Over the past week and a half, I have had the opportunity to attend three different campaign rallies for presidential candidates. Five, if you go back another couple of months.
Lindsay Graham was the first (before he dropped out), followed by Bernie Sanders. Then came Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. Of the five, Trump was the only one I didn’t have a chance to personally meet.
Without declaring my candidate of choice, I have to say that all were charismatic, polished and knew how to talk to a crowd. Without exception, they all genuinely believed themselves to be the best person for the job.
Their confidence is impressive. I have never had that much confidence in any of my abilities — let alone the notion of leading an entire country.
Now, I don’t mean that I’m an insecure person, you have to have fairly thick skin to be in my line of work. But the ego of these people is simply astounding. To stand in front of a crowd of thousands and proclaim yourself to be the hardest working, most qualified, the best person to run a nation …
I truly don’t know how they do it.
I’m not picking on them, it takes guts to open yourself up to that level of scrutiny. I know I certainly wouldn’t want to disclose all the skeletons in my closet.
I think what it comes down to is chutzpah. They’ve all got it. And whether you’re for Hillary or for “The Donald,” Rubio or Cruz, Bernie or Bush, you have to admire the dedication and tenacity of all the candidates.
It takes a true patriot to want to want that job — being a president has got to be the most nerve-racking, ulcer-inducing, thankless profession of all time. I stress out over mistakes I make all the time, but I’ve never had to worry about accidentally offending a world leader or inadvertently plunging my country into war.
I worry about thing like: “Do we have enough milk in the house to make it until morning?” and “Did I remember to pay the cable bill?”
(On a side note, the answers to those questions were “No” and “Yes” respectively.)
What is it that makes a person want to run for office? And I don’t mean just the presidency, but any office. Mayors and council members, school boards and state Legislature … It’s a job where no matter what you do, there’s going to be a whole mess of people who hate you and think you do a terrible job.
There’s no way I could handle that. Well, that and the fact that I’m absolutely not qualified. You just don’t see a whole lot of English Lit majors running for public office …
That being said, I do make it a point to participate in my government. Meaning, I vote. I have voted in every single election in which I was legally entitled to do so, something which you wouldn’t think would be a point of pride, but think about this: the last election in Pickens County was the 2015 Municipal Election.
The highest voter turnout was for Pickens City Council where a total of 239 people cast a ballot. Two hundred and thirty nine. Out of 1,846 eligible voters. Just over 12 percent. In Easley? Only 6.2 percent of eligible voters bothered to show up.
With the primaries just around the corner, more and more candidates are campaigning in South Carolina, many right here in the Upstate. I urge you to go to the rallies, meet these people and listen to what they have to say. And not just “your” candidate — go to the guy’s rally you can’t stand. You don’t have to wave a sign or put a bumper sticker on your car — just listen. Knowledge is power after all and the more you know about the candidates, all of them, the better off you’ll be.
And whatever you do, whomever you choose, come Feb. 20 and Feb. 27, st your ballot and make your voice heard.
Kasie Strickland is a staff writer for The Easley Progress, The Pickens Sentinel and Powdersville Post and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.