As the Nov. 8 election approaches, we Pennsylvanians find ourselves with a menu for a U.S. Senate seat that is not exactly fit for a five-star restaurant. In fact, it is more apt to cause regurgitation rather than pleasant consumption.
In looking at the prospect of having representation from either Democrat John Fetterman or Republican Mehmet Oz, the concept of “the lesser of two evils” seems to rule the decision.
Fetterman is a candidate who lived off of his father’s income for 49 years and later allegedly owed back taxes. His liberal policies have included incarceration leniency that flies in the face of exploding crime statistics. He dresses as if he were homeless. In addition, and perhaps of paramount importance, we do not know the debilitating extent of a stroke he suffered in the past six months. Does he even have the capacity to communicate with his constituents if elected?
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In Oz, we see a man who worked his way to become a prominent physician. But he is also known as a TV talent whose medical advice was often blasted by the medical establishment. He was a long-time New Jersey resident who moved in with his in-laws in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, right before declaring his candidacy. Oh, and he suddenly gravitated to a conservative agenda in time to run for office.
In all, we have two candidates who have almost-diametrically opposed images, in appearance and philosophies. Their commonality lies in the realization that neither is an acceptable choice. But they follow a national trend where qualifications be damned.
The recent debacle of Republican Senatorial candidate Herschel Walker in Georgia is a prime example of celebrity status trumping qualifications. The former star running back, who backs the pro-life movement reportedly paid for an abortion and has managed to run his way through four child-bearing women without ever helping to raise his children.
We all remember how a former pro wrestler, Jesse Ventura, became Minnesota Governor as a political novice. And of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger went from silver screen hero to California Governor.
One might say to look at Ronald Reagan, who went from actor to President. But he did lead a large actors’ union and then became Governor before holding the highest office. He proved to be a strong and competent head of state.
In all, we have two candidates who have almost-diametrically opposed images, in appearance and philosophies. Their commonality lies in the realization that neither is an acceptable choice.
Pennsylvania has had a proud history of U.S. senators, who earned their stripes through elected offices. Before gaining the office in 2011, retiring incumbent Pat Toomey served three terms in Congress. The other incumbent, Bob Casey, was Auditor General as well as Pennsylvania Treasurer prior to entering his present position in 2007. The legacies of other former Senators, such as Arlen Specter and John Heinz, all pointed to office holders who excelled in representing constituents prior to becoming senators.
But this Pennsylvania race leaves us all wanting more for our plate. The great divide will be on full display on election day, with the polarized right and left sides of voters being drawn to the candidate who is closest to their corner. Do we not demand more as a republic?
Who is better for our state and country, rather than our party? Who best exemplifies good behavior and rational thinking, as well as a respect for his constituency that is demanded of a Senator?
Philosopher John Dewey said: “…unless democratic habits of thought and action are part of the fiber of a people, political democracy is insecure.”
A recently unaffiliated, Independent voter, I favor experience in elected office, along with honor, decency, true dedication to a functioning democracy, and a respect for traditional values. My heart says to sit this election out, but my head says to make a choice.
Our state’s plate does not contain an abundance of food for those thoughts. But we will ultimately deal with the morsels that we select.
Jeff Hurvitz (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance writer and native Philadelphian.