Poltics as (Un)usual
There are some people I follow on Twitter that I simply have to mute, because two-thirds, or more, of their tweets are about politics. And it's not anything insightful, it's just the usual nonsense about nonsense. It adds nothing to anyone's understanding, and it's fatiguing. I mute them for a month, and it's amazing how fast a month goes by, and how little anything has changed.
So, mute again.
This is the most bizarre election in my lifetime. The two oldest candidates, each disliked by over half the electorate. One wonders how either of them could be elected. One of them will be, though.
I'm in the unfortunate position of knowing how bad Trump is for the country, but having no love for Clinton whatsoever. The difficulty Clinton is having with Bernie Sanders and his supporters is due to the "failure" of the Obama administration.
Obama was supposed to be a transformational leader, "change we can believe in." It turned out that his style of governing involved compromise and pragmatism, which is hardly transformational; and he encountered a Republican opposition that was transformational after the 2010 mid-terms. Instead of changing his style, and leading a national debate, he kept trying to do the same-old-same-old, with predictable results.
Nothing got done.
The Republicans couldn't repeal Obamacare, or stop "executive overreach." The Democrats couldn't get anything passed.
So the partisans in both parties got very angry; and now we have Trump, and Bernie Sanders spoiling the coronation of Hillary Clinton.
And let me say a few things about Obama's speech about compromise and purity in politics. It's being used by Clinton supporters to bash Sanders supporters. It seems to me that this is Obama's blind spot. He campaigned on "change we can believe in," but didn't change anything.
Yes, the economy got better. It was always going to get better. One can make the argument that it didn't get better enough, fast enough, because Obama was too eager to compromise, in the expectation of some kind of reciprocity from his opponents. Yes, we got the Affordable Care Act, but we abandoned the single-payer option too quickly, out of this pragmatic, vain hope of winning some Republican support. But Gitmo is still a prison. The rich got even richer, the middle class smaller, the climate got warmer, and the executives in charge of the big banks avoided prison and collected their outrageous salaries and bonuses. And, oh by the way, we're still engaged in two conflicts in the Middle East.
And look at his latest Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. Another solid, moderate, middle-of-the-road, pragmatic pick that, in ordinary times would have won bipartisan support and easy confirmation. One can make the argument that Garland was picked to illustrate a point, but it's also emblematic of his whole administration.
"If you can keep your head about you when everyone else is losing theirs, perhaps you're not looking at the situation properly."
Obama has been a massive disappointment, because he failed to read and respond to the Republican right's reaction to his administration. He should have been using the presidency as a bully pulpit and led a national debate on the role and size of government. He ducked the fight. And now we have the two factions even angrier, and they're fighting it out with two candidates that the only thing the majority of people can agree about is that they don't like them!
I believe that whoever is elected in November is going to be a one-term president. This is an emotional spasm, and nothing good will come of it.
Trump will be perceived as, and may actually be, a transformational leader. That will energize the angry right. Clinton has the support of a solid minority of Democrats, and has to hope to turn out a large anti-Trump vote. For the time being, the Clinton faction seems content with doing their best to alienate Sanders supporters, so good luck with that.
If Clinton somehow wins, I still believe she's going to face a Republican majority at least in the House, which means years of investigations and inaction. If she manages to take the House and the Senate, she's going to be Obama II, and try to engage Republicans who will hate her and oppose her anyway. My guess is she'll avoid the fight as well, and will lose reelection, and may face a strong challenge from the left for the nomination again.
Anyway, at least we've turned a page. I believe we can now stop saying "It's Bush's fault!"
It's Obama's fault.