party endgame played out without any vestiges of civility or honor.

As to any actual visionary leadership, history might take notice that neither major party candidate in this election even chose to bring up climate change during their debate exchanges.

One candidate can be excused because of claimed disbelief. The other holds that it is scientific fact, yet concentrates on promoting a militaristic foreign policy fixated on acquisition of Middle East and Russian oil.

In continuing such failed policies, Hillary Clinton will likely serve very well as a commander in chief that can’t see the forest for the trees in protecting us from being our own worst enemy. Or, even more damning, sees that threat clearly yet bends to a dominant corporate will.

Climate change is the greatest threat to our accepted way of life and to planetary survival. ISIS is only a disastrous corollary to that reality’s addictive causation.

That reality escapes acknowledgment by either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. So far, both have merely rallied partisan desires rather than providing actual leadership.

Gary Anderson lives in Bath.

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