Moats: Reasonable Choice

May 14, 2019

Nobody knows what’s going to happen in next year's election, but that hasn't stopped people from trying to predict an unpredictable future. We all have our ideas about what we think should happen, but the possible outcomes are so varied that everyone has become a pundit, trying to weigh the maddening array of possibilities.

Voters are wondering if they should support a woman candidate, or a black woman or a black man. Or a young man, or a gay man. Then there are the old white men, who would include the incumbent president, plus Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

From our perch in Vermont, we’re watching the Sanders campaign with interest. We've elected and re-elected him to the U.S. Senate, and he remains near the head of the presidential pack, according to the polls. But even those who have an affectionate regard for our socialist senator may wonder if he’s the best choice for winning the election.

Luckily, our destiny as a democratic nation doesn't depend on any individual's view of the best outcome. I may have a favorite among the contenders — the person of the most sterling character, intelligence and experience — but I also wonder how she, or he, will appeal to other voters.

It's tempting to think: everything would be all right if everyone agreed with me — or even 60 percent of the voters agreed with me. But that's not the way it works - which is a relief. I'd hate for it all to depend on my judgment alone.

So as a voter and a sometimes pundit, I have to call on two virtues: humility and hope. One can be firm in one's convictions, but it's complicated, and it's a big country. People have given me good reasons why any of a half a dozen people would be a reasonable choice.

So, we’re likely to be surprised, happily or otherwise. What's crucial is for people to pay attention and get involved, think about the good of the country and make the democracy theirs. My hope is that, if we do, a decent outcome will follow.