Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Hangover, Part V

or whose inaugural party will we be seeing?

It's understandable that New Yorkers had no time for Cruz or even Kasich, but I would have thought they would have greeted Bernie more warmly.  Even in his boyhood home of Brooklyn he was soundly rejected.  Of course, Bernie supporters are questioning the 125,000 voters who were purged from the rolls, as the number exceeded Hillary's margin of victory in the New York borough.

As usual, political pundits are calling the nomination over, claiming there is "no clear path" left for the other candidates to upstage "King Kong" Trump and "Hurricane" Hillary, but there are still 15 primaries left on the slate, and I doubt Cruz or Kasich or Sanders will drop out.  Trump and Hillary had this state in the bag, yet with so much of our news media centered in New York it was natural they would make a big deal out of these victories. The only question was whether Cruz or Kasich could dent Donald, and take away a few delegates.  Kasich did pick up 3 stray delegates.

The two biggest states remaining on the primary schedule are Pennsylvania (next Tuesday) and California (June 7).   Kasich has been keeping it relatively close in the Keystone state and Ted is making a play for California.  Bernie is also very active in these states, hoping to derail the Clinton train before it reaches Philadelphia.  There are a dozen other states and territories in play, many of them hostile to Trump and Clinton.

At this point, it appears Trump will easily clear 1000 delegates, maybe as many as 1100, which one RNC committee member hinted would be enough to push for his nomination to avoid a bitterly contested convention.  Don't tell Ted that as he will hold out even if the Donald ends up with 1236 delegates, one short of the number needed.  Cruz has been working hard to stack the delegates so that those committed to Trump on the first ballot would vote for him on the second ballot, which has had the Trump campaign crying foul the past month.

If nothing else, Americans are learning how the nomination process works.  It's been a long time since we had a contested convention, which I would think would be a media boon.  Wolf Blitzer and John King would go positively "apeshit" pushing all those numbers around on their digital whiteboard, as they change from ballot to ballot at the Republican convention.  Who knows, maybe Bernie will pull close enough to Hillary that we actually go through a suspenseful first ballot at the Democratic convention.

Trump says voters are disgruntled because they think the process is being taken out of their hands and vested in a relative handful of delegates, which they had no role in picking.  Delegates are only bound to their candidates on the first ballot, after which they become more and more free to go where power brokers push them, as was the case in the old days.  Given how poorly the electorate understood their candidates this election cycle, maybe it is better this way.

It really is hard to fathom Trump's appeal, or Ted Cruz's appeal for that matter.  These guys represent a very narrow fringe, yet were able to dominate the Republican primaries from start to finish.  Together they won all but four primaries, Rubio picking up three primary victories and Kasich one.  Part of the reason was the huge field of candidates, splitting the vote and allowing Donald and Ted to pull out primary wins with as little as 28 per cent of the vote.  That would have been fine if the delegates were awarded proportionally, as they were in Iowa.  However, many states were winner-take-all, allowing Donald to take all 50 South Carolina delegates with only 33% of the vote.

At least on the Democratic side delegates are awarded proportionally, but then there is the matter of the superdelegates.  They aren't bound to their state results, and can declare themselves to whichever candidate they choose.  Bernie Sanders handily won New Hampshire in the popular vote, but thanks to the superdelegates, Hillary came away with more delegates.  Social Democracy at its worst.

The onerous nomination process along with dubious new voter laws in many states has left a lot of persons scratching their heads as to what this election cycle actually means in America.  It seems like very few persons are happy with the results, as we are getting ever closer to two nominees few people wanted to see.  Trump is highly unpopular nationally.  Polls show that a whopping 70 per cent of the general electorate rejects him, but with Hillary being the projected Democratic nominee, he stands half a chance in November, as her net favorability rating is -24 per cent.

As Ollie would say to Stan, this is a fine mess you've gotten us into.  This may turn out to be the lowest voter turnout in general election history, which means all bets are off as to who the winner might be.

Unfortunately, there are no do-overs in presidential elections.  It is an enormously costly affair.  As of March 20, nearly one billion dollars had been pumped into the Republican and Democratic campaigns, including super PACs.  That cost will double in the general election.   All this campaigning may be good for the GDP, but it hasn't helped Americans to decide who the best candidate is.

Making matters worse is the low voter turnout in primaries.  States range from 4.6 per cent in Hawaii to 52.4 per cent in New Hampshire.  The national average seems to be around 25 per cent.  For all the attention and all the money poured into this election cycle, very few people care.

The Republicans could have avoided this entire fiasco by simply selecting their nominee at a convention.  Instead, we have been subjected to the worst reality show ever imagined -- a Battle Royale that came down to Donald J. Trump and Rafael Edward Cruz, replete with an undercard that allowed such persons as Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie to pretend to run for President.

It wasn't much better on the Democratic side as the first debate showed.  Who the fuck is Lincoln Chaffee?  The Democratic primaries very quickly came down to Hillary and Bernie, with Chaffee, Webb and O'Malley clearly not ready to be prime time players.  The net result being -- you are either with Hillary or against her.  Sure Bernie raised a number of great issues and built up a groundswell that briefly made us feel it was 2008 all over again, but this election was never about him, it was about Hillary, her "judgement" anyway, which she was amply prepared to address.  All that brouhaha over her Goldman Sachs speeches blew up in Bernie's face when this video was released before the NY primary.

At least we saw issues raised on the Democratic side of the primaries.  On the Republican side, it was one of the most ghastly displays ever witnessed in American history.  You would probably have to go back to the time before the Civil War to find such ugly Nativist views being expressed.   Not a single GOP candidate offered anything resembling a coherent plan of action if elected.  They all boasted of what they would repeal their first day in office, and then offered up the same stale tax cuts and government deregulations that has become the staple of contemporary Republican thinking.  The Republicans have truly become the Know-Nothing Party.

All this leaves the average voter with a very sick feeling -- that of having to choose between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the general election.  This was what most voters were hoping to avoid, yet thanks to their lack of interest and low voter turnout is what we got.  The Hangover will only get worse in November.

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