A memo to California voters before they are called upon in June to cast votes in what could be a momentous election……

Every presidential contest is a quixotic quest to find the perfect candidate. None has ever existed, and most likely none ever will.

An obvious reason is the inability to agree on what constitutes perfection when the voters are being called upon to choose among candidates at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum.

Another major reason is the constantly shifting attitudes of the voters who depending upon their age and circumstances may be looking for different attributes in the ideal candidate.

The unemployed 50-year old whose job in a southern California manufacturing plant ended three years ago when the company folded wants someone who he thinks will rescue him from a perilous slide into further debt. Globalization and an economy demanding new skills might make that less possible.

On the other hand, the 34-year old Silicon Valley well-trained, ivy-degreed hi-tech manager with three children pulling down a six-figure salary and financing a multi-million dollar home mortgage might think globalization is the best thing that ever happened.

The 21-year old recent Bay Area college graduate with high aspirations and also a giant loan she cannot pay down for lack of any job offers may find someone willing to attack Wall Street greed particularly attractive even if this will have no immediate remedial impact.

The San Bernardino retirees with health issues and depending upon their hard-earned life savings to get them through want someone who can be counted on to protect their financial security and keep their streets safe.

And so it goes. We are in an era when leadership choices have become more challenging, less predictable and the consequences of a bad decision potentially more dangerous.

Turbulence domestically and inspired by terrorism around the world is ascendant and presidential leadership on a troubled planet must be weighed against the growing responsibilities that will confront Barack Obama’s successor whoever that may be.

These factors and many others are certain to condition voter choices. Given the sudden paramountcy of California in the 2016 election picture for the first time in many years which could be determinative of how both the Democratic and Republican conventions play out, the voters here may be carrying a heavier burden than usual.

On the one hand we have the two leading Republican candidates whose appeal is to the darkening view that all government is by its nature untrustworthy and generally ineffective, and so the less there is of it, the better off we will be.

While neither Donald Trump nor Ted Cruz have been able to articulate exactly what should take its place, I think we get the idea.

The inevitable result of such wholesale disdain for institutional orderliness and stability, though less of a risk in our system of limited and divided powers, is the specter of executive over-reach which in other countries goes by less charitable names.

Both men have succeeded in effectively channeling the bitter frustration and resentments of a significant portion of the electorate which have legitimate grievances but make the mistake of trusting in reckless glory seekers with immense egos and seemingly no clue on how to solve them.

Unfortunately, the standards of perfection for their followers are built on false expectations in candidates who offer up little more than instant gratification and few if any solutions.

Never mind that Trump is a glowing beneficiary of the deep ties to the very same upper crust self-aggrandizing establishment which he repudiates, or that Cruz exhibits racial intolerance and intellectual arrogance which sets him miles apart from the common citizen.

Never mind that voters had a large selection of candidates from which to choose who were banished in favor of ones who are highly radioactive.

Still, Trump and Cruz are putting out messages that are resonating and their influence cannot be ignored.

On the opposing side we have two contenders more or less accepting of the traditional governmental framework though each of whom feels better qualified to change the ways in which it has been operating.

Neither is a perfect candidate, but on balance either should have an edge over the opposition in a state that has never given its strong support to an extremist—Republican or Democrat—for the presidency. In 1964 California did vote for Barry Goldwater in the primary by a slender 51%.

Bernie Sanders has called for “political revolution.” But on closer examination, the bark may be louder than the bite. Surely he is not suggesting the government be overthrown since he must realize the basic power he wields comes from his long experience as a vested career politician.

Nevertheless his emotionally-charged speeches railing against what he defines as a thoroughly “corrupted and rigged system” has obviously caught fire with millions of avid supporters—including a large slice of Californians who are not enamored with politics as usual and have flocked to his rallies.

For others it has set off alarms that his expectations of what government can or should accomplish—such as a free college education for all and universal healthcare—are at best mere pipedreams with little support, and at worst issues that will roil Congress the more so distracting from higher priorities such as climate change reform, job-building programs, technological advancements, and infrastructure redevelopment which have some chance of passage.

Nevertheless, as with Trump and Cruz, Sander’s forceful message though less menacing and more even-toned, should not be ignored if Democrats are intent on re-capturing the middle class, the youth vote and the growing ranks of independents still up for grabs in this candidate-centric state.

Hillary Clinton’s ambition to be the first woman president is rooted in a similar belief that her formidable background in the service of government makes her equally if not more qualified.

Californians liked her enough in 2008 to give her the nod over Obama in the primary.

However, this time around the ride will not be as easy if she cannot overcome what is seen as a continuing trust deficit based, fairly or not, on her decidedly mixed notices concerning mismanaged email communications while Secretary, and a documented history far more voluminous than that of any rival.

The perfection bar for Hillary Clinton has been set much higher precisely because of her greater familiarity to the voters except for the new generation which does not see the same magic in the Clinton name that propelled her than youthful husband in the 1990s to two terms in the White House.

Curiously a somewhat disheveled character who bears more resemblance to their grandfather has rekindled that magic.

H.L. Mencken, the brilliant and acerbic social critic in the early days of the 20thCentury, who took a dim view of the voter’s judgment, wrote,

“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

So far that has not happened and we can take some comfort in the fact that while the collective wisdom of the people has never seen fit to elect such individual to our highest office, there are equally egregious outcomes which cannot be dismissed.

These are some things for Californians to ponder when they enter the voting both in June.