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Likeability factor, in politics
In my opinion, the likeability factor has gone way down in the order of importance for a presidential candidate, since 2016. The choice for president was no longer a 'beauty contest,' for ordinary folks, like me, when offered a choice between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. Even a personality evaluation, or a character evaluation, pretty much went out the window, once the nominations were cast in stone.
For the first time ever, I had to choose between two candidates that had no redeeming qualities that appealed to me, personally. Of course, it wasn't that hard for me, because no Democrat had impressed me at all, since at least the early '70's, when I was young and impressionable. Still, I had great difficulty defending my choice, even to myself, and finally just let it rest on likely Supreme Court nominations, and even less confidently upon Trump's stated stances on 2A issues. I was sure then, that both candidates were simply saying whatever they thought would help them win. I figured that even if Trump was impeached, and he was replaced by a dullard like Mike Pence, it would still be better than Hilary Clinton.
What has transpired since the 2016 election has been nothing short of astonishing, to me. I still cringe when Donald Trump is in his 'bloviating' mode, and I still avoid listening to his campaign speeches. But, I cannot deny that he has delivered on some of his promises, and fought hard on others that he has not accomplished in two-plus years, and he has done it in the face of the most concentrated personal and political attacks I have ever seen. I cannot explain it, and I would still not be surprised if he 'shoots himself in the foot' (politically speaking), but he keeps rocking along on a roller coaster ride. He looks terrible one day, and great the next day, absorbing every heavy punch that is thrown at him, but never going down for the count.
I can't speak for anybody else, but I have to say that I have learned a lot about how to choose between two choices that are unattractive to me. Pragmatism has always been below character, in my evaluation scale of how to select a leader, and deep down, I guess, maybe, it still is. But, when you can't find anything you like about either candidate, you have to move pragmatism up the ladder, and just suffer through the behaviors you don't approve of. What else can you do? Quit?