Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Great American Vote-Off 2016

I used to hate politics. Mostly because I didn't understand it, partly because it seemed irrelevant, a little because it was cool to be "jaded" about it. (You know, when you're so young that you're jaded about everything.) I voted for the first time in the 2000 presidential election at 18 years old, following the sage advice of my dear Republican parents ("Just tick all the Rs"), which meant, yes, I helped Dubya get into office.
Then I buggered off to the UK and left y'all to it.  

In the UK, as a non-citizen indefinite-leave-to-remain resident, I had no voting rights, so I paid little attention to British politics either. Besides, things seemed to be going better over there, what with free health care and all that, so it didn't matter much to me if we were Tories or Labour - I was getting socialized medicine and child benefit! (I was not, on the other hand, eligible for most other social programs, like the dole.)  

Then the SNP started talking about actually holding the referendum they'd promised when they first came into power, and I started paying a little more attention. There had been a council tax freeze, thanks to the SNP? Oh, England doesn't get free prescriptions like Scotland? Nick Clegg wasn't the saviour the Lib Dems thought he'd be? Hmm. I'm possibly quite in favour of this idea of independence.

(Like all the u's I did there, as I reverted to British English?)

And then I buggered back off to the US and left y'all to it. Not that it mattered; I couldn't vote in the referendum anyway. I could only cheer my support and hope someone cared what the American thought about Scottish independence.

I came back to America much more open-eyed politically than I'd left it. I'd lived socialism up close and personal; I'd seen the benefits and the pitfalls. I had also looked at America through American eyes and a foreigner's; I recognized our strengths and our weaknesses.

Upon returning to the States, I decided it was time to get involved in politics. I dove into research for the gubernatorial primaries and elections in 2014. I started reading about budgets and spending, foreign policy, tax revenues, social issues, environmental issues, immigration. I started talking to people about these things, listening and arguing (usually not both at the same time), trying to understand.

(Let me add here, that in this time, I discovered Bernie Sanders and was already a fan and Facebook follower well before he announced he was running for President.)

I am still learning and still listening. (Sometimes, still arguing.) I have much to learn, but I'm in it now.  And now, all my political self-education leads me to this critical point in history, and I have to ask:

Are the presidential elections always this insane?

I keep hearing everyone say "all bets are off" with this one. Everyone's saying this is the strangest election cycle in a long time. Part of me wonders if this is just near-sighted, past-forgetting, hyperactive hysteria, or if no, really, this is madness.

I mean, the front-runner of the Republican party makes public remarks about a woman "bleeding out of her whatever", wanting to punch protesters, how he could shoot someone and still have followers, how much he loves "the poorly educated" because he won their vote, that all Mexican immigrants are murderers and rapists (sorry, "some are probably okay") and calls for Muslims to be banned from the country, and voters are flocking to the polls to vote for him. Then trailing a sad ways behind him are a myriad of unlikely characters, of which only one - maybe two - actually seem like real people and not drawings in a bitterly sarcastic political cartoon. 

On the other side, we have a woman who is pretty well reviled amongst virtually all Republicans (and a fair number of Democrats) and an elderly socialist from Vermont of all places. (I recently had to look up Vermont on a US map, because I literally wasn't sure where it was.) I'm a Democrat, and I will strongly support either candidate because I think they would both make great leaders, but even I can admit they must look just as insane to Republicans as the current GOP lineup looks to me.

Any combination of this motley crew brings up multiple question marks. How on earth is this election going to go? I have no idea. Trump v. Clinton?  Cruz v. Sanders? Rubio v. Clinton/Sanders ticket v. wounded third party candidate Trump? How do you even predict outcomes like these?

One thing is for sure.  This election hasn't been much about "politics".  The issues I've been spending so much time researching seem to come up much less than, say, how many lies so-and-so has told, how many flip-flops so-and-so has made, how much so-and-so hates so-and-so, and how so-and-so is "the only person on this stage who".  I'm referring to both parties here, having watched a majority of both parties' debates. Are they usually so full of vitriol, ignorant rhetoric and blind partisanship?

(I'm going to go with "yes" here. I'm going to go with "this is why young people are jaded about politics even before they're old enough to vote in a general election". I'm going to go with "that's why there are so many bitterly sarcastic cartoons out there".)

One more thing is for sure.  No matter who wins this next presidential election, the future of American politics and its parties are going to change drastically. Or is that what they say every four years? I guess we're about to find out.


  1. I think it is terrifying that Trump is doing as well as he is. I have voted Republican because I am pro-life, but I do not think I could ever vote for Trump, even if he said he were pro-life, which he probably has, because he says anything and everything and why anyone would ever believe anything that came out of his mouth is unfathomable to me. I absolutely could never vote for Hillary because she is just as untruthful as Trump, although probably more politically correct in what she says most of the time. She considers herself to be above the law, and in her experience her consideration has proven valid; she seems to be allowed to function outside the law. This is just as terrifying to me as Trump. I think Sanders is likely the most authentic in his portrayal of who he is and what he stands for, but I don't think many of the things he wants to do would be ultimately good for our country (free college, for instance). If it comes down to Sanders and Trump, I might vote dem for the first time in my life. I dislike Trump that much.

    Wish it was Kasich or Rubio vs. O'Malley. Then I might not be quite so afraid.

    1. I'd have been okay(ish) with Bush. Or Rand Paul. Kasich at a strong push. But beyond that... nope! O'Malley would've actually been pretty good. He had my vote until Sanders joined the race. Sorry, O'Malley.

    2. I'm not actually opposed to socialized medicine. What I saw of O'Malley, I liked, but I can't say that I was well informed. I think both Trump and Hillary are assiduously evil, will say anything or do anything to get what they want, and more than untrustworthy, actually dangerous. I find Cruz grating and unlikeable, unkind, not trustworthy. Rubio is better than Cruz or Trump, but (even though I am a Christian) I feel as though he is trying to run for pastor of the United States, rather than President of the United States, and that doesn't sit well for me. Bush was an inarticulate, slow-thinking, well-meaning bumbler. Carson is also inarticulate, but I think he is very intelligent behind the slow speech, would make smart appointments, and probably would do the job very well, but I don't think he has enough presence to be electable. Kasich would be the best bet for the Republicans, probably, and he has a good record behind him. However, I think with Trump in the race, a Democrat is bound to win, because Trump will split the Republicans whether they endorse him or not. Trump in the race is almost a guarantee that a Democrat will win, and sometimes I almost wonder if Hillary planted him in the race herself. Hillary scares me to death. I cannot understand why a Democrat would vote for her any more than I can understand why a Republican would vote for Trump. These are not safe people.

    3. My opinion of Hillary is she is an every day politician. She is a politician through and through. And therefore, all the stereotypes apply. However, her party policies align more closely to mine (though are still, in my opinion, extremely conservative) than anyone on the Republican side. I don't necessarily wish to vote for the Politician with a capital P, but if it comes down to it, I think she'll stick generally to the party line and therefore do less damage (in my opinion) than someone like Cruz or Trump or even Rubio. Trump, on the other hand, has no idea what his party policies are, or even what his own policies are, or how to accomplish either. THAT is what blows my mind about people voting for him. He literally does not have a clue what he is talking about or what he talked about last week.

      I agree, too, that Cruz is trying to be Pastor of the United States, which puts true religious liberty at risk, for all those who are not of his religion.

      While Rubio is not who I'd want to see President (I don't agree with ANY of his policies), he would be the least destructive of the Republican frontrunners. Kasich would probably do all right, but he's so far behind, I don't think he has a shot.

      Sanders has my vote, not because I think he will be able to accomplish all he wants to accomplish - most would never get past Congress - but because he has a clean record, a lifetime of leadership and legislative experience, is trustworthy, and believes in the same kind of ideals that I believe in. Those ideals, I recognize however, are precisely what make the Right afraid of him.

      It's a crazy, crazy situation.

  2. Well, I think I would be pretty happy if Sanders could beat out Hillary. I would definitely vote for him over Trump. If it comes down to Trump v Hillary, I honestly do not know what I will do, and that seems the most likely scenario, barring a miracle. I'm praying for a miracle.


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