Heidi Li: No Good Option

24 Sep
It's like a bad season of The Bachelor

Who Will Get the Final Rose?

Heidi Li has a great new post- Tragic but True: Neither Party Nominated a Candidate Worth Fighting to Elect.

The pressure to ‘just choose one’ is intensifying. It’s like a final episode of The Bachelor. Two choices stand before us and we only have one rose to give. And just like on The Bachelor, our ultimate final pick is unlikely to be our true love. As Heid Li points out, the final two presidential choices are equally dissapointing:   

I know this annoys many people but I for one do not care too much whether John McCain or Barack Obama wins this election. Since I find Senator Obama and Senator McCain each unacceptable, although for somewhat different reasons, the prospect of a loss for either of them does not particularly distress me. Because I am concerned about the future of the Democratic Party, though, and because the current leadership refuses to step aside gracefully even though they have done a lousy job, I end up with a preference for a Democratic defeat at the top of the ticket but only because it seems that this is what it is going to take to get the DNC and the Democratic Party to clean house. But that’s not a powerful reason to prefer Senator McCain on the merits; and it has very little to do with Senator Obama on the merits of his positions –  to the extent that they are clearly stated and not ever-shifting. Bottom line: neither of these candidates are up to the job of President so it isn’t going to please me to see either one in that office nor is it going to distress me if either one does not win the job. (It will dismay me if Democrats fail to reclaim their party…but the race for the White House interests me only to the extent that a Democratic defeat might make more Democrats wake up to the horrible inepitude and corruption that are rotting the Party from within at the moment.)

But there’s plenty of distress out there. The race is too close for comfort for those who support one or the other candidate. What is fascinating is how similar supporters of either side are starting to sound, particularly when confronted by people who refuse to say that victory for one candidate or the other is clearly best for the country.

In the past 48 hours I have been told by many people that I MUST vote for John McCain because an Obama victory will bring the country to ruin; I have been told by many other people that I MUST vote for Barack Obama because a McCain victory will bring the country to ruin. I have been told by both McCain supporters and Obama supporters that saying no thank you to both camps is as good as supporting the other camp. I have heard Senator Obama described in nasty terms; I have heard Senator McCain described in nasty terms. I have heard misogynistic and sexist comments about Governor Palin; I have heard misogynistic and sexist comments about Senator Clinton (neither of whom are, the last time I checked, running for President). I have been told that John McCain is actually more like a Democrat than a Republican and that Senator Obama is more like a Republican than like a Democrat. (I do not quite understand either of these comments, but my point is that whatever they mean they sound remarkably similar).

I was finding the parallels in the comments rather surreal until I realized that both Obama supporters and McCain supporters are finding the closeness of this race and the uncertainty about its outcome rather unbearable. And so people from both camps are infuriated by somebody who refuses to say that it is clearly better for one candidate or the other to win.

People seem to think that whenever there are two options it MUST be the case that one is clearly preferable to the other. But do people really think that? Most mature people have had to deal with tragic choices, situations where no option is actually a good option. Students of literature know that this is the defining characteristic of tragic figures: they are tragic because neither altogether good nor altogether bad, and cannot be clearly lauded or despised – neither option really makes sense.

This year each party produced a less than stellar presidential nominee – not that this has not happened in other years – but this year it is especially troubling because we do live in tumultuous times and it would be comforting if one could have any confidence that either of the Presidential contenders are up to the task of leading the country well at the present moment.

But sometimes comfort is not available, not even when we really want it. And sometimes no good Presidential contender is running, not even when we really need one.


One Response to “Heidi Li: No Good Option”

  1. derbydame September 24, 2008 at 7:25 pm #

    Love that Heidi Li. She tells it like it is. Both options are not that great. Can we have a do over?

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