Labor Day traditionally is the start of the campaign season. But you’re probably thinking: “This election started almost two years ago and you, along with many Americans have been bombarded with television ads, debates and accusations from all of the candidates.”
This is true, but historically most Americans only start paying attention to the campaigns this weekend. In other words, Sunday and Monday marked a key turning point, as voters become more engaged about who they want to represent them in the White House and seriously think about who can lead this country as president.
Last week, I sat down with a former head of the national Republican Party who remains convinced that there is more than a slim chance that Donald Trump can win the presidency – despite what the national polls say. When I heard this, it reminded of a conversation that I had with him almost a year ago to the day when he told me that Trump would be the nominee.
I shuttered then as I thought it was unrealistic to project that far in advance, but it reminded me of weekends such as this: when Americans start to think about back-to-school shopping, fall planning for their families and who they want to lead them in the White House for four years.
This moment also serves as reminder that this race is not over and that Trump can still win.
None of you remember the famous Chicago Daily Tribune headline that read, ”Dewey Defeats Truman” that was printed and circulated the day after the 1948 election that incorrectly called the election results in favor of Gov. Thomas Dewey. But today’s polling feels eerily the same. They could be wrong and Trump can still win, not necessarily in a landslide, but just enough to move into the White House.
This is why it is incredibly important this weekend, and for the next 10 weekends, for Americans to educate themselves on whom they want as their next president. This takes time. One should not rely on the 30-second ads that are on the airwaves, or the 10-second sound bites that surrogates of the campaign expose on the cable networks.
It’s more cerebral than that. It means combing over the candidates records on issues that are important to you, showing up at rallies and quizzing the candidates local campaign office on positions that you want more information on, Clinton has 36 field offices in Pennsylvania and Trump has two. Granted, the number of field offices says a lot about the candidate’s commitment to the state, but if anyone is curious about Trump’s candidacy, his website and his positions are worth taking a look at.
For many, I am sure it’s hard to overlook Clinton’s lack of transparency and unwillingness to hold routine press conferences much in the same vein that it’s frustrating to see Trump offend so many constituencies. After all, many African Americans rightfully so are still angry with Trump for fueling the “birther movement” a few years ago that undermined President Barack Obama’s legitimacy as president.
African Americans reserve the right to be angry about how the Democratic Party consistently takes our votes for granted. The bottom line is this: candidates are not wowing a lot of people, but to stay at home and not voting is not an option. The stakes are too high and the consequences are too great.