I wrote this Perspective in the Summer of 2016. My editor thought it was too political to put on the air, but I like it so I’m putting it on my website. I was right, damn it!

It smelled like a good idea at the time.

You see, I love the scent of fresh honeysuckle. After repeated failures to grow plants in my yard, I started harvesting flowers from wild bushes in the neighborhood when honeysuckle blooms in late spring. I float the fragrant blossoms in bowls on my kitchen counter.

So when I saw honeysuckle-scented essential oil diffuser sticks at a local clothing store in June, I bought a box. That evening I immersed the reeds in the oil and turned them upside down in the vase, as instructed. My daughter emerged from her room. “Whoa! That’s strong.”

“Maybe it needs to … diffuse,” I said. My eyes watered as I carried the vial and sticks out to the far corner of the living room, behind closed doors. Alas, the overpowering, decidedly non-honeysuckle scent traveled through and under the doors. I didn’t dare leave the thing in the house overnight, so I relocated it to the garage. Next morning, it was as if I had to breathe in a toxic cloud to get to my car.

Clearly, I had to admit I’d made a mistake and dispose of the liquid. I couldn’t pour it in a sink or even down a storm drain—that flows to the bay! So I held my breath and flung the elixir onto the ivy in front of my house, where it stunk up and down the street for weeks. I was too embarrassed to apologize to my neighbors.

My honeysuckle debacle reminds me of this year’s presidential election. People are hurting. Government in Washington is dysfunctional and the middle class is disappearing. A major party nominee who has never held elective office promises, without providing specifics, that he alone can fix the problems. Trust him, he says. And that smells good to a chunk of the population, no matter what else the candidate says or tweets. Yet if enough voters buy what he is selling, will we, a year from now, have to apologize to neighbors and allies for the stinks a temperamental president has gotten our country into? That’s a risk someone who knows about mistakes at the checkout counter is unwilling to make in an election.

With a Perspective, I’m Debbie Duncan.