USA Presidential Race


Of all the US 2020 presidential candidates, who is the most spiritual and best for the country? Who will put the country on the right path?

—Zeira, LA


Dear Zeira,

The world of politics, society, economy, and culture are subject to the unceasing flux of light and dark, good and evil, and all the many opposites. No candidate that I’ve ever been familiar with in my sixty-nine years of life has either all good or all bad qualities. To get to “the top” requires substantial deal-making, compromises, enormous sums of money, and a network of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”

Yet, notwithstanding the innately unsatisfying nature of governance in a country of great diversity and fragmentation, there are those leaders (candidates) who themselves are basically good people. Obama, Jimmy Carter, JFK, Ronald Reagan, Al Gore, John McCain — all to varying degrees seemed like decent people or even more in some cases like Jimmy Carter. Not all of them would have successful campaigns or be successful presidents in the political sense of success.

Then there’s the issue of voting for a person you think is the best but who has zero chance of winning. You might effectively weaken the chances of a lesser “evil” candidate by voting for someone who is going to lose who might, nonetheless, better represent you than his or her opponent!

I recall when I first heard of Bernie Sanders in the last campaign, I thought, well, now here’s an interesting guy but I hear that he calls himself a “socialist.” Well, in the USA at least thus far in history, no one calling himself a socialist is going to win anything! Yet, when I saw how the younger voters were his fans, I thought, “Well, this could be a taste of the future!” Yet, for all that, I’m not inclined towards his label (“socialist”) perhaps because in our society it is so tainted. One could discuss at length the pros and cons implied by the term “socialist.”

I suppose this note is the long way around saying: “I’m not really sure yet about the current roster of candidates. The ones who seem interesting, spiritually speaking at least, regardless of their chances are Cory Booker, Tulsi Gabbard, Elizabeth Warren, and Marianne Williamson. But all I can know, or you most likely, is what we read or hear. A person’s inner life and integrity are very difficult to gauge on the big screen and glasshouse of national politics.

Consider what Mahatma Gandhi went through with respect to his critics (from Winston Churchill to Muhammad Jinnah, to the right-wing Hindu group who assassinated him). Each major political position that Gandhi took was intensely criticized by one side or another. He has been accused of many things which are probably not fair because of his position and intention, however unyielding it might have been, had a context and a rationale based on his own high ideals. And, let’s face it, even he could make mistakes in judgment.

Charles Lindberg, for example, was a man of high ideals and noble character. Yet, at some point during the 1930’s, and as many other notables were drawn into this, he too endorsed the marvels of the German reconstruction, industry, and air power under Hitler. Further, he was against the entry of the United States into World War II!

Yet, Paramhansa Yogananda stated that Lindberg was Abraham Lincoln reincarnated. He achieved the popular acclaim that Lincoln did not personally experience in that lifetime. Lincoln was no pacifist!

So, you see, even a person of integrity and idealism can find himself on the wrong side of history, politically speaking. (Yogananda declared that WW II was a just war, fought for the freedom of downtrodden nations burdened by western imperialism.)

Thus I say a person’s integrity is difficult to gauge because of so many compromises and nuanced political positions and statements whose truth is based on the context in which those statements and decisions are made. You cannot be a “one-trick pony” in politics. You have to accept and work with many different interests. No saint is likely every to run for president nor does spiritual consciousness necessitate being in any particular political party, at least in principle. (Abraham Lincoln was a Republican.)

So take a look at the ones I listed above. Do your own research and see what you come up with. Ok?

Blessings and may our nation be blessed and guided by wisdom and compassion,

Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA