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America's Impossible Choice

February 8, 2016

At no time in recent history has America’s need for leadership been so desperate. Seventy percent of Americans believe the country is going in the wrong direction. That suggests the rest of the country is simply not paying attention. The problems we’re facing are real.

Every day, we’re threatened by ruthless and determined Islamic terrorists. Many of them are now living among us, mostly because of weak immigration policies. Those same policies have also opened our doors to millions of illegal aliens, straining the social programs intended for Americans. The country’s labor participation rate is at a 38-year low, with just 62 percent of our population either holding or seeking a job, all while we face a crumbling Social Security system and a $19 trillion national debt. Nearly 46 million Americans rely on food stamps, more than the entire population of Argentina, more than the population of Kenya. We are becoming a nation of addicts, as drug abuse explodes across the country, and we have become a deeply divided people, politically, racially, and socio-economically.

In November, we’ll have to decide which of two people, barring a third-party candidate, is best suited to solve these problems.

One of those two may be an opportunistic, devious, and divisive politician, who learned a long time ago how to build a career and evade justice, relying on nothing more than coattails and connections. Even though her committed followers scoff at her scandals, polls confirm that voters across the board recognize her inherent dishonesty. Because of her willful mishandling of national security information, which caused untold damage to our intelligence network and to our nation, she is now under investigation by the FBI.

Nipping at her heels is another candidate, one whose political ideologies would have been universally scorned just a few years ago. He began his political career during the Cold War, when every American recognized both communism and socialism as enemies of democracy and free enterprise. That’s why he’s spent his last 25 years as a congressional representative in virtual obscurity, squirreling away his philosophy of envy and class warfare - until now.

And it looks like the Republican nomination could be going to a real estate mogul and entertainer with new-found political ambitions and vacillating principles. Though he’s even more polarizing than the Democratic frontrunner, he has inspired a loyal following with his outspoken, often outrageous, rhetoric aimed at this administration and anyone who might utter an unkind word about him. His supporters see that as strength. They welcome it as an antidote to politically-correct double-talk. But a closer look at his evolving positions and unrealistic promises explains why so many of his detractors question his authenticity. They also see him as divisive, inflammatory, and lacking the temperament for the presidency. In fact, under other circumstances, his bombastic rhetoric would have ended his campaign a long time ago.

Watching the frenzied crowds at their campaign events makes us wonder. Have any of those attendees ever asked themselves this simple question: In a country of 300 million citizens, is this the best we have? It’s true that, in a democracy, the people get the government they deserve; but we deserve better, and there is still hope.

On the Republican side, because today’s favorite is such a deeply polarizing figure, he has all the support he’s going to get. Those who love him are already with him; the rest never will be. So as the lower-tier candidates begin to withdraw, their supporters will likely gravitate to a new frontrunner.

The future of the Democratic champion is less predictable, and largely depends on the FBI investigation. Many believe that the administration will protect her at all costs, but the agents assigned to the case are non-partisan investigators, tasked to establish the truth. If the bureau recommends an indictment, it will be extremely damaging to her campaign, regardless of the DOJ’s response. Several potential candidates are waiting in the wings for that eventuality.

If Democrats find an honest, selfless candidate, one who puts the country before personal ambition, one who would work to unite the people and solve our problems, without tearing at America’s fabric, Democrats would benefit.

The other side has already put forth a field of accomplished alternative candidates, untainted by perpetual scandals and dedicated to preserving America’s values. Republicans only have to select the one best suited to unite the country, and lead with sound reason and good judgment.

Only then will voters have a reasonable choice in November.

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Peter Lemiska has spent more than 28 years in government service. He is a former Senior Special Agent of the U.S. Secret Service and an Air Force veteran. His political commentaries have been widely published online and in print.