Growing up, my dad encouraged me to use the “Ben Franklin Method” when faced with difficult decisions. Most of you know this method – get a piece a paper out, write your issue at the top, draw a line down the center, write pros on one side and cons on the other.
I think in theory – if one is truly objective – this works great. As a teen, I often found myself “influencing” my pros/cons depending on my desired outcome. For instance, my pros always outweighed the cons on why I should be allowed to stay out late in high school. My dad would smile, and then talk to me about how leaders should be objective…not subjective.
What a great lesson. Especially when faced with this upcoming presidential election. Removing emotion, dissecting the rhetoric, navigating the bent media messages from the left and right is no easy task and would make Ben Franklin cringe.
So – I channeled my best “objective” persona and began casually asking from coast to coast those veterans in my circles what they thought of our presidential candidates; if they thought there was anything amazing about either one, starting with the former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The results certainly aren’t scientific, but after weighing the pros/cons, it turns out the majority think Hillary is pretty amazing.
Here were some of the comments – (I’m paraphrasing – and cleaning up some of the language):
“Had I been “extremely careless” in my handling of sensitive material while in the military, I’m certain a court martial would have been involved. The fact that she got off scot-free is pretty amazing.”
“To suggest a video, as head of the State Department when we were attacked in Benghazi, was the cause of the attack – and get away with it – is pretty amazing.”
“This DNC email scandal is really funny. You’d think Hillary would never touch email again. It’s amazing the media gives her a pass.”
“I’ll give her this – to go from First Lady, to Senator, to Secretary of State, and then become the Democratic Presidential nominee is pretty impressive (amazing?). That in its own right is amazing. To do it with so much political baggage is mind-blowing.”
Now, in fairness, the comments regarding Mr. Trump weren’t exactly “gushing” either. Most were amazed that he gets away with being…hmmm…well, let’s just say “abrasive and callous” and people accept that this is OK because he’s fighting the “establishment.”
“Unbecoming” showed up in the “cons” category for both candidates, not just once, but several times.
What I found most interesting is that “Crazy Joe Biden” didn’t seem so “crazy” anymore. There were several who suggested he ought to run. Now remember, my poll was far from scientific. BUT, I will say that as one who tends to be more conservative, Vice President Biden, with all his faults, is the most “level-headed” when compared with the two present presidential candidates.
Bottom line: What will truly be pretty amazing is when Americans choose to elect extraordinary men and women – statesmen – who advocate for America as a whole and not a political party.
— By Michael Schindler
Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.” He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.