A nod to Thanksgiving cliches

As I write this, anticipation builds in tonight’s presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. According to my news sources, viewership may reach numbers achieved only with television shows like the final episode of “MASH.”

Does it matter if we watch it? Perhaps not, unless one is still undecided who he or she should vote for.

Die-hard fans of either candidate have already made up their mind. It matters little on the outcome of Monday debate.

Based purely on personal observations and anecdotal evidence in social media, I am discovering more posts coming from people who are fed up with the antics of negative campaigning, and not wanting to cast a vote for either candidate.

They believe both political parties have let the American people down. In their opinion, we not only have a choice between the lesser of two worst candidates, they also believe both political parties must change their rules to allow better vetting of potential candidates with abilities deserving of the national office.

Previously, my friends were willing to express a political opinion for their favorite candidate, especially prior to state caucuses and primaries. Today, there appears to be less of this and an increasing sense of dissatisfaction over the results so far.

While social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, are suspect in their lack of objectivity and improper use of the “facts” as they are posted, both presidential candidates have used these media to motivate and incite their followers, and to persuade those still undecided to influence their vote. For this reason, use of these media in the current campaign and future campaigns may likely increase.

An overused tactic on social media is the use of memes. Composed of a picture, the promoter generally uses an image of someone of national importance, or portrays one of the candidates in the most negative light. It is overlaid by a few short sentences, composed to motivate through fear or intimidation.

A small portion of personal “friends” on Facebook are astute observers of the political scene. One is a professor of political science at a large university, and two are well-known journalists in agricultural media. All dislike the use of memes in social media, for the reasons stated above. It challenges the reader to “like” and share, all without first checking out the claims written on them.

In an effort to encourage due diligence, please check out the writing of former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who believes both candidates are woefully unprepared to take on the tasks of protecting this country from all enemies, foreign or domestic. Of the two, Gates believes former Secretary Clinton has more expertise and capability, though he is not even close to endorsing her for the nation’s top job.

Trump, he adds, is a total disaster, and has not shown any ability to understand the varied threats to our national security, much less a willingness to learn. He believes he has all of the answers, and needs nobody to advise him on the way forward. That is a disaster waiting to happen.

If the reader is even more curious about the suitability of the candidates, a quick search on Google will reveal a treasure trove of information. One caution is that the quality of the findings and accuracy of reporting the news will vary from one source to the other. Read more than one source to get a balanced perspective prior to making up your mind.

Finally, this election pits evangelical conservatives on the right with a host of socially liberal interests on the left. Sadly, there is little understanding nor a willingness to work together to seek common ground.

Currently, I am averse to identifying with either side, as it presents itself in an uncompromising stand, and the product of such stubbornness results in a heated stalemate, at best, or a chaotic decay into a deepening round of conflict and discord that never ends.

There are Christians on both sides of the debate. Yes, believe it. If we question how a believer can be a Democrat, we must also question that of a Republi­can.

How can it be OK to endorse a Republican candidate merely because he gives favorable answers to the abortion question and marriage, while he engages in sinful behavior in his private life and is a known pathological liar? Let’s not even discuss his lack of knowledge of the Constitution and how the branches of government, it’s checks and balances, how it is designed to prevent unilateral domination by any individual or branch.

Let’s not even discuss the frequency of character assassination of his opponents, even suggesting that someone should “take” care of the problem, insinuating they might or should assassinate Clinton. Let’s not talk about a pending child rape lawsuit that implicates Trump and another known sex offender in this bizarre case. Enough said.

How can it be OK to endorse a Democrat candidate, merely because she stands up for helping the poor and disadvantaged folks, and yet believes she is immune to inappropriate use of her foundation for political purposes, not to mention issues regarding abortion and marriage?

Neither of these candidates are taking their doctrinal affiliations seriously. Neither are the Christians who stand with them, and that is what is more troubling than anything.

More than anything, people who are sincere and desire to do the right thing must get down on our knees, humble ourselves, repent, and seek God’s guidance in the midst of this troubling time. If not, we likely will get what we do not want.

Perhaps it is already too late for change, this time around.

Paul Penner farms in the Hillsboro area.