Monday, September 14, 2015

Donald Trump & Bernie Sanders Show the Good, the Bad, & the Ugly of American Politics

I've been trying not to do political posts because there's still over a year until the election and who really cares?  Yet what's going on the last couple of months has been pretty fascinating in that you have two dark horse candidates who have completely taken over the race.

The Republican side has just been ridiculous right from the start.  It seemed every week there was another hat being thrown into the ring, to the point when Fox "News" had a debate they had to actually make it 2 debates, one a "happy hour" debate, which was basically the kiddie table for those candidates with too little support to be allowed on the main stage.

So when Donald Trump, real estate mogul turned reality TV star turned former reality TV star threw his hat into the ring it wasn't a huge surprise.  The big surprise is that he has a huge lead over actual long-time Republicans like Jeb Bush or Scott Walker.

Meanwhile, the Democrat side seemed a cakewalk this time for Hillary Clinton.  There was no young, charismatic candidate like Barack Obama to stand in the way this time of her getting the nomination.  It seemed like no one was seriously even going to challenge her.

And then an elderly independent senator from Vermont named Bernie Sanders began to pick up more and more support.  Between Sanders gaining ground and the Republicans continuing to flog the dead horse of "Benghazi," Hillary probably has to be having visions of another nomination slipping away.  And at her age it's probably her last chance.

So on both sides you have dark horse candidates who seem to have come from nowhere to start changing the game.  The way they're doing it is in some ways similar, though in some ways vastly different.

I've never been a fan of Trump.  It's more than the stupid hair, though like with Bill Shatner, Sean Connery, etc if you're bald why not just man up about it instead of wearing the bad rug?  And like Jeffrey Feiger or Peyton Manning or Bill Gates he's had the same bad look for like 30 years now.  You'd think these rich guys could actually afford stylists, but I guess it's just part of their "image" or something.

Anyway, Trump has always been a huge hypocrite.  He used to put out these books about how awesome and successful he is while he has declared bankruptcy 4 times.  And he's had probably as many wives as Hugh Hefner.

What annoys me is Trump is a symbol of what's wrong with America in general:  he's a loudmouth billionaire who screws over the little guy but has bullied himself into the race thanks to all that money.  They say the first one to mention the Nazis loses an Internet argument but in Trump's case he's borrowing the Hitler playbook of finding a scapegoat for gullible people to focus their fears on.  Only instead of the Jews it's illegal immigrants.  Or maybe I should say he's using the Mayor Quimby playbook because that's exactly what Springfield's mayor did in The Simpsons when he needed to distract people from the costly Bear Patrol fiasco, which nearly led to Apu being deported.  Anyway, the Tea Party and NRA have accomplished a lot by pandering to baseless white redneck fears of "socialism" and Obama taking all the guns away and now Trump is just taking it to another level with all the anti-immigration crap.

Which, look, illegal immigration is a problem, but it's not THE problem Americans should be focusing on.  How about that billionaires like Trump own 95% of the wealth in America?  How about that Obamacare hasn't really fixed health care in America yet?  How about climate change that's creating increasingly uninhabitable conditions?  How about Social Security that will be as bankrupt as Trump's companies have been in the next 20 years?  Or how about that we'll be out of oil in the next 50 years?  These are all serious problems that aren't going to go away by building a completely impractical wall between the US and Mexico.  (And hello, walls never work.  See the Berlin Wall, Great Wall of China, Hadrian's Wall, that wall France built after World War I that did nothing to keep out the Nazis, and so forth.)

You know who actually talks about those issues I mentioned:  Bernie Sanders.  Which is why I like him.  On Yahoo! they had an article about why Bernie is succeeding and I said basically, "Well duh, he's actually talking about real issues that affect the 99%."  You know, instead of pandering to baseless fears of the illegal immigrant bogeyman who will rape your sister, steal your TV, and then blow up the White House.  Of course that fired up the idiots wailing, "Socialism!"  To which I say, "So the fuck what?"  Hello geniuses, countries like China, Japan, Germany, etc. have been kicking our asses for a long time thanks to socialism.  There are a lot of countries that have a much better level education, health care, and standard of living than America because we blindly shout "We're Number One!  Yay, Capitalism!" even when we're not close to #1 because we let people like Trump and the Koch Bros. buy the government to make it work for them instead of us.

The thing is, Bernie Sanders has been a senator for a while so he's not really "one of us" but he's a lot closer to one of us than Trump is.

What both guys have in common is that they are perceived as "straight-shooters."  It's a far cry from the mealy-mouthed, sound bytes for the cameras, try to offend no one stuff you get from Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush.  I think in both cases it's because they don't have to care.  Trump doesn't get the nomination and he's still rich and he'll worm his way back onto TV eventually.  Bernie doesn't get the nomination and he's still a senator and he has still at least made some people actually consider important issues.  Neither one really has to worry (yet) about trying to placate the mass audience.

Michael Offutt suggested Trump is just trolling the Republicans and voters in general with this campaign and in that way maybe paving the way for a Clinton victory.  If only I could buy into that theory.  I think he just saw field with no firm contenders and decided to seize his chance if not for a nomination than at least to get some publicity.  Mission accomplished, right?

They're both also putting their parties on the defensive.  In Trump's case now you have other Republicans trying to out-crazy him on immigration with Jeb Bush trying to trademark "anchor babies" as a term of the children of illegal immigrants born in the US and Ben Carson promising to blow up illegals with drones and Scott Walker vowing to build a fence along the Canadian border to protect us from all the evil French Canadians I guess.  In Bernie's case now Hillary has to actually take positions on liberal issues.  It's also making candidates have to spend more money and time than they probably ever wanted to nearly 14 months before Election Day.

This is a situation you would never see in the UK or Canada where parliamentary elections are just a few weeks long.  Which is what makes American politics so annoying and so fun at the same time.  Of course after all this bickering and grandstanding, it's always kind of disheartening when less than a third of Americans bother to vote.  Maybe that number will be up in 2016; it can't be worse than 2014's turnout numbers.


  1. I was brought up to believe that it's impolite to talk about politics with anyone other than immediate family because it can lead to big arguments and loss of friendships, so when I first joined Facebook it stunned me at how many people share their political views. I'm used to it now of course. I'm an independent voter...I know I'm not voting for Hillary. The whole email thing was just a dumb thing to do and why would she even need to set up her own email for work? Also I am concerned about immigration and the only person who even mentions it is Trump, which makes me think he's the only one who will do something about it. What's the point of having a law if it's not enforced? As for Bernie, I've heard him mention things but not really say any solutions, but I probably need to listen to him more to give him a fair chance. So we will see.

  2. I do think Trump is up to something. Not sure if it has anything to do with Hillary, but it just doesn't seem right. He's most definitely making the upcoming campaign year into a circus. I honestly don't like ANY of the current candidates. Not at all.



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