Thursday, October 20, 2016

2016 Elections Surely Most Pathetic in American History

So finally, the last presidential debate for the 2016 election has taken place, and it is now a little less than three weeks from the day when we Americans will elect our next president. This is welcome news, given the sorry state of American politics these days. I, for one, will be glad when this is all said and done. This is true more for this particular election year than any other that I can recall, and that is saying something!

Look at the biggest headlines today pertaining, and it is hard not to avoid the inescapable notion that this really is just the most pathetic elections that we in the United States have ever seen - and that is saying something!

Hillary Clinton has been hit with yet another story involving her email scandal, which of course undermines her credentials regarding being a viable candidate. The fact that she received and sent classified emails in an insecure, private account, and that her conduct in this case has been regarded as abysmal by most everyone outside of her most faithful supporters, is something that continues to cast a shadow over her campaign. 

Of course, this is just one of numerous scandals involving both of the Clintons. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, illegally met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on the tarmac of a Phoenix Airport over the summer, and not much later, all charges were dropped against Hillary Clinton. This made it look, at best, like a boneheaded move by the former president and, at worst, like a blatant breach of protocol and evidence that the Clintons are above the law. Since the Clintons are not known to be stupid, the latter appears to be the most likely, yet somehow, this story just got swept under the rug, nice and neat like. 

But then, both of the Clintons seem to have the ability to get past scandals without being sunk. Bill Clinton was known as the "Teflon president" for all of the huge scandals that, somehow, he managed to survive (including being impeached by the House of Representatives!). There was Whitewater, there was the death of Vernon Jordan under highly unusual, some would suggest highly suspicious, circumstances. There were the countless sex scandals, and the distinct possibility (if not probability) that the president lied under oath.

With Hillary, there are numerous other scandals, including her involvement with Whitewater, the massive amount of funding she gets from "too big too fail" corporations and banks, huge sums of money as "speaking fees" and her refusal to release the transcripts of those speeches, and the whole rigged election thing, where she asked Debbie Wasserman-Schultz for help to defeat rival Bernie Sanders, and then, everything being set just so to assure that Sanders was undermined at every turn, and that Clinton was going to get the nomination come what may.

All of that, and that says nothing about some of the strange tendencies that she had at waffling on the issues. She has claimed at various times to be "the real progressive," a political moderate, and that her politics is "rooted in conservatism." Hell, she even suggested that she was once proudly a "Goldwater girl." Despite being one of the leaders and most prominent figures in the supposed opposition to Republican President George W. Bush, she went along with him on some major issues, including the Iraq invasion, the PATRIOT Act, and the bailout. She used to be in favor of massive healthcare reform along the lines of what Bernie Sanders was proposing, and what exists in other Western nations (in fact, the United States stands alone as the only country that fails to provide it's citizens with affordable, universal healthcare), yet changed her opinion at around the same time that she started receiving huge funds from the healthcare 

And to think, she is widely considered the most stable of the two major candidates!

That, of course, is because her opponent is the eccentric billionare Donald Trump, who has made it a habit of almost daily saying some remarkably stupid things, and of putting forward some ideas that many believe would undermine democracy itself. 

The notion that he cannot accept defeat, and that he will not bow down gracefully in defeat is seen as a threat to democracy and the peaceful transition of power. He was asked point blank during that last debate if he would accept the official results of this election, and answered by basically saying let's wait and see, outright suggesting that he would hold the country in suspense regarding his own take on the election results, and whether he will continue the longstanding tradition of a peaceful transition of power, or if he will buck this trend and, as he has, will instead suggest that this election process is rigged against him, and that "crooked Hillary" cheated and manipulated the system to ensure that she won. 

Hillary has said that she is "horrified" and "appalled" by this refusal on the part of Trump to view a potential Hillary victory as legitimate. Yet, of course, Hillary and the mainstream Democratic Party now have a history of cheating, of rigging the election in their favor, so that is something that they opened up for themselves. It is still one more example of unintended consequences of actions taken, and this one is completely their fault. After all, when they showed such a willingness to at least bend, and perhaps outright break, the rules to secure an election win once, how could they be trusted not to do it again?

Still, Trump seems to be losing legitimately on his own. After all, when you say that many offensive things against women, against Latinos, against blacks, against Muslims, and even recently, border line rantings that sounded suspiciously anti-Semitic (he reiterated generally accepted arguments that are linked to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories within the last week or so), then of course you are going to send some voters running the other way. It just goes to show how much the country has changed in recent decades, given the fact that the predominately white male audience that has been most receptive to Trump's message is not nearly enough to carry this election. As of right now, Trump is not only projected to lose, but to do so in a landslide, as some traditionally staunchly Republican states, including North Carolina, Arizona, and Iowa are right now leaning Democratic. Ohio is up for grabs, although depending on what source you accept, Trump might be winning there, or it might be Clinton.

One thing seems clear: Donald Trump certainly seems to understand that his losing this election is not an unthinkable prospect. He may dismiss the whole thing as rigged, but he certainly seems to understand that there is a very strong possibility that he will not come out triumphant this November. And, of course, his fellow Republicans are worried about this, since he is the most visible face of the party right now. His unwillingness to commit to abiding by the election results seems to solidify his anti-democratic tendencies, and the fears that people have that he has dictatorial leanings and undermines America's democratic values.

Now here, I really need to admit something: I have never taken Trump seriously. Maybe that will be something that I will have to come to terms with should he win, but again, it never seemed clear to me that he actually wants to be president. Maybe the prestige of it appeals to his ego, and he likes the idea of being president. Or maybe there is just this sense that he could do it better than certain presidents - perhaps particularly Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Maybe he is truly trying to shake up the political system out of concern for the country (although this seems doubtful), and maybe he even thinks that the country actually should be run like a business (although it is clearly not a business). Or maybe this is one big advertisement for himself and whatever it is he is trying to sell, to make enormous profits from, and for which he will skip out on paying his fair share of taxes because, you know, that's the kind of patriot that he is, and it just makes good business sense.

Whatever his motivations, the fact of the matter is that he is the Republican nominee. True, I never expected him to get quite that far, although once there, he again seemed just destined to lose. Whatever else that man may or may not be, the fact of the matter is that he will never be president, no matter how much he or his supporters might want it. He is a joke, making a mockery of things wherever he goes, and there is simply nothing presidential about that. His mannerisms not only reflect conduct unbecoming from someone who wants to be taken seriously in trying to address the nation's problems, but are an outright hindrance, being a huge symptom of some of many of the problems that this country faces.

Yet to be quite frank, that is kind of how I personally feel about both of these candidates. Trump may be a joke, but Hillary will not solve the country's problems, either. In fact, she is part of the problem, being the "too big too fail" candidate that insiders in Washington and Wall Street propped up to make sure that she was going to win. Officially, she did "win" the Democratic nomination, although what her supporters will never admit to is the foul play of their party in actively supporting Hillary, and going as far as they could to discredit and attack Bernie Sanders. Yet, despite having more support from the prominent insiders, she still very nearly lost. You might think that this would wake the Democrats up, warn them that people were getting tired of business as usual. But it has become clear that this message was not received, and much like CEO's and corporate boards who would hand themselves huge bonuses before and immediately after the so-called "Great Recession," these politicians went right back to their version of business as usual, which is to say transparent self-interest, and no major or obvious concerns regarding what is best for the country.

The 2016 election seems to come down to an overgrown, petulant child, or an old face from the political aristocracy, one who feels entitled to finally get her turn at the top, and who insults the supporters of her opponents, whether she says they live in their parent's basement (perhaps because of the economic policies that she has supported in the past), or whether they are a "basket full of deplorables."

It is a horrible election season and, frankly, Election Day 2016 will be a sad, sad day for the country, whoever wins. Because it will be mediocrity, and that will assure that the country continues to lose, continues to struggle and not show it's best for at least four more years. 

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