Our conundrum, same as every four years, is we have to choose between two CANDIDACIES, via a proxy of two CANDIDATES. It’s not complicated. It’s just that, in practice, over many months, we slip into error, confusing candidacy with candidate; supporting the vision with validating the visionary.
The candidacies can be evaluated very straightforwardly — and thus this is just like every other election.
Except this time, the candidates are both nasty, both associated with accusations of immorality and criminality.
Usually the candidates’ pennies shine up pretty good, so you can just make the choice on vision and maybe, if you're a fussy sort, who you think has slightly better character.
The moralists in this election — and at the most amoral time in perhaps our whole history we’re suddenly all very fussy moralists — have made this election all about character. But like every election, there’s hardly any daylight between the candidates’ character — just instead of two shiny pennies we have two gum-smeared, diseased arcade tokens.
So in the end, this should be no different than any other election: make the choice on vision and maybe who you think has slightly less awful character.
The reason that isn’t happening is that it turns out we’re not really visionary people after all. We’re shiny-penny people. And GOPe sorts are the shiniest of them all — they won’t lend their vote even against the most ghoulish vision until they get their penny.