Remember the spring of 2012? Week after week we were treated to grown men and women who had ambition only and very little skill. These displays were brought to us courtesy of the Republican National Committee, as it tried to winnow out the weak from the strong. The only problem was, they had an entire clutch of weak candidates and no strong ones.
You’ll recall this was only months before the national political conventions were to convene, from which would come nominees for both parties’ nominations.
Those eight or nine months seemed to stretch for years on end. Wonderful though they were, one couldn’t help but wonder when, and where, it would all end.
This is the high summer of 2013, and NOW we have twenty-four months to watch this process in reruns. Or so it would seem. We may be without Michelle Bachmann and Herman Cain. We might even miss Newt Gingrich. Romney is probably a no show.
But we expect Rick Santorum to show up and treat us all to Bible classes. We eagerly await Rick Perry’s return since he has that common touch of forgetting where and who he is, already re-demonstrated this year. In place of Ron Paul, we’ll get Rand Paul, who has yet to complete one term as Senator in D.C. We’ll even have multiple doses of Ted Cruz to take, and Marco Rubio’s a sure bet to try to charm us, with or without his bottled water. Will Jeb Bush arrive, seeking always the middle ground, which – according to his own party – it wants no part of? And Chris Christie will by that time have to stop being so polite.
There is every chance in the world of a long shot suddenly appearing and leaping to the front of the pack, as well. He or she will run for half a dozen weeks and then probably fall back. In favor of whom? Only Chris Matthews dares to predict and he’s chosen Rand Paul.
This series of entertainments may not stem only from the Republican side of the aisle. After all, if Mrs. Clinton decides NOT to run, the Democratic nomination is wide open. We will finally see and identify those men and women who are currently waiting in the wings, feeling edgy and nervous but also brave and determined. They will no doubt give us the equal entertainment values of their colleagues. We can’t call them by name YET, because each is lying low. But this early, continuing insult to American voters is a bi-partisan show.
And for a nation in debt, with millions feeling “the pinch” and sequestration doing its own fine job of cutting families down to size, the amount of money to be spent between now and November 2016 is going to be gigantic.
On the Republican side, where before the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove and Sheldon Andelson got very little indeed for all their millions, this time they’re bound to get some of their money’s worth. Nearly every possible candidate is conservative. The Big Boys can’t lose.
The damage done to the electoral process has already ready been documented in these pages, c.f. Citizens United. Followed in succession by the vivisection of Article 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And with the destruction of federal oversight by the Justice Department, thanks to the Supreme Court, states across the land are busy crafting legislation that will keep “minorities”, the elderly, and youth from being able to vote at all. If the Republicans can’t do it now, they never will.
It’s important to recall that the term “minorities” may not much longer apply here. With the growth of Hispanics, blacks, and Asians becoming less minor and more major, all political parties of the future will have to craft their messages to a vari-colored electorate. As well they should.
What this means in practical terms is that the lies and distortions of the campaign in 2012 will be elevated ‘way beyond anything we’ve ever experienced here. Just as the common exchanges in Congress and its committees have been increasingly poisonous and untruthful.
There is a real difference between the crowd of 2012 and that lining up for 2016. It’s ambition, pure and simple, and ruthlessness. Where in 2012, candidates were more or less introducing themselves and then pleading for a little recognition, this new bunch in 2016 already assumes we know who they are, what they want, and how they won’t be stopped by any sort of common sense or recognition of reality. These guys are mean.
Virtually nothing that the Republicans are discussing or proposing has anything at all to do with benefits to the country. Hawks are back and circling, eager to take us into Syria and, failing that, to Egypt. Lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan are not even in the Republicans’ memory banks.
Healthcare has been repealed so often it’s laughable or would be if it didn’t promise to assist and make stable hospital and drug costs. And this, folks, is a program for which the government wants to take the larger part of responsibility and underwrite. States right and left are dodging that money, whether it’s for insurance exchanges or Medicaid. Statehouses around the country seem to recognize no one below the poverty level.
As for Veteran’s Affairs, cuts are envisioned. But not cuts to the overall Defense Budget. Who fights these wars, we ask, and do they always come home safe and sound?
Farm bills, immigration reform, tax reform–none of these items are on any Republican must-do list. (To be fair, they don’t often show up on any Democratic list of to-do’s, either.)
2013 is not our best year. Every time an important but devisive issue comes up — not to the floor of the House or Senate, mind you, but in the press — Congress goes on holiday.
Sex scandals we’ve got, if not sex itself. In state by state legislatures. deception and fraud are uncovered.
While the stock market seems to be recovering, the Defense Department warns that with the instigation of sequestration, it may not have the arms, man-power, or intelligence to defend the country as it should.
Are we pessimistic? Oddly, no. We’re Americans and we still believe that somehow, at some point, all this will work out to our best advantage. This hope is based on nothing realistic. It’s more ritualistic than anything else. America has always come through, and it will again.
While we hope against hope that the reverse may never come true, if one were a betting man, one would do a little hedging. How exactly we don’t know, but In God We Trust.
Which, given the givens of 2013, is about all we’ve got left.