I’ve come to the decision that the political climate in the United States has nowhere to go but up. I mean, the way this election has built up, I can’t imagine us running a more divisive set of candidates anytime in the foreseeable future, or a situation in which the rhetoric gets any more heated.
We may have finally reached Peak Hitler.
Which is part of the problem, of course. It’s a long-term political blunder made for short-term gains; no matter who wins the White House in this cycle, they’ll have to have a damned-near perfect first term to have a chance of getting reelected, since all the opposing party will have to do is run a half-decent candidate under the slogan “At Least I’m Not Hillary/Trump” and they’ll have a very good chance of unseating the incumbent.
It’s stupid to demonize your opponents. Sure, you get the short-term satisfaction of feeling superior, but realistically it only decreases the odds that you’ll ever be able to bring them around to your point of view. Demonizing their candidate of choice is bad enough, but I’ve seen way too many people of late willing to declare that anyone who votes for the candidate they don’t like is literally a monster and should be shot.
Here’s the thing: sure, Trump is a boor and a jackass and has never learned enough basic social skills to survive a state dinner without sticking his dick in the pie, but he’s got just enough truth in his message to persuade some folks. And sure, Hillary has been a Senator and Secretary of State, but some of the things she’s done to get there, and while in office, are reprehensible and dangerous. So there are enough people out there who won’t vote for Hillary (leaving them in the trap of either voting third party, not voting, or voting for Trump and having their vote actually mean something) for purely rational reasons, even if they are sometimes misguided.
And the reverse is equally true: there are plenty of people who are willing to vote for Hillary because they like what she’s done (in theory) and what she’s saying (in theory) enough to believe that she’ll actually follow through on it, despite substantial evidence to the contrary.
In short, it’s more than just racist rednecks and women voting with their vaginas, and you’d do everyone a favor if you’d stop making that your primary talking point.
The major parties have managed to find themselves in a situation where they’re running some of the worst candidates they’ve ever run (in terms of general popularity and electability), for a variety of reasons, and as a result any candidates in the future will look good by comparison, at least to the opposition and (hopefully) the independents.
I mean, imagine Paul Ryan running against Hillary in 2020, after spending the next four years making sure she doesn’t get a damned thing done (hoping all the while that he disproves Milton Friedman on the topic) while being able to say “Yes, I threw Trump to the wolves and I only ever supported him for the sake of party unity”.
Considerably younger, dynamic, reasonably charismatic, and able to claim the distinction of having (arguably) opposed both of the most hated candidates in living memory?
He’d eat her alive.
Which is why I reiterate that demonizing your opposition to the extent that both sides are currently engaging in is stupid. You leave said opposition in a position where their next candidate is an improvement by default, since you’ve already stated that nothing can be worse than their current one. You either have to repeat the exact same angle of attack next year, with an escalating chance of the voting populace finally recognizing the repeated calls of “Wolf! Wolf!” for exactly what they are, or you find yourself forced to cheerlead for the person you’re trying to defeat.
Those cries of “Wolf!” do more than just hurt your credibility, they damage faith in the system itself. Leaving aside the various shenanigans particularly prevalent this cycle, the public are being told that their opponents are willing to run Literally Hitler and elect them to the highest office in the world, and they’ve seen the same rhetoric repeated often enough that they begin to believe that the game is rigged against them, no matter which side they’re on.
I have to imagine that there are a significant number of people who will quietly file into their voting booths on Election Day and pull the lever for Trump, not because they support him or his hypothetical policies, but because they’re sick to death of the game in its current incarnation and are willing to vote for anyone they believe will shake it up, by intent or accident.
The man is almost certain to be a disaster, at least in terms of international relations, but people seem to care as little about that as they do the fact that, based on her history, Hillary seems almost certain to repeat the mistakes of Dubya and the NeoCons.
Which is part of the irony for me, because while it’s almost impossible for one person to destroy the country, it’s pretty easy for them to fuck up the rest of the world, by action or inaction. Choose to turn a blind eye to aggression that will inevitably end in direct conflict at a later date, or commit yourself to a fight that forces you do skip the one that really matters, and the outcome is the same.
I’d be a bit more sanguine about the situation if there weren’t a very good chance that China will finally make their move in the South China Sea sometime in the next 4-8 years. With Trump being a blowhard, and Hillary probably getting us tied down in someone else’s civil war, I can see way too many ways in which either of the candidates would screw the situation up beyond repair in a godawful hurry. To further complicate matters we’ve got a resurgent Russia, a disintegrating EU, and an exploding Middle East, all at the same time.
We’re likely moving into one of the most sensitive times in the last fifty years, and we’re stuck with choosing between a con man overly concerned about public perception regarding the size of his penis, and a woman who apparently never learned that sticking your dick in a hornets’ nest just gets you stung.
I fear for the future.