In one of the Seinfeld episodes, Jerry attempts to return a sports coat to a clothier but the salesperson cannot take it back because when asked why he wants to return the jacket Jerry says “spite.” Spite is not on the list of valid reasons for which a customer can return clothing. His spite was for the guy who sold him the jacket because he was hitting on Elaine, Jerry’s friend who he brought along to help him select a sports jackets. When he learns that spite will not do it, Jerry changes his reason for returning the coat but it’s too late—he already said “spite.”
In his famous “show about nothing,” Seinfeld offered his audience interesting observations. I would like to offer an observation of my own. Though spite is probably not a good reason for doing anything, my observation is that President Trump was elected by the citizens of The United States primarily out of spite. Voters didn’t like the partisanship in Washington, D.C., the gridlock, greed, overreach, politicization of issues, and how out-of-touch Congress is with common people. The nation elected someone who would “drain the swamp.” His opponents are impeaching him now also out of spite. Much like Jerry found the salesman to be rude, obnoxious, and only looking out for himself, so do many citizens view the President. They are changing their reason to high crimes and treason but, as the department store manager said, it’s too late: we already know it is out of spite.
2020 is going to be a horrible year for those of us who painfully endure presidential elections. On the other hand, it will be filled with amusing entertainment for those who like sit-coms. Though the situation is serious, the comedic aspects cannot be denied. I suspect that if the president is re-elected it will, once again, be out of spite. His supporters tout our robust economy, low unemployment, vast opportunities, and his unabashed toughness in international affairs. Similarly, Jerry couldn’t deny that his jacket was high quality, sharp-looking, expensive, and had bold expression. But he didn’t like it because it symbolized something disgusting for him. Those who want to impeach Trump, vote him out of office, or otherwise return him, do not think that he is properly suited for the presidential office because he lacks moral integrity, is rude and crude, has an obnoxious personality, and is undignified amidst other world leaders—he disgusts them.
Elaine eventually realized that her slick salesman is slimy and she gets revenge. Spite works for her but not Jerry. He gets stuck with a very nice jacket that he didn’t want and we are stuck with a very successful president that millions don’t like. The sit-com episode ends that way but for Americans the episode continues. Though spite is probably not a good determining factor for who should hold the most powerful job on earth, it is what we have come to. Most citizens seem to assume the role of critics and political team members rather than being part of a national team to support the executive branch—partly because there is such a vast chasm between us and Washington. Most presidential candidates are millionaires or billionaires while most of us are not; most are politicians while most of us aren’t. Even though we’d like someone with high character to occupy the office, it’s a job that calls for traits that we don’t possess nor sometimes value. That leaves many of us easily offended, defensive, and unable to discuss politics in open, honest, and loving ways. Gridlock occurs in homes and office buildings much as it does in the nation’s capital. We’re stuck. Whether we lash out, find humor, or simply abide, we, like Seinfeld, observe the world from our particular situation.
Even if we don’t like the president, shouldn’t we be grateful for his service and the good things he has done? Shouldn’t we be immeasurably thankful for all that this great country stands for and is? Shouldn’t we work together for the common good in spite of who leads? Though acting out of spite is not the best tactic, it seems to be what we do. Though probably it adds up to about nothing, that is my observation.