We’ve been wrong. About quite a few things. But – apart from Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Christie et al. – mostly about money.
Even worse, about the nation’s greed, ambition, and yen for power.
“Citizen’s United” may have been one of the worst US Supreme Court decisions of the past fifty years, but it turns out that it isn’t fatal. What came at us like the end of the civilized world affected perhaps the desires of a fraction of our population. Since its “enactment,” for that truly is what it is, legislating from the bench – something all Supreme Court nominees swear they’re never going to do- the overwhelming of democracy it promised simply has not happened.
Which is one reason why Jeb Bush disappeared. And four years earlier why Newt Gingrich sank below the surface.
And one reason, perhaps the principal one, Barack Obama stayed afloat for a second term.
Now these admissions may be offered in error. They may come too early. There’s every likelihood that money really is going to take over the electoral system but at the lower rungs, “down ticket” as they say. Allowing corporations to be given humanoid sensations, goals, feelings and speech, may just have been an exercise in exercise – demonstrating to the country that the Supreme Court still had testosterone.
Every election cycle astounds all of us by the reports of how much money is spent by both the political parties and individual candidates and their PACs. Enough money wasted to solve the problems not only of a good portion of this country’s infrastructure, but to feed and cloth and educate most of India.
Bernie Sanders raises $46 million dollars in March. Then he spends $46 million in April. $46 million dollars? Makes us think of the current manufacturer’s suggested retail price for a 40 thousand dollar automobile. Our own reaction –and I grant we’re older than the norm – is to think: 40 thousand dollars is the down payment on a rather grand house in most parts of the country. Or maybe on two houses not quite so grand but necessary for a family of five.
And where is all this corporate money coming from? Sure, much comes from individual small contributors. But check out the balance sheets of Koch Industries, or Larry Ellison, or Mark Zuckerberg. Check Hollywood. Check Goldman Sachs, not for Hillary alone, but for Mrs. Ted Cruz, a recent employee. Check the books of oil and steel and shipping and exporters and free traders.
Where is this money going?
Up the spout.
Because Bernie and the Donald are not playing PACman.
And neither, we are exhilarated to report, is the American public.
The voting public – operating emotionally or rationally – stands firmly for old-style campaigning, for old fashioned virtues. As a nation, it may make a mistake in supporting men or women who truly are not qualified for the office of the presidency. But it’s not because it’s been bought.
Rather it’s because this public, our countrymen, still have dreams and disappointments, both. It has an unshakeable sense of what America should be doing, where it should be going, how it should continue to lead the rest of the free world to decades of progress and peace.
And that’s the biggest mistake we’ve made: doubting. There isn’t “one” born every minute. The wool can be lifted. The country can still identify someone who’s honest from someone who isn’t, someone who panders from someone speaking straight. True enough, we might put someone in the Oval Office who really and truly doesn’t belong there. But we also continue to believe that that man or woman isn’t in that office alone. That he or she will have advisors, military titans, economic wizards, devout republicans with a small “r”.
The realization is, and we believe this is genuine, that the country can and will survive even the most inept politician. Four years is not eternity. But regardless of economic declines, or race relations souring, or feints from foreign war planes, or even the construction of atomic weapons – the United States of America believes it is eternal.
What American, male or female, is going to just shrug and give up?
None that we know.