Decision 2016 … Thanks for Nothing

This is really what it’s come to, a vast country filled with talented people and we can’t come up with two more dignified, more personable, less juvenile and less corrupt people than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? Our insular two-party system will keep many disgusted citizens on the sidelines while others are only motivated to vote against the candidate they dislike the most. Comedian Lewis Black once said, “We have a two-party system: The Democratic party, which is a party of no ideas, and the Republican party, which is a party of bad ideas”.  The same could be said of our Presidential combatants, although it’s often hard to tell which is which. We have Donald Trump, the political outsider, who functions so far beyond the boundaries of accepted decency and common sense that he has managed to insult everyone at one time or another. He is opposed by Hillary Clinton, the consummate insider, someone so deeply entrenched in the political power structure that she couldn’t find outside with a tracking dog and a GPS.  

 To make the situation worse, voters are under a media and celebrity assault that has abandoned any pretense of dispensing unbiased information in favor of becoming unrepentant partisan cheerleaders. The incredible self-absorption required to assume you have the right to shame others over their voting choice is unprecedented and dangerous to the process. We are approaching the tipping point where people tune out media sources that have abandoned their journalistic integrity and celebrities who think everyone respects their political opinions. The residents of flyover country can only be talked down to for so long before they start to suspect that nervous people in high places are just protecting their turf. An electorate that is being asked to choose between two historically unpopular candidates while being badgered by voices who have nothing in common with their life issues, can lead to extreme outcomes. Remember that the elitists (and pollsters) of Europe were confident that they knew how the Brexit vote would go.

 The Democratic Party should be concerned with the sheer number of people who dislike Hillary Clinton. Even if elected that is going to make it almost impossible to accomplish anything substantive. Among many of those who have been around though her entire political career, the depth and passion behind that dislike is unassailable. Add that to telling coal miners that their industry and their jobs are targeted for extinction and shamelessly insulting a large portion of the voting pool by labeling them a “basket of deplorable’s”. How hypocritical can the media and the entertainment community be to not see that if a Republican candidate had slandered half of the Democratic electorate with that phrase, they would never let it rest? Hillary Clinton’s entire campaign, functioning as it is in a media/celebrity echo chamber, has acquired the unmistakable patina of elitism. Too many condescending voices, too many dismissed concerns and way too much hypocritical piling on. Well-reasoned advocacy for the candidate of your choice is an essential part of the process but when we get down to the level of things like thirty musicians with thirty songs about Donald Trump, the shark has been jumped.

 When history passes final judgment on the dumpster fire that has been Donald Trump’s campaign, it’s hard to imagine a glowing review. Even if you buy that he never said ALL illegal immigrants are rapists, murderers or thieves or that the soldier’s family verbally attacked him first or that we should only stop Muslim immigration temporarily; it still comes across as tone deaf and mean spirited. The antidote to political correctness in its current hyper-alert form is not to rally around someone who feels it is okay to be insensitive, xenophobic and sexist to any degree. Then there are all the questions and accusations concerning Donald Trump’s treatment of Women. This speaks to his character but as any student of past elections will tell you, character issues seldom dissuade anyone already committed to a candidate. Our elections (and our political process) have taken on the tone of a football game, where the supporters of either team only care about winning and any negatives surrounding their team are blindly disregarded. Donald Trump is the result of a government prone to represent itself over the public it was elected to serve. Being the living manifestation of a bad process should not be confused with being the solution to the problem.

 Having our two special interest puppet parties saddle us with the most unlikeable candidates in modern history should not come as a big surprise. There is no real competition to their power duopoly. Third party candidates only matter in that they might skew the outcome of the “real” race. When people wonder how these can be the best candidates we have to offer, they fail to consider that no one who is successful and accomplished would ever submit to this marathon of nonsense. There is no conceivable reason why the nominating and election process needs to run as long as it does. How about we ask everyone who wants to run to declare by Tax Day, April 15th.  Hold the primaries in their various forms till July 15th and then schedule the conventions over the following 30 days. From there, campaign away till Election Day. No one needs months on end of repetitious half-truths embellished by anyone with internet access. With no chance that a competitive third party is likely to emerge, our best option might be to demand more candidates from each party. Why can’t we have three Democrats and three Republicans? If the two parties offered a candidate from the opposite fringes of their ideological spectrum as well as a centrist, we might find the true majority will of the electorate. This would also expose the core leanings of congressional candidates as they would need to align with the nominee that best reflects their own governing philosophy.

 The ultimate dream of a true voter centric system aside, it’s hard to believe that many will have a good feeling when they leave the voting booth on November 8th.  A vote for Donald Trump aligns you with someone who once said, “If you owe the bank $100, that’s your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem”. Being able to hit the reset button and walk away from obligations can work in the business world but does not apply to Government. You can’t fail your most vulnerable citizens or cover your mistakes by arbitrarily cutting agreed to entitlement payments. Short on details, long on bluster has historically been a bad combination in political leaders.

 Recent revelations have only served to reinforce the notion that Hillary Clinton is a world class political grifter. How else do you leave the White House, as she claimed, “basically broke” and vault into the top one percent in such a short time. Where is the ground breaking invention, the exciting new service or the large number of added jobs that would normally be at the core of such an accumulation of wealth? The only commodity being sold is access and access is the currency of a crony capitalist system. It feels like we would be electing Richard Nixon all over again but this time we know in advance what he/she is capable of and choose to ignore it.

 So, for Decision 2016 our choices aren’t choices, they are punishments for not demanding that the needs of all the people, not just those with money or insider access, always be represented. I recently saw a bumper sticker that summed it all up perfectly. It had a colorful border of stars and stripes surrounding the words; We are Screwed – 2016.