January 31, 2016
CATCHING UP: I know, the actual presidential campaign began last summer, or even earlier, but I make it a point to ignore the preliminary silliness. So, as the Iowa caucuses are about to begin (tomorrow!), I suppose it's time for me to make a few observations on this blog. (Facebook has largely, but not entirely, superseded my expression of opinions on the Internet.) In my interactions with other politically-minded people, I often ridiculed the idea that Donald Trump might be a serious presidential candidate, but after several months, his lead in the polls appears to be solid. Whether or not he in fact is a serious candidate, Trump has a better chance of winning the Republican nomination than anyone else at this point.
For what it's worth, here are my favorite (Republican) candidates
There's no point in listing the other candidates, from my point of view. I simply can't see any circumstances under which I would vote for either of the top two Republican candidates, and indeed I am open to the idea of voting for a third party candidate for the first time since 1992. (!) Neither Michael Bloomberg (former New York mayor) nor James Webb (former senator from Virginia) hold any appeal for me, however.
And on the topic of Donald Trump, who has a chronic problem with "verbal diarrhea," I'd just like to point out that Megyn Kelly of Fox News is a top-notch professional journalist. Trump is a jerk, to put it mildly, and there was no reason for Fox to try to persuade him to reconsider boycotting the last GOP candidates' "debate."
In the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer discussed the "three-cornered fight" within the GOP, warning that the party faces a disaster if it succumbs to "the temptation of trading in a century of conservatism for Trumpism." To me, it is so obvious that Trump falls outside the parameters of conservatism that it doesn't need to be said. The fact that so many people on the right nevertheless think that he is a conservative savior in the mold of Ronald Reagan is deeply disturbing to me. Reagan had a solid, length record of responsible public service, while Trump has none at all. He is a loud, foul-mouthed demagogue who could be described as fascist. In Krauthammer's mind (and in mine), Ted Cruz is no better. Indeed, the GOP is on the brink of a meltdown as the dominant "grassroots base" faction pursues its goal of getting rid of the few remaining "RINOs" in the party -- Eric Cantor in 2014 being a perfect example of that.
In a similar vein, The Atlantic Monthly takes a look at the upcoming pivotal South Carolina primary: "Portrait of a Party on the Verge of Coming Apart." In a way it's too bad that the possibility of a brokered convention next summer is regarded by so many people as a bad thing. In my view, negotiations and compromises among the factions that comprise a party are perfectly normal.
Of course, I have unique insights on what went wrong with the Grand Old Party, having served on the Staunton Republican Committee for several years. I think the reasons for my non-involvement should be obvious to everyone who is acquainted with the Virginia political scene. I have made it a point to refrain from calling out the various kooks, extremists, and rogue elements in the party, in hopes that those in a position of responsibility would eventually wise up to what I had been warning them about. Some of them are wising up now, but it may be too late...
On the Democratic side, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) is mounting a surprisingly effective campaign against the presumptive nominee, Hillary Rodham Clinton. In a refreshing break with the past, he has proudly identified himself as a socialist, and he declines to say anything about his religious beliefs. (I'm fine with keeping politics separate from religion, but I would prefer a candidate who sincerely adheres to Christian beliefs and values.) As long as the Republicans control Congress, there's not much chance that a President Sanders could lead the United States on a course toward socialism. But, as the Trump Phenomenon shows, politics in this country is extremely volatile right now, and any number of big surprises could await us in November.
Every week there are more revelations about the classified information that was stored on her e-mail server, in clear violation of the law. Will she be indicted during the primary campaign? Not if the Obama administration can put enough pressure on middle-level prosecuting attorneys in the Justice Department.
The last time I wrote a blog post about politics was June 30, 2015: "Emmett Hanger wins GOP primary election." If the long intervening time isn't an indication of my utter disgust and alienation from party politics, I don't know what is.