"The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching."
― John Wooden
I cannot stop reading and thinking about the US election results and aftermath. Who will President Donald Trump nominate to the Supreme Court of the United States, and what will that cause? Will the rogues gallery of rumored cabinet nominees really end up in positions of power and influence? Less seriously, will The Donald's hair survive his first exit from Marine One?
I am a Canadian, of generations-distant European heritage. I did not face the recent test of character that Americans did. But I have been presented with many side-of-spectrum choices. Those included municipal choices like Toronto’s late mayor Rob Ford; provincial choices like Ontario’s Bob Rae, Mike Harris, and centrist Dalton McGuinty; and federal choices like Canada’s Brian Mulroney and Stephen Harper. Many of the above names come from the right side of the classic spectrum (though not all). In each case there was a clear difference between what my conscience thought and what pure self-interest suggested.
I have stood in the ballot box and debated the nature of my character with myself. As I grow older, I am increasingly cognizant that I can choose a right-side candidate whose party and policies may be economically favorable to me and my family, or I can choose a centrist or left-side candidate whose party and policies align with my publicly espoused principles and philosophies. Seldom do the two coincide.
I tell you that my conscience wins out every time. You may choose to believe me or to see it as empty posturing. This is not to say that I always vote the same way. I have protest voted, I have declined my ballot, and I have held my nose and done what I thought needed doing despite misgivings. But I have never cast a ballot for anyone who I felt held basic principles that opposed my own.
Before I cast my vote, I do think of myself, but then I think hard about how I would feel about myself and my choice if each viable candidate and party were to be victorious. Usually that gives me a clear idea of where to make an X. If not, then the protest/decline option comes into play. But I have felt just a touch of the pull of self-interest that the 'stealth' Trump voters must have felt, the desire to just this once let the 'right thing' slide in favor of getting a little help for myself. It's enticing, and it's dangerous. For America, it is poised to lead to lasting change.
As a young man I canvassed for a centrist party, and found it quite different than I had imagined. I spoke to seniors who were fearful that said party's policies were going to lead to fair market value assessment and tax increases that would put them out of homes they had lived in for decades. Some of them cried. It was an early lesson in how different perspectives can be. At the end of the night I turned in my poll captain's gear, and I never went back. I understand how complicated these choices really are, and how dependent they are on personal circumstances.
I expect that my next chance to vote will come provincially in Ontario, Canada. I expect that the party of the right will take cues from the Trump victory, and that they may say and do some unsavory things. On the other hand, the governing centrist party has made a series of appalling fiscal bungles and sorely needs a trip to the woodshed. I have absolutely no idea what I will do.
The federal Canadian party of the right is searching for new leadership. One candidate, Kellie Leitch, has eagerly positioned herself as the Canadian Donald Trump. Our media tells us that she cannot possibly win. The reasons why seem all too familiar. We shall see what happens...perhaps my Trump-like moment of truth is still on the horizon.
I'm burning one of my five Iron Noder eligible daylogs in hopes that writing about it will allow my brain to set it aside. I do hope so.