Elections essentially are multiple-choice tests.
You’re asked a question: Who do you want for president? And you fill in the bubble.
A and B are typically the Democrat and the Republican, in whatever order. They’re usually followed by C and D, some combination of Libertarian, Green, Independence, Conservative, etc.
What we really need, especially this year, is a bubble marked E.
E) None of the above.
And what would happen if E prevails? The current officeholder, in this case Barack Obama, stays another two years while the parties reboot and try to deliver candidates more palatable to voters.
Remember in school when you’d work on a problem and get the answer wrong, and the teacher would give you feedback, perhaps a hint or two, and send you back to your desk to try to come up with the right answer? That’s what voting for E would do.
We’d send the political parties back to their desks with some feedback. Such as: Don’t give us someone who is arrogant, untrustworthy, demeaning, fact-challenged, conflicted, undisciplined, secretive, boastful, evasive, inconsistent, etc.
Instead, we’ve got two candidates with historic unlikeability. Recent polling shows 63 percent and 59 percent of voters don’t trust Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, respectively.
But many people don’t like voting for a third-party candidate, even one they like, because it feels more like a throwaway than a real protest.
So we have voters saying they’ll choose Clinton just to keep Trump out of the White House.
And we have others saying choose Trump just to keep Clinton out of the White House.
And the first group praises her experience, though there’s a lot in her history they don’t much like.
And the second group embraces him as different, even though it finds some of those differences completely unpalatable.
Last week was as weird as any in this unsettling campaign.
Clinton finally gave the best answer she’s given on the email debacle, saying her previous answers sounded like excuses and there is no excuse for having a private server and a single email account; it was her mistake alone, and she’s sorry. But she also greeted news that the FBI would be releasing nearly 15,000 previously undisclosed emails with a flippant remark to talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, “What’s a few more?”
After months of controversy, was this apology sincere or did she just feel cornered? Does anyone think she can move into the White House without her baggage?
Trump started talking of “softening” his policy on illegal immigration, working with “good” immigrants, doing what Obama has done, and being “firm but fair,” then later appeared to return to his tougher tone.
After months of controversy over a deportation force to expel 11 million people so fast your head will spin, was either possible change of heart sincere, or did he just feel cornered? Does anyone know for sure which Donald Trump would move into the White House?
The Clinton Foundation said it won’t accept foreign or corporate contributions if she is elected president, which only reminded everyone of the donations it did accept when she was secretary of state. It then said it might make an exception for its health initiative.
Trump tried to appeal to African-Americans by treating them like a monolithic group — all poor, all crime-ridden, all in bad schools, all needing help only he can give — and compounded the insult by not saying how he would assist them, only that they could trust him to get it done.
I’d rather trust the nation to vote E and start this mess over again.
Michael Dobie is a member of Newsday’s editorial board.