On Politics – 10/24/15

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There’s so much going on right now in American politics. I’m a bit of a political junkie and find few things more entertaining than a good election cycle, so you can only imagine my glee at the goings on over the past several months. There’s a lot to talk about, and many different directions to go in. I’m going to try to give my perspectives on what’s going on from my viewpoint, so please know that going in.

I’m a liberal. There it is. I’m not particularly moderate, either. However, I don’t think the government can effectively govern with only one major political party, and the GOP is in serious danger of becoming irrelevant. I’d like to think I’m pragmatic enough to accept that any major societal change takes a long time and comes with a lot of compromise.

I’m hoping to do On Politics fairly frequently, and the focus will shift more towards current events as the campaign season further ramps up, but I also want to dive into my own political views and see what I can hash out. Feel free to disagree, and I love a good discourse, but let’s keep some perspective here.

To call our political system broken would be like calling The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies merely bad. Our discourse has been hijacked by the extreme right fringe of the American political spectrum, and millions of scared and impressionable people are whipped up into a frenzy because of the lies they are told by those in power. Having an intelligent debate about important issues is crucial to a functioning democratic society, but the level of discourse being offered by the two major parties are not remotely on equal footing. Few things make this more clear than the contrast between the field of candidates in the two parties.

The Democrats, for all practical purposes, have two major candidates. Hillary Clinton is one of the most well-known brands in the country, and has long experience at high levels of government in various capacities. She’s a political animal, and carries a tremendous amount of clout. Bernie Sanders is a long-serving Senator who has, up until his candidacy, identified as Independent. His views are as far left as a modern prominent political candidate has espoused in as long as I can remember. Both have been involved with government for a long time and know how things are supposed to work. Remarkably, neither are really hitting each other and focusing on their messages.

The Republican field is a clown car.

There are still over a dozen Republican candidates actively campaigning for the presidency, and you have to look past the top three to find anyone with any government experience. The candidates at the top, Donald Trump and Ben Carson, are mostly skating by on their personalities instead of discussing anything of substance. The fact that Donald Trump has stayed prominent in the race for so long only enunciates the fact that extreme conservatism has overtaken the right wing of American thought and left the Republican Party behind.

The ongoing House Speaker leadership kerfuffle only further illustrates this point. It’s kind of pointless to argue that John Boehner was an effective Speaker of the House, the power vacuum he left in the highest national office held by a Republican has made it clear that the party has no tangible power structure or chain of command. The House Freedom Caucus, made up of the forty members who align themselves most explicitly with the Tea Party, make up a large enough portion of the Republican voting bloc that no legislation can pass without the support of the extreme right fringe or the cooperation of Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats. After the congressional redistricting of 2010, it is not a reasonable expectation for the Democrats to regain control of the House prior to the 2020 election cycle. In the 2016 election, far more Republican Senate seats are up for grabs than Democratic seats, so split control of Congress for another 5 years is almost certainly an inevitability. If the past 5 years are any indication, this will not go well.

Watch this space for my thoughts on the election and our political system as events unfold, with this active and crazy an election cycle there will be plenty to talk about.

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