The Candidates from both political parties have completed a number of debates and also some TV Town Halls. The Republican debates have been considered more dramatic by American viewers, so they have had larger audiences.
It is important to keep in mind that only Republicans are voting for Republican candidates and that their debates and current actions are aimed at being chosen as the Republican candidate at the Nominating Convention in late July and conversely only Democrats are voting for their candidates for the same reason. The debates are a means for each to demonstrate his/her ability and political position. The public is getting a view of all the candidates so that they can make up their minds about the candidates of both parties. Only one will emerge from each party and the voters will have a choice as to whom they want to be President over the next four years.
For those who like drama, the Republican debates have been more interesting because their leading candidate, Donald Trump, will say almost anything and often does so. At least he did so in the earlier debates. In the first one he verbally attacked one of the female reporters who was asking questions. Apparently he didn’t like her question. In the other debates he tended to verbally attack the other Republican candidates. The Democratic debates dealt with issues concerning the nation only and didn’t get as many million people watching them.
The Democratic Town Halls, having different people in the audience asking questions, had both candidates, each using half the time. The Republican Town Halls have had only one of the possible candidates taking questions from an audience.
On the Saturday, February 20th the Democrats held a Caucus and the Republicans a Debate in South Carolina. Of the remaining six potential candidates in the Republican debate, Donald Trump was the winner by about ten points. He had 32.5% if the Republican vote. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were second and third, separated by two tenths of a point, 22.5% and 22.3%. John Kasich and Jeb Bush were tied for fourth with 7.8% of the vote each and Ben Carson came in last. Bush suspended his campaign after dropping lower than he had been in his prior debate. In the Democratic primary Hillary Clinton won 52.7% of the Democratic vote and Bernie Sanders got 47.2%.
There is an interesting psychological phenomena at work when it comes to choosing the candidates to support in the election. It seems that there are two kinds of people, one that lives in the right now and one that makes most decisions with an eye toward the future. The first group is instantly taking satisfaction from immediately solving or seeming to solve a problem. They will similarly handle all other problems when they come along in the future. And the second group who deal with everything with an eye to the future.
The first group would be backers of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. These are the protest candidates for the two major political parties, who are the living symbols for the dissatisfied generally silent majorities in both parties, who have been duly voting for their political candidates over the years and getting nothing in return. To the blue collar, and, I would suspect, in most cases, the gun loving and/or evangelicals, who could never find themselves in a position to vote Democratic, Trump represents their basic attitudes, prejudices, and beliefs. He will, in their minds, to quote him, “Make America Great Again.”
He also gives them an innate satisfaction when they listen to him because he expresses what they feel and believe. Presumably he represents smaller government, that is: getting government out of everyone’s lives, and lower taxes. He is the protest candidate who will lower their taxes, increase the military, beat-up the terrorists, make America feared by every other country on the planet, actually make The U.S. the bully of the world. His words themselves give these people a sense of satisfaction.
In order to solve the illegal immigration problem Trump will also build a high wall separating the United States from Mexico that he says will be paid for by Mexico; deducted from money the United States owes Mexico. Governments do not lend or give money generally to other countries. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that Mexico lent or gave money to the U. S. that the American Government has to return. If there is an imbalance of trade and Mexicans are selling more to American businesses than Mexican businesses are buying from the U.S. then those are arrangements between Mexican individuals and companies and American individuals and companies. There is no legal way that our government can seize any of those funds to pay for a border wall, unless suddenly extremely high taxes are placed upon all trade between the two countries,
A good percentage of the blue collar Republicans and Evangelicals have constantly given their vote to the Republican Party but have not, like the wealthy upper percentile, really gotten anything for their continued allegiance to the party. Trump is their hero. He will give them, this silent majority to the right, true justice, make the Republican Party mean something to Blue Collar and Evangelical America.
Of course all this rests on the proposition that we were great before, forgetting the fact that U.S. foreign policy under George W. Bush was a joke to most of the world. The United States invaded Iraq because of a lie pushed by Bush and his administration. The U.S. was then able to bribe some of the smaller nations with massive aid contributions to join into a sort of wartime coalition to look for “weapons of mass destruction,” which never existed. The Bush White House, while serving as sheriff of the Middle East destabilized the entire region and through its actions indirectly helped establish the growth of the terrorist organizations like ISIS.
Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Socialist who is registered as an Independent but caucuses with the Democrats, is the other left extreme of Donald Trump. Trump is on the far reactionary right while Bernie Sanders is on the far radical left. They are both appealing to people, who are in the main, are either disgusted with Washington politics that seems to promise everything during elections and deliver nothing during the course of the elected term. Both candidates are promising the world if elected.
Sanders is promising free education through college and free medical coverage for everyone as a right. He says he will pay for these by taxing Wall Street for speculative spending. What is speculative spending? I suppose it’s any investment, buying or selling stock or property. That would certainly raise the price of every stock or property bought or sold.
In both the Scandinavian countries and the rest of Europe the population gets free medical care by paying heavier taxes than we do in the United States. The public shares in the paying of the “free” medical care with increased taxes.
The same can be said for public education which goes from kindergarten through college, if the student is qualified. In the United States education is a right that everyone has through high school. While there are public colleges and universities they still have a cost factor for the participant. In Europe education is free but it has to be earned. A student moves from level to level by continually proving his/her capability to function on a higher level. If a student cannot pass the examinations they are shunted to vocational training and an exit from the school system. This also is paid for by increased taxes shared by all the taxpayers.
My feeling is that most people actually agree with Bernie Sanders. The model he is using is Scandinavian Socialism which also exists in most European and successful Asian countries. Even Hillary Clinton likes what Bernie is representing. But is it real in the United States? Can he do it if he is elected President without massively raising taxes? Most Americans are complaining that the current tax system is too high. For that matter is what Donald Trump says he is going to do real?
First off: What is the power of the President? If elected can he decree free education or universal medical care? Or, for that matter, a great wall between the United States and Mexico?
The answer to all of these changes is NO. The President is the elected Chief Administrator of the laws passed by Congress and himself. His major function is to carry out the laws and keep the country functioning. He can issue Executive Orders; but these are not laws. His legislative powers are almost nonexistent. The President can recommend and negotiate with Congress or veto a bill; but that is the full extent of his legislative powers.
Bernie Sanders has called for a Populist Revolution. Donald Trump has not. Unless the one who gets elected has an overwhelming majority in both Houses of Congress, well over 50% in the House and a super majority of 60 or more Senators he will be extremely frustrated in office, feeling he is totally unable to bring about or, for that matter, even begin his program.
In fact the probability is that regardless of who is elected as President the House of Representatives will, in all probability, have a slight Republican majority because of gerrymandering, having the voting districts set up in the states to benefit one particular political party. This was done in 2010 by the Republicans and will not be redone until 2020 when the next population census occurs. In the 2014 Midterm Election for the House of Representatives 1¼ million addition votes were cast for Democratic candidates, over what the Republicans received, but the Republicans still maintained the majority in the House.
The Senate will probably end up in 2016 with a slight Democratic majority, since i/3d of the Senate will be up for reelection. The Senators are elected by all the voters of each state. Since the Democrats are the majority party the Senate will probably be returned to Democratic control by a slight majority. And there is a very high probability that Congress will again be gridlocked from 2017 through 2020. The only candidate who might get some legislation through, and that by constant “horse trading” is Hillary Rodham Clinton. The next four years are not going to be a fun time!
It has been my observation that there is one very important point that everyone seems to ignore in every major election. How many people were fourteen to just short of eighteen during the prior Presidential Election four years earlier? The number has to be, in this country of over 350 million people, somewhere in the millions. These youngsters come to the election generally with a certain amount of disgust. They’ve heard their parents, relatives, and others continually complain about deadlock in Washington, D.C. and gridlock when it comes to passing necessary laws. And, of course, the loud complaints by the Republicans about the Democrats. They may have learned about the principles of government in high school; but the country doesn’t seem to be operating that way. To them someone like Bernie Sanders would be a living symbol of hope. Watching him at his televised rallies one sees a lot of young faces wanting a positive future.
The same can be said for President Barack Obama back in 2008 when he first ran for the presidency. His slogan was: “It’s time for a change.” But Barack Obama inherited the beginnings of a major depression from George W. Bush. He spent his first two years in office avoiding a depression that would have been greater than the Great Depression of 1929 and he helped pass a universal type health law, the Affordable Health Care Law. Two year later in 2010 the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives and Congress would function from 2011 on in a state of gridlock with nothing positive happening. The young voters and minorities stayed at home on election days because they had not seen the change they wanted. Changes had occurred that saved the country but they had been largely invisible. The Republicans stayed in control of the House of Representatives. The Senate in 2014 was also taken over by the Republicans because people did not vote and there was some Republican suppression of the vote.
The noted economist, Paul Klugman, called Sander’s view of the changes he wants to bring about “fantasy economics.” I strongly suspect that Sanders was shocked or amazed at the reception he got for his bid for the presidency. He was used to being a voice of protest in the Congress for a large number of years. He no doubt expected to be a Democratic Socialist protest candidate. With the reception his campaign has and is receiving he talks about a Revolution that he’ll bring about. By “Revolution” Bernie Sanders means that the majority of the people will verbally rise up and force their legislators to pass the laws he is talking about.
If 74 year old Bernie Sanders were to be elected President of the United States he would spend four years in total frustration because no part of his program will happen with a Republican controlled House of Representatives. Probably very little would happen with a fully controlled Democratic Congress.
Change occurs slowly. Public colleges were essentially free when I went to one of them in the 1950s. Since then life has become more expensive and complicated. I remember my parents in the 1940s taking their children to the doctor when they were sick and paying for the visits and for the prescriptions. They spent far less providing medical care for themselves and three children than I spend now at Kaiser with full Medicare. And that does not include what we spend on my wife who also has full Medicare.
The House of Representatives will probably remain Republican because of gerrymandering and the Senate may return to Democratic control. Twenty-four Republican Senators will be standing an election. Many of them are in swing states which could go either way. This would be particularly true if the Republicans gain bad publicity by impeding the functioning of the government by not holding hearings for the vacancy on the Supreme Court or doing some other outlandish things.
Essentially for four years Sanders will face Congressional gridlock. If he survives the four years in which he will be largely helpless to bring about any kind of change then he will be 79 at the end of his term in office. If anything conditions may well get worse that they are now. And 79 is longer than most people live, particularly men.
Looking at the current five remaining Republican candidates, that’s five out of the original twelve or so. Bush is gone; he has suspended his campaign after spending 70 million dollars. Mainly that leaves Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz. Of the remaining two, John Kasich may be looking forward to a possible Vice-Presidency and Ben Carson seems to be along for the ride. I understand he is also selling an autobiography and doing book signings along the way.
Chris Mathews called the Thursday night, February 25, Debate a meeting of “The Three Stodges.” Trump, Cruz, and Rubio spent most of their time verbally attacking one another. Usually two of them were talking at the same time and most of what they said was incomprehensible; it’s difficult to understand what’s being said when two people are continually talking loudly at the same time. They gave an outstanding performance of how a President should not act.
Both Rubio and Cruz are Tea Party Republicans. Strange to say Trump seems to be the most liberal among the three who are now considered serious candidates. Both Trump and Cruz are considered unacceptable to the Party leadership but the Party has no mechanism to get rid of them, at least not until the Party Convention. Some Republican Party leaders have said that if Trump becomes President it would be a total disaster and that it could destroy the Republican Party.
Both Ohio Governor John Kasich and Dr. Ben Carson were also in the Debate but they did not have much to say. Of the five, Kasich appeared mostly as a President should, but he ranked only at 9 plus percent among the Republican voters of Texas.
As a sort of footnote it is worth observing what the Republicans in Congress are doing about the public protest of their actions over the last six years. Many of the Blue Collar Republicans are supporting Donald Trump to demonstrate their betrayal by the Republican Congress. The Republican leadership objects to him. The least the Republican led Congress can do is to hold hearing concerning their needs and wants. But instead they are doing nothing, essentially ignoring the protest and objecting to Trump. It is business as usual, expecting to get reelected and continue representing the upper 1% of the country.