This is the most exciting but frightening Presidential election season in my adult lifetime. Who could ever have imagined a year ago that it would unfold the way it is?
The Democrats have a strong establishment candidate for the Presidency. But if we put any credence in the Iowa caucuses she is in a virtual tie with a declared “democratic socialist”. Clinton is certainly the most qualified person in either party to become President if training and experience count for anything. And she is well funded by the monied interests that we all hate just like Republicans are. Besides she is a woman which should be helpful with a large portion of the electorate.
Sanders on the other hand is an old guy even by presidential candidate standards, but seems to have boundless energy. He is peddling an ideal! He doesn’t have any large super-packs to promote his message or be beholden to. But he is raising vast sums of cash to carry on his campaign through small contributions from individuals, a real grass roots movement. And regardless of being an old white haired guy, he is attracting the youngest voters, including young women you might think would be for Clinton. Sanders’ political message would have been seen as subversive a few years ago, but today it is resonating with a lot of people, especially young voters. Sanders is also probably the most honest candidate in the race. No lying politician would publicly claim to be a democratic socialist and promise to raise taxes!!
What could possibly be more insane than what seems to be going on in Democratic Presidential politics? Well, I guess the answer to that is what is happening in Republican Presidential politics!!
With much difficulty over the past 3 years the Republicans have managed to whittle down their list of outstanding politicians to a couple hundred (more or less) of their best, brightest, and richest potential presidents. Of course with such a broad field most individual candidates don’t get much press time. There isn’t even enough room on the debate stage for them all at same time. The media has been imaginative though. They have devised a kind of “heat” arrangement remotely similar to sporting events to accommodate the large crowd.
Over time, and especially since the Iowa caucuses, 3 of the Republican candidates have risen above the others to become the primary contenders for the presidential nomination. They are Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio.
Trump is the most “outstanding”. He has more money than God! He is a master showman, and has demonstrated how he can keep his name in the headlines and dominate the entire news cycle without spending a nickel. He has also demonstrated that he can take the most extreme positions, insult anyone, and say the most insane things and his poll numbers just keep rising among Republicans. Right now nationally, close to half of the Republican electorate seem to think he doesn’t just have more money, he may actually be God!
Then there is Ted Cruz. He is a brilliant idiot! He is so dogmatic and idealogical that he is willing to shut down federal operations and force the United States Government to default on its debt obligations to get his way. He is willing to “carpet bomb” (his words) the Syrian people to get to ISIL fighters hiding among them. But he is a born again Christian!!! And he is proud that nobody in the Senate likes him because he is unwilling to compromise on anything. He doesn’t seem to accept that compromise is a cornerstone of a healthy democracy. Cruz is clearly the most dangerous of the Republican contenders. Unlike Trump who is a pragmatist, Cruz would probably actually try to carry out his autocratic vision of what is good for the US if he were elected President.
Finally we have naive Marco Rubio (‘the boy in the bubble’ as Christie calls him). He is the only “establishment” candidate with a serious chance in the Republican race for nomination. He has shown some promise in the past. He was a member of the “gang of eight” trying to work out a compromise on immigration reform. Sadly Republican extremists apparently got to him because he suddenly changed his position and now seems against the whole idea of immigration reform. And then there is the Iran nuclear deal. He proudly declared that on day one as President he would tear up the agreement. Now the beauty of that move would mean the immediate secession of international nuclear inspections and Iran would be free to restart their bomb development plans on that same day. So a year after Marco’s inauguration thanks to his initiative Iran would now be a member to the nuclear club. That’s just brilliant!
In Marco’s defense though he says he will restart sanctions. And he will use US economic power to force our other international partners to do the same. Of course he doesn’t ever mention that exercising that level of economic power over other nations will cause a worldwide depression and its attendant disruption of international order. Could he actual be naive enough not to know that??
So this year’s presidential politics is stacking up to be a wild ride. I am reminded of an ancient Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times! I think 2016 is going to be an interesting time.