After almost 24 hours of travel back from the Whining States of America, I am back in definitely not sunny Germany. A week in Shopping Mall and then a week out west. The second week was very frustrating from a work standpoint and makes me very, very, uncertain as to whether I have made the right career choices in my post Navy life. My now whacked out sleep cycle has me awake at 5 AM on a Sunday morning when I should be sleeping.
And to add to my apprehension, more than a little bit, was the time I spent back in the USA watching the insane competition for the highest elected office in the land. Regardless of your political affiliation you should be very, very concerned about what it says for the direction of the country.
Let's start with the fact that the construct of our system leaves a whole lot of qualified candidates unable to gain access to the arena in the first place. This is true on both the Republican side and the Democratic side-but for different reasons. On the Democratic side, the lack of victories at state and local levels, coupled with its leadership in Congress hanging on long past its "sell by" date, has led to a bench that is not very deep and that situation is not likely to improve in the immediate future. On the GOP side, they have a lot of people available, but the ideological purge of the past ten years coupled with the dumbing down of the Republican electorate by its tea party crazed loons, has made it virtually impossible for a reasonable man (or woman) candidate to gain much electoral traction.
And certainly we saw that in the recent election results, particularly New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Last night, South Carolina Republican voters turned their back on the two "moderate" candidates in the race. ( Lets be clear:Ben Carson is just a lunatic, hanging on only to burnish his credentials for Fox News). I put the term moderate in quotation marks because despite the folksiness of John Kasich or Jeb! Bush- their actual record on being reasonable is questionable.For example, one should never forget that Kasich was the father of REDUX retirement.
But they do come off as moderate when contrasted to the top three candidates, Trump , Cruz and Rubio-all of whom have spent the past three months arguing who is more able to cut taxes on the rich, carpet bomb the Middle East into a Christian conversion, flood the streets with even more guns, and make America a corrupt third world plutocracy. All three are very scary and probably the worst thing about them , is that none of them projects a viable way to create a sustainable path forward for a country that is increasingly falling behind in both its abilities to take care of its own people, and compete in a diverse world economy. Trump says nothing specific about what he would do, just repeating, "Its going to be great". ( Trump will do whatever he wants and really cares little about the views of the average voter-whom he regards as rubes). Cruz and Rubio are both vying to be the next Reagan-without really understanding who Reagan really was.
On the Democratic side, the outlook is even bleaker. Hillary is trying to position herself as the epic "first woman President" without understanding how much her past really hurts her. On the other hand, Sanders is whipping up a lot of enthusiasm about fixing some really bad problems with America. He is the only candidate pointing out how much the average American gets screwed by the system. The problem is, for all his great rhetoric, much of what he seeks to achieve is not able to be passed by the current and likely future Congress. So while it sounds good, and is definitely tapping into a movement of economic apprehension, I can see no way it translates into electoral victory in November. Even if Sanders were to win, the Congress would still be filled with obstructionists and the gridlock of the last eight years will continue. One could say the same thing about Hillary.
Of course, if Trump wins, the same thing could be said on his side. Congress will not be willing to go along with much of his agenda. That said, I am still greatly in doubt as to whether he can win the nomination. If Cruz or Rubio win, however, they will have no problem passing their vindictive agenda will both explode the Federal deficit and crush the average working American.
By the way, I am always amazed at the fact that these two goons get a lot of support from the very people who will be most victimized by the policies they support. I believe this happens because many Americans see themselves as self-reliant and waiting for their millions to come rolling in. They really don't think bad things can happen to them, even though in most cases, when you peel the onion back, they have been greatly assisted by the government they profess to despise, or they have been the beneficiaries of someone else's money. Self-reliant, my ass. A question needs to be asked, why do working class, low and middle income families, continue to support a party that gives little to no benefit to them?
The Presidential race does not tell the entire story, however, of the peril the United States is in. The real terror comes when you look at the structure that supports the Presidential races, namely state and local contests. When you pull the string on what has happened there, you become genuinely afraid for the future of the United States.
The presidency is extremely important, of course. But there are also thousands of critically important offices all the way down the ballot. And the vast majority — 70 percent of state legislatures, more than 60 percent of governors, 55 percent of attorneys general and secretaries of state — are in Republicans hands. And, of course, Republicans control both chambers of Congress. Indeed, even the House infighting reflects, in some ways, the health of the GOP coalition. Republicans are confident they won't lose power in the House and are hungry for a vigorous argument about how best to use the power they have.
Not only have Republicans won most elections, but they have a perfectly reasonable plan for trying to recapture the White House. But Democrats have nothing at all in the works to redress their crippling weakness down the ballot. Democrats aren't even talking about how to improve on their weak points, because by and large they don't even admit that they exist.
One of the things that I think a lot of the young idealists "Feeling the Bern", have not come to grips with is, the oligarchs who are driving much of conservative ambitions these days, long ago abandoned the idea of getting their agenda in place from the White House. They have worked instead, to marginalize the Presidency and even the Congress- preferring to impose their Hegelian hell on us through the power of State legislatures. If you want a vision of the real future of the United States and your economic well being, you need only look to the states of Kansas, Wisconsin, or even, South Carolina.
Essentially every state on the map contains overlapping circles of rich people who don't want to pay taxes and business owners who don't want to comply with labor, public health, and environmental regulations. In states like Texas or South Carolina, where this agenda nicely complements a robust social conservatism, the GOP offers that up and wins with it. But in a Maryland or a New Jersey, the party of business manages to throw up candidates who either lack hard-edged socially conservative views or else successfully downplay them as irrelevant in the context of blue-state governance.
One other factor political idealists are forgetting at great peril, is the destructive effect of the apathy of half the electorate that cannot be bothered to vote."The biggest mistake Democrats risk making again is imagining that polls showing voter disgust with Republicans, and a weak stable of Republican presidential candidates, guarantees an easy White House win; except that neither case accounts for the disparate voter turnout in Iowa and New Hampshire." 700,000 people turned out for the South Carolina primary. But remember this is against a total electorate of 2,888,768. South Carolina does not require voters to register by party affiliation-but even assuming a 65%-35% GOP vs Democratic split, that means almost a million people did not vote. That is a scary thought.
It is noteworthy that among one candidate’s supporters, 20 percent said if their hero is not the nominee, they will sit out the general election. With Republican voters already outpacing Democrats, and one faction willing to repeat the 2010 disaster that let the Koch brothers put the tea party in control of Congress, Republicans now have two very easy paths to the White House. It is something that Democrats and Republicans alike are aware of and if the left were not so arrogant and dysfunctional they just might know it too.
What we have now in America is a situation where a minority percentage of sometimes deranged, religiously motivated, economic extremists are able to impose their will on the majority of the population. The agenda they support is very dangerous, more dangerous than the external foreign policy threats to the United States, in my opinion. South Carolinians just voted for a candidates whose expressed desire is cut off health insurance for 22 million people while cutting taxes for people making millions by an additional $500,000 per year. They seek to engage the country in a series of never ending wars in far off lands, with no real path to stability, much less victory. If their vision for America succeeds, the Middle Class and the poor will be economically euthanized. Make no mistake about that. As an American I find that prospect very, very, disturbing. How can we believe in an America like this?
A basic philosophy of selfishness is being inculcated into our politics. It will render us incapable of reacting when our democratic patrimony is swindled out from under us. There are thieves abroad in the land, making off with the blessings of the political commonwealth, and their most basic alibi is that it never existed in the first place. Once we accept that as our true history, the future is pretty much lost.