Kathleen Parker: Post-election rules of reckoning

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker

WASHINGTON — One more week, give or take.

It seems nearly impossible that an election season that began approximately four years ago is nearing its end. After almost two years of speeches, rallies and raunch, this presidential campaign has become just another sound in the white noise of life. Like “Groundhog Day,” or perdition, it seemed it never would end.

Ever.

Now, suddenly, only days remain before we vote. Wait, no, I’m not ready! Where’s the one I want to vote for? Can it be true that either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States? For real? Is this really all we’ve got?

Next, dread settles in. OMG, I have to vote. Yes, of course, you have to vote. And yet, and for whom? Anxiety is up, meditation is in. Depression is commonplace. Disenchantment is pervasive. All congeal into a sort of cataclysmic sense that the best of times are behind us.

Where, we wonder, is the individual who compels us to cheer for the good that unites us, the virtue that defines us, the strength that sustains us and the faith that tomorrow will always be better? Where is the sunny, aspirational leader who understands the frustrations of Trump supporters and the sense of left-behindness of people on both left and right?

It is sad but true that none comes to mind. More disturbing, we have to understand that great leaders may forever be in short supply given that decent people decide public service isn’t worth the total surrender of one’s autonomy and privacy. Who can blame them? Thus, our next president will be chosen not with the enthusiasm of a well-informed electorate but with the forlornness that comes of having no better option.

Surely, there are many who find either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump satisfactory.

Those who would embrace a third term of Barack Obama, or who have longed to witness a woman become president, may manage to summon a spring to their step. Those who see Trump as the answer to political gridlock, the menace of terrorism and an economy that benefits only the lucky few, may be able to muster more than a slog to the ballot box.

But for the countless millions in the middle, who can find neither solace nor excitement in the prospect of either candidate, Election Day approaches as a sunset without the promise of a sunrise. Morning in America has become mourning in America.

No wonder.

Already House Republicans have promised to immediately initiate yet more investigations into whatever remains unexplored in Clinton’s life. Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, says he has enough material for at least two years’ worth of taxpayer-funded witch hunting. This was even before the FBI announced Friday that it was investigating more emails recently retrieved from Clinton associates.

Some Senate Republicans have promised to thwart any and all Supreme Court nominations from a President Clinton. This, when they ought to be holding hearings on Judge Merrick Garland, nominated by Obama in March, while there’s still time. Not only would Republicans demonstrate (for a change) that they’re serious about governance, and not just obstruction, but they’d be wise to accept a relatively moderate judge while the option remains.

Clinton, meanwhile, shouldn’t presume to have a mandate if she wins. She’d owe more than a slice of her victory to Trump, who offended so many potential voters that she benefited big-league by the comparison. Rather than winning, she’d be accepting the triumph of Trump’s defeat.

She also should make haste to keep her promise to be the president for all Americans and address the concerns that caused Trump supporters to rise out of their despair and rally for a reality TV star. There’s no use repeating her campaign quip that America is already great.

As for Trump, he seems to have recognized that it’s time to move to the next item on his bucket list, possibly as king of a new media empire from which he’ll come combed to judge the quick and the dead. He has already stopped major-donor fundraising, as well as ceased spending his own lucre, and he spent vital time last week at the grand opening of his new hotel here rather than go stumping in swing states. He and his cohort of family members, all poised with great big scissors to snip a red ribbon for the gawking crowd, seemed to be players in a muted celebration for the ringmaster of razzle-dazzle — presaging, perhaps, what appears likely to come.

Email: kathleenparker@washpost.com.

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