Why I Did Not Vote

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I did not vote in the recent presidential election. But that does not mean that I’m unconcerned with the direction in which America is heading. Far from it.

Allow me a more detached and objective perspective. I’m not a Democrat or a Republican or a liberal or a conservative. Good governance and qualified people of character is what’s important. As far as I am concerned, there is no left or right. There’s only up or down. Governments either adopt policies that increase prosperity, tranquility, economic growth and international cooperation or they adopt policies that increase povertLetter to the Editor Featured Imagey, lawlessness, stagnation and global conflict. For the last 25 or 30 years, Republicans and Democrats have embraced the latter. When I was born in 1961, the United Arab Emirates was a place of tents, mud-brick, camels and illiterate goat herders. Singapore was a third world city and my Levittown was a place where a blue collar worker with a 9-5 job, a few kids and no high school diploma could buy a house, purchase a car, go on a vacation and have a pension after 20 years service. Now, the UAE has gleaming skyscrapers, housing developments, modern highways, shopping malls, schools, hospitals and public transportation. Singapore is an ultra-modern, high-tech mercantile city-state with a higher standard-of-living and literacy level than any U.S. municipality of its size. And now, my Levittown has homeless families, boarded-up houses, empty storefronts, people with master’s degrees in engineering and geology working minimum wage jobs, a serious illegal narcotics trafficking problem and less bus service than it had in 1950. Yes, we have a problem. Yes, we do need to “make America great again,” as Donald Trump embroidered on his made-in-China hat worn in front of food stamp crowds who work at places like Wal-Mart where Hillary Clinton made a fortune whilst sitting on the board of directors.

America is a world power in decline and neither Trump nor Clinton can do anything about it. Only the American people can. But that won’t happen until they are willing to elect people whose lives are not parades of lies, scandals, criminal investigations, media exposes, bigoted comments, ignorant statements, corruption, pathological narcissism and vast wealth amassed off the backs of poor people all over the globe. That won’t happen until they are willing to jettison ideological intransigence and its accompanying rhetoric and look directly towards a national leadership that rests on firm intellectual and moral foundations. Theodore Roosevelt, my favorite American after Benjamin Franklin, were he alive today, would be unelectable. Democrats/liberals would brand him a racist, sexist, homophobic militarist because he believed immigrants should assimilate, homemaking is an honorable profession, marriage should be between one man and one woman (he’d been thinking of polygamy and Utah), and America needs a strong military. Republicans/conservatives would label him a tree-hugging socialist hippie because of his advocacy of anti-trust laws, environmental conservation and a Square Deal for working class people. What does it say about an America that would never elect Teddy Roosevelt but would support either someone who makes Lady Macbeth look like Mother Teresa or someone who makes Biff from Back to the Future look like an intellectual?

Finally, I did not vote in the presidential election because I am the father of a 10-year-old. Being born in the United States, a 10-year-old today is more likely to experience poverty, homelessness and violent crime than a 10-year-old born in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and most western European countries. Nowhere in all the ballyhoo over Clinton’s emails and Trump’s locker room talk did this become an issue. We can either address these problems or America will become just another third world country whose educated young people emigrate to places like the UAE and Singapore to find better opportunities in life.

—Paul Manton

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