Ah, the spectacle of U.S. elections! While the current show has been ongoing for some time, with the landscape already littered with candidate has-beens, the official opening night occurred on February 1, with the first-in-the-nation caucuses in Iowa. From there, the circus goes on the road, crisscrossing the country as each of the clowns publicly interviews to be the new master of ceremonies for that most tragic of tragic-comedies, the United States.
The pundits are agog over the results of the Iowa show. On the Republican side, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, detested by even his conservative Republican colleagues in the senate, stole the show from that master showman, business billionaire blowhard Donald Trump.
And things were no less exciting on the Democratic side, where former crown princess Hillary Clinton, riding in on her golden thoroughbred horse with ‘I$rael’ painted proudly on its side, left the ring a bit tattered, not having vanquished her primary opponent, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. Mrs. Clinton was victorious by less than one percentage point; hardly a mandate by anyone’s definition. Mr. Sanders can certainly claim a victory of sorts, considering that he was 30% behind in polling just a few short months ago.
And now we are told that, on the Republican side, Mr. Cruz is the man to beat. Yes, with about 180,000 Iowa Republicans voting, and about 50,000 of them casting their ballot for the abrasive Texan, the stage is now set, we are told, for him to sweep the south, win the nomination, and then go down to humiliating defeat in November. It is said that, should he actually be nominated, he would be the most conservative candidate since Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater ran against the incumbent and incompetent president, Lyndon Johnson, in 1964. We will provide a very brief history lesson here, by saying that not only was there never a President Goldwater, but that the hapless senator lost in the largest landslide in U.S. history up to that time.
And what about on the Democratic side? Mrs. Clinton, dragging with her more baggage than a freight train, may have eked out a win by a fraction of a percentage point. Hardly an auspicious beginning for her most recent quest to purchase a four-year, renewable lease on the White House. And the next harbinger of what is to come, which could change all the ‘wisdom’ being spewed out of the mouths of self-proclaimed ‘political analysts’, is the bellweather state of New Hampshire, next-door- neighbor to Mr. Sanders’ own Vermont. Riding a not-too-impressive victory, Mrs. Clinton may have a more difficult time triumphing in the Green Mountain state than she did in Iowa, and that was no easy feat.
Does anyone but this writer hear faint echoes of the primaries of elections past? So many of the same players: Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio on the Republican side, and that perennial candidate, the Harold Stassen of the twenty-first century, Hillary Clinton for the Democrats. And let’s not forget Mr. Sanders, who came within a hair’s breadth of defeating Mrs. Clinton, and is poised to do just that in New Hampshire. Yes, at 74, he can proudly wear the mantle of youthful change agent. Just what the world needs!
To think that the country will be subjected to this circus for the next nine months is almost too much to bear. What can we expect? Let’s look at the past, to see if we can determine the future.
Ted Cruz: In July, Mr. Cruz, always ready to jump onto whatever radical right-wing bandwagon happens to be rolling by at the moment, expressed his horror about secretly taken videos, purporting to show Planned Parenthood physicans bargaining for the sale of aborted body parts. That these videos, like others produced by the same organization, had been so heavily edited as to remove any credibility from them, is not something to be considered by Mr. Cruz. He would remove all government funding of Planned Parenthood, depriving millions of poor women from access to basic health care. This is not surprising, since he has vowed to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), should he be elected president. Why just deprive poor women of health care, when one can prevent the poor and much of the middle class from access to it?
Donald Trump: ‘The Donald’, as he is bizarrely known, has earned his spot as a top tier candidate by appealing to the basest instincts of the most ignorant of voters. His wish to ban Muslims, his statements about shooting deserter Bowe Burghdahl, and his obvious disdain of women, have all brought him notoriety and popularity with a population for whom popularity, in any respectable quarter, is considered a disgrace. But if it translates to votes, which it apparently does, he’s all for it. So we can expect more of the same: more fostering of Islamophobia, more encouragement of xenophobia, and more hate-filled speech, the kind that nearly got him banned from the United Kingdom.
Hillary Clinton: Mrs. Clinton has long been blinded by dollar signs, so while she will proclaim to have achieved a great victory in Iowa (winning by less than a percentage point), she will not feel a need to do anything different, other than spend even more money. She will proclaim her dubious credentials, express her great love and devotion to Israel, and ask her Israeli supporters to open their purses just a bit wider. After all, the presidency doesn’t come cheap. What do they think the U.S. is? A democracy? Please!
Bernie Sanders: What can we expect from ‘the Bern’? More talk about the unfair privilege of banks at the expense of university students. Nothing to argue with there. But probably less talk about his beloved drones, and the need to bomb ISIS, since he knows Mrs. Clinton is still running from her 2002 vote to authorize the destruction of Iraq and the destabilization of the Middle East. And what if one of those pesky pro-Palestinians should show up at one of his town halls again? Really, one must not do anything to jeopardize the Jewish vote, despite the fact that U.S. citizens, including Jews, are fast losing patience with Zionism. But let us not be too concerned about that; the U.S. is always the last to condemn human rights violations if doing so would somehow displease one of its dual masters (money and power), so the less said about Palestine, the better.
Watching from Canada (hardly a Utopian society, with a Prime Minister who came to power on the strength of his late father’s name, and could be a slightly left leaning Republican if he were a politician in the U.S.), where this writer fled the Bush regime years ago, he marvels that the current menu of candidates is the best the U.S. has to offer. Ted Cruz? Donald Trump? Hillary Clinton? Bernie Sanders? Not a restaurant he wishes to patronize, by any means.
When, in the U.S., did grandstanding become a substitute for whatever once passed for statesmanship? When did sound bites replace policy statements? When did some semblance of an independent media succumb to the corporate-owned version we see today? And why has the populace not only accepted it, but apparently embraced it?
As this writer reads the policy platform of Green Party Candidate Jill Stein, he marvels that her sensible words can be ignored. But he sometimes momentarily forgets that the U.S. is an oligarchy, where the rich run the show and the rest of the people are only there to serve. If the U.S. ever had the potential to be a working, successful democracy, that potential long ago faded into oblivion, never to return. A government originally designed for and by the people (as long as they were white, male and landowners) is now for sale to the highest bidder. And the tragedy perpetuates, in yet another election farce.