I’m one of those politics junkies. I pay attention all the time, but every four years I enjoy the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Championships of politics, the race for President of the United States. With one month remaining, a look back is warranted.
NOTE: On an individual level, the most important elections are local, then state. Our priorities are upside down – local elections draw the worst turnout, state election vote totals are so-so, and the Presidential elections draw over 50% of eligible voters. While the President may be the “face of the nation,” it is our state and local officials who directly impact our lives.
Hillary Rodham Clinton filed to launch her campaign on April 13, 2015. At that moment, my mind was made up – she had my vote. I’ve been an admirer of Secretary Clinton since she broke the mold of the First Lady, drawing eternal hatred from the Republican Party. (google: clinton chocolate chip cookies)
Her term as Senator from the State of New York was marked by consistent bipartisan efforts. Even Republicans who had excoriated her found her easy to work with. Her stint as Secretary of State was rewarded with amazingly high approval ratings. It was only especially when she ran for President in 2008 and now 2016 that she was thoroughly vilified by the right, and then only because she was a WOMAN who had a clear shot at winning the Oval Office. In fact, it is my opinion that Hillary’s being a WOMAN clearly qualified for the office helped Barack Obama become the first African American president. Misogyny trumped racism. This is not to say that Obama was not deserving of the office; quite the contrary. I’m just making up the fact that more voters were opposed to electing a woman than were opposed to electing a black man. Remember, Obama was “cool” and Hillary was “bitchy.” Coulda smiled more, too…
There is no debate that Hillary Clinton was the ordained 2016 Democratic Nominee for President before the race even began. With Obama nearing the end of his second term, the Democrats looked around for viable candidates and the single biggest name on the list was Hillary Clinton’s. There was talk of perhaps Joe Biden getting in, and he did toy with the idea, but that didn’t happen. Martin O’Malley declared, but it is typical that people with no real shot would play at running for president. The little-known Lawrence Lessig, Lincoln Chafee, and Jim Webb would pretend to run for about four months, but all three exited before the primaries began. No, in the beginning, the nomination was Hillary’s.
We all knew that. This was the presumption, and the Democratic Party people no doubt thought they’d have an easy time of it, while the Republicans battled it out. They would only have to become involved when the Republican candidate was named and the general election period began.
Out of nowhere, Bernie Sanders – seizing upon the historic wealth inequality and hatred of all things Wall Street – switched his party affiliation from Independent to Democrat and announced his intention to run. Not only did he launch a serious campaign that damaged the presumptive nominee, but he stayed in the race far longer than he should have, damaging our candidate even more. Sanders did no favors for the Democratic Party, but then Sanders was no Democrat. He was simply (admittedly) using the party as a basis for his campaign and the reach it afforded him.
In the end, millions more Democrats came down on the side of Hillary Clinton and the primary season ended with a groan. The Democratic Convention at which Clinton accepted the nomination was far more divided than it should have been.
Books will be written about the Clinton v. Sanders primaries, coming down on both sides, I’m sure.
Wow. What a shit-show.
The 2012 primaries were memorable and remarkable for the incredible (and incredibly incompetent) slate of candidates (“Oops”) that produced a nominee no one really wanted, Mitt Romney. Not so much a winner as “last man standing,” Romney was no one’s prediction as the winner and he stood as the absolute opposite of the incumbent president. The choice of Romney made no sense whatsoever, and was taken as a full repudiation of the “Republican establishment.” No lesson learned in 2012, we’d do it all again in 2016. (Remember the Republican “autopsy,” Jindal’s warning about “The Party of Stupid.” All for naught.)
The first announced candidate for the 2016 Republican Presidential Nomination was Mark Everson, former commissioner of the IRS, in March 2015. (For 6 months in 2007, Everson was President/CEO of the American Red Cross, but was asked to resign after he had a “personal relationship with a subordinate employee.” Otherwise, he bopped around in various capacities during the Reagan and Bush 43 administrations.)
Shortly after Everson’s declaration, Ted (The Evil One) Cruz threw his hat in the ring, and the race was on.
Eventually, we would have (16) Republican candidates and debates would be split into two groups: the main stage debates and the little kids’ table. While the undercard (why are they even hanging around?) drew little attention and wasn’t even a warm-up for the “grown-ups,” the main events were an entertaining show of candidates either attacking each other or begging for attention. Very little of substance or policy, but lots of great zingers. Ironically, the man with the worst zingers – real grade-school playground insults – would best them all! Gutless cowards, from “little” Marco to “low energy” Jeb! to “lyin'” Ted Cruz (let us not forget Carly Fiorina with “that face”) had no clue how to fend off the brilliant logistical strategery that was Trump’s ambush style of name-calling.
Looking at this list of all-stars and judging them on their policy positions, here is my ranking of the Republican candidates in order of acceptability. If I had to, I could have held my nose and voted for Pataki, perhaps even Jeb! After that, almost all of the rest are unacceptable, from the incompetent to the dangerous. It is not a mistake that the eventual nominee is the least acceptable of all of these candidates.
George Pataki (Gov. NY)
Jeb Bush (Gov. FL)
Jim Gilmore (Gov. VA)
John Kasich (Gov. OH)
Rand Paul (Sen. KY)
Carly Fiorina (CEO HP)
Lindsey Graham (Sen. SC)
Marco Rubio (Sen. FL)
Ben Carson (Dr. Brains)
Mike Huckabee (Gov. AR)
Rick Perry (Gov. TX)
Rick Santorum (Sen. PA)
Bobby Jindal (Gov. LA)
Scott Walker (Gov. WI)
Chris “Reek” Christie (Gov. NJ)
Ted Cruz (Sen. TX)
Donald Trump (CEO Trump)
Donald Trump ran the anti-campaign. Many of us were convinced that he was in it just for the publicity, that he never seriously wanted the job. He ran a campaign that seemed designed to fail – a series of gaffes, misstatements, and outright outrages which would have ended anyone else’s campaign only seemed to reinvigorate his. He attracted the worst among us – truly a “basket of deplorables,” and his main base of support was just “undereducated, older, white males,” obviously racists, obviously women-haters, obviously afraid of anyone who would want to come into the country.
We then thought he was in it for the money – repay the “loans” he made to the campaign out of the donations from the masses, then collect the rest when he got out and call it a day.
I cannot envision the Con Man actually taking the job of POTUS or even attempting to. He’s not a grunt, he’s the front man. He’s the glad-hander, not the policy wonk. He famously offered Kasich the day-to-day chores of the presidency, which would fit my impression of him, and one has to wonder if he made the same deal with Pence. The ultimate delegator.
There should have been no way that Trump would win the nomination, but I (and everyone else) severely overestimated the Republican electorate. There was no low bar that Trump could trip over. There was nothing so horrible that he could say that would lose him a single vote.
The Democratic Party is in good shape going forward. As the Republicans have moved further and further right, the Democrats were becoming more centric. The 2016 campaign gave the Democrats a firm tug back to the left, to the progressive liberal roots of the party.
The Republican Party is in ruins, in disgrace, in flight. After Trump fails, who is left to raise the banner of the party? Who has not soiled themselves by embracing or promoting this clown of a candidate? Who still has any gravitas, any bearing to take the Republican Party into the future? Has the party had enough of the ultra-right wing, the Tea Party / alt-Right? Can the so-called “moderate Republicans” reclaim the party, or is it time to blow it all up and start over?
As I write this*, anticipating the 2nd debate (a town hall, in which Hillary should cement her election), I am expecting Hillary Clinton to win, to become POTUS45, the first woman to hold the office. Given her record, she is the ONE person who can bridge the divide and get the government moving again. Expect the Republicans to throw a hissy fit, but they’ll come around eventually.
* Actually, as I write THIS, a 2005 video from Access Hollywood has surfaced, showing exactly what Trump’s attitude toward women truly is. This is a billboard, there is no walking back from this. This is who he is. This, finally, should end this threat to America.