The silly season is upon us all again as the Presidential Primary Season approaches. I think
it would be an absolute hoot if Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were selected as their party’s candidates. Can you image the fun of seeing in the debate the
biggest, conservative billionaire blowhard vs. the avowed Socialist, whose motto is “Have the courage to take on the billionaire class”? What a hoot that would be, if only it weren’t such a sad commentary on the state of political affairs in America.
This year’s silly season is the most silly and vicious that I have ever witnessed and has certainly exposed the carnage that rabid partisanship has wrecked upon both parties. The huge philosophical divide between the parties and the lack of interest in any compromise has left the entire middle of the political spectrum abandoned and ripe for a third party effort. Unfortunately, the only way that anyone can mount a campaign effort for President these days is to first acquire a billion dollars or more.
Imagine the ridiculous scene it would be to have these two populist politicians even trying to debate. One can only imagine the biting satirical thrusts of Sanders on the income inequity issue that has become his hallmark cause and the animated and bombastic tirades (sans any need for fact or logic) that Trump would launch in retort. Perhaps Sanders attack on the greedy heart of capitalism would even cause the Donald to forget for the moment his plan to block any further middle-eastern immigration and put those already here from the middle-east under surveillance. To further expose the intolerance and bigotry of Trump (and the Republican party) Sanders could choose as his Vice-Presidential running mate a member of the GLBT community who was born in America of naturalized, but foreign-born parents and who espouses a woman’s right to choose and tougher gun control laws. Trump would be so flummoxed that he would likely be unable to get a single sane word out.
We hear every political pundit saying that Sanders has no chance to be the Democratic nominee and few pundits had given Trump a chance to even get as far as he has, so far. Interestingly enough, many so-called political experts are now starting to hedge on Trump’s chances and even Sanders has surprised many in the latest round of polls. Strange things can happen when the system gets skewed so far off center, as it is right now.
I don’t like to watch political debates, since they are little more than strings of campaign sound bites and personal attacks along the candidates; however, I did recently watch the reruns of the last republican “debate”. It was obvious that the closer to the center of the stage a candidate was placed measured not only his current polling strength, but also his adherence to the tea party conservative line. The only candidates who made statements that seemed to both thoughtful and reasonable in a political environment that is begging for compromise were the politicians relegated to the far ends of the stage. Of course they spent most of the evening off camera.
The decline in civility that has accompanied the ideological split in Washington is also on display during the debates for both parties. Watching the debates, one comes away with the impression that is essentially a contest between a bunch of scum-bags and your choice is which scum-bag you decide to hold your nose and vote for in the primaries. If one believes all of the rhetoric, none of the candidates is trustworthy, none will end up doing what they say that they will do and the country is in grave danger if any of them are elected. Both parties and their stalwarts claim that the other side has run the country into the ground, are providing morally corrupt leadership and will lead to the end of America as we know it if their candidate is elected.
One is reminded, of course that this has always been the case in American politics. From the PhillyMagazine web site comes this (edited for this post) – It all began in 1796, when Alexander Hamilton attacked Thomas Jefferson on the pages in Gazette of the United States, a federalist paper in Philadelphia. Hamilton claimed that Jefferson was having a love affair with one of his slaves (which, of course, turned out to be true). Hamilton went on to call Jefferson a coward. In that same election, Supporters of John Adams also claimed that Jefferson’s election would result in a civil war, that he would free the slaves, and that he was an atheist. As for his supporters, they were “cut-throats who walk in rags and sleep amid filth and vermin.” The language has changed a bit but the vitriol has remained. To read more about Americas history of mudslinging Presidential Campaigns click here.
In the case of our current Presidential campaign one can take offense at the statements being made within or between parties or treat it like the political circus that it is and enjoy it. At least it is somewhat like a modern TV comedy, filled with ridiculous characters sparing with each other with words rather than swords. Like a TV show, or a movie, it requires that you suspend your disbelief for a period and just enjoy it, laugh along and don’t think about the horrible consequences of any of these clowns actually get elected. It’s only a hoot if you don’t stop to cry.