One reason we have such poor candidates for President is that the election process is so terrible. The Republican debates and primaries for both 2012 and 2016 tended to destroy the chances for the best candidates. In 2012, Mitt Romney was not a terrible candidate, but he had to debate with a bunch of idiots with crazy ideas, several of whom led him in the debates and polls. By the time he emerged as the leader, any chance he had of being elected had been significantly reduced. By appearing with uninformed, extremist hacks like Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorium, Romney trivialized himself.
More or less the same thing happened in the 2016 Republican debates, but it was worse because they had more worthless hacks onstage, and there was no front runner like Romney. It was not even clear that Donald Trump was a Republican. It turned out that Trump spoke to a slice of Republicans that none of the other candidates did. He was color in a Republican world of gray. He was a clear voice amidst a group of mumblers. But his speeches turn out to be well described by Shakespeare as “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Meanwhile on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton, the embodiment of all the political evil in the Washington establishment, expected a coronation, but got a fight from Bernie Sanders. The comparison between the honest, forthright Sanders and the devious, lying Hillary was striking. She is like the basest whore; there is nothing she won’t do for money or power. (See “House of Cards.”) She might even be seen as a latter-day representative of the whore of Babylon described in the Book of Revelation, but that might be giving her a little more importance than she deserves.
While the American electoral system has been dragging the country through the mud, Britain named a new prime minister, Theresa May, in only a few days, and she has hit the ground running, dealing with the huge mess that Brexit has dumped on her. Part of the difference is the British parliamentary system, but part of it is the long, corrupt, expensive process that our political parties have created for their own benefit, aided by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
Because of this terrible process, good people will not run for office. Almost everyone has done something that they later wish they had not done, even if they have lived otherwise exemplary lives. If they run, the media will find that one bad thing and trumpet it from the rooftops (and cable and the Internet). Trump and Hillary seem to have unusual characters that are immune to such slander and obloquy. I don’t think we get what we deserve, we get what the political establishment has forced on us. Hillary is the product of that establishment, and Trump is the result of the public’s pained cry against what the system has forced on it. There are better men and women in America who would be better candidates, but the system is not designed to find them.