No matter how bad you think a candidate will be as president, they will not destroy those things that lie at the heart of life. This may seem naïve, one may say that the presidential election is hugely important, that it will deeply impact society, that a certain presidential candidate would mean the doom of America and possibly the world. However, even if the future president starts World War 3 (probably the most extreme claim see here and here), which is highly unlikely; they will not be able to destroy the human spirit. Indeed, no regime, no army, no weapon, can destroy the human spirit. No government can stomp out love and joy and resilience. They can try, some put on a mighty great effort but never to much avail.
Stalin’s USSR, NAZI Germany, Franco’s Spain, etc. were all terrible places to live, the regimes created widespread suffering. They made life difficult to live, but never could they completely destroy the human spirit. They may have suppressed it, pushed it out into hiding, but they never destroyed it. People still loved each other, they still had joy in their lives, even if this love and this joy were done in secret, hidden away, out of fear. Though fear is a great and terrible device in attempting to destroy the human spirit, it can never sap that last drop of resilience from the citizenry. The lesson of this should be clear: no matter how bad things get people will still push back, even if they push back in secret. Indeed, when a regime attempts to destroy the human spirit, to weed out love and joy, to obliterate resiliency; the very act of existing becomes a revolt, the act of love becomes a rebellion, the act of joy becomes a revolution; and there is something profoundly beautiful in that. There is a reason that no earthly power can destroy human spirit it is the same reason no earthly power can destroy planetary movement.
The reason is nature, in this case human nature. Human spirit is the wellspring of a great many of debates and ideological disagreement; many deny that it exists and even among those that say it does there is a disagreement as to what it is. For my part I believe that humans are be nature good but easily and everywhere corrupted. I am not deterministic, I do not believe that human nature preordains precise existence. Instead, I believe, that humans are by nature free (have free-will) and contain the innate capacities to do a great many things but only through training can they do many of these things. What I mean by humans are by nature good but easily and everywhere corrupted is that humans have the disposition toward love, justice, and liberty but that in many cases this disposition is corrupted by any number of sources (environment, attainment of power, etc.). Furthermore, one of humans’ chief predispositions of nature is to be able to reason and be guided by reason and therefore to be able to live the good life. Moreover, humans have the capacities to reason with hope and love. This is why no regime can ever destroy the human spirit, the natural outgrowth, or manifestation, of human nature.
No power, no matter how great and evil, can ever destroy human nature, nor can they fundamentally and widely change it. It is the conceit of many regimes, operating under a blank slate view of humanity, that they can craft humans as they wish them to be. This is a dangerous and wildly incorrect belief. The best they can do is murder (directly destroy human life) and corrupt (as I said human nature is good but easily and everywhere corrupted), they may blind people to this corruption but they will never destroy the essential character of humanity. This brings me back to the presidential election: no matter how bad you think a candidate would be as president remember that you have the power over your life, remember that they day after the election you will still be able to love and be loved, that you will still be able to have and create joy, that you will still be able to fight on, even if you do these things in secret. Take heart and remember that society and government are distinct. Trump or Clinton may decimate the government, the nation, or the politico-geography world, but they will not (cannot) decimate the society. If American society is destroyed it will not be the fault of any one person or any group of persons, it will be the fault of all the individuals that create and recreate the society everyday. Indeed, society does not have an existence outside of the individuals that create and recreate it.
I will end this musing by quoting a brilliant article by Mr. Joey Clark:
Life without reason, indeed, produces monsters, but reason without hope in ourselves and our character as a people, without a willingness to dream beyond the whims and ambitions of the political moment, produces an arid landscape for the mind. Little can grow in such a climate other than resentment, apathy, and conflict. And lo and behold, unrefined cynics are sprouting up left and right in this drought of 2016.
Do not fall into quietism or fatalism; seek happiness with a zeal – in friendships and long conversations, in the pleasures nature has provided us, in the fruits of our reason and imagination, and in the avoidance of vain ambitions for power over others.
Mr. Clark’s article can be found here: https://fee.org/articles/what-epicurus-can-teach-us-about-freedom-and-happiness/