Perfect candidates don’t exist. So why am I still looking for one?

This won’t be a long post. Nor will it be overly complicated. It might not even make much sense. But hey, it’s my blog. I can write this if I so choose to.

It’s late. I’m tired. I have a cold, or perhaps a sinus infection. Maybe both.

Let me preface my argument with this information: I just started a new book. I had a thought, and it has been spiraling out of control in my head. I know I won’t get any rest until I publish this thought and what I’m thinking about with it.

Image source: Amazon (link)

The book I’m reading is The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin (2013).

DKG has written many books on our history, whether they about our leaders or the formation of our country. I first became familiar with her when she published the Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. My mom picked up the book when I was in high school and I remember her talking about it with a family friend who took my senior pictures. A year or so later, she popped back on my television when Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert passed away, and I’ve noticed her contributions to news and history discussions on television ever since.

Enough about the author. She’s awesome and I’d love the opportunity to meet her.

Anyway, whilst reading the first chapter of The Bully Pulpit, I came across a reference by Edith Roosevelt toward then former President Theodore Roosevelt to turn around and look at his family. To give you some context, this takes place at the conclusion of the year Roosevelt spent on safari in Africa following his second term as President.

While Edith anxiously sought a glimpse of the children she had not seen for more than two months, Roosevelt busily shook hands with with each of the officers, sailors, and engineers of the ship. “Come here, Theodore, and see your children,” Edith called out. “They are of far greater importance than politics or anything else” (page 6).

That passage got me thinking about how much time voters, not candidates, spend on listening to candidates. Yes, it’s important to listen to all arguments. Even from the beginning of a campaign, even if you have zero respect for a candidate based on past actions, or if you just know you hate a specific political party, you should really do the right thing and listen to what they have to say.

Imagine if a former President was coming to your town to stump for a candidate, or even if it was the candidate. That’s a big deal. Even though you might not agree with what’s being promoted at the event, the idea that you are in the presence of an important figure in your history is pretty damn impressive and something to brag about in thirty years to future generations — maybe your grandkids?

Also, this got me to realize that some of us put our heart and soul into the political process. This is not a bad thing. It’s important to work to support the candidate you want to see be the leader, especially if it’s President. But in addition, it’s important not to lose sight of what’s important in your life. Consider your family, friends, or whatever else is your passion, something besides the mudslinging that seems so inevitable in our fractured, not-so-nice game of politics.

Edith Roosevelt beckoned to her husband to break away from the work. Even after his time as President, he was thankful to his crew, but she put that bug in his ear, and helped him to turn around and remember his family, his kids, the ones that really mattered to him.

DKG notes in the next paragraph of the book that Roosevelt scanned the deck of the ship they were on and was exuberant to see his youngest son, named Quentin, quite happy to see his father again. She noted that a Chicago Tribune writer said the child was “impatient to be recognized” by his father.

That’s what matters. Love matters. Respect matters.

I think it can all be summed up in this point: there’s a time and a place for certain things.

Regarding political candidates, there’s a man or woman that’s going to stand out to you more than another candidate. They won’t be perfect, but we’ll realize, hopefully sooner rather than later, that they are who we support. Don’t settle on someone just because you think they’ll be “the one,” but realize that the best candidate may not be the most overworked one of the bunch. Maybe it’s worth it to pick someone that’s realizing that somethings are of greater importance than politics. Edith Roosevelt’s words are worth remembering during this blistering fight for delegates and votes.

It’s time for me to stop looking for the perfect candidate. I know who I like. Nothing said from here on out will likely change my mind. While I enjoy the process, the process isn’t healthy to obsess over. I’m realizing I immerse myself too much and need to step back. From here on out, I’ll let it be. I’m thankful for the freedom I have to do just that.


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