Trump and Clinton are only threats because we let them be.
Next week is the Republican National Convention and on the one hand, God help us, but on the other, it’s a good opportunity to think about why this all matter so much and whether it should. The prospect of Trump “in charge” of the country is terrifying. Same with Clinton — though marginally less so.
But the problem isn’t just Trump and Clinton, but the very notion of “in charge” in the first place. We fight about candidates and fret and quake at their victories because we’ve given the state far too much power over our lives.
That giving was at times explicit and intentional, others it happened without our notice because we weren’t paying attention or were digging deep enough and protesting loudly enough. However it happened, with its current size and scope, whoever holds the White House matters much more than it should because of all the ways that person can harm us.
That’s the lesson of this election. Both of the candidates who have a realistic chance of winning will make America and American lives worse. And they’ll do that because the authority they exercise is far vaster than it ought to be.