Category Archives: US Politics

#GOPDebate – The Second Night at the Clown House

I will be very brief here. I watched both of the 2016 U.S. Republican primary debates on CNN on Wednesday, September 16, 2015.

The first debate, featuring Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Jon Gilmore, and George Pataki, was more substantive and more revealing, in some ways. What did it reveal? Graham knows the demographic challenges of the GOP and he knows the chances of the GOP winning in 2016 are low if young people, single women, and people of color come out in the same numbers that they did in 2008. Graham’s responses were the most rooted in reality. This is scary because his comments were only loosely rooted in reality. It’s all relative when your talking about the GOP. However, No one candidate from the first debate has any real chance of becoming president. Also: Bobby Jindal said he was more angry at his party then the Democratic party. It’s become a truism that the left is divided and this is why it loses. However, ever since we saw the rise of the Tea Party wing of the GOP, we are totally seeing a deep fracture opening up full of infighting. Jindal embodies this divide in everything he says. Speaking of divide? Trump.

The second debate featured eleven candidates; too many to name them all right here because I promised myself – and you the reader – that this will be very brief. After a couple days of reflecting, here is who I think did the best and who did the worst.

I posted this on Facebook even before the debate was over:

“Who will gain in the polls? Fiorina, Christie, Kasich, Trump annnnnd maybe Rubio.

Who will lose? Jeb, Jeb, Jeb, Jeb, Carson

Who? Huckabee, Rand, Cruz, Walker.”

It looks like the consensus is that Fiorina won the debate and Jeb, Walker, and Huckabee did the worst. The latest polls show Carson gaining; Trump holding steady; and basically everyone else staying right where they were including Bush. In my opinion, Jeb Bush is the ultimate loser because, like I wrote regarding the first debate, Bush needs to crush it and he was embarrassing to watch.

My 2016 prediction that I have been saying to friends is a Rubio/Kasich ticket – I still think Rubio will be on the ticket, either as the presidential candidate or the vice president. Kasich? Eh. Probably not. I saw a couple of people mention a Rubio/Fiorina ticket which is horrifying because that might be their best chance. Ultimately, I don’t think any of these candidates can win a general election against any of the Democratic field. 2016 will we determined by who goes to the polls.

On Bernie – and Trump- as Third Party Candidates

People who want Bernie Sanders to run as an Independent do not understand political dynamics and even the fundamental and intrinsic qualities of our first-past-the-post electoral system. If Bernie ran as an Independent he would certainly take votes away from the Democrat – Hillary Clinton, let’s be honest – and this would increase the chances that a Republican would win. For this same reason, I certainly hope Donald Trump runs as an Independent because he would strictly take votes away from the Republican – Scott Walker/Jeb Bush, let’s be frank. Chris Hedges, who I read and who I admire, is one prominent voice calling for Sanders to run as an independent. Hedges says to vote for the Green party candidate, Jill Stein. This is why the left loses. Jill Stein literally has no chance of winning as a third party candidate and “protest votes” are basically votes for the candidate that ends up winning the election.

You aren’t “pure” or staying above the mud when you vote for a third party; you are throwing away your vote and allowing everyone else to play politics for you. We are all complicit in the laws and elected officials we get. Even if you do not believe in voting, since voting happens, neglecting this responsibility is a bad move. In Sanders’ own words: “I won’t be a spoiler.” Sanders is running to win and he also is running because we “need a political revolution;” again his words. Before I go, a brief paragraph or two about the last time a third party candidate had a shot

In 1992, Ross Perot received 19% of the vote (by the way: only 55% of registered voters came to the polls) and many blamed him for the George H. W. Bush loss. Perot definitely took more votes from the Republican than the Democrat. This scared the two major parties. What happened afterwards? The Federal Election Commission (F.E.C.), created in 1975 (as a response to Watergate) to formalize campaign procedures, and staffed by Democrats and Republicans “raised ballot access requirements” which effectively shut third party candidates out of debates. The current chair commissioner, Ann M. Ravel, has even called the F.E.C. “worse than dysfunctional,” in an recent interview. She came to the F.E.C. with hopes of reform; she has now publicly given that up for 2016.

I voted for Jill Stein in 2012 because I live in Missouri and I knew that Mitt Romney was going to win. At that time I told myself that I couldn’t vote for someone who uses drones to kill people halfway across the world. I don’t feel good for that vote because symbolic gestures are simply that; ephemeral, and basically impotent. If Missouri would have been a swing state I would have voted for Barack Obama, regardless. Practicing purity politics has never been and will never be good politics. Those willing to get dirty win; the Right has built their entire apparatus on mud-slinging. The Tea Party decided to run candidates – not as a third party mind you – and Occupiers decided to…well…use the people’s mic and form consensus-circles. We see how that worked out.

Changing the Democratic party from within might be fruitless; changing the party from outside will be an abject failure. Politics don’t work as many think they should; they work as they always have. A third party effort will never succeed unless our political system is completely transformed. That is not happening any time soon.

Bernie Sanders should remain a Democratic candidate and lets all hope that Trump does run as an independent and acts as a spoiler to the Republican  party – because we cannot afford another Republican president. There is a difference and lives are literally at stake.