Saturday Column: Presidential campaign triggers high voter interest

In about eight months, American voters will select the individual to inspire, lead and defend this country for the next four years. He or she will inherit a confused, angry and frustrated citizenry, a majority of whom are fed up with what is going on in Washington.

It’s likely, although there is no way to prove it, that a greater percentage of thinking Americans are concerned and interested in this year’s primary and general elections than during similar elections in recent years. Interest in the primary elections is sky high, with proponents and opponents of candidates becoming increasingly adamant. How they express their likes and dislikes should spur concern that those expressions could get out of hand.

There are three likely finalists for the job: Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. They may not represent the best or most qualified candidate to move into the world’s most powerful elected position, but they are what they are: good or not so good.

Clinton, 68, embraces and endorses much of the Obama political and social philosophy. She has been a political insider since 1976, when her husband, former Arkansas governor and U.S. president Bill Clinton, was elected attorney general of Arkansas. Hillary Clinton has served as a U.S. senator and as this nation’s secretary of state.

She has far more experience in politics, 40 years, than either Republican candidate, but there are strong opposing opinions about whether she did a good job as a senator or secretary of state.

Cruz, 45, was a clerk for Chief Justice William Rehnquist and served as the solicitor general of Texas, arguing nine cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, before returning to private practice in Texas. He served as an adviser to former President George H.W. Bush in 2000 and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012. He is a staunch conservative, a gifted speaker and debater, and, for whatever reason, does not enjoy strong support from his fellow Republican senators.

Trump, 69, is a New York businessman, entrepreneur and developer who has been highly successful despite experiencing some major reversals during his highly publicized career. As a businessman, he supported both Republican and Democratic candidates, but he has not been a candidate for any political office prior to his current campaign for the presidency.

Voters should realize partisan politics is a tough and, often, a mean business. Unfortunately, the name of the game is for candidates to pledge and say whatever will get votes and, if elected, figure ways to justify abandoning the grand-sounding commitments.

Obama, however, broke this model when he pledged, if elected, to make “fundamental changes” in America. He has followed through on this pledge and made major changes, many by executive action, rather than by gaining approval from Congress.

Many of the changes have altered the level of respect that many world leaders have for the strength and resolve of Uncle Sam. America’s armed forces have been reduced, the nation’s debt is at an all-time high and the government has become more involved in the lives of most Americans. World terrorism has grown, racial relations are not good, there is little cooperation between Democrats and Republicans in Washington and the Obama health care plan has failed to measure up to the president’s assurances.

The battle between Cruz and Trump is ugly and could end up damaging GOP chances of winning the White House in November. On the other hand, does the country want, or can it afford, four more years of greater government control, a weakening nation and growing numbers of Americans being dependent on government subsidies?

There is every reason for Americans to learn as much as they can about the candidates, what they stand for, their level of honesty and the impact their election would have on this country. Remember, far too often, campaign promises turn out to be hollow. America could suffer deep and dangerous consequences if the wrong person, with the wrong motives, should be elected.

It all boils down to more or less government and the ability, honesty and motives of who is elected.