HOPE (or despair) FOR EVERYONE

We’re less than 100 days to the opening of the Big Turkey Shoot, which begins in Iowa in February.

The standing visual joke used to be that the Democrats formed a circle and opened fire, on each other.

That is no longer strictly a Democratic vision. The Republicans are standing now also in a circle, muskets to their shoulders, one-eye closed to better aim, and are ready for the “Aim, Fire!” command from their leaders. One of their biggest problems is identifying those leaders. To whom should they listen when cocking their weapons?

This morning we did a little easy research, asking Google to let us have the breakdown between party members state-by-state. We had long believed that Democrats outnumbered Republicans in being registered voters throughout the country.

That may once have been the case. It no longer is.

As the nation in the past eight years has become increasingly partisan, the Democrats have lost their edge.

True, not everyone now angry and fed-up with politics, Congress, and the state of the Union is going to vote to “throw the bums out!” But with the electorate now just about evenly divided between people who identify as either Republican or Democrat, we cannot offer the kind of hope we had imagined lay before us.

And with this week’s retaking of the Virginia House by the Republicans –where we think any sentient voter would have voted to throw out the intransigent and scandal-pocked Republicans – we find there is actual cause for worry. Not yet despair, perhaps, but clear and definite worry.

Add to this the reclaiming of the mayor’s chair in Bridgeport, Connecticut, by a man sentenced years earlier for defrauding the city of millions of dollars. Pile on Houston’s rejection of what many feel are human rights. Top it all off with a Republican gubernatorial victory against all surveys and polls in Kentucky, and we can begin to detect the outline of life in these United States for the next few years. It ain’t gonna be easy or pretty. And it certainly isn’t going to be a rose-colored period of compromise in order to try to put our house in order, let alone keep it running.

What we had in mind saying was that even with the nation evenly divided, what we’ve been witnessing is only the Republican struggle to find a nominee. For the record, thirty percent of the adult voting population labels itself Republican. That leaves seventy percent of the voters as either independents or Democrats. Surely therefore no matter who the Republicans select they’re holding the short end of the stick. That should make Democrats feel a little more confident about 2016.

More clearly, if fifty million voters call themselves Republicans, what we’re all latching onto while watching polls is the little remembered idea that 30 percent of fifty percent is not overwhelming. That Mr. Trump leads in so many states is neither in the big picture threatening nor destined to come to presidential fruition. Or that Ben Carson is holding at just below that percentage, say twenty-two percent, and that twenty-two percent of the same fifty percent is not enough to put him over the top. The Republicans heretofore have been a minority, are still, and no doubt will also be locked into that position in January of 2017.

Two ideas make us uneasy. It’s clear that Republican voters don’t give a damn about selecting an honest, thoughtful, experienced man or woman to lead the country. How hard can being president be? is the oft-heard question. When one has staff and experts and unlimited money and power, how exhausting could the job really be when everyone around you is working their knees off? Better yet, despite having learned the opposite the hard way, the president can learn on the job.

The other even more troubling idea is that the Republicans, and perhaps even the Democrats, don’t give an honest damn about bringing people of all ideas and backgrounds and talents into government. What matters is winning, period. Anything is licit as long as it crushes the opposition. This means we’re about to be buried under the most lurid snippets of a man or woman’s earlier life, snapshots edited and collated to make us despise a teen-aged error or even a grown-up sexual or narcotic slip. No one is going to forgive and forget, no one.

And of course, while all this backing and filling is going on in the continental US and in Alaska, the Middle East, the Ukraine, the right wings in various European countries, the banking systems in so many of them, our own lack of enthusiastic and ideally growing GDP is shrinking from our horizons. Do we even need to mention the refugee catastrophe?

Candidates write and flog books just in case they don’t win, or perhaps because they know they’re not going to and are shooting for consultancies and t.v. contracts. People buy these tomes, shelve them, and go to the next rally where they can shout and swear and open-carry.

We’re witnessing a grown-up game of chicken.

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