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U.S. Politics: Not just for the serious-minded any more

A 2 Party System and a 3 Ring Circus
Patrick Guntensperger
Parksville, Canada
As I’m getting back into observing politics, I find that living In British Columbia is perfect for someone as fascinated by the foibles and downright silliness of our elected leaders and those who aspire to be among them. BC politics have always been among the most volatile and entertaining of the Canadian political scene – even Quebec is on a predictable and even keel by comparison. Canadian federal politics has the occasional burst of fascination and raises the occasional character to the forefront, but BC is as wild and woolly as it gets in Canada.
That said, BC’s idiosyncratic political atmosphere pales in comparison to the much larger and distinctly loony one just a few miles directly south of us. Even though BC is widely recognised as the spiritual and physical home of bohemians, eccentrics, performers, hippies, artists, activists, non-conformists, and fringe elements, the average British Columbian’s head wags in disbelief at the insanity and near-surreal circus that constitutes United States federal politics.
Although the presidential election isn’t until November of 2012, the summer of 2011 has turned into one of the best silly seasons for which a political observer could possibly hope.
Republicans going through their paces
By way of background, it’s important for those who watch United States politics as entertainment to understand that theirs is a two party system. While it’s possible for an independent to run for president, that’s usually a sideshow…the real battle is between the Democrats nominally on the left and the Republicans who claim to be conservative rightists.
The Democrats of course managed to elect Barrack Obama in 2008 partly because he was bright, articulate, courageous, and a great communicator with great ideas. But mostly he was elected because he was relatively moderate – not radical or even left leaning as his enemies claim but very much a centrist, historically even a right-leaning centrist, confronted with a radical conservative opposition that has staked out a position so far to the right that if Genghis Khan had suggested that his hordes paused their marauding to tend to their wounded, they would have vilified him as a communist.
The Republicans have moved their core message so far to the right that policy positions they held less than a decade ago, when adopted by Democrats, are decried as radically socialist today.
One of the most amusing examples of just that was Newt Gingrich, in the first week of his campaign for the Republican nomination as their presidential candidate in 2012, advocating his health care plan on Face the Nation. He described a health care plan that a decade ago was widely accepted as appropriate by the radical right wing of the conservative Republicans and, in fact, isn’t too different from the one that Obama managed, with great expenditures of blood, sweat, toil, and tears to get through both houses of congress as his first unmitigated triumph as a “liberal” president. Gingrich, who is so out of step with politics that he apparently missed the fact that his party had meanwhile shifted so far to the right, effectively removed himself from serious candidacy by failing to toe the party line of not only repealing “Obamacare” but dismantling Medicare, Medicaid, and even Social Security.
So now Newt Gingrich hasn’t a hope of winning the Republican nomination. Of course, he’s in good company. Let’s just take a look at some of those who have dropped out of the race.
How about Donald Trump? As is common knowledge, he is an intellectually challenged hypocrite and utterly shameless self-promoter.  Contrary to his broad hints, he doesn’t have a net worth of several billion dollars; he doesn’t have a net worth of even close to one billion dollars. He works for a living as a TV game show host and he rents his brand name to genuine owners of real estate projects. He doesn’t own controlling or even significant interest in a single one of the developments or product lines that bear his name. As I predicted months ago, he would leverage his silly accusations that Obama was not a genuine American to fan the embers of Islamophobia, fear of government generally, and conspiracy theory lunacy into a phony campaign which was no more than a publicity stunt, before he would announce his decision to go back to his day job.
Mike Huckabee, another TV personality and presidential hopeful had a chat with God and apparently God, despite all of Huckabee’s personal intuitions and his supporters’ best wishes, put the kibosh on his candidacy Huckabee announced this on his TV show immediately after playing bass guitar with his guest star, “Motor City Madman” and right wing gun fanatic Ted Nugent on “Cat Scratch Fever”. A charming sight was Huckabee, an evangelical Christian who ran on a family values platform, singing the chorus which includes, “I’ll stroke your pussy to make you purr…”

Then it’s also worth looking at the other phony candidates. My personal favourite is Sarah Palin…the highest profile non-candidate for the Republican nomination. She is the candidate (although she has not announced at this writing) for voters who find Dora the Explorer overly intellectual. Dynamic, charismatic, and fun to watch, she is so fundamentally stupid and mean-spirited, she almost makes Tina Fey’s job easy.

That she is stupid is demonstrated by her intellectual laziness: she doesn’t even bother to spend a few moments looking up Paul Revere before she pontificates – utterly mistakenly – about his significance when she does a publicity tour of his ride. According to Palin, Revere was warning the British that Americans were armed and that they would not lay down their muskets…all this while he was riding a horse, firing and presumably reloading his musket while ringing a bell (not an easy task as demonstrated by Stephen Colbert).
That she is mean-spirited is suggested by her website which includes pictures of Democratic politicians with a target and crosshairs superimposed over their names, along with a suggestion that a gun would be a solution to one’s disagreement with those people. There was no apology when one of those targeted politicians was the victim of a would-be assassin’s shot to her head that left her with severe brain damage. Sarah Palin will not run. She is too busy solidifying her brand and she knows she hasn`t a chance in a general election.
The Republican Party is in real disarray, with the knuckledragging mouthbreathers that form the Tea Party right wing faction wagging the dog that is the party rank and file, there is no real viable candidate; the field will change, and perhaps one of the lacklustre candidates that are officially campaigning will win the nomination, only to be drubbed in 2012.

Of course the biggest problem with the whole system is the malaise and contempt that the west is developing with respect to the entire democratic process.

In the case of the Republicans, the dilemma they face is this: the only people who bother to register and take a direct, active interest in their party politics are real fanatics. And of course these people who believe that Adam and Eve rode around on dinosaurs, that global warming is an illusion, and that human caused climate change is a left wing hoax, that believe there ought to be no socialised health care, that billionaires and millionaires should not pay taxes, but the middle class and poor should, that everyone should be permitted to own and carry assault weapons and rocket launchers are the only ones registered to vote at the primaries. The rest couldn`t be bothered.
That means that real wingnuts have the strongest chance of gaining the nomination. What an awkward position for Republicans! To run for the nomination, you have to appeal to people who genuinely ought to be under the care of mental health specialists. To win, you have to be the most deeply disturbed of an even more deeply disturbed group of delegates.
But the rub is that once having won the nomination, the loopy candidate has a choice; the options are to run on the same platform and whacko position espoused by necessity to gain the nomination on the one hand, or, on the other, to flip flop completely, develop sanity and run for the presidency on rational principles. The problem is that in a general election some of the rational people come out of the woodwork and cast ballots.
We know that`s true because last time around, those sane people gave the presidency to Barrack Obama.


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