Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Political Desk: Public Service Announcement

The big thing about the upcoming primary are candidates who are not even on the ballot. The presidential candidates cast a long shadow over the proceedings. What's going on with them affects what is going to happen downballot. So let's talk about the elephant (and the donkey) in the room, and also warn all as to my political leanings.

First off, I have to come clean and tell you how much I admire the current guy in charge. The past eight years, while a challenge, have been SO much better than the previous eight. Mr. Obama has done a fantastic job. ACA is still alive, Bin Laden is still dead. Economy has recovered well enough to make people worry about the next recession, Armed forces out of the mideast (yet, hang on,going back again), and the administration has been relatively scandal free (though insufficiently transparent). Voted for him. Would vote for him again. Seriously.

Unfortunately, that's not an option. The Democrat choice for president is former Senator, former Secretary of State, former First Lady Hillary Clinton, who is OK. When push came to shove I voted for Mr. Sanders, but I would be happy with Ms. Clinton in the position. I've watched her in debates and listened to her, and while I don't agree with her on all things, I agree with her on more than enough, and think she'd be a fine choice.

And this is not a hold-your-nose vote. This is, however, a hold-their-feet-to-the-fire vote. I'm voting her in, then I'm going to agitate for her to deliver. Even when someone you LIKE gets into office, there's this doubt that they will make good on their promises. I'm willing to push it. This is OK, because if elected, she will be the most watch-dogged presidency ever.

Ms. Clinton comes in with thirty some years of people trying to send her up the river. There is an entire industry dedicated to showing that she is evil, hates America, and rips the tags off mattresses. Yet every one of these scandals always seems to peter out into a fragrant cloud of "Well, she must be up to SOMETHING". But nothing ever sticks, which either means that she's generally OK, or that those who are chasing her are complete incompetents who should never be left near the mechanisms of political power. And I'm good with her administration being the most tightly scrutinized in history - during the debates she literally could not go to the bathroom with it becoming part of the next day's news cycle. Vote for her and keep an eye on the silverware.
OK, she looks good in this one. And yes, this photo has kicked
off another investigation.

Downside? Most of the time she can't take a good picture. Seriously, I watched the debates and she came across as a serious candidate who is knowledgable and interacts well with an audience, and then someone prints a still photo from the same event and it looks like she's about to unleash the flying monkeys. OK, that's going to make things going tough as well.

But, if you cannot stand Ms. Clinton (And I can grok that, though you're wrong), may I recommend presumptive candidate Jill Stein of the Green Party? Strong progressive chops, not as much experience as the Senator from Vermont had, and some wonky views (she's anti-vaxx). Unfortunately, she belongs to a minor party, which means that when the media shows up, it is to interview the guy with a boot on his head, and when the candidate is covered, it is because she's said something outrageous. Take a look beneath the surface, and see if Ms. Stein works for you. Do not operate heavy machinery after considering Ms. Stein. If Ms. Stein causes side effects, sit down until the dizziness passes. Do not taunt Ms. Stein.

Over on the Republican side, it is not so much holding your nose as it's donning a full radiation suit and warming up the decontamination chamber. Mr. Trump is woefully incompetent candidate who would be a woefully incompetent president. I've been listening to the reason people give for his candidacy, and they both hilarious and frightening. "He's getting better." "He's going to learn on the job." "He'll have good people to explain things." and the all-time favorite "How bad could it be?" Sounds like he's getting an employee review after six months working the fryalator at Burger King.

I AM pretty chuffed by the fact that I'm not one of those bloggers who feel obligated to report EVERY stupid thing Mr. Trump says, because I already have a full-time job. It seems that his strategy is to "Flood the Zone." Say SO many stupid things that you can't clear one up before he's five more ahead of you.

I think the biggest thing worrying progressives in all this is that Americans may actually get the leadership they deserve. That would keep me up nights.

OK, let's say you're not a die-hard progressive, Ms Clinton feels more centrist but you don't trust her, and Mr. Trump makes you break out in hives. May I strongly recommend you check out the Libertarians?

Like the Greens, the Libertarians are a minor party that normally shows up on the evening news because one of the delegates performed a strip tease instead of giving a speech at the convention. But they, without much fuss and bother, picked a couple good candidates for President and Veep - Gary Johnson of New Mexico and William Webb of Massachusetts. Both are former Republican Governors, but they are ones that actually fall into the "Sane" category, and failed to completely bankrupt their states when they were in office. Both of them also look like Sam Waterston from Law & Order.

Seriously, this may be the moment to be a Libertarian. I'm not voting for them, because I don't like them on issues, and  "Not as crazy as the GOP" is praising with faint damns, but you should take a look.

And I'll be frank, the other option is none-of-the-above. Usually I'm of the "If you don't vote, you can't complain" school, but this year, I'll give dispensation in this race. Go ahead, DON'T vote for president if you feel the need, but vote from everything else. You can even still complain. I'll still mock you, but you can complain.

OK, I've gotten all THAT off my chest. Let's get down to brass tacks. More later.