The mid-term elections are not just about which direction the country may be headed. They are also about whether voters are able to set aside their visceral emotions and evaluate the issues and the candidates in a fair way.
Let’s take the race for the U.S. Senate in Delaware where the Democratic candidate Chris Coons is facing off against the Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell: I’m leery of anyone who cannot definitively say how they have earned their living for the last decade much less anyone who is unable to pay the debts they owe to their schools, mortgage companies, etc… At 41, O'Donnell has nothing to show.
Being in the U.S. Senate is about having achieved something -- not about reciting favorite party quips and smiling for the cameras. In the case of O’Donnell, she has professed an expertise in constitutional law as the basis for her qualifications to be a U.S. Senator. After all, she had spent a week at a conservative think tank memorizing platitudes.
But she must have forgotten much of it. In a televised debate, she didn’t even know what was in the First Amendment, much less the 14th that relates to due process and citizenship and which has been integral to this national election. Now, most Americans can’t name the amendments in the constitution but most are not running for the U.S. Senate and saying their primary qualification is their constitutional expertise.
For the record, my 4th grader knows what’s in the First Amendment -- as did nearly every elementary-age kid at the local bus stop. By extension, developing energy policy is complicated. It requires serious thought.
Certainly, the anger that permeates American politics is understandable. A prolonged recession has caused confidence in the country’s most integral institutions to be undermined. People are fearful for their livelihoods and for the futures of their children.
But that angst should not convolute their thinking to such a degree that they embrace the least qualified candidates who have the iffiest ideas. Change will come this November. But let’s hope it’s not the kind in which we become ashamed.