When you attend the funeral
It is sad to think that soon o’ –
Later those you love will do the same for you.
And you may have thought it tragic,
Not to mention other adjec-
-tives for all the weeping they will do…”
But… Don’t you worry!
This past week, as we end the first week of May in 2006, the dust has settled on the news that financially, self-assessed Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee for the 2016 Presidential Election. Needless to say, this has people concerned and confused on all sides of the ‘aisle’ and frankly the world. Things are no calmer on the Democratic side of this upcoming conflict. The war of words and ideologies between the supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders becomes deeper, angrier, and more entrenched. Trust me, my spouse and I can no longer discuss the topic of DNC nominee.
There has been some strong rhetoric on all sides of this debate. Once the nominees are formally made. I personally don’t feel that will clarify the situation. It may will exacerbate issues and spawn entirely new developments. There are at least six different groups at play and many different ways this could play out. I’m going to cover the groups, the potential outcomes of the upcoming war of beliefs, and my preferred outcome.
Much of the first half is simply trying to objectively layout the groups. Some of it will seem like routine knowledge. With luck it sets an (at least hopefully) objective tone.
Of the six groups I want to focus on, three are easy, one was formed of a vacuum, one has continually been ignored, and one is entirely responsible.
In order I am talking about: The different supporters of the three remaining candidates, the RNC that lost all opposition to Trump, Voters registered as neither Republican nor Democrat, and of course MSM: Mainstream Media.
We start with Donald Trump and his supporters who effectively poisoned the well. I won’t spend much time on him or his supporters out of irony for the whole situation of the coverage already granted him. Coming from a realm of business based on the fervor and glamour of reality television; Trump seeks an audience. He is akin to Jerry Springer of the previous two decades. Sensationalism that primarily catered to the lowest denominator.
Trump’s supporters have taken up the flame of rhetoric to bring to forefront the most animalistic and territorial hatred in humankind. Violence begets violence. Continual incidents of protestors threatened, beaten, and in instances murdered. A demagoguery nearly repeating the Red Scare of Joseph McCarthy has motivated hatred against Muslims, the LGBT community, Mexicans and intellectuals while embracing religious extremism and mislabeling it as Christianity.
Trump and his allies have managed to quash all competition for the position of Republican nominee for the presidency. While Republican leadership have been honing their process, directives, and principles; Trump has become a rebel against the system. He has rallied the people that the Republicans have been moulding. Effectively winding up a child and then being surprised when Grandfather comes along to take them to a Toy Store and a Candy Store. Suddenly he is more popular. It becomes difficult when the child rebels against the parent because Grandfather understands them better.
The Republican party has perfected the union of the working class in the name of Patriotism and Religious Ferver with the upper class and large scale industry corporations under the mantle of partisan cohesion. They create the message and everyone supports the message. There is no reason for the Working Class to mistrust the upper class as they obviously share those ideals of Patriotism and Religion. Further, there is no reason for the upper class to concern itself with the working class because they have become very effective at portraying those ideals while painting their opposition as being opposed to them thus engendering hate and mistrust.
Trump however has come in with a scalpel and separated these two groups. What was created by the Republicans in the mentality of the Tea Party, spawned the darker side in Trump’s supporters. They have clung onto the new message of not trusting the government. Taking a people already conditioned to mistrust and hate; it was seemingly easy to expand that to the people that created them. This is similar to the success of cults in the 1970s such as Sun Myung Moon’s Moonies.
On the one hand the Republicans are faced with their own core philosophy of “We Stand Together” often regardless of the ways in which they do this. On the other there is a growing fear that Trump is pulling these supporters away in a manner that will fracture or even destroy the party as it is known today. Already these things have been experienced as Trump’s supporters are lining up to voice discontent with the failings of the Republican party. At the same time there are record numbers of life-long, mutil-generational Republican voters who are abandoning the party or worse (for them) converting to membership in the Democratic party. As the primary approaches although it hasn’t happened yet. High Republican leadership are distancing themselves. The living, past Republican Presidents, the last two Republican candidates for the President, and the Republican Speaker of the House have all stated that they will not attend their party’s nominating convention and have offered no or opposing support to Trump’s journey to the White House.
This has not merely affected the Republican Party, but the world watches with a combination of awe and terror. The growing Republican schism is growing to the point that it has added fuel to the growing wildfire on the other side of the aisle. Without a presumptive candidate and the Democratic convention approaching; things have become intellectually violent on the left side.
The two candidates in the Democratic arena are Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Both are experienced, trendsetters, and innovations in the way of American politics. Their supporters have tenaciously embraced them extolling their accomplishments and views while at the same time ignoring their faults and at worse misrepresenting the truth (or out and out lying) in a “Mine-Good, Yours Bad” manner.
Hillary Clinton is the visibly accomplished politician. To address the elephant in the room (which ironically is the symbol of the Republicans) Hillary is the first female nominee to the Presidency. And this is the second time she has taken this path. In history it is rare for a candidate to run twice over two ends of an eight year run. Her background includes being the First Lady to 42nd President Bill Clinton, where she was publicly known to have the executive ear in cases of legislation, New York State Senator, United States Secretary of State, among other positions.
Trying to be objective, fair, and balanced:
Clinton’s supporters see her muchly first and foremost as a sign of Feminine strength and accomplishment in an otherwise male “Old Boys Club.” As a result, she is viewed as having a thick skin and tough ability to stand to her beliefs and not be undermined for them. She keeps religion to herself, she has experience on Domestic as well as Foreign affairs, and has a judicial background advocating for children, women, and evolving on social justice issues. At core they see her as someone who can repair the Democratic party in government and mend the differences between the parties to get positive legislation moving again.
Clinton’s opposition see her as being part of the legislative downfall through lobbying and other financial incentives. As her political career is long, it carries more skeletons that her opposition views as sullying the wash. She is viewed as overly hawkish regardless of her gender. Clinton is viewed as someone who will not merely fail at uniting the Right and the Left, but more accurately seen as giving the Republicans cohesion in a stated dislike for her. She is viewed as having continually changing stances on issues and insincere of her treatment of groups that she speaks to. Finally, her opposition has lost respect and faith in her spouse, Past President Clinton.
Directly in opposition is Bernie Sanders, the incumbent and decade long US Senator from Vermont. With a US Federal legislation career spanning over a quarter century and a political career that extends over 10 years before that. Sanders elephant is that he is the second Jewish candidate for President after Joseph Lieberman. A self-proclaimed democratic socialist, Sanders has been “Independent” from the two main political parties for 35 years, but has caucused as a Democrat. His political alignment changed to being a member of the Democratic party in the past year. This allowed him to more easily run for President.
Again, in an attempt to be objective, fair, and balanced:
Sanders supporters view him as a revolutionary who has tired of the downfall of the American legislative and partisan system. They seem him as a defender of the middle class, global justice issues, and income inequality. He propagates strong rhetoric against lobbying and fundraising efforts that he perceives as tainting or worse controlling the efforts of politicians. His supporters are (for the most part) young and idealistic, and rallying to the battle cry for tenaciously needed change.
His Democratic opposition holds a very low opinion of Sanders. Above all, his message is viewed simply as political theatre designed to rally troops rather than offer individual situational solutions. He is viewed as having an unrealistic view of financial situations and less realistic, insubstantial solutions. His age is considered a huge detriment to his potential success as a President He is viewed as not appealing to the social justice groups he represents. He is seen as at times offensive to minorities and women and often frankly insulting and counter to their needs. As a result, he is seen as a dangerous candidate for violent and angry rhetoric and behaviour by groups of his supporters.
Caught in the middle are Independents. A group that truly represents the middle of these four extreme corners. Their plight is made worse by having only a partial voice in the process of winnowing the set down to the inevitable pair of gladiators to rise to battle in the American Coliseum. As members who are registered neither as Democrat nor Republican, their voice in the nomination process is limited by the decision of the State that they are in. They also become the largest wildcard in the process.
Finally, there is mainstream media. There is no reason to focus on them further than to acknowledge that as a whole has done more damage to the process than any one candidate, party, or individual supporter can do. They have put a microscope on a boil and turned a blind eye to the suffering. The attention of all winds up further uneducated, oblivious, and entrenched.
And here we are. All the players on the field. Another silence before the next storm.
And of course… finally, the centre of this essay.
So, what happens next?
There are two key elements that set off these paths. First, how does the Republican leadership handle Trump now that he is presumptive with a large following that will take the party in a direction that they never wanted to travel? Secondly, how will the result of the Democratic convention affect the future of their side of the war for the executive office?
In all four cases there have been the same message, “My way or the highway.” There is admittedly a small group that hopes for party unity so that when there are two sides the crowds will have a fair voice (well as fair as it has been) in choosing one of two candidates.
However, when you break these groups into will vote for Trump, will not vote for Trump, will vote for Clinton, will not vote for Clinton, will vote for Sanders, will not vote for Sanders; you wind up creating a very scary Venn diagram for American politics that has not been seen for around a century. There is the very real potential for more than two parties to have equally strong representation. There is also the very real potential possibility for there to be four parties that have formed by the Mitosis of the two mainstream parties.
While the current Democrat and Republican party manifestations fundamentally disagree on nearly every debatable topic, there is one thing that they stand in true unity on. The absolute polarization of America with a Two party system. Upon investigation the requirements of a third party candidate to get representation, respect, media attention, or any momentum in the electoral process one discovers that law has formally been stylized to almost entirely prevent it.
However mainstream media has naively thrown a Molotov Cocktail into the system. With unprecedented coverage of Trump combined with unprecedented under-coverage of Sanders; both counter-establishment candidates have been given a strong backing against the two parties that they seek to change. On the one side Trump’s followers are reveling in a recognized state of, “Finally, we have the voice people don’t want to hear.” On the other Sanders has rallied a following of people who perceive they have ongoing truth that their voices are in fact silenced.
The voices whether one agrees with or disagrees with them both ironically say the same thing. “Change it, we feel you are doing it wrong and telling us not to believe what we do.” As the traditional parties both find themselves wondering whether backing the popular candidate or opposing their popular candidate will help or harm their party as a whole.
On the Republican side with Trump gaining the nomination presumptively, there have been examples of opposition on the Republican side with matched fervor of opposition to the Vietnam War. Quite simply, people are burning their registration cards. From a party to be known in support of war, for individual members to take a symbolic action reflective of those who opposed government and war is a very deafening statement. Further, if the Party changes the rule to push out Trump, his very wide support base will probably and actively move to take down if not destroy the Republican party as we know it. The GOP is in a “damned if we do, damned if we don’t” state. Ironically how our Congress is currently viewed.
On the Democratic side with Sanders ‘not’ presumptively gaining the Democratic nomination, there has been perceived favouritism played to his opponent. His supporters are matching the fervor of opposition, but for the opposite reason. While the Republicans are losing membership over who is getting the nod. The Democrats are being threatened to lose membership because of who is not getting the nod. The Democrats are being buffeted between the blessed and supported candidate and the upstart rival who’s very wide support base will probably and actively move to take down if not destroy the Democratic party as we know it. The Party is in a “damned if we do, damned if we don’t” state. Ironically how our Congress is currently viewed.
One could almost say that the major political parties are finding itself the victim of a touch of political and ironic Karma.
Of course, in the midst of all this there are the independents whose true voice is yet to be heard.
Looking at how this can play out there are the two obvious post primary potentials
- Trump vs Clinton
- Trump vs Sanders.
This then has the following possible complications:
- Trump overturned for another Republican nominee
- Clinton nominated under visibly suspect conditions
- Sanders nominated ignoring the fact that he ends reasonably behind in pledged delegates.
In the cases above, both parties are left with extra need for culling back together a sense of party unity. In the case of Trump, we have already seen the seeds of anger, revulsion, and defection. In a party that has prided itself on having everyone fall in line with the message, finding party unity is somewhat foreign. In the case of the Democrats, the battle between Clinton and Sanders has been more verbally vicious that the primary between Clinton and Obama. In 2008 the party was afraid of being unable to unite the party. With Sanders we see disenfranchisement, revolution, and reformation.
In both camps there is a growing shadow of “We’re taking our ball and going home.” The advantage of having everyone down to two sides is that it makes it far easier to predict the path and compensate. Once the choices exceed two, the votes become a sacrifice from one side or the other. In the case of a third candidate appearing in the final race to the presidency, that third candidate is considered a spoiler. The candidate takes enough of the votes away from one candidate to give the third candidate the majority when otherwise the voting would have gone against them. It is through this that one can see how Ross Perot took Bush Sr’s votes from him giving Clinton a win for the Democrats while Ralph Nader did the same to Al Gore giving that Presidency to Bush Jr. Again… perhaps political karma.
All three candidates (and then adding the trasitional Republican party) all have a large compliment of voters that are saying “My person or else.” As a result, both parties are facing a distinct fear of not recapturing party unity. As is the nature in this, all parties are blaming the other for not ‘playing ball.’ Slogans such as “Trump or Bust” and “Bernie or Bust” have come to the forefront. A recent poll by politico in early April stated that even 15 percent of Clinton’s supporters wouldn’t vote for Sanders.
Is Trump spoiling the Republican vote? More than likely. Voting against Trump is one of the few things that Sanders and Clinton agree upon. Many independents are leaning in agreement with not supporting Trump as well as a large percentage of the Global community. This is a fact the Republicans are very aware of and are seemingly still looking for an answer. President Obama stated that we’re all waiting to see if Cleveland (where the Republican Convention will be) manages to ‘get out alive.’ One reporter described the convention as “The Mistake on The Mistake on the Lake” (Personal note, I am from Pittsburgh, so I am unashamedly unbiased and amused by this.)
Is Sanders spoiling the Democratic vote? Also, more than likely. With a fervor of skepticism over perceived irregularities in primary voting, a feeling of seemingly disenfranchising manipulations from the Democratic National Committee, and with a feeling that the opposing Democratic stands as a paragon for everything they want to fight against; Sanders supporters have stated a political intent to ‘go down with the ship should it sink.’ The same poll stated that 25% of Sanders’ supporters would not vote for Clinton. There are even numbers suggesting that a clear majority of Sanders voters might give their vote to Trump. Anger breeds anger.
Is Clinton spoiling the Democratic vote? And yet again, more than likely. With rhetoric that goes against Sanders supporters rather than finding common ground, the wedge grows and the number of votes she risks losing. She strongly embraces the system as it is and is more likely to work from the inside out. However, this is also the view opposed by both her opponents. Amusingly here, the otherwise Hawkish Clinton is stepping back into a position of peace. That is a pleasant piece of political irony to contemplate.
If the Republicans split the Party by blessing a non-Trump candidate, this will abundantly split the party and most likely the Democratic candidate will win the election. If the Democratic party can not find it’s way to unity against a Republican Party supporting Trump… The Republicans will likely win.
Typically, two is a balance and three is a tie breaker. In the case of a single spoiler this is not the case. However, the unique potential facing us is that both parties may in fact fracture giving us four parties.
Trump and his supporters move forth to become a “Totalitarian Republican” Party
Trump clearly stands for filtering out the masses and playing on their fears, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) to raise their anger and bitterness. While extremist, it has a huge following.
The GOP as we know it become the “Reformed Republican” Party
The GOP now with a free pass to have a “Rebuilding year” as termed in sports, would be able to migrate back from the brink of the Tea Party and false religious fundamentalism. Socially they could pull their platform back towards the centre while the economic views would still favour the legislators.
The separation between these parties would break down the Right’s most treasured possession, Gerrymandered voting districts.
Moving towards the Left we reach the “Centrist Democratic” Party
In a huge blow to those who grew up before 2000, the Traditional Democrats and Republicans would move so close to each other than on occasion they would caucus as a block over legislation. The old lines would still exist on many topics… but they’d get resolved far quicker. Both parties would be in strong support of Lobbing efforts and slow on cases like Citizen’s United.
Finally, we have the the DLS: “Democratic Liberal Socialist” party.
With an eye for revolution and a seemingly unchallengeable ethical basis; the DSL would be the most unswerving in their ideals. This would be an interesting political rubber band to the Tea Party. One entrenched group against social freedoms, the other an entrenched group for social freedoms.
But the real question comes down to how this can all happen without making things worse. As a bi-partisan system breaks down… So does in essence the electoral college. The entire US voting process has been called by many domestically and internationally sufficiently and critically damaged that it needs to have UN oversight in the same way other countries do.
In my opinion, a manner in which to remove the threat of spoiler candidates as well as reduce disenfranchising voters would require a few steps that would be viewed as infinitely disastrous, an abhorrence, difficult to perform, and yet have positive benefits:
- Complete US Voter rolls. Every US Citizen is on a role. They can send in a vote to a state or regional location. It carries a voter number. They can vote in person. Many people would prefer not to be on file with the government. This is of course most easily carried out in this country by not being born.
- Election day is a Federal Holiday. Only essential responders should be asked to work and at that in overtime paid shifts to guarantee them a vote.
- Voter assistance. Door to door assistance with pre-election day voting for often disenfranchised voters.
- Voter education. Each citizen on voting rolls should receive a booklet. The book summarizes the positions and issues available for vote. Each vote should have either an objective description or the position or the proposed legislation. In the case of a position, each candidate should state their platform. Other candidates should then be able to make statements against the candidate. Finally, the candidate may offer rebuttal but only in self-defense. For legislation having a statement in support, against and rebuttals on each side.
- The adoption of Hare-Clark voting.
Hare-Clark voting is designed to remove spoiler voting as well as to fill multiple vacancies without disenfranchising voters or causing one candidate to spoil the vote. The candidates are stack ranked. To illustrate let’s use an election where Jones and Brown are running on the Green and Yellow party Ticket. James who was in the Green Ticket with Jones decides to run under the Orange party. Jones may have been likely to defeat Brown. However now, James and Jones will likely split those votes and Brown will win.
With Hare Clark the voters rank their preferences. One can vote for any or all candidates in order of their preference to win. So one could vote: James, Jones, and then nobody else.
The voting count is reduced until the number of the candidates exceeds the number of positions by one and then the majority wins.
The reduction is done by giving the lowest voted candidates votes to their second choice.
The initial voting is:
- 250 James
- 300 Jones
- 400 Brown
James is low vote, so we rule him out, but look at his voter’s secondary choices.
- 175 Jones
- 25 Brown
- 50 (No second choice)
The votes still go to someone they choose. As a result:
- 475 = 300+175 Jones
- 425 = 400 + 25 Brown
James is not a spoiler candidate. People can have more faith voting on their candidate without initially voting for a ‘lesser of evils’ candidate and moreover.
This doesn’t assist ideological unity, but it reduces a feeling of being disenfranchised. Quite simply the idea of similarly aligned candidates cancelling out each other in favour for true opposition is removed.
In anything over a 2 member race, this is the most honest and transparent way to count an electoral vote.
This of course means that is very unlikely.
All of this comes down to how the parties will behave as their respective conventions come down to the wire. This also depends on how the parties progresses past the primary into the general election race. This leaves the public watching each party attempt to not lose the bulk of their support through concession and unification…
Amusingly, very few people are considering (at this point) if after the general election there will be any chance of federal unity, popular mandate, or further lack of faith in the government.
Granted it may be argued this has been missing for about 25-50 years, while others may suggest it’s been going on closer to 240 years.
To the candidates for the US Presidency in 2016:
Have fun storming the castle. It’ll take a miracle.
“We will all go together when we go.”