As we travelled across the country I couldn’t help but ponder about the craziness of our world political situation. As I write this on the morning of the French election it’s obvious that they too are facing rather stunning options for their political future. However it turns out I’m left pondering the “idea” of electability.
I have read recent opinion pieces about why the Republicans won our election, and about why the Democrats lost the election. In my mind none of them touched upon what I think is a central issue: party strategy. It doesn’t seem that either party has a “plan” for the future. We find politicians individually coming up with programs to solve independent problems but I don’t hear a dialogue about where this country is going. The Republicans want to cut the budget — that’s clear. But they don’t express any goal for where this nation should be. The Democrats want to care for the weak and the disadvantaged but they have no workable plan for how to finance that goal — in part because enough Democrats and Republicans both are rich enough that any plan to address the deep seated social problems in this country is going to have to come at the expense of the rich. There simply isn’t money anywhere else than to get people and companies that have been skating through tax loopholes to pay their fair share.
But when I think about this bigger strategy issue I’m left with a curious question.
The Democrats enjoyed 8 years of power in the White House but suffered with a paralyzed Congress. Now we have a unified Congress and a president from the same party but they don’t seem to agree on what they want, and worse — the only things they seem to want are to undo much of what has been done in the past 20 years. It doesn’t take many smarts to tear things down; what we need are people with the intelligence and wisdom to see a future and push in that direction.
Which brings us to the real question….
After 8 years of our first black President who clearly was hated by nearly 1/2 of the country, whatever made the Democrats think that it was the right time to push for another “First” with the election of a woman president? Could they not realize that the Republican base was so tired of a Democrat in the White House that they would vote (literally) for any idiot on the ballot just to get away from a Democratic president? I’m all for equality, but it was clear from the days of Bill Clinton that Hillary brought a lot of negative baggage with her. Could they not have said, “Let’s wait 4 years for a woman president and run a strong man who isn’t going to antagonize the Republican base and raise the voter threshold making it harder to get our person elected?”
Timing is everything in life. We all miss wonderful opportunities because we are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Evidently there were not enough Democrats who were thinking strategically to realize that on the heels of our first Black President this might not be the right year to push a woman on the voting public? The problem being that Hillary was big among women’s rights activists but she did not motivate the Party in the way the Republican did. In this last election the Democrats turned out nearly 10 million FEWER voters than they did in the Obama years. That many votes would have changed the election. Instead, the ego of a few people overruled any sensible strategy. Hillary is getting older — she may not be around or electable in 2020. No one would admit that someone like Bernie Sanders actually had a vision for the future. I have no idea whether Sanders could have mobilized enough votes to win over Trump. It’s questionable. But could the Democrats find no one with a vision for the future who was less objectionable than Hillary. Sure, it’s past time for a woman President — but we have got to elect one at some specific point in time and 2016 wasn’t ever going to be that specific point in time: the Dems needed more votes than Hillary could muster.
It’s clear that the U.S. presently doesn’t have any plan for the future. The guy currently occupying the White House has changed his mind on so many issues that there’s no way of telling where he will land on any topic, and interestingly enough for a guy who claims to be so strong, most of his flip-flops have been after he has had to deal with the very people he criticized, as for example the Chinese. His personal opinions are quickly changed when he’s beset by having to actually deal with the people he has verbally tried to bully. Too bad he can’t declare bankruptcy and avoid having to deal with them at all…. < sarcasm intended > He is the deal-maker. He is amoral. He doesn’t care what the terms are for any deal — it seems — he only cares if / whether he makes the deal. Nothing is sacred it seems. Except money. In a nation built on principles and ideals, a pragmatist for President falls far short of what we need as a nation. But, it’s what we have.
Somewhere there has to be a politician with a vision for the United States who can inspire the confidence and the votes of the electorate — and who’s ideas are good enough to get people to cross party lines and line up behind a true leader. He’s welcome to show his or her face any time now. Goodness only knows we need them on the scene pronto.