November 2016

Line in the Sand: Who do you actually want to vote for?

Author: Barry Kaufman & Courtney Hampson | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Opinion 1: Barry Kaufman

The bad news is, all life on earth has not been wiped out by a meteor. Why is this bad news? The fact that we’re not all dead means we’re probably going to have to go through with this whole election thing.

As of this writing, not only does life continue to exist on this planet, but the latest scandals surrounding each candidate have increased in both magnitude and frequency, like an earthquake of reasons not to vote this time around so as not to be made an accomplice to anything.

The current news cycle is focused on how Donald Trump has never paid taxes, has doubled down on insulting a former beauty queen for her weight, and has kind of maybe definitely insinuated some horrible things about veterans with PTSD. For her part, Hillary Clinton has avoided any scandals in the past few days (again, as of this writing), but only because people who would bring those scandals to our attention keep randomly changing their minds and/or dying mysterious deaths.

I’m sure there will be more scandals between me writing this and you reading this. Trump is nowhere near done torpedoing his own campaign, and Clinton can’t make it through breakfast without engaging in some kind of ethically shaky behavior.

The net-net of all this is, we’ve somehow reached a situation where, this November, you’ll have to walk into a voting booth, look the future right in the eye and say, “I choose this person to lead the greatest country on earth.”

And these, God help us, will be the people you have to choose from. Well, them and Gary Johnson. Oh, and Jill Stein, I suppose. But I mean, these are the people you have to choose from who might actually win.

But what if? What if you could walk into the voting booth, choose from the infinite tapestry of human brilliance, and pluck out our finest mind to serve as commander and chief, primaries and caucuses be damned? Who would you choose?

My first instinct, obviously would be to resurrect Teddy Roosevelt and give him another crack at this thing. Teddy, if you’ll recall, not only created our national parks, he was also known as the “trust buster” for the vengeful butt-kicking he gave to American monopolies. He also delivered a speech shortly after getting shot, so the notion of some kind of zombie Roosevelt doesn’t seem that far-fetched.

Sadly, medical and/or time travel science has not advanced to the point where we could give the greatest president who ever lived the third term (technically second full term) he so richly deserved. So we have to go to our next best candidate.

That candidate, obviously, is Tom Selleck. It turns out when you Google “Who would be a great president?” you get a ton of clickbait listicles on why Trump should be president (number six blew my mind). But you also get a thread asking that very question.

The answer reached on said quora thread, and I am not making this up, is Tom Selleck. Because the Internet is a wonderful place full of beautiful people, they accidentally stumbled on the greatest candidate possible.

I have a hard time finding any reason why Tom Selleck should not be the president of the United States of America, but I’m finding a ton of reasons why he should. Let’s start with the basics: Tom Selleck has never, to my knowledge, said anything horrifically racist, sexist or scandalous. That’s because I can’t think of a single thing that Tom Selleck has ever said. So that’s qualification number one—knowing when to shut up.

Let’s move on to qualification number two: his mustache. Mustaches are so hot right now, and Selleck’s is the stuff of legend. Plus, the last president to wear a mustache was William Howard Taft, who was also the only president to also serve on the Supreme Court.

Let’s move on to qualification number three: his stance on the issues. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure where Tom Selleck stands on the issues. Which is perfect. Because clearly, at this point, it doesn’t matter where anyone stands on the issues.

Tom Selleck is everyone’s perfect politician—a tabula rasa with a mustache like a king. Voting for Trump because you hate Hillary? Perfect! Tom Selleck isn’t Hillary either.

Voting for Hillary because you hate Trump? You know who else isn’t Trump? Tom Selleck.
It just makes sense, folks. You want law and order? How about Magnum, P.I.? Childcare? He and two other men raised a baby together. Experience with international diplomacy? Obviously his work in Quigley Down Under speaks for itself.

What we want is a candidate with range, outstanding moral fiber and a fantastic mustache. Since Teddy Roosevelt is no longer with us, that leaves Tom Selleck.
And his running mate, zombie Taft. C’mon science, make this happen!


Opinion 2: Courtney Hampson

Just a few days until Election Day, and it can’t come soon enough. A year ago Barry and I joked in this column about why each of us would make the best president. Twelve months later, and I wish Barry was on the ballot, because I am facing quite the conundrum. I have always looked forward to election time; it provides endless assignments and extra credit opportunities for my communication students, and lots o’ fodder for countless columns about voter apathy and getting out the vote. Yet this year, I find myself cringing. My student assignments this semester have been focused on non-verbal communication only, with a direct edict that I didn’t want their papers to mention anything about what the candidates actually said. I am dumbfounded by the rhetoric that is, at times, (most times), childish, inflammatory, blame-ridden, and loud. So loud. Why are they yelling? They are microphoned, for crying out loud.

I guess there is some comfort in knowing that many feel the same way as I do, but that comfort quickly becomes horror when you realize that one of those screaming, yelling, insult hurling candidates will be inaugurated as the leader of the free world in just a couple months. Yikes.

While evacuated last month, after 48 uninterrupted hours of watching The Weather Channel and playing dice games, my family mercifully changed the topic to politics. My cousin Patti (our host during the evacuation who should be sainted, by the way) asked my 10-year-old niece, Erin, if she knew who was running for president. Of course, my brilliant niece knew who was running for president, so Patti pressed on, “Who do you like better?”

“Well,” she began, “I saw this commercial where Trump was making fun of someone who was handicapped. I don’t think that was very nice. I don’t think that kind of person should be president.”

Admittedly, we were a little surprised by the eloquence of her answer. Not every evacuee in that house agreed with Erin, so while I would have loved to have added my two cents, I let the power of her words hang (while secretly wanting to high-five her). And the conversation ended there. Later, the commercial she referenced came on and she said, “Nortney, Nortney, this is the commercial. See?” She takes after her aunt this girl.

A few days ago, The New York Times published a story titled, “The 282 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter: A Complete List.” I’m a little jealous that I didn’t write it and would encourage you to read it. (Best read with a glass of red wine.) A quick scan suggests that Trump’s favorite words are “sad,” “a waste,” “dopey,” “loser,” “dummy,” “a joke,” “pathetic.” The list reads like a third-grade bully’s handbook. It is that kind of drivel that makes anything election-related hard to even listen to at this point.

I am mortified to say that I haven’t even watched the debates, because of the lack of control, by everyone, including the moderators. I am proud to say that I crossed my own line and have been listening to Fox News’ “The Five” each evening on my drive home in an attempt to make sense of it all, but even the commentators—on both sides of the aisle—seem stymied.

How is this what we’ve become? What do other countries think? Are they watching? Are they laughing at us? What do we do? What will voter turnout be? Who will win? What will that mean? Can I win the lottery this weekend and move to the Cayman Islands?

If I don’t win the lottery, I need a plan B, but since I have been noodling that plan for months now with no result, I can at least have a little fun with it. What if, like the Million Dollar Man, we could build the perfect candidate with the qualities of folks that we find befitting of a president?

President Eisenhower said, “A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.” I concur, however, I don’t recall any history books speaking to the laughs that Eisenhower would pull in the Oval Office. So, for an assist, I nominate Alec Baldwin’s sense of humor. A little off-the-wall, perfected, yet unexpected, and always delivered with spot-on timing. Wielding the power of humor is indeed an art. A good leader knows how to use it.

My candidate would have the communication skills of (now deceased) ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott. Scott was well spoken and walked the line that so many struggle with; he knew precisely when to be serious or sincere, playful and funny, and perhaps most important, he knew when to be vulnerable. It doesn’t hurt to be human. (Booyah.)
I’d like a candidate to have passion. Not just for their country, but for life, for family, for community. Someone who brings people together, instead of deliberately attempting to divide. I’d nominate Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka’s passion. While she begged all of us to be smart, to leave and to heed the evacuation orders during Hurricane Matthew, she stayed. She remained calm. And she kept us with her for the entire ride, “reporting” live from her bunker at USCB. It was the right thing to do. I imagined she never considered another option.

My perfect candidate would have an open mind and an open mouth, like Howard Stern. Don’t cringe just yet, Stern is one of the best interviewers of all time, because he is a stellar listener. He peels back layers to truly understand people. Our president shouldn’t be afraid to say what he or she thinks when being a voice for others—a champion who doesn’t shirk responsibility and ignore the pressing issues in our country. He or she would candidly discuss mental health, addiction, veteran’s affairs, and equal rights for all Americans regardless of your race, religion, or sexual preference.

And since reality television stars seem to be popular among American voters, I’d throw in 2 percent Real Housewife, preferably from New Jersey, because everyone needs a strong woman willing to flip a table for what she believes in. 

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