A Depressing Start to the 2016 Election

By Graham Glover

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Last summer I wrote how excited I was about the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. For a political junkie, nothing compares to the election of the American President. My excitement for 2016 still exists, even though we are over 17 months from Election Day.

Our presidential election process is an odd thing. I don’t think there is another nation that takes as long as we Americans do in deciding who will be our Commander in Chief. From the moment President Obama said, “So help me God”, at his second inaugural in January 2013, the 2016 race began. Some claimed Obama was a lame duck immediately after he was reelected – 4 years prior to him leaving office!

So here we are, 17 months out, and every day the news headlines are highlighted by what our presidential aspirants are doing and saying. I can’t count the number of Republicans running. I think the GOP has over 20 people declared or seriously considering seeking our nation’s highest office. The Democrats might have a primary, if one thinks running against Hillary is a primary. So far there is 1 that is doing so, with 1 or 2 more contemplating taking on the most presumptive nominee in the history of American elections. In August the debate season will begin, with advertisements filling our airwaves and the internet long before the candidates first square off against one another. Yes, 2016 is alive and well, and excited as I am about the election process, I couldn’t be more unenthused about those who could be on the ballot next November.

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My thoughts stem not so much from the character of those running. I think there are some great individuals, with some well-earned credentials, who are or may run for president. I don’t know any of them personally, so mine is not an attack on their person or, despite the desires of some, their character. On the whole, I think this is a solid group of people, on both sides of the aisle.

Rather, I am unimpressed with those running for president because I have yet to hear anything of significant substance come from their campaigns. They are all doing a great job of pandering to their respective bases. Hillary sounds more liberal by the day, something she most assuredly is not. But the Democratic base is as left as I’ve seen it in my lifetime and so HRC is doing what the Clintons do best – campaigning. Most of the Republicans are doing the same with the Tea Party fringe on the Republican Party. Being 90% conservative isn’t enough anymore. It’s all or nothing for those on the Right. One need only look at the candidacy of Jeb Bush to realize this. Jeb was a very conservative governor of Florida. Even when I disagreed with him, I always found him authentically conservative and a good representative of his party and governing philosophy. But now, because Jeb supports Common Core and a more pragmatic immigration policy than those on the hard right, he is called a RINO or even a liberal. When he left the governor’s mansion Jeb was the darling of the Republican Party. My how times have changed. I wonder if Reagan could even make it out of the Republican primary this time…

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What though are those running for president offering the voters? I haven’t heard anything new – anything novel. Democrats continue their ridiculous claim that the rich and the religious are evil and the cause of all that ails America. Republicans ignorantly think the poor are lazy, that liberals hate America, and that more immigrants pose a national security threat to our nation. The campaign rhetoric will be the same, with a script most of us could already write.

Where however is the leadership vision that I think most voters crave? Where is the grand narrative of what America is or may yet become? Are we really going to hear the same issues debated that have been part of our campaign discourse for the past 20 years? Is there nothing new to discuss? Is there no new way of addressing issues or actually governing? And while I don’t have an inherent issue with political dynasties, when do you think we will hear why Hillary and Jeb want to be president? Honestly, these two are clearly the best their party has to offer, but I couldn’t tell you one thing that defines their campaign or the issue(s) dearest to them.

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The 2016 campaign is shaping up to be a bore. It will be exciting to see how the Republicans navigate a very crowded primary and if Hillary will even acknowledge those that are or might run against her (she’s doing a phenomenal job of ignoring the press these days). After the primaries we’ll go back to a plot we all know. How utterly depressing.

As for me, I’m still hopeful someone will step up to the plate and deliver for America what she needs – a president with a clear reason and purpose for being president.

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