Unfortunately, there are no good tools external to ourselves to help us decide which presidential candidate to choose in the approaching election. This is due to the problems we face as a nation, which will soon be excruciatingly existential. They will be questions ripping at our core because we have long ignored them and because they will be questions dealing with life and death issues. The questions are about who we see ourselves as a people, where we want to go, and how we could possibly get there.
They will be about priorities: Particularly, how we choose to use dwindling resources, what we choose to spend treasure on, and, painfully, what we have to sacrifice.
We must choose which of the two candidates has the analytical abilities, communication skills, and, possibly, fortitude to tell the American people what we would not want to hear, and to possibly serve one term after he is pilloried for his honest appraisal of our dilemmas.
The last who attempted honesty with the public was Jimmy Carter, who laid it out in a talk, on 15 July 1979, denounced as his "Malaise Speech." Yet, he bravely attempted--in an act of political suicide--to show us that our growing dependence on foreign sources of oil was compromising our freedom and that we would have to sacrifice as a people in our wasteful energy-use and lifestyles.
In the following campaign the Feel-Good candidate effectively labeled Carter a "gloomsayer" and regaled puerile America with a false, utopian vision of unlimited prosperity, spending, and oil. He was the Prophet of Profligacy, as tens of thousands of millionnaires were created and America dreamwalked into a borrowed future.
Carter lost by a landslide; America lost because we could not face the truth of a future living within our means. The new President preached that government was THE problem; yet, it expanded under him. He preached that government spending had to be reduced; yet, under him government spending and the budget deficit exploded. But, Americans were feeling quite good about themselves in their head-in-the-sand, deficit-financed "Morning in America."
Who could best lead us, at this extremely late hour, as our profligate ways become curtailed during the likely long, worldwide recession soon to begin. Who best to reign in the imperial overreach of our military? Who would understand that a Nineteen Eighty-Four-like perpetual war is detrimental to our security and is breaking our military and depleting our coffers? Who understands that the doctrine of preemptive warfare compromises our security? Who understands that the fight against violently radical Islamism should be an internationally unified policing against a criminal conspiracy, not global war. Who understands that the Iraq War is a collossally tragic misadventure that partially resulted from the Pentagon's historically naive "Full-Spectrum Dominance" strategy formulated during the early 1990s? Who has the insight that the roadside IED (improvised explosive device) is a symbol of this fraudulent policy?
The President who came after the President of Feel-Good defiantly exhorted that the "American way of life" was not up for negotiation. Yet, this is EXACTLY what we must do: negotiate within ourselves individually and collectively who we are and want to be. Do we want to continue on with the profligate, dystopian downward slide of the country? We must decide. Who can help us see ourselves?
So, who will tell the American people that the country's problems are not out there, external to us? The relevant tools we need in choosing a President are inside each of us. This is because they are internal problems, inside the collective polity of the American nation, manifesting as existential questions of how we fit in the world--the real world, not the imaginary one in which we have too long been living. Who would, who could, possibly lead us in the painful accounting of truthfully seeing ourselves?