With the political situation this year, I figure it’s time for another post. I know that I’m not good at posting regularly, but this year is just too good to pass up. So here goes.
First off, I have a prediction about the presidential election that I made last year about this time. I predicted that Trump would burn out by December at the latest and it by this time this year, it would be Cruz vs. Clinton. I guess we all know how that turned out.
Watching Trump rise, I realize that one of two things is happening, and I’m not sure which it is. One is good (and I would actually rate it as very good) and the other is very bad.
One possibility is that we have gone so celebrity crazy and politically stupid that society evolved to think that a reality star would be a good choice for a president.
Several years ago, a movie came out named “Idiocracy”. This is NOT a recommendation that you see the movie. It’s not horrible, but it’s not a movie that begs to be seen either. If it weren’t for it’s description of society, I would have completely forgotten it. It shows a possible evolution of our social and political system where intelligent, motivated individuals have few or no children, while the lower economic class (who tend to be less educated and less interested in the political process) continues to produce most of the children. Eventually, this class forms the vast majority of the voting population, and they vote in people who appeal to them. As a result, in the movie, the president of the United States is a professional wrestler who, at the height of his popularity, ran for office and won (and in the movie, this is not a singular event, but is representative of how the elections typically play out in that society).
The similarities are certainly obvious. Trump, coming off a successful and very visible reality TV career, is a perfect fit for the position if this is indeed the evolution that we are seeing. Franky, I see him as no more and no less qualified than the wrestler in the movie. If that is the way we are going, I predict that Kim Kardashian is a great option for Trump’s successor!
That’s possibility number one. The second is what I HOPE is going on. It is the death of the two party system.
For the past several elections, I have observed a strong pendulum effect. When Bush (senior) was in office, by the end of his term, I saw people saying ‘save us from the Republicans’ and Clinton was elected. At the end of his terms, I saw a lot of ‘save us from the Democrats’ and Bush (junior) was elected. Then Obama was elected to save the country from the Republicans again.
And while it is true that there have been some things that a party could point at and say ‘See! Our party is making things better!’, there have been far more that say exactly the opposite. The economy is not better. The national debt has gone up every single year, regardless of party. Civil rights have been trampled, regardless of party. We have been constantly at war, regardless of party. The gap between the wealthy and the poor has grown, regardless of party.
I hope that people are realizing that the pendulum isn’t working. Based on the pendulum, it is the Republican’s turn to win the presidency, but I am hoping that people are so sick of the Republican party that they are saying “I want something different!”. And the one quality that Trump undeniably has is that he is something different. I’m not terribly surprised that the Republican party self destructed first. In the popularity contest side of things, the Republicans have not had a candidate who was good at saying ‘Look how good I am’ for long enough that they have lost support from a sizable portion of their constituency. As a result, along comes a person who’s seemingly only dominant characteristic is that of saying how good he is, and suddenly he’s a front runner!
And another thing I find interesting is how Clinton and Trump are actually benefiting each other. If there is a candidate that would drive the Republican party to band behind a candidate, no matter how poor of a choice he was, it’s Clinton. The Republicans absolutely hate Clinton. Of all of the Democrats who ran this year, her being the front runner has forced Republicans to unite (to some extent) behind their leading candidate, despite the fact that it is Trump.
And the opposite holds true too. Of all the Republican candidates who ran, Trump is the only one who could get the Democrats to unite behind Clinton. The Wall Street Journal shows that the percentage of voters who view the candidates negatively have both Clinton and Trump over 50%. None of the previous 6 front runners (Obama vs. Romney, Kerry vs. Bush, or Bill Clinton vs. Bush) were over 50%. The disapproval of both candidates is high enough that a significant portion of their own party disapproves of them, and yet, Democrats have rallied behind Clinton in large part because ‘anyone is better than Trump’.
In this perfect storm of an election, Trump is Clinton’s number one advantage, and Clinton is Trump’s number one advantage. Take away one and I suspect the other would crumble (or at least it would have if it had happened earlier in the election process).
Back to my second point. If the fact that Trump is the front runner represents the dissatisfaction of republicans with their party, then some good may come from this election. I am waiting anxiously to see what percentage of the popular vote will go to a third party. Anyone who has read any of my blog knows that my vote will be for the Libertarian.
Let me tell you what I HOPE is the result of this election and which I think is at least in the realm of possibility. Obviously, my real hope is that the Libertarian would win, but I am fully aware that that is not realistic.
I hope that the Libertarian party succeeds in getting a lot of attention as a viable alternative to Trump and as a result, an important part of the Republican party deserts Trump to vote third party. I hope that a significant part of the Democratic party, viewing how fragmented the Republican party is no longer feel the need to get out and vote for a candidate that they really do not care for. Due to the dissatisfaction of both parties with their candidates, I hope that the total number of people who vote drops significantly from the last election. Of those that vote, I hope that the Libertarian party gets about 15% of the popular vote, Trump gets about 40% and Clinton gets about 45%.
Even though I predict a Democratic victory, in this best case scenario, I think that the fact that the Democratic party lost so much support, and was barely able to get a victory over a badly fragmented Republican party would signal a huge upheaval in the party, hopefully fragmenting it as well.
And in the aftermath of it all… hopefully we’ll have more than two viable parties.
That’s my hope.