Presidential race ironies and conundrums.
In so many ways this primary season is full of serious, but often amusing, ironies. Mainstream Republican regulars and elected officials might have to run for re-election on a ticket headed by a candidate they not only have distaste for, but likely one whom nearly 2/3s of the general electorate have indicated they disliked. And don’t forget that a not insignificant percentage of the voters simply check off their candidate for President, and then “pull the lever,” or vote for the same party’s nominee for all of the others offices up for election.
Against this backdrop consider the only candidates who presently qualify for nomination (according to the rules, which are susceptible to change at the beginning of the party’s convention), are: Donald Trump, who has insulted almost every known minority (including disabled persons), either directly or indirectly. He has been likened by some of the world leaders to Adolph Hitler, by many others simply as an unsteady bully. 560,000 British citizens signed, and sent to Parliament, a petition to prevent him from entering their country. The other candidate, Ted Cruz, is, simply put, the object of negative emotions from nearly all of his Senate colleagues that range from disgust to outright hatred.
Influential New York Republican Congressman, Peter King, recently was a guest on Morning Joe, a popular television talk show hosted by former conservative “Contract with America” congressman, Joe Scarborough. King responded to a tongue in cheek introduction of him as “Nassau County’s chairman for Ted Cruz,” by saying that lest anyone take Joe seriously: “I am not endorsing Ted Cruz. I hate Ted Cruz and I think I’ll take Cyanide if he ever got the nomination.”
Former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, just Wednesday spoke at Stanford University, and in an inevitable discussion about the 2016 presidential election was asked by history professor emeritus, David M. Kennedy to speak frankly, and Speaker Boehner surely did! Asked about Ted Cruz, Boehner reportedly made a face that couldn’t be misunderstood. And, he was uber frank in describing how he felt about Senator Cruz. Boehner described him as, “Lucifer in the flesh.” He added: “I have Democratic friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more m miserable son of a bitch in my life.”
This is the man who, at least by existing Republican Convention rules, is the only candidate Republicans have to pin their hopes on to defeat Donald Trump.
Lest Democrats be overwhelmed with laughter at the Republican mess, one of their own is in the making. Front runner, and almost surely the Democratic Party nominee, Hillary Clinton, according to all of the polls has “dislikes” that are second only to Trump. Her opponent, Bernie Sanders, is a self-described socialist. While adherence to socialism automatically disqualifies Bernie for most older voters, it apparently is not so for young people, who have to face unbearable costs for a college degree that many scholars (and Bernie Sanders, I should add) feel is about as valuable for gaining a good paying job as a high school degree used to be. A recent poll found that slightly more than half of the young people they interviewed held a dislike for capitalism. This is quite a change from earlier generations but, considering the price of a home today, and the increasing gap between the most wealthy and the rest of our citizenry, I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Nor is it then a surprise that about 80 percent of the Democratic-leaning young people support Bernie.
For his part Sanders’ wife, and spokesman for the Sanders campaign, has repeatedly said that they don’t want to be spoilers for Secretary Clinton. They are also clear that she is vastly more preferable to either Republican hopeful. But they still plan on campaigning to the end to gain every last delegate that they are able to win, in order to help shape the Democratic Party platform at the convention.
At least some of the young who “Feel the Bern” (and older ones as well) are likely to sit this one out rather than vote for Hillary, the more so the further towards the center she moves. About 8 percent even say they will vote for Trump rather than Hillary. Presumably these are simply anti-government types.
Here is the Democrat conundrum that keeps Republican hopes up: Independents lean heavily towards Donald in a Trump-Clinton race. Therefore, in order to win, Hillary will have to run as a moderate, in order to garner disaffected Republicans.But the further to the left that Bernie is able to push the party platform, the less Hillary will be able to attract those Republicans who can’t stand Trump or Cruz. Either way that she turns will lose votes for Clinton.
Hillary is already labelled a “Socialist” by the Republican front-runners. Obviously they recognize her dilemma. I would remind Bernie and his supporters that a platform has no real legislative meaning. You have to win to make changes. Words that cause you to lose are worthless in terms of next Presidential term outcomes. However, I know how useless it is to argue pragmatism to ideologues.