Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Establishment versus the Crusaders

                                                         Image result for hillary wins nevada

It's early days yet and many a prognosticator has had to slink away from political predictions made too far from the end of the campaign. But, if Trump does as well on Super Tuesday as it looks like he might and if Hillary does as well as the polls show she probably will, it begins to look like both parties are settling on their eventual nominee. Super Tuesday can deliver so many delegates to each of them that it would be difficult (though not impossible) for any of their competitors to catch up.

The parties have twin problems. They are both faced with insurgencies. Of course, in the Republican race, the establishment is desperately trying to rally behind Marco Rubio to stop Trump, who is a Republican only because he needed a label to run for president. He is really just the head of the Trump party. Whether the leadership can prevail and bring him down remains to be seen.

On the Democrat side, Hillary is the establishment, as Bernie has said, and all the officials and powers-that-be have rallied behind her. So have those of us who are old enough to know not all revolutions have happy endings. The Bernie people are only very loosely aligned with the official party. Sanders himself has only been a Democrat since the start of the campaign. His people are Bernie supporters first. They would follow him under any banner he chose to run under. I guess he thought Independent Democratic Socialist sounded too awkward.

So, each party has an establishment wing and an insurgency wing. Generally, today's voters seem to lean more toward insurgencies than establishments. The fear for Democrats like me is that if Hillary wins, surly and resentful Bernie folks will take their marbles and go home if they don't get their way.

I guess the R's feel the same way about their presumed candidate. Trump has such high negative ratings, will the anti-Trump people be able to swallow hard and get behind him?

Both Trumpians and BernieBots see this election as more of a Crusade than a typical election. I don't trust Crusaders myself. I think they see what is possible through rose-colored glasses and they are destined to be disappointed. (Just as Obama supporters who believed he could bring hope and change to Washington have been disappointed). I consider myself a practical realist. You get what you can get and live to fight another day. If you can't get healthcare, you at least get the Children's Health Program and consider it a success. If you remember, Bill Clinton wanted to allow gays to freely join the military. It wasn't just the other party that opposed him but the old bulls in the Senate of his own party. Anyone remember Sam Nunn? So we ended up with DOMA, which was a tiny, ugly step, but it was still a step. It took a lot longer for full equality.

The Trump people and the Bernie people have no patience with half-a-loafers but in today's climate, half a loaf is probably the best either side can hope for unless one party wins both the presidency and both houses of congress with filibuster-proof majorities - and our track record with undivided government is not that positive. The Republicans under Bush engaged in two wars and piled up massive amount of debt. They can be all snitty about obstructing a president of the opposite party but their own, not so much. (By the way, Obama only had a majority in Congress for 4 months).

So, we will see what happens in an election that is the establishment versus the Crusaders on both sides.


Monday, February 15, 2016

State of Mass Confusion

Image result for confusion     This appears to be the state of the presidential campaign right now. I've listened to so many debates and town halls, watched the first caucus in Iowa and the first primary in New Hampshire. Sat in on so many stump speeches. Heard candidates throwing allegations back and forth.

The WWE could learn a thing or two from the Republicans for their next Wrestlemania event. Their last debate was a total free-for-all. Verbal bombs sailed across the stage. Poor John Kasich tried to call for some semblance of courtesy but he was shouted down by accusations of "liar" and "flip-flopper" and "Rino". Only when attention turned to the president and Hillary was there any semblance of agreement.

The Democrats are more civil but they too have sharpened their rhetoric toward one another. Bernie is unrealistic and Hillary is part of the "establishment" in league with the big banks.

And, we still have 9 months to go. Geez, if things heat up anymore, they'll all be throwing live grenades from behind their podiums. The presidency will come down to the Last Man Standing.

Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright hurt the tender feelings of young women for not respecting their idealistic enthusiasm for Bernie. I'm of an age with Gloria and Madeleine and Hillary and I feel the same as them. It was women like us, their grandmothers and mothers, who fought in the women's revolution and made sacrifices so this generation of young girls could have the freedoms and opportunities they enjoy today (many of which continue to be under threat from the Republicans).

So, we find it hurtful to be ignored like so many over-the-hill has-beens, as opposed to, I guess, the 74-year-old, not-over-the-hill, Bernie. We believe this is our best chance ever to elect a woman president. It's not that we're asking them to support an inexperienced Sarah Palin just because she's a woman. Rather, we wonder, when will we ever again have a candidate more qualified and more experienced than Hillary? If we won't do it now, when will we do it?

We stood up and fought for them but now we find, they won't stand up and fight for us.

So, yes, I'm bitter about them and if they are upset about it, too freakin' bad.

So, its war to the death in the Republican camp and slightly less brutal war in the Democratic camp.

And then drop in another bombshell - the death of Justice Antonin Scalia - and the shit really gets real. The Supreme Court is always an issue in the background of presidential elections but it will move to the forefront now. SCOTUS has been pretty reliably divided between four conservatives and four liberals with Anthony Kennedy as the swing vote. Now, the most conservative voice of all is gone.

The Republicans naturally swear they won't confirm any justice Obama nominates. They were so determined to make this point, their statement on the news of his death was one long run-on sentence - "sympathytothefamilyofJusticeScaliawewon'tconfirmanyObamanominee."

So now all the cases the court has taken up are under threat because most of them are liable to end up in a tie. No ninth justice means the court is effectively non-operational for almost a year. The Republicans carry on about their reverence for the Constitution but I hardly think partisan politics preventing a president from choosing a nominee to fill a seat on the court is something the founding fathers would approve of.

So it looks like complete chaos will reign for the next nine months of the campaign. I don't know if I have it in me to hang on that long but what choice do we have?