The Clown Car Loads for a Second Run

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2016 was the year that a megaton of TNT was tossed into the political process. Not only were there the rumors of the “rigging” of the process in the Democratic Party (unfounded since one candidate racked up FOUR MILLION VOTES more than the runner-up) but there was the shitshow that was the GOP primary. At one point during the primaries, 17 people were running from the Republican Party for the nomination. Only a scant two years later, it seems that we’ve learned nothing from the past as the clown car loads up for a second run, this time on the Democratic side.

The 2020 race began literally on Inauguration Day 2017. In arguably one of the earliest ever announcements of intent to run, Orange Foolius opened his 2020 reelection campaign THE DAY HE SAT DOWN IN THE WHITE HOUSE. No previous president had EVER taken this unfathomable step, simply because it is a ludicrous idea from the start (what is did was allow Orange Foolius and his sycophants in the “conservative” GOP the ability to worship their god – money and donations from billionaires). The Democrats haven’t done much better, however, they just simply waited until after the 2018 midterms – and the drubbing the Democrats handed to the “conservatives” of the GOP – before they put the makeup, clown shoes and squeaky horns into practice.

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More than 18 months prior to Election Day 2020, the Democratic Clown Car is loading up with buffoons, pretenders and a few contenders. As of today, 20 potential contenders from the Democratic Party have said they are tossing their hat in the ring, with Massachusetts Representative Seth Moulton becoming the latest candidate. This isn’t counting former Vice President Joe Biden, who is supposed to announce some time this week his intentions, or the ghastly specter of Hillary Clinton that keeps hovering in the background waiting for attention. By Memorial Day, it is possible that there could be maybe 25 candidates that have announced for the Democrats.

It has literally become comical watching the Democrats scramble to find footing in the race. What isn’t comical, however, is the pressure it puts on the voters to find a viable candidate. On CNN on Monday, FIVE of these candidates – Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, California Senator Kamala Harris and South Bend, IN, mayor Pete Buttigieg – will have hour-long “Town Hall” meetings that will “break them out of the crowd.” The reason that is in parenthesis is that the only reason they’re doing it is for 1) filling programming time on CNN, and 2) trying to get people to like them.

One of the things about politics is that there are USUALLY protocols that are set in place and for a good reason. Newcomers to any political faction – be it a political party or an elected body on a local, state or national level – usually start out in a what was derogatorily called the “back bench,” waiting their time and learning as they help to advance the party and their platform and positions. But, in the 21st century, that has been thrown out the window, first by the GOP and now by the Dems.

It is a complete waste of time to have anything beyond 10 candidates FOR ANYTHING, let alone leadership of the free world and one of the most prosperous countries on the planet. It is arguable that the GOP process in 2016, which didn’t allow people to coalesce around a candidate that was, you know, a functioning adult with an education beyond a five-year-old, contributed to who they eventually nominated. The 16-person GOP Clown Car allowed for the party to be usurped by a fascist fuck with massive personality disorders and a Twitter fix that constantly must be fed along with his bloated ego.

The same thing could very well happen to the Democrats come 2020. Without the ability to actually focus on a small group – let’s say five to six candidates – there may be either a candidate that isn’t qualified or an extremist to sneak through the cracks and earn the nomination. Then the Dems would become no better than the current “conservatives” who suckle at the teat of Orange Foolius – afraid to offend the person lest they lose their support and unable to operate because of the outlandishness of what the person wants to do.

At this point – and there is a LONG fucking way to go, people – these are the top three candidates that are the MOST VIABLE from the Democratic Party:

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Joe Biden – Has the gravitas of a statesman, can cooperate with the middle and some “conservatives” and regain the respect the country once had before the jackass that’s sitting in the chair now (and I’ll say this now…when he leaves, I can guaran-fucking-tee there’s not going to be the traditional letter than the preceding President leaves for his successor). Cons: his age, some of his past stances on subjects like prison reform, the Anita Hill case and corporate involvement in elections.

BernieSanders

Bernie Sanders – Although I don’t personally like him, he has been able to build a strong coalition that sometimes outthinks themselves. Really, folks…do you think you’re going to get any action on what you want with a “conservative” in the office (then VOTE BLUE, you stupid fucks!)? Cons: not very convincing in how he’s going to pay for all the progressive programs he wants to enact, his past socialist stance (only recently has he moved to “democratic socialist”), his non-Democrat status (you want to run for the leadership of the party but you discard them when they aren’t useful to you?), his age, his professorial tone…do I need to keep going?

Beto O' Rourke

Beto O’Rourke – Beto’s been losing some steam of late – that’s going to happen in a 25-person race. But he’s captured people much like Barack Obama did. That’s also part of his cons: he is inexperienced, he hasn’t provided any substance to what he stands for and it isn’t known how well he works outside of TX.

Going beyond these three and it gets a bit murky. Harris is a solid, middle of the road Democrat that could be a viable contender but would probably make a much better VP or Attorney General. Buttigieg is the “wild card” in the field, gaining ground right now but with little known about him (and seriously, his best elected office is mayor of a small Midwestern town? The biggest things South Bend is known for is being home to the University of Notre Dame, not exactly giving you foreign policy gravitas despite his ability to learn foreign languages). And, if I had to pick a sixth, I’d go with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, who has just enough experience to be viable and to make him dangerous if he were to win.

The rest? They will be fortunate to have “former 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate” on their resumes when their obituaries are written, because that’s about the only impact they are going to have on the campaign. Klobuchar? Nobody wants Meryl Streep’s character from The Devil Wears Prada in the White House. Gabbard? Would be a Republican if she knew she’d get elected in Hawaii. Gillibrand? Three words…railroaded Al Franken. Warren? We tried Hillary Clinton in 2016…do we want Hillary 2.0? Hickenlooper? Castro? Messam? Inslee? Swalwell? WHO???

I know the purpose of the primary is to winnow the field to the best possible candidate. But the purpose of the primary is also to choose from a VIABLE field of candidates. Two-thirds of the 2020 Democratic field doesn’t have a chance in hell of earning the nomination or, better yet, defeating the embarrassment currently playing more golf than Tiger Woods. To be able to choose, you must be able to focus on who is actually worthy of the office.

There’s a long time to go in this race, however. Perhaps before the first debates begin in June, the pretenders will realize the futility of their efforts and back out of the race (but I’m not holding my breath on it). But it can be said that the Democratic Clown Car for 2020 is rapidly filling up and it doesn’t bode well for their overall program.

 

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What to Expect at the First Democratic Debate

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Just when you thought that the political world had calmed down, the first of a planned six debates from the Democratic Party will be held on Tuesday night in Las Vegas. The five announced candidates – former New York Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, current Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, former Rhode Island Senator and Governor Lincoln Chafee and former Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb – will take the stage around 9PM Eastern Time on Tuesday night at the Wynn Las Vegas, presenting their reasoning for being the party’s selection for the 2016 Presidential nomination. It may not be as visually exciting as what the Republican Party have been able to put on in their previous two clashes, with their myriad of candidates all saying the same thing but trying to sound different, but these debates are just as important as those on the GOP side.

With President Barack Obama heading off into the sunset following his two terms in office, it is up to one of these five people to try to maintain the legacy of the Democratic Party for several reasons. One, the next President will probably have at least one and potentially as many as three Supreme Court justices to name in their 4-8 year term, basically allowing for a reshaping of the Court towards a more conservative or liberal bend. Two, if the next President is one of these Democrats, they will be able to firmly ensconce the Affordable Care Act – “ObamaCare” to many – as the “law of the land” and make it even more difficult to take away through repeal as it becomes more entrenched in the U. S. psyche. And three, the Democrats would be able to maintain the current foreign policy viewpoint of diplomacy before dominance – the major difference between them and the GOP, who want a war on all days that end in a “y.”

Anyone who says that the Democrats didn’t think that this would be a simple coronation for Clinton on the way to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July 2016 would be out-and-out lying. After getting stunningly pummeled in 2008 by Obama, Clinton did her duty in first accepting the Secretary of State role in the Obama Administration and then in not trying to usurp Obama is 2012. Her reward for this party loyalty was supposed to be a free pass to the Democratic nomination in 2016 but, along the way to the coronation party, someone threw a huge monkey wrench in the plans.

Sanders, the genial, grandfatherly Senator from the Northeast who calls himself a “democratic socialist,” has been stealing a great deal of Clinton’s thunder, especially in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Part of the appeal of Sanders has been his Quixotic-tilt against the uber-rich, banks and corporations, which has struck a chord with the young and the downtrodden. His firm stance against all military action in the Middle East has also drawn comparisons of Sanders to fellow Kentucky Senator and Presidential hopeful Rand Paul – you know, back when Rand Paul was cool before he became a Republican.

Sanders has become so popular with some Democrats that the threats against Clinton in the early primary states have forced her into campaigning much sooner than she would like to have done. The Clinton team is looking to get her through the first few primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, ready to take a second place finish behind Sanders, and prepare for the “SEC Primaries” at the beginning of March in the South, a traditional stronghold of the Clintons that would allow her to be able to thwart a Sanders attack through numerous victories.

There are a few differences between Clinton and Sanders, but there is more diversity when you toss the other candidates in the mix. O’Malley is a “law and order” type that, as mayor of Baltimore, was able to lower crime rates and improve the city’s image (it is also alleged that the tactics employed by O’Malley – the “stop and frisk” utilized by police officers, in particular, where officers could stop anyone for investigation despite not visually committing a crime – were a major impetus for the Baltimore riots of earlier this summer). Chafee is a former Republican who first became an independent before moving to the Democratic Party, while Webb is almost a DINO (Democrat in Name Only) as he supports the “close the border first, then maybe amnesty” program popular with Republicans as well as reining in the Environmental Protection Agency and its regulatory authority.

The 800-pound gorilla in the room will be the specter of current Vice President Joe Biden. Supposedly considering a third run for President, Biden has not committed to this debate as of Monday, but CNN has stated that a podium will be on hand should Biden state he wants to take part in the festivities. With Biden polling better than Sanders (but still behind Clinton), Biden would be an immediate (and strong) challenger to Clinton, forcing her to fend off not only Sanders but also Biden.

What exactly is going to happen in the debate? First off, Sanders and Clinton – and throw Biden into the mix should he show up – will not attack each other as the GOP candidates did in their second debate. First, moderator Anderson Cooper and his panelists, CNN reporter/anchor Dana Bash, CNN anchor Don Lemon and CNN en Espanol’s Juan Carlos Lopez, are not going to ask the “challenging” questions that saw the Republicans rip into each other during their debates. “I think it’s just as interesting to kind of learn about some of these candidates who the American public doesn’t really know much about,” Cooper stated in an interview on CNN’s Reliable Sources over the weekend, “as it is to hear from some of the candidates you do.”

There has also been a remarkable bonhomie between Sanders and Clinton in that they haven’t brought the knives out against each other. Sanders, in particular, has been given multiple opportunities to rip into Clinton over a variety of problems she has faced (her private e-mail server, her work with the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative and how it affected her time as Secretary of State, her vote for the Iraq War in 2003, etc.), but he has refused to do any mudslinging and instead concentrated on his message. That is a bit refreshing in this current day and age of politics.

Both Clinton and Sanders are going to continue with their own presentations of what their plans as President will be, which differ in some areas. Sanders in particular has made many suggestions regarding what he would do as President – free college for all students, raising the minimum wage to $15 nationwide, universal health care (going beyond ObamaCare) – but he will also have to answer about how he’s going to pay for those things; if Sanders’ plan to increase taxes on the 1% (for your information, that would be anyone who makes more than $344,000) and reduce military spending doesn’t stand up to the scrutiny, then his other plans won’t be taken seriously.

The ones who have nothing to lose are O’Malley, Chafee and Webb. Any airtime they get during the debates would be welcome as the three men currently are barely even making an impact on the polls (Webb is averaging .9%, O’Malley .6% and Chafee .2%, according to Real Clear Politics and their national polls). They also have to make viewers/voters remember them, so taking some shots at Clinton, Sanders and/or Biden (if he shows up and he’s polling at 18.6%) might help them out. If these candidates can’t get a bump out of this debate, they may not get another shot at the next debate in November, especially if Biden announces a run for the Presidency and their numbers stay the same.

One thing that will NOT happen is any of the candidates making a serious faux pas. All of them are experienced debaters and, as such, will be able to withstand the slings and arrows that come from their opponents. Only the introduction of Biden into the mix (due to preparation by the candidates for those that are currently on the dais and not an 11th hour introduction of another player) or a change in tactics by Sanders regarding his “no mudslinging” tactics with Clinton might change the game.

It might not be as electric as the GOP debates have been to this point, but the Democratic debate should provide viewers/voters with more substantive information on the candidates. It will also mark the drive towards next November when the next President of the United States will be chosen.

Why Does Pope Francis Have Such a Positive Effect on People?

If you’ve been here any length of time, you know by this point that I have, at best, an arm’s length relationship with religion. From the start, I have yet to find a religion that has a basis in fact. When I say fact, it has to have a scientific base to it. I refuse to have my intelligence insulted into thinking that the Earth is 10,000 years old, that man walked with the dinosaurs and has ruled the planet over the last 6000 years. There’s also that dichotomy between a Supreme Being that is supposed to “love you” but, if you don’t follow His laws to the letter, will cast into a fiery pit to roast for all eternity, but that’s a minor point. Let’s just leave it that religion and I have several areas we would need to work on if there was to be any contemplations.

This isn’t meant to imply that I don’t know my share about many of the major religions around the world and even some of the minor ones. Catholicism was one of those that has always interested me because there is so little effort made to change it from the pagan days of Roman mythology. Whereas Christianity brought about the birth of Jesus on December 25 to coincide with the pagan celebrations of the Winter Solstice (Bible scholars believe that Jesus Christ was either born in the spring or the fall, with fall much more likely – September 25 is a more accurate date to some), Catholicism doesn’t even try to hide their “patron saints,” basing them on the Roman gods and goddesses that populated the polytheistic religion that preceded them. As to the “God of gods,” ancient Romans looked to the deity Jupiter; to watch over the “patron saints,” there was, well…God.

Catholicism, with its roughly 1.13 billion followers (that’s the number the Vatican, the base for the Church of Rome and Catholicism, offers), is the second largest religious base in the world behind only Islam (I am separating Catholicism from Christianity because there are major differences between the two in my opinion; for the sake of argument, if you combine Catholicism and Christianity they are larger than Islam by number of followers). In the United States, 69.4 million citizens recognize themselves as Catholic, making them the largest denomination in the country. The Catholic faith has permeated U. S. society and government, with our current Vice President Joe Biden, the Speaker of the House John Boehner, six of the nine Supreme Court justices (including Chief Justice John Roberts) and a majority of the members of Congress and the state’s Governors worshipping as Catholics.

Therefore, it isn’t that surprising the attention that the papal visit of the current Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, to the United States has captured. Every major news network covered Pope Francis’ arrival in the U. S. on Wednesday (from Cuba, interestingly enough…a country that the U. S. just recently reestablished diplomatic ties with that was aided by this current Pope) with a fervor that is usually reserved for the British monarchy (that one I can’t even figure out). On Thursday, his address to Congress was “must see” television, as was his departure for New York City and more meetings. But what has been especially interesting – and I can honestly say that I am counted in this area – is the effect that Pope Francis’ visit has had on those of us with a skewed view of religion.

To say that Pope Francis isn’t a change from the past…oh, 2000 years?…of papal history would be the understatement of several millennia. Pope Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is the first Pope from the Western Hemisphere in the over 2000-year history of the Catholic Church, the first non-European pope since 741 A.D. and the first Jesuit pope in history…that’s quite a few firsts on the docket already. Where Pope Francis has been able to further separate himself, however, is in his words and actions, which are probably the things that make him appealing to non-religious people.

Because of his Jesuit background that has an emphasis on social justice, Pope Francis – perhaps the least gaudily clad Pope in my lifetime, eschewing any gold jewelry or other finery unlike past Popes – has put an emphasis on working with the poor and bringing their standard of living out of the sewer from where it exists in many parts of the world. Sometimes this has caused Pope Francis to rail against “greed” and the pursuit of money over anything else in life. The Pope wasn’t the one who came up with this…it is part of the teachings of the Bible, the book that many claim to follow but when asked to put into practice decide to forget the sections they don’t agree with.

Pope Francis also recently released an encyclical (a papal comment on Catholic doctrine) that discussed global warming. Saying that humans and their lifestyles are causing increased problems with the situation, Pope Francis directed people to take an appreciation of their planet as they are “stewards of the Earth.” Once again, this isn’t anything radical (unlike what some might say), this is something that is in the Bible and a challenge to humanity to not fuck up the only place that they can live.

For myself, the biggest thing that Pope Francis did was today. In Washington, D. C., following his speech to the U. S. Congress, the schedule had Pope Francis having a high powered lunch with the leaders of both parties of the House and Senate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, as well as other Congressional staffers. Instead of noshing with these “power brokers,” Pope Francis did what a man of God would do:  turned them down and headed to lunch with 200 people at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, including some who were homeless or in need of the services of the organization.

The ability of Pope Francis to not only take the examples put into the Bible – love thy neighbor, reach out to those less fortunate, be a good caretaker of life and your surroundings (I could go on, but you get the idea) – but also to buck the trends of some in his own Church to politicize many of the beliefs of Catholicism (if there was ever a day to bring back the Papal food tester to make sure Pope Francis’ food wasn’t tainted, these days would be it). When some religious conservatives even have issues with what Pope Francis says, then he must be on the right track somewhere.

In my lifetime, this is only the second time that a religious figure has been able to impress me on any level. The first person was Billy Graham, who was able to look past religious beliefs and speak directly to whoever was listening about the word of God. Sure, Graham was a Christian but his sermons could be heard by, respected and learned from by anyone from any denomination or from no denomination at all (his son Franklin, on the other hand, has almost blasphemed the Graham name). Until Pope Francis came along (this Pope seems to have the same ability to get people to listen to what he’s saying), Graham was the only religious person whose viewpoint I actually respected.

This doesn’t give pass to the Catholic Church on some of their other subjects, however. The Vatican Bank is one of the largest in the world, with assets conservatively estimated at $5 billion, along with art treasures that the world has never seen. Property owned by the Catholic Church is worth well into the billions. The Vatican Library has documents that potentially could change history that few have ever seen. There is the denial of several atrocities that have occurred over the course of history, including the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the war against science in the Middle Ages (and the continued struggle between science and religion as a whole today), allowing the Nazi persecution of the Jews during World War II, the past and continued cover-up of child molestation by priests and several other issues. These are areas that have been woefully addressed by the Catholic Church and its leadership in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Even with Pope Francis at the helm, there are still issues that the Catholic Church is behind the times on (let’s not even get started there). But Pope Francis has shown that there is potentially a light that is leading the Catholic Church into the future instead of the darkness of dogma.

Will this light continue to shine? Pope Francis has already said he doesn’t envision his tenure with the papacy being a long one, but the hope does exist that the next man chosen to be the “right hand of God” will at least listen to what Francis has said and perhaps put his own futuristic mark on the direction of the Catholic Church. If the Church does decide to try to reverse what Pope Francis has started, then they might just push more people – of their own faith, other faiths and even those with no faith – away from the basis of believing.

Why I Currently Don’t Support Bernie Sanders

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When it comes to my political stance, I am an independent with liberal leanings. This makes sense as, when there is that proverbial blue moon (or, as some might put it, Hell freezes over), there are some conservative candidates who are the better choice for office and I have voted for said candidate. As I’ve stated another time, I voted for Ronald Reagan in 1984, Bush I in 1988 and Bush II in 2004, feeling that every time I did they were the better candidate for the office. On a number of state ballots I have also pulled the lever with an “R” by the name. Those tendencies lately, though, are becoming fewer and farther between.

That doesn’t mean that my vote is automatically going to the Democrats. I’m not pleased with the leading choice there, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, due to a wealth of baggage that she would bring into the office of the Presidency with her. Hell, she’d probably be the first President elected who, on the day after her inauguration, would face the potential of impeachment (remember, this Congress isn’t going to change out of the GOP hands due to the House gerrymandering that has basically set up Republican strongholds in states; before you say it, yes, the Dems have the same thing in the cities, but not nearly to the same extent).

Thus, the only other logical choice for the Democrats is Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Senator who is proud of the fact that he is a “Democratic Socialist,” and whom immediately sends conservatives fleeing to the hills instead of a political science textbook. A Democratic Socialist, according to my research, is someone who believes in the policies of democracy but believes that the fruits of said democracy should be shared among all people and not concentrated in the hands of a few (if I am wrong here, please let me know in the comments…hopefully I can learn as well as you). The genial Sanders, who may remind you of a kindly Uncle or a Grandfather, is a firebrand who is giving Clinton all she wants and more, hence his leads in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

About a week ago, I was taken to task by a friend over something I wrote. In that article, I looked at the Democrats and only mentioned Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden as viable candidates (and Biden is looking less and less likely as time goes by). “What about Bernie?” my friend asked. Over the course of the discussion, I detailed out my reasoning for not being able to support Sanders at this time…but that still has the potential to change.

Sanders is doing a great job in drawing in potential voters to hear him speak at his rallies. In Greensboro, NC, on Sunday, Sanders drew in a crowd of approximately 9000 people at the Greensboro Coliseum. It was at this rally (unfortunately I couldn’t attend as I had to watch my son…political rallies, contrary to popular belief, are not a great place for kids) that some of Sanders’ issues came to light.

One of those in attendance, a black woman from Charlotte, noted that there was little diversity to those that supported Sanders. “It’s a very white crowd,” she said in the local paper. “Right now, at this point in the campaign, maybe that’s not a surprise.” There is one of the areas that I’ve noticed with many a Sanders rally is that it isn’t the most diverse cast when it comes to support and Sanders isn’t alone with this problem. I’ve seen the same for many of the Republican candidates on the stump (Donald Trump, I’m looking at you). I have problems with any candidate who cannot at the minimum give me the impression that they have a wide base of support across all people…white, black, brown, green with purple polka dots, you name it.

The audience in attendance for the Sanders rally in North Carolina (later, Sanders would become probably the first Socialist to ever set foot at Liberty University in Virginia) was also very young. I don’t have a problem with the youth of today being politically active, I actually enjoy it more when those 18-25 are involved in their future because it inspires me to examine what is drawing them out to support a candidate. But with many of these younger voters, it isn’t about any particular policy decision that the candidate supports, it’s about the factor that they feel like the candidate was personally involved with them. All one has to do is look at how social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, have changed campaigns; do you really think Rand Paul would have an App for your cellphone that puts you in the picture with him if it weren’t for trying to capture the “youth vote?” (This has been used for other more hilarious reasons, too.)

When the youth get involved and their candidate goes down in flames, they normally don’t move onto another candidate to support, though. They get disgusted, disillusioned and disinterested in any further processes if their candidate isn’t the winner and refuse to continue to drive for their philosophies. With all the talk about Republicans supporting their eventual nominee for President, why hasn’t anyone looked at how many of those supporting Sanders would be up for supporting another Democratic nominee?

Sanders is a great speaker, especially when it comes to deriding the current state of government. Sanders doesn’t take it to the point of “America is doomed,” “America has lost its way,” or “America is in the shitter,” like Republicans do, but he does come pretty close. The thing that Sanders does well is emphasize the problems with issues such as college student debt, income inequality, the budget, the decay of infrastructure and treatment of veterans, all things that are key domestic issues that we face.

Part of pointing out the problems, however, is that you also have to present solutions. That is where Sanders comes up a bit short. Either the solution that he suggests has no earthly intention of ever being put into use (Sanders has talked about upping the tax rates for the uber-rich to 90%, raising the minimum wage (he called $15 an hour “reasonable” but suggests $10.10) and breaking up the largest banks into smaller subsets a la AT&T’s Bell system in the 1980s, among other things) or he doesn’t bring up a solution at all. Sanders is quite deficient in foreign policy, something that is critical in our global world and, at least to this independent, is important as I believe we should have a strong military, just not a wasteful one.

If Sanders were to become President, he would definitely have to curtail his “Socialist” agenda in favor of a more “Democratic” solution (otherwise he wouldn’t get anything done as President), which would alienate many of his supporters. How many of Rand Paul’s supporters ditched him as soon as he showed any inkling that he was moving towards a Republican philosophy on anything over the Libertarian route of thinking? Sanders, I fear, would fall into that same trap in that his vociferous supporters would immediately hold his feet to the coals for anything less than the entire reformation of financial distribution in the United States.

There’s plenty that Bernie Sanders talks about on the campaign trail that is dead on correct. You can also hear the passion that Sanders has, whether he is giving a speech at a large rally such as Greensboro or when he is a guest on Bill Maher’s “Real Time.” Unfortunately, there is also no chance that the solutions he proposes would stand a chance of being put into action by a Congress that can’t decide if water is wet. I’d like to consider Sanders for my vote but, at this time, he’s an option that I cannot embrace.

It’s Tough to Give the GOP the Benefit of the Doubt

Here we are, six months from whence the primaries for the 2016 election of our next President will be taking place, and I’ve yet to find some candidate to get behind. In the past, that person was pretty much self-evident and I could step into the ballot box on Election Day with a clear conscience as to whom I was voting for. Recently, however, it has been a difficult road when it comes to picking that one candidate.

When it comes to the Democratic side of the equation, it looks more like the Republican side has looked like for most of my life. In the past, the GOP normally had a hierarchy that ran as such:  if you lost to a Republican who became president in the previous election, the next time the office was open without a Republican incumbent, it was your turn to take the nomination. This has happened in the Republican Party for virtually the last 50 years.

In 1968 it was Richard Nixon (defeated by Kennedy in 1960, won nomination in 1968); 1980 brought us Ronald Reagan (a half-hearted try in 1976 to topple incumbent Gerald Ford, who took over after Nixon resigned) and 1988 brought us George Bush (or Bush I, lost to Reagan in 1980). In 2000, George Bush (Bush II) was an outlier in that he didn’t show any interest in running in 1996, but John McCain (defeated by Bush II in 2000) and Mitt Romney (defeated by McCain in 2008) picked up where he left off.

On the other side of the aisle, the Democrats normally throw a donnybrook when it comes to choosing their own nominee for President of the United States. 1968 saw a reluctant Hubert Humphrey step up after the incumbent, Lyndon Johnson, decided not to run for a second term (by law, he technically could have; he served the remainder of John Kennedy’s term from 1960 and only was elected once himself in 1964) and another bright star from Camelot, Robert Kennedy, gunned down in Los Angeles just as it looked as if he were to win the nomination. 1972 saw six different candidates enter with George McGovern capturing the hearts of Democrats over Humphrey, George Wallace, Edmund Muskie, Henry Jackson and Shirley Chisholm. This occurrence of multiple choices – and viable ones, not half-assed efforts – has repeated itself pretty much every time over the Democratic Presidential nominations since…except for this one, where it seems the parties have flip-flopped.

There’s very little choice in 2016 if you examine the Democratic nominees. While everyone might grouse over Hillary Clinton and the Titanic-load of baggage she has, the other candidates lack the ability to forge a way past her as Barack Obama did in 2008 (there’s also the instance that this is the Democratic Party’s payback to Clinton for being a “good soldier” in losing to Obama in 2008, something as shown previously to be something the GOP did often). Even the person most likely to have some power to go against Clinton, incumbent Vice President Joe Biden, doesn’t seem to have the heart for a drawn out campaign battle (understandable after the death of his son). Anyone thinking that Clinton won’t be the nominee when the Democrats hit Philadelphia next summer would be considered out of their mind, even with the problems hovering over her.

The 2016 GOP field is the one that is reminiscent of the Democrats in the “come one, come all” approach they’ve used in throwing the door open and allowing anyone to come to the party. In total there are 17 candidates as of September 2015 and, in theory, there should be something there for anybody in the election even if the candidate themselves aren’t viable. The actions of the candidates since the campaigning has begun full bore this summer hasn’t exactly shown that “something for anyone” feel and makes it very difficult to give any member of the GOP the benefit of the doubt going forward, however.

Over the past week, there were a couple of instances where members of the Republican Party could have made great inroads into showing that they were someone who could lead all citizens of the U. S., not just those from one party or the other. First there was the shameful assassination of a police officer in Houston, TX that, instead of being a chance to not only unify people behind law enforcement but also a chance to have a moment of commiseration with their Democratic opponents, some members of the conservative movement chose to attack. These attacks were picked up on by some of the Presidential nominees who, in trying to make inroads into Donald Trump’s lead, came up just short of insinuating that the “Black Lives Matter” groups were the spearhead for the number of police shootings.

If you are going to piss off about 35% of the population (and their supporters), that seems to be the way to do it. Fox News talk show host Bill O’Reilly stated, “Every time there is a controversy about an officer shooting a black person, they’re out there stirring the pot.” Conservative radio “host” (I’ll be nice here) Rush Limbaugh has out-and-out called the “Black Lives Matter” organizations “hate groups.” Meanwhile, some on the GOP slate of candidates are following this lead with their rhetoric as a way to get back in the good graces of the Trump-mad acolytes. (And this doesn’t count Trump’s previous insulting of the Hispanic community, which he continues to do; count another 15-20% of the electorate out there the GOP can’t count.)

While there have been some tremendously stupid rallying cries heard during these “Black Lives Matter” rallies (anytime you advocate for the killing of a segment of society, your rally should be shut down), there has actually only been one proven and one possible case where a black person gunned down law enforcement individuals due to prior grievance against law enforcement’s treatment of blacks. In December 2014, two New York officers were executed in their squad car by a maniac who actually stated that was his goal (the proven case) and the Houston case mentioned previously, where Shannon Miles “allegedly” (I say that for legal reasons; when you have videotape, it’s tough to debate) executed Deputy Darren Goforth while he fueled his squad car (the possible case). That is two out of the 85 deaths of law enforcement officers in 2015, not exactly an indicator of rampant incitement of the masses against law enforcement.

Second, there was the controversy regarding Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue ANY marriage licenses due to her religious objections to same-sex marriage. If there was a point for the GOP to demonstrate that they weren’t beholden to religion or religious groups, the opportunity to point out that Davis was violating her duties and should be jailed or fined was the one to take. Instead, the GOP fumbled over itself trying to placate the Religious Right.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was the worst, calling Davis’ jailing the “criminalization of Christianity” and the latest attack in the “War on Christianity,” insisting he will go to Kentucky next week to hold a rally/campaign stop at the jail where she is currently incarcerated. Senator Ted Cruz stated he stood with Davis “unequivocally.” There were some surprises such as former Senator Rick Santorum, who stopped short of criticizing Davis’ arrest but commended her stand on her “principles” and Scott Walker, who hemmed and hawed on both sides of the issue, as did Trump. No one on the GOP slate, however, held up following the U. S. Constitution, a familiar battle cry for the Republicans, instead kowtowing to the small religious wing of their party.

If they were to have shown some chutzpah, the GOP had a chance here to capture someone in the center, the “independents” that have to be captivated in order to win an election. If the GOP candidates had just stepped away from the religious question – as they are supposed to do with the separation of Church and State in the U. S. Constitution – they would have stated outright that Davis was violating the laws as they are on the book. They could have said, “Despite (my) personal feelings on the issue, the law of the land is the Constitution and, as such, she has to follow it.” How many did that? Exactly zero.

Instead of demonstrating that they are a party with 21st century ideas and people who can bring those ideas to the forefront, the candidates for President from the GOP instead fell back on mid-1900s (at the minimum) philosophy, when blacks “stayed in their place” and the addition of “In God We Trust” to our currency and the Pledge of Allegiance was allowed to fight off the “godless” Communists. Unless they can actually demonstrate that there are some original ideas left in the party, that there are those who can embrace the future and attack its problems with science, education and thought – and they have people who aren’t afraid to leave those that cling to the past with the intent on bringing it back – the GOP will not encourage me to pull the handle for them.