Scott Walker has dropped out of the presidential race. Given another month, all that will remain will be Kasich, Fiorino, and Trump. Maybe Bush, but even he’s been resorting to hired audiences. Maybe not Kasich, either, he seems not be doing well, but I’ll address that below.
I thought I’d seen the bottom of the barrel in national politics, but this election cycle is so far bottomless in terms of pointless rhetoric, jeremiads, lies, and crappy spectacle. I would like to say something serious about the GOP but they haven’t given us anything serious since the season premiered. I felt a bit sorry for Governor Kasich, who in the Grand Debate kept trying to bring the discussion back to policy and serious issues. Unfortunately, he was upstaged by the Trump Train that kept running over the other clowns tied to the tracks.
What can be said of a roster of candidates who seem so dedicated to being on the wrong side of so much?
When Jeb Bush proposed Margaret Thatcher for the face of the ten dollar bill, it was indicative of so many levels of disconnect from American reality that I believed it could not get worse. (He called her Ronald Reagan’s “partner.” This is so revealing of so much that it’s difficult to unpack in one sitting. In truth, I doubt Jeb really understands just how meaningful that gaff was.) At least Trump is doing what he’s doing on purpose.
It is difficult to see much merit in the choices.
Bobby Jindal wants to be white (or so it would seem—just look at the official portrait he commissioned recently) and denies that race is an issue. At a time in this country of surging racial tension, I can only imagine what kind of a message he thinks he’s sending. (Did you know he took his name from the Brady Bunch? His real name is Piyush) This is a new level of misrepresentation, but of what I’m not sure I want to say. On policy he’s demonstrated an anti-immigration bias, but that’s in the news a lot. Of course he’s an antichoice candidate, he couldn’t run on the GOP ticket if he weren’t, but he also backs a Constitutional amendment for a balanced federal budget. This issue has come up from time to time. It’s stupid. It shows a profound misunderstanding of how government funding works. A state can have such a law and get by because in times of catastrophe a state can depend on the federal government, but only because the federal government is not prohibited from spending outside its budgetary limits. Put this in the Constitution and see what happens next time a flood or hurricane produces a disaster that requires federal help. More than that, though, it would produce serious impediments to our international agreements, treaties, foreign aide programs, and all those ships, planes, and soldiers we keep at the ready in case we need to invade another country or intervene between two other powers for the benefit of the world. Now, Jindal is actually a Rhodes Scholar, which suggests he’s smart enough to know better—know better about a lot of things—so why doesn’t he seem to get this? I think he does, which means he misrepresenting the issues, which means he doesn’t think the voters aere smart enough to see through this nonsense, but it also means he’s relying on a base that just might be that uninformed. And,hell, he’s been given the Duck Dynasty Seal of Approval,so maybe that’s the case. But its disingenuous. He’s playing to his base at the expense of the truth, which is pretty much what passes for politics in this country, regardless of party, but it appears this year the GOP has distilled itself down to the true essence of nonsense.
Then there’s the usual roster of absurdities—christians are under attack and he wants laws passed to protect them; he’s opposed t gay marriage; another one who thinks corporations are people and pay too much in taxes, despite the growing evidence that corporations of a certain size are really vampires; and he’s a climate change denier.
Of course, he’s polling at 4%, along with Rand Paul, so why pick on him?
No reason other than he, in one person, exemplifies so much that is wrong with the GOP.
Chris Christie is a vindictive man who has nothing but a gruff manner to recommend him, which is wearing thin finally.
Ted Cruz, for all his anti-immigration rhetoric, has had his own oops moment with the question of nationality. This wouldn’t be an issue if Cruz hadn’t stoked the fires of the Birthers during his tenure in the senate. And then that gaff where he mixed up “Keynesian” with “Kenyan.” Cruz also, along with several of the others, wants to make the Patriot Act permanent. I’ve already stated how this is one of my biggest disappointments with Obama. What I will not support is another president who can’t see his (or her) way past this kind of fearmongering and sees something “necessary” in violating the Constitution and our civil rights.
But again, Cruz isn’t polling very strongly.
Carly Fiorino is another of those baffling chimeras the GOP seems to love—a former CEO who cost her companies market share and recovered by firing thousands of people and somehow has made this a virtue. A business “leader” who is actually rather bad at what she does—unless what she think it’s all about is filling her own coffers, then, yeah, she’s great. But also, this affection they have for business people, as if that’s any kind of recommendation for high office. Details aside, there is one fundamental difference between government and business that puts the lie to this idea. Business, at its base, is about beating the competition. Governance is about accommodating competing factions. In practice, the two things couldn’t be more different. So every time I hear a Ross Perot or a Mitt Romney blow smoke about how their business experience has made them fit for the presidency, I first want to ask How? And then I realize that they have the wrong idea about what government is all about. Probably they think that once they get in office they can do something about all those annoying rules and regulations that frustrated them in business and then make it easier for businesses to siphon off resources from the public trough. Which is pretty much what’s been happening since St. Ronnie and the era of deregulation. I think it’s fair to say we have subsequently found ourselves in deep doo-doo because of it.
No, if Carly does well with the GOP at all it’s because of another fundamental disconnect—they think because the mood of the country seems to favor a woman for president, any woman will do. They made that mistake with Sarah Palin and that scotched their last chance of electing a serious politician to the White House.
And what can be said of Ben Carson, who seems to think African Americans didn’t have it so bad as slaves? No, I don’t really think he believes that, but it fell out of his mouth, so I have to wonder at the filters he has in place or what really goes on in that skull of his. Here is a doctor, at least putatively a man of science, who thinks evolution and the Big Bang are inventions of Satan.
Trump is doing well in all this because he is an honest clown. So far I have not heard one thing he has said that did not come first from the mouth of another GOP face, although couched in more arcane and abstruse rhetoric. He has stripped away the Newspeak and is simply reporting what, for many people, the GOP has come to stand for. His misogyny is in line with the voting records and speeches made in opposition to women’s rights we’ve been listening to for decades now. His immigration remarks reflect the growing nativist sentiment of the party. His view on the economy is completely in the fold as are his views on taxation. He is a vulgar, selfish ideologue shouting his message in catchy phrases not quite but almost at the level of what one could find on lavatory walls in truck stops across the country. He is an outsized, tasteless, gauche demagogue who cannot be argued with by the others on the debate platform because they believe that stuff, too, they just don’t want to say it like that.
Trump is, if he keeps going, handing the next presidency to the Democrats.
The only solution for the GOP is to clean house of all the mean-spirited, small-minded, myopic idiocy that keeps shouting down reason and common sense and find a candidate that speaks to the issues as if he or she actually has a grasp. I mentioned Kasich. Not my favorite guy, but he is more reasonable than the rest. But like past also-rans (I know, he hasn’t dropped out yet, but he can’t compete with the ones fighting for the steering wheel of the clown car, he will) the one GOP candidate that might save the Party and possibly begin to steer it back toward some semblance of rationality has no chance because the screaming hordes cheering on Trump and who would have preferred a Cruz won’t—possibly can’t—listen. They have been told for decades that the evil Democrats will destroy their country and they just can’t seem to get past that.
And the Democrats? Most of them seem to be stuck in the “let’s just keep the ship on course and worry about where we’re going once the storm is past” mode. They will do less damage. They might, if there is a thorough turn-over in congress, do something worthwhile.
Right now I’m backing Bernie. I’m too cynical to believe he win the nomination—tricks and deals and smoke-filled rooms have a way with people like him—but so far he’s saying things I find more relevant to the world than any of the others. And who knows, he could be this century’s Andrew Jackson in terms of a populist revolution. (No, I do not think Bernie Sanders is in any way like Jackson, just in case any of you who read this might decide I’m making any kind of policy comparison—as far as I’m concerned, the only thing Jackson did came before he took office in terms of expanding the franchise.)
And, really, I think the business-as-usual crowd should be worried—Bernie got applause at Liberty University, of all places, even while maintaining his convictions on an issue which there, of all places, one would think would get him nothing but boos.
As for the GOP, I’m watching the retrenchment of stupidity and ignorance, all because they hate—-I can think of no more accurate word—hate President Obama. I do not understand. These are the people who are supposed, by virtue of their election to high office, be above that, but after seven years I can conclude nothing less. They hate him. Institutionally. When he’s gone, I worry that they will do something with that hate other than shed it. What will be their next target?
Well, there are already several they seem ready to go after. Some they already have.
The Supreme Court, in a (predictably) five-to-four vote, has declared that people can get married.
Barriers to marriage based on the criteria that the involved participants must fit a predetermined template having to do with gender are no longer viable or, more importantly, legal.
No, I didn’t expect this. I am delighted to be wrong.
This also means that we can perhaps start moving forward on a slew of other reforms that are long overdue. I know there are people who are doubtless going apoplectic about this, predicting the end of all things, the demise of civilization, the collapse of our republic, yada yada yada.
As if any of that could be determined by what two people do to make a home together.
Well, I suppose it could, but letting more people participate in an already-established system which has been held up to be the foundation of that very civilization? It never made sense, but bigotry rarely does make sense. This has always been about social control, stigmatizing certain groups for the purposes of preserving privilege and power, and dictating codes of conduct which we have learned the loudest proponents of don’t obey anyway. At a minimum this takes away the ability of certain people to misrepresent themselves at other people’s expense.
So, two wins in one week. The ACA still passes constitutional muster, much to the dismay of those who thought any attempt to provide publicly-subsidized health care would also bring about the End Times, and now gender is no longer a legal consideration in who gets to marry whom.
(And for all those who for some reason feel marriage is strictly about procreation—yes, you Mr. Santorum—well, no, that has never been either the sole purpose or even the primary reason, and maybe now we can start having a more rational dialogue about that issue.)
So, all in all, this would seem to be a pretty positive week for a whole lot of folks.