Election 2016 — Why the Hell Did We Get Here?


Election 2016 — Why the Hell Did We Get Here?

So, this election year the U.S. electorate has reached a fork in the road.  Unfortunately, both forks lead directly off a very tall cliff with large granite boulders at the end of the long ride down.  And regardless of which fork you — the individual voter — choose this year, we’re all forked.  On Monday I described how we got to this Hobson’s Choice of deeply flawed candidates.  Today I’ll touch upon why we got to this point.

Through 1968 candidates were chosen by party leaders in the clichéd “smoke-filled back room”.  Primaries and caucuses were conducted, but they held only marginal sway on the ultimate choice of either party.  Following the Chicago Riot during the 1968 Democrat Convention that began to change, with primaries and caucuses eventually taking over primary control of nominee selection in both parties.  But there’s a problem with that selection concept.  Party leaders are big-picture people who choose candidates moderate enough to swing independent voters to their cause, while caucus and primary voters more often tend to favor ideology over electability and, unfortunately in many cases, party allegiance over what is best for the country.  This has led to increasing polarization in politics at every level over the past 40+ years.  Elected officials are unwilling to compromise or offer up solutions that may run counter to the wishes of their party’s most extreme wing for fear that contributions and volunteers will dry up during reelection; or potentially worse for elected representatives, as demonstrated by the Tea Party, candidates may find themselves facing a interparty primary challenge that leads to their immediate defeat, or so weakens them that they simply cannot prevail against an opposition party candidate during the election.

Add in a devastating recession, a less-than-optimum economic recovery, growing pressures on the middle class, an ever increasing disparity in income and wealth not seen since the robber baron days of the late 19th Century, an unregulated and unaccountable financial sector that routinely and repeatedly steals from the middle class (both directly and through government bailouts) with absolute impunity, a campaign finance structure that is merely legalized bribery, and a never-ending multi-front war spanning whole swathes of the globe, and you have a recipe for scapegoating, populism, political pandering, and fear-based campaigning not seen since Germany in the 1920s and ’30s.  In other words, the primary-and-caucus system of selection has removed all safeguards against ideologues and political polarization.  The inevitable results?  Donald Trump!  Hillary Clinton!

Would these two be our upcoming choices in November if we did away with caucuses and if taxpayer-funded primaries were required to allow participation of independents and cross-voting?  Highly doubtful.  So, how do we fix this broken system long term?  Find out Wednesday.

Monday:  Election 2016 — How the Hell Did We Get Here?

Today:  Election 2016 — Why the Hell Did We Get Here?

Wednesday:  Election 2016 — Fixing This System Long Term

Thursday:  Election 2016 — But How Do We Fix This Year’s Mess?

Friday:  Friday:  Election — A Call to Arms

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Election 2016 — Why the Hell Did We Get Here?

  1. Pingback: Election 2016 — How the Hell Did We Get Here? | R. Doug Wicker — Author

  2. andrejute

    Grand analysis, Doug. But you’ve left out something important. What has happened for several decades now, since the men with cigars in the smokey rooms gave over to Joe Public, is that Jill Pressure Group have taken over from Joe Public. A representative essentially gets ellected by putting together the votes of a few pressure groups, and then he represents them, not a district, not an electorate, but some minority pressure groups, and screw the rest. The NRA is pretty good at this sort of pressure group politics, but the outright masters of pressure group politics are the environmentalists.

    • Actually, it’s a bit more sinister than even that. These “pressure groups” are now tied to their respective parties part-and-parcel, and often with zero results for their efforts.

      Example 1: Big Labor is in the back pocket of the Democrats, even though the Democrats turned right around and screwed them under Bill Clinton with NAFTA, WTO authorization, and Most-Favored status for China. Result: Both parties know that the Democrats will get labor support regardless, so the Republicans write them off and the Democrats take them for granted. The result is neither party watches out for labor’s interests. And Big Labor is too stupid, too intimidated, and too afraid to do the one thing that would wake up BOTH parties, and that is to sit out one or two elections working for NEITHER side.

      Example 2: The NRA last election cycle turned on the ONE president in over a century to actually have signed into law pro-gun legislation. And he did it TWICE, and while the Democrats had control of both houses. Instead, Wayne La Pierre endorsed the one candidate with the worst gun rights record to have EVER run for the office of the president — the former governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Now, as with Big Labor, the Democrats have written them off, and the Republicans have been taught that they can pretty much take the NRA for granted. The NRA, due to this stupidity, really dodged a bullet last election, because after Sandy Hook the ONE president who could, and WOULD, have gotten an assault weapons ban through congress is the one who bullied one through in his home state. Old saying: Only Nixon could go to China. Today’s equivalent: Only Mitt Romney could have signed an assault weapons ban.

      By the way, I am firmly convinced that had the NRA just NOT endorsed last election, and had NOT so vociferously attacked Barack Obama, then the president would not have attempted payback with his calls for gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting. In other words, the NRA did NOTHING to help gun owners in this country, and very nearly cost them dearly.

  3. Pingback: Election 2016 — Fixing This System Long Term | R. Doug Wicker — Author

  4. Pingback: Election 2016 — But How Do We Fix This Year’s Mess? | R. Doug Wicker — Author

  5. Pingback: Election 2016 — A Call to Arms | R. Doug Wicker — Author