Although one would not have thought it possible, the bizarre world of United States politics just gets curiouser and curiouser, as Alice was said to have commented before tumbling down the rabbit hole. Have we not all followed her? Not by choice; oh no! Few of us have willing made the trek into that dark abyss, but we seem to find ourselves there anyway.
In describing the amazing and fantastic situation the hapless U.S. finds itself in, it is difficult to know where to start. Difficult, indeed, but not impossible.
With an approaching election, we will start with the Democrats. No less than twenty current or former elected officials have tossed their hats into the crowded ring, each, apparently, feeling that he or she is the natural leader to usher the nation out of the dark days of Donald Trump. The current front-runner is none other than the aging, verbally-clumsy former senator and vice-president, Joe Biden. For eight years he managed to keep a low profile (thankfully), overshadowed by that charismatic orator, President Barack Obama. Biden’s verbal gaffes during that time were mainly overlooked; who really cared what he said, when one could listen to the glowing, albeit empty, oratory of the president?
Close behind him is the Socialist senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, from whom the nomination that he now seeks was stolen four years ago by the very party he hopes to represent. At that time, the Party bigwigs had all determined that Hillary Clinton, former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State, a politician whose corruption and hubris know no bounds, was to be installed in the White House. So Sanders, despite his popularity with the enthusiastic grass roots, had to be defeated. He was, due to political machinations within the Democratic Party (thanks in large part to Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Shultz), and Clinton was nominated, thereby alienating a large segment of the base, and giving the presidency to a reality show host.
But the cast of characters is far more colorful than two old, white men who have been around, it seems, since the beginning of time. We have New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the nation’s pharmaceutical industry. There is Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who relentlessly grills Wall St. executives about their corruption, thus making excellent news coverage, but not really changing anything. There is California Senator Kamala Harris, who believes in freedom, human rights, international law and democracy, unless any of those very nice things happens to be inconvenient; say, for example, if they should somehow displease apartheid Israel. If that’s the case, she is happy to dismiss them. And the first gay man to be considered a serious contender for the nomination, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has strongly condemned any suggestion that Israel annex any part of the West Bank, but continues to support that apartheid nation in all other ways.
In any normal society, any one of the above-mentioned candidates could be selected by drawing straws, and would be expected to soundly defeat the current incumbent. Donald Trump’s record as president is hardly sterling: he has withdrawn from several international treaties, thus violating both international and domestic law (things he seems to hold in complete disdain), thus reducing the security not just of the U.S., but of the entire world. He has rolled back environmental protections; given enormous tax breaks to the people and corporations that least need them, while basically ignoring those that do; he has made racism fashionable again, and endorsed misogyny, Islamophobia and homophobia. He has alienated the U.S. closest and oldest allies (not necessarily a bad thing in the big picture), and brought the world closer to war than it’s been in recent memory.
Would not the average person vote for ANYONE to rid the nation and the world of such a menace? One might possibly be excused for electing him in 2016; Clinton is one of the most polarizing candidates since the days when George Washington was accused of chopping down a cherry tree. But after two years, surely, even Joe Biden is a better choice for president (disclosure: this writer has no intention of voting for any of the candidates currently vying for the Democratic nod; he is more than happy to find a third-party candidate to support with his time, money and vote).
In an ideal world, some Democrat would capture the imagination of the Party. He or she would boldly discuss policies the people want: domestically, he/she would propose sensible gun control; health care for all; racial equality; significant investment in schools and infrastructure. On the world stage, this imaginary candidate would promise an end to support of apartheid Israel; the closing of the nearly 1,000 U.S. military bases around the world; an immediate end to the war in Afghanistan; the rejoining of the Paris Climate Accord, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and the nuclear missile treaty with Russia (INF).
But such a candidate would not have to check every word before its spoken to assure that it doesn’t offend some wealthy organization that funds his/her campaign. Current candidates must ask themselves: would such statements cause funding from the National Rifle Association (NRA) to dry up? Would anything he/she said irritate the American-Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC), thus causing that powerful lobby group to funnel funds to an opponent? Would support of Black Lives Matter (BLM) turn away rich, old, white voters?
What is needed is integrity, but it should not be sought from the current crop of candidates; it is unlikely that anyone in the Democratic Party could display this particular trait. The Republicans have long since surrendered even any pretense of it.
So the average voters seems to be stuck with a very unappealing crop of candidates if they want to defeat the menace to society who currently has his finger on the nuclear button. But perhaps things aren’t so bad; more officials may decide to declare their candidacy (heaven help us all!).
No, a fundamental change in U.S. governance is required. The 200+ year-long experiment in a twisted version of democracy has failed, the capitalist model that is so worshiped by successful capitalists leaves the vast majority behind, and the next election will bring us all ‘same-old, same-old’.
One looks in vain for the change that is required within the United States. It is not on the near horizon, and an election wherein the only choices are a Republican and a Democrat will only continue the world-wide, U.S.-caused suffering.