I think we are witnessing one of the greatest, most scary changes in American politics in the last several decades. After looking at some of the results from the primaries, I would like to make a couple of observations. South Carolina had a 30% decrease in Democrat primary voting and a 20% increase in Republicans voting. The same was true in Nevada with a 30% reduction in Democrats and a whopping 50% increase in Republicans out to vote. New Hampshire had a 13% Democrat drop and a 14% increase in Republican turnout. Iowa kicked everybody’s butt with the Democrats decreasing by 30% and the Republicans going wild with almost a 60% increase. So, what is happening? What has incited the Republicans to come out in record numbers while Democrats stayed home in what has often been referred to as one of the most important elections in recent history?
You might be surprised to hear that I have a theory as to what is going on with our politics. Let’s just call it the “Trump effect.” I have talked to many voters, and one clear theme seems to stand out. Many voters are at the poles for one reason: to vote for Donald Trump! Many think that the businessman turned politician has the best chance of fixing a broken legislative system. No doubt our country and system of government have some major hurdles to navigate in the coming years. I have heard many times that he is not connected with the establishment and so will bring a fresh, new approach to Washington, DC. I have also heard him make slurs against Muslims, Mexicans, women and anyone who dares to say anything negative about him or his intentions. I have heard him use the ‘F’ word while addressing audiences and have listened to him say things that no politician ever had the hubris to say and survive politically another day. Oftentimes his lack of understanding of the diverse subjects a president needs to understand comes pouring out as he rambles through discussions like a bull in a china cabinet.
I do understand and share the total distrust and contempt that the American public has for our legislative system and how we might look for any conceivable alternative available, but, I question the logic and common sense putting a potential hot-head like The Donald in charge of the largest military and nuclear stockpile (22,000 active warheads) on the planet. There is also the matter of his apparent blunders in the business world. Currently he is involved with a case in which Trump University stands indicted of embezzling tuition from its prospective students. Many of his companies, including several of his casinos that he brags about, have gone bankrupt. He has refused to make his federal tax records available to the public which has raised many eyebrows.
So why all of this crazyness? Why has Trump rocketed to the top of the Republican ticket? Why has he become the most talked about politician in recent history? The answer is: he is over the top; he is entertaining; he brings out voters even if they have no idea what his policies truly are. As I have written before, we are an entertainment-driven society, and let’s face it; Trump is, sadly, entertaining. It remains to be seen if it is a good idea to put a man of Trump’s limited political experience and questionable temperament at the helm of the most powerful country on earth. Still, this is where we may be headed. People who have never voted before are coming out to vote; folks who get their entire view of the world from a TV station that is not allowed to broadcast in Canada because it is not considered news! It is difficult to point to any one factor that has led us to this time and place, but, there are several ideas that have potential. Our education system and our parents are failing to produce students who are politically savvy and willing to get involved in the political process or understand much about it. Our news cycle treats politics like entertainment rather than featuring a proven serious leader to take us into the future. And finally, the Supreme Court: under the Citizens United decision, the court has opened up the flood gates for rich corporations to literally buy elections. No one is sure just how much the money the wealthy Koch brothers and others have actually given to various political campaigns throughout the year, but I am sure it is substantial.
So here we go down untraveled waters into a new political realm that this country has not seen before. The combination of broadcast media, internet communication, social media and what I will call repeat-it-until-it’s-true reporting, has enabled our country to elect people based on their wealth, appearance and ability to entertain a crowd. No longer will we easily elect people who are educated and informed about world situations but someone who is able to reach into the psyche of a predominately uninformed and shallow thinking voting population. I think it is wise to say this: beware of currents that may take you and our country where you may regret having ventured.