Politics: Lights! Camera! Live!

TVThis blog has not opined too deeply into current presidential politics. This has more to do with the fact all the presumptive nominees have yet to be decided. By I read New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman’s article “Clinton’s Fibs, and Her Opponents’ Double Whoppers” with interest:

“… while Hillary’s struggles with the whole truth on certain issues have garnered huge attention, driving up her negatives, Trump and Bernie Sanders have been getting away with some full Burger King Double Whoppers that will come crashing down on the whole country if either gets the chance to do what he says.”

Both Trump and Sanders appear to come from opposite sides of the same coin. Each claims political mobilization, but beyond the veneer, little appears to have changed. Neither candidate has generated real mobilization.

Real political mobilization is about getting constituents to become voters, voters to become activists and activists to become candidates. It has yet to be seen if the extreme ideas proposed by either Sanders or Trump can transform the electorate and drive public policy at the state and local level. If what has been reported is accurate, the Vermont senator has not drawn as large crowds to his events in predominantly African-American neighborhoods. Sanders may resonate in some places, but certainly not all.

Additionally, Trump has only garnered roughly 11,500,000 primary votes while Sanders has netted about 10,000,000. Contrast that to 2012, when President Barack Obama received 65,915,796 general election votes. To be elected the 45th president, each must compete on a political map that, for now, looks forbidding. This means both Trump and Sanders will require not only all their primary voters, but also an additional 50 – 55 million more voters.

First take-away: political challenges are huge.

When Republicans took control of the House, America experienced two of the least productive Congresses in history. Strangely, this happened after we elected a group of politicians to government who openly stated that they hated government. In a Trump victory, Trump must navigate the reality of political tide. Numerically speaking, there’s only 24 Republican and 10 Democratic seats up for reelection in 2016. As of this writing, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, both Bush presidents, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Former GOP Mitt Romney, and former Florida Sen. and former RNC chairman Mel Martinez rejects the idea of voting for Trump.

If Sanders wins, he’ll have to go it alone.  With a veto-proof Senate and a majority in the House of Representatives, President Obama had to battle those who were grotesquely entrenched in their own special interests.  At a time when affordable health care, a democratic priority, should have been a slam-dunk, President Obama was forced to scale back his plan.  Universal health care was never an option and even the public option (Medicare/Medicaid) was seen as “too radical.”  In the end, it took every single ounce of support to pass the Affordable Care Act, without a single vote from Republicans in the Senate as well as 35 Democrats refusing to support it in the House.

Then there are economic realities.

Trump’s border wall will encompass many subplots. If erected, trade routes will shut down, water rites and land contested and industries wouldn’t be able to export products. The economies of both El Paso and Ciudad Juárez would take major hits. For Sanders, the issue of wealth and income inequality is the great moral issue of our time, it is the great economic issue of our time, and it is the great political issue of our time. Yet many economists claim Sanders fiscal policies reside in fantasy-land. Sanders critics claim there is little credible economic research supporting claimed economic benefits.

Neither candidate has politically mobilized constituents to become voters, voters to become activists and activists to become candidates. Freidman got it right.

“All lying in politics is not created equal. I think the ideology Bernie is selling is fanciful, but underlying it is a moral critique of modern capitalism that has merit and deserves to be heard. But Bernie is not being truthful about the costs. What is grating about Hillary is that her prevarications seem so unnecessary and often insult our intelligence. But they are not about existential issues. As for Trump, his lies are industrial size and often contradict each other. But there is no theory behind his lies, except what will advance him, which is why Trump is only scary if he wins. Otherwise, his candidacy will leave no ideas behind. It will just be a reality TV show that got canceled.”

Then again, I believe all most Americans want is a TV show. If we’re not careful, that’s what we’ll get.



Categories: Life Lessons

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1 reply

  1. “In early chapters of this book America is given a not very attractive part. I have imagined the triumph of the cruder sort of Americanism over all that is best and most promising in American culture. May this not occur in the real world! But since the possibility of such an issue is admitted even by many Americans themselves, I shall, I hope be forgiven for emphazing it, and using it as an early turning point in the long drama of Man.”
    Olaf Stapledon, “Last and First Men” – 1930

    From the introduction of a speculative sci-fi book written in 1930. Olaf, you nailed it!

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