I’d ask: “How will my life be different as a result of your four years in office?”
I live in Iowa. So, you might think I’d have had a chance to ask a question or two the past few weeks. Iowa: you know, corn, pigs, first in the nation caucuses. (Those are tomorrow night, by the way, and are evidently the harbinger of a February snowstorm – some kind of perverse poetic justice, it seems). I work in numerous communities in what is called the Eastern Iowa Corridor. Not once have my routes been delayed by a candidate’s entourage. In fact, I haven’t even seen one of them despite the fact that they have been here. I hadn’t been invited to one event until a few days ago: I got a notice about a candidate with Vampire Weekend. (Sadly, I was in Des Moines and missed the event.) But, even in the state capital two days before the caucuses, my movement around town was unimpeded by presidential campaigning.
That got me to thinking: it’s pretty easy to not see them in person. And, it’s pretty easy for the candidates not to see us. I mean, three of them have secret service protection, and a fourth candidate will likely receive the same soon. Not that secret service keeps us plebeians away from the reality show stars of the race, but it puts a layer between us to be sure. I have never seen a president – past or present – in person. I have not been in a live audience where one was giving a speech (I have heard Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin in person, though – but, I digress). In short, we do not know the candidates. They do not know us.
They make speeches. Promises. Accusations. Commercials. But, we don’t know them; the actual real-time effect of their campaigns – and, for one of them, subsequent tenure in office – on our day-to-day lives is likely negligible. They are not running for ruling all-powerful tyrant (despite what one candidate seems to believe), and they will be able to make precious few unilateral decisions. That’s comforting.
What’s not so comforting is that these candidates do not know me. Or you. (Unless you have given millions and warranted a private audience.) Whichever candidate you deem most in touch with “normal people like you” is really not in touch with you at all. Their campaigns and words may touch your life, but it will be brief. Just as it is hard for most of us to fathom being a celebrity, fabulously wealthy, or a candidate for president (is that one thing or three separate things?), they don’t know and/or have forgotten what it’s like to be a mechanic, a teacher, an accountant . . . you know, a normal person.
Barring extreme scenarios, the difference between where we are now collectively and individually and where we will be January 31, 2o17, is slight. Because, really, who makes a difference in your life? Family. Friends. Employers. Book clubs. Neighbors. Pets. Poker buddies. Colleagues. Who can have the most effect on your life right now and a year from now? Right. You.
It’s not any of these talking-head suits spouting plans for world-domination and eradication of ethnic groups. I’m not saying don’t participate in the process. Quite the opposite. Educate yourself. Participate. Vote.
But, remember, in the end, your life is not predicated on whether or not your candidate wins; it depends on what you do every day to make a difference for yourself and the people you know.
Think about it.
(photo credit: Des Moines Register: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/news/)