There’s no denying it: Though the 2016 presidential election has been an absolute zoo, it’s sure as hell been entertaining. A far cry from four years ago, when the debate swirled around government spending deficits, this year’s crop has taken hard stances on things like income inequality, ISIS, and of course, genitalia size. It’s like an SNL sketch come to life — except that the stakes are high, and we all might not be laughing a year from now.
Though the campaign season’s been nutty, there’s still plenty of level-headed debate going on. We’re learning how the candidates tick (or don’t), and seeing who has the grit, the dedication, and the tenacity to earn the presidency. We’re a long way from finished, and there’s still much left to learn.
But if you’re a passive observer, simply trying to find the right candidate to back, the entertainment factor of the campaign may be lost on you. You simply want to know who these people are, and which is most qualified to lead the country. Each candidate, no matter how boisterous, has something to teach us. As with anything in life, there are lessons to be learned. It’s all a matter of looking between the lines.
Whether you’re a supporter of democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, or plan to throw your weight behind super capitalist and Bond-villain-like Donald Trump, we can all learn a thing or two, if we’re open to it. Here are life lessons to take from each of the remaining presidential candidates.
1. Marco Rubio
Marco Rubio is in trouble — and what we can take away from his campaign is this: It takes more to win over people than just being “the establishment guy.” We saw Jeb Bush go down in flames for the same reason. Just because you have all of the institutional backing doesn’t mean you’re going to convince anyone that you deserve anything. Rubio may be qualified, but he’s being consistently beaten by the remaining candidates. Despite all of the Republican Party’s resources being at his disposal. The lesson? Having the big guns on your side isn’t a guarantee of anything.
2. John Kasich
Kasich, for all intents and purposes, seems like the most levelheaded guy on the Republican side of things. Plenty of Democrats even like him, and he takes a backseat to most of the chest-puffing and vulgar debate that has been going on between the other candidates. For that reason, he’s getting more attention. Kasich’s lesson? Levelheadedness pays off. You don’t need to strut and peacock around — simply be qualified and have a track record of accomplishments. Let your record speak for itself.
In any other year, that would probably be enough to earn Kasich the nomination. This year? Well — probably not.
3. Ted Cruz
A lot of people don’t like Ted Cruz. A freshman Senator from Texas, Cruz has garnered a lot of support from the religious wings of the Republican base, and used it to gain a lot of momentum. But he’s also made a lot of enemies — the majority of his party can’t stand him. He’s shut down the government for questionable reasons, had very suspect opinions on social issues, and has reportedly not a single friend on Capitol Hill.
So, what can we learn from him? He may be despised, but Cruz’s dedication to his creed and beliefs have taken him very far. He’s stuck to his convictions, and he’s one of the leading contenders for the presidency. There’s something to be said for that.
4. Donald Trump
What can be said about Donald Trump that hasn’t already been said? He’s loud, obnoxious, and an apparent shape-shifter. He’s held numerous positions on every issue. He’s said things that no other candidate can get away with. And people love him.
What he’s done is this: Trump’s taken his business acumen and applied it to his campaign. He’s a salesman — so he’s selling what people are buying. He’ll say what the people want to hear, because they’ll support him for doing so. He’s simply supplying, where there’s demand. The lesson? Business sense can be applied to ideas and rhetoric, not just products and services.
5. Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders has seemingly come out of nowhere to give Hillary Clinton a run for her money. But he’s been around for a very long time. Sanders has served in public office, in some capacity, since the early 1980s. Now, he’s going all-in with a push for the presidency, and bringing the issues he’s passionate about to the national debate. And it’s working, especially among young voters.
That’s what we can take away from Bernie’s campaign: Passion and dedication will earn you people’s respect. Nobody questions that Bernie cares. There are questions around his other qualifications, but he’s made a career fighting for the things he believes in. His passion is getting him attention, and his long-time dedication is earning him respect.
6. Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton has the ideal resume. She’s been in the White House before, for eight years as the First Lady, and served as a Senator, and as Secretary of State. There’s no doubt she’s qualified — though there are some big issues people rightfully take with her. But she’s slowly and methodically put herself in a position to become president over decades. It’s been a strategic and brilliant plan.
That’s what you can learn from her: Do the work. Clinton has been grinding away for decades, building her resume to the point where she was considered a shoe-in for the Democratic nomination (twice, now). Basically, she’s so qualified that she can’t be ignored. You can do the same.
Be so good, that they can’t ignore you.
Follow Sam on Twitter @Sliceofginger