Inspiration and the American Voter: Why Emotion Should Sit Out Elections

47% of eligible voters sat out the 2016 election.

They didn’t like either candidate enough to get off their butt, which helped put us in the situation we are today.

That was the point of my last mental fart.

While that blurb didn’t generate any comments on the piece itself, I did receive a handful of emails.

Some were you’re garden variety, “Shut up! You don’t know what your talking about!” from fake accounts. I like those, because it’s always fun to be insulted by someone who doesn’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re.” Mixed in with the “shutup@gotohell.com” email addresses, however, were messages from actual readers. These were from people who discussed their decision to send Drumpf to the White House via supporting a 3rd party candidate, or through not voting at all.

Of course, that’s not the way they saw it. They believed in what they were doing because of a misguided emotion called passion.

A few mentioned “passion” specifically; others used the word “inspire” (or a variation of it). One person just let passion inflame their message with ALL CAPS righteousness.

In each case, the person writing said they either voted 3rd party, or didn’t vote at all, because Hillary Clinton failed to inspire them.

I didn’t get any ages from these people, but I have to wonder if they were young and therefore didn’t remember the farce that was Election 2000.

A quick refresher: in 2000, Al Gore was deemed boring, stuffy, and less than personable. George Bush Jr., on the other hand?

He was someone you could “have a beer with.”

It was big news, that description. All the media outlets grabbed the talking point and ran with it. G.W. was down-to-earth, folksy, and “someone you could have a beer with.” I can’t tell you how many times the presidential race was written about like it was a personality contest, using that phrase in particular.

Jr.’s geniality appealed to voters who were tired of eight years of economic growth, and—after much nonsense involving the Supreme Court that I’m not going to get into—George Bush Jr. became America’s 43rd president.

What happened next?

A man who had bankrupted multiple companies while at the helm, bankrupted America. Again, I’m not going to go into great detail, but mistake after mistake was made, from favoring the Star Wars missile defense system of the 1980s over chasing Bin Laden, through ignoring memos about Bin Laden (which allowed for 9/11), which led to falsifying information to push the agenda for a war in Iraq, and finally all the way to the economic crash of 2008. The presidency was basically a disaster.

Cut to 2016.

Hillary Clinton was dour. Off-putting. Misogynistic voters labeled her a “bitch.” I’m not talking about the Republican opinions, I’m talking that of the average American. In several emails I received after the last piece, writers said they weren’t “inspired” by Hillary. Sure, America had just seen eight years of economic recovery, but that didn’t matter to people; they wanted to be moved, and told me as much.

“Bernie inspired voters. Hillary didn’t.”

My response: So the fuck what?

Seriously, protest or non-voters: are you adults, or are you children?

Music should inspire us. Art should inspire us. Movies. Athletic achievement. Every so often, a politician—say Barack Obama—can actually inspire us. But politicians? They should make us thoughtful. Politicians should make us skeptical. We should attempt to see through the veneer of their politician sheen, and examine whether or not we think they would be a good leader.

But we don’t have to be inspired by them.

You know who did inspire people? Donald Drumpf. Did you see footage of his rallies? He got the worst of the worst all fired up, people who wanted passion, and passion alone. “Lock her up!” “Build the wall!” “Drain the swamp!” If it wasn’t easy to shout, it wasn’t worth being said.

That’s what passion gets you.

What’s wrong with cold, or intellectual? What’s wrong with off-putting? I couldn’t give a fuck less whether or not my surgeon is someone I want to hang out with. Is she competent? Is she qualified? I’d rather have someone grim working on me if they were more competent than someone passionate.

(Typing that made me think of this impassioned fellow:)

Look, Hillary Clinton had flaws. Too many to mention. And yes, her campaign shot itself in the foot repeatedly. The election was hers to win, and she lost it. Entirely her fault.

But only because she thought she was dealing with a nation of adults, and we are a nation of children.

A nation of adults would have looked at what they wanted, weighed it against what was right, and acted accordingly.

Children act out when they don’t get what they want, and that’s what protest voters and the 47% are: children. They didn’t get the candidate they wanted, so they pouted.

Now everyone has to deal with Drumpf.

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