The entertaining reality show known as the United States presidential candidate nominating process is in full swing, more than a year before the election. Those on the Republican side (aka Tweedle-Dum) have delivered two amazing performances, while those on the Democratic side (aka Tweedle-Dee) have yet to show off their dubious skills. The number of Republicans wishing to take the nomination crown is so vast that only the top ten (!) are able to participate in what each party terms a debate. And as a special bonus, because two of them are tied in the polls, the country was subjected to eleven in the second debate.
So, what is it that these debates accomplish? Well, in actuality, not much. For anyone who watched the most recent debacle (oops! That should be ‘debate’) there was not much that any thinking person could take from it, to help him or her formulate an opinion. There was Carly Fiorina, former Chief Executive Office of Hewlett-Packard, criticizing Planned Parenthood, based on ‘undercover’ films taken by anti-abortion groups. The fact that these films are said to have been so heavily edited as to render them worthless was not deemed necessary to the discussion. They prove, Ms. Fiorina darkly warned, Planned Parenthood’s nefarious dealings in human body parts. But this is the same woman who proclaims her great success as the CEO of HP. Sure, she laid off 30,000 employees, but, hey, if it benefited the corporate bottom line, what’s a few thousand ruined lives? And is it really necessary to state that the value of the company declined significantly during her tenure? She worked hard! What else matters? And when she left, leaving the detritus of a once-thriving company in her wake, she pocketed about $40 million as her ‘golden parachute’. She needed that money for her failed 2010 campaign for the California senate seat; of the $21 million she spent on that campaign, at least $5 million came from her own, very ample purse. One wonders how much of her own money she will spend attempting to buy a four-year lease on the White House.
Governor Chris Christie, the obnoxious blowhard from New Jersey, accused Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton (please don’t get this writer started on her) of endorsing “the systematic murder of children in the womb” in such a way as to best preserve their body parts for sale. This, of course, refers to those so-called undercover videos that have been through the editor’s room a bit too often to have any remaining value. But if it plays well to the far right, then they just keep saying it.
Businessman and entertainer Donald Trump again endorsed building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico; in the U.S., he proclaimed, we speak English, not Spanish. Ms. Fiorina was quick to point out that she has been talking about the immigration ‘problem’ for years.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio addressed the water shortage in California, where the debate was held, by bringing his own bottle of water. Perhaps that was all he could think of to add to the conversation.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee were among the candidates who referred to Kim Davis, the Kentucky County clerk who was jailed briefly for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Mr. Jindal said, remarkably, that the most severe discrimination within the U.S. today is that against Christian businesses. Mr. Huckabee went so far as to say that the courts are criminalizing Christianity.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush made perhaps the most astounding statement of the evening. In response to Mr. Trump’s comment that he opposed the invasion of Iraq, Mr. Bush said that his brother, former president George Bush ‘kept us safe’. Perhaps Mr. Bush forgets that the September 11 attack on the U.S. happened when his brother was president. Or perhaps he has forgotten the several thousand U.S. soldiers who died as a result of his ill-advised, illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq. But no matter; facts are not something that the Tweedle-Dums take any more seriously than the Tweedle-Dees.
However, it is not accurate to say that nothing can be learned from this debate. It is possible to glean what the GOP platform may look like, based on these early performances.
Immigration: like former candidate Mitt Romney’s wish to get immigrants to ‘self-deport’, immigrants will have no friend in whoever is eventually nominated. Any talk from four years ago about the GOP taking a more inclusive stance was just idle chatter.
Militarism: with praise for former President George Bush’s foreign policies, the world can expect more war, more weaponry, more deaths and more global hatred of the U.S.
Women: less than 4% of Planned Parenthood’s budget goes to abortion services. The remainder is for other health services. Screenings for breast cancer and sexually transmitted diseases are among the services it provides, mostly to poor and lower-income women. A Republican platform will eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, these services.
Civil Rights: Although marriage equality is now legal in all fifty states, this doesn’t sit well with the candidates. Efforts to remove that right will be ongoing under a GOP president. Efforts to establish the U.S. as a ‘Christian’ nation will be made by people who endorse a brand of Christianity that Jesus Christ wouldn’t recognize.
Corporations: lower taxes and less regulation for corporations will at least ensure that the campaign contributions from them continue to flow in unabated.
Sadly, things do not look bright on the Tweedle-Dee side either. Mrs. Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, both considered front-runners for the Democratic nomination, are products and endorsers of corporate profits, militarism and Zionists, each of which has no connection to basic human rights and dignity.
So in the Republican debates, the multitudinous candidates will criticize and insult each other as they pander to the worst instincts of the most narrow-minded of voters. The Democrats will pretend to offer an alternative, highlighting differences in the areas of marriage equality and women’s issues, while camouflaging the similarities in their view of corporations, taxes and militarism. This time around, no one is chanting the alluring mantra of change, used so successfully by President Barack Obama in 2008. No fantasy can be effectively utilized within so short a period of time as eight years.
Looking for any real change in the current two-party system is fruitless. Unfortunately, that is what the government and corporate American wants, so that is what will continue to be served up to the U.S. electorate.