The hope below the terd

“You can’t polish this terd”. This is how Van Jones summarised this presidential election live on CNN following the third and final debate last week. And incredibly, it’s not a ridiculous a description.

I must admit I still don’t really understand it given the options, but I have met a lot of people who really, really, don’t like Hillary. In a censored and simplistic summary of the descriptions I’ve been hearing, she is a liar, a criminal, corrupt, wife of a rapist, and the face of a broken establishment.

And the descriptions I’ve been hearing of Trump have not been much better: A maniac, a demagogue, also a criminal, a racist, a sexist, a joke – to name but a few.

What is most concerning about these descriptions is that they have more often than not been used to describe each candidate by the same person. I.e. it is a choice between a liar or a maniac, the wife of a rapist or a sexist, a criminal or a criminal.

It is fair to say that for this presidential election a lot of people will be holding their breathe at the ballot box, and perhaps for the next 4 years.

But whilst American politics might be terdish at the top, there is hope beneath it. This is because America, unlike Britain, has a solid second layer of democracy…

As well as having two elected chambers at a national level – the Senate and the House of Representatives – America also has a downsized version of this for each state. Josh Elliot – the candidate I’m campaigning for – is running for a seat in the Connecticut House of Representatives, of which there are 151 members. His district covers 12,000 people. He aims to meet all of these people and I’m sure he has met most and will meet more. The same cannot be said for Clinton and Trump, who are never going to get close to meeting the 320,000,000 residents of the entire country.

Josh is a progressive left-wing candidate. He wants to introduce a $15 dollar minimum wage, paid sick leave, and paid family medical leave. But you would not believe how many people with Trump lawn signs have been persuaded to vote for him. This is because of lot of the people supporting Trump are simply supporting something different. They are just tired of not feeling listened to. So all it takes is to listen and try to understand their concerns, and often that’ll be enough. There is common ground to be found.

The situation is still pretty terdy, but it definitely is more so at the top…and politics definitely gets dirtier the deeper you get into it. Americans who resent both presidential candidates should hold their breath and vote Hillary though, and then they should make a real effort to engage in their state politics. There is a lot more impact to be had there, and it is a lot less filthy.

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