Stuck in the Middle with You, Wondering What it is I Should Do. Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right.
BY HOWARD BARBANEL
After having watched both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions I’m solidly convinced that the political world has been sent to a paradoxical dimension not tethered to any of the familiar signposts of the past 80-plus years.
Just as the Internet and mobile devices have disrupted traditional media, traditional shopping and even traditional dating and social mores, the brave new world created by technology seems to be having a tsunami effect on every aspect of American life up to and including presidential politics.
Millions are reached with withering tweets in nanoseconds that obviate the impact of hour-long speeches and lengthy policy analyses. Tens of millions of dollars are raised from millions of donors almost in real time with the touch of fingers on a mobile screen that obviates the need for big money from big donors. And we are now in the midst of a presidential campaign that would have been unimaginable even four years ago.
Hillary Clinton gave the speech of her life on Thursday night, July 28th to end the Democratic Convention. Up until that speech I harbored a solid and visceral hatred for this woman. Now, thanks to her oratory I now only have a solid ambivalence – which is progress because there are millions of Americans out there just like me.
The gradual transformation from hate to ambivalence is possible partly because the Republican standard-bearer is so utterly repugnant to me in just about every which way. Donald Trump does not represent my morals or mores. His predilection for Don Rickles-esque insult and endless pejorative politics is repugnant to my sense of civility and decency. (And, please, I don’t mean to insult Mr. Rickles who does put-downs in jest, not with intent as does Mr. Trump). He attacks people’s wives. His business practices don’t jibe with caring for the working man. His impulsive temperament and thin skin and his complete inability to accept criticism scare me witless. He’s the first Republican since 1940 to run on an isolationist platform. He wants to eviscerate global free trade which could cause a worldwide recession and who knows how much military tension, especially with China.
He wants to undermine NATO and he’s an enabler of Vladimir Putin’s adventurism and he goes on “ABC This Week” with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, July 31st and lies about his Putin relationship, contradicting a half dozen video clips from the past three years of him saying the opposite. He wants to raise taxes. He has no plan to cut the deficit. He actually takes the National Enquirer seriously. Hardly anyone of any consequence in the GOP backs him. Still.
Hillary Clinton also makes me queasy. I don’t like her poor judgment with her emails while Secretary of State. I don’t like that she lied for a full year about the emails. I really don’t like that she went on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace on July 31st and lied about it again, to the point that The Washington Post gave her performance “Four Pinocchios.” I don’t like what she and Debbie Wasserman-Shultz did to Berne Sanders and that Hillary hired Wasserman-Shultz immediately on her resignation as Chair of the DNC.
I don’t like that she and her husband knowingly raised tens of millions for their foundation from foreign interests while she was Secretary of State and the lush speaking fees they both got personally over the past eight years. I can only imagine how much fruit will be shaken from the trees by Bill if Hillary is elected President. I don’t like that the worldwide radical Islamist terror epidemic is given low priority by the Democrats; that she was part and parcel of the massive pressure on Israel which went so far as to interfere in Israel’s elections on behalf of Benjamin Netanyahu’s opponents. I don’t feel the Iran nuclear deal will keep the world safe because the Iranians have been flouting their violations of the agreement in the world’s face day in and day out. She also fails to take the federal deficit seriously. It’s blossomed to $19 trillion and growing.
She absolutely came across as more human and less power-hungry in her acceptance speech and made some good points but like many Americans I don’t completely trust her and the sound of her voice is like nails on a chalkboard, so the likeability factor is sorely lacking. That she is the pro-NATO anti-Putin candidate as a Democrat is the world put upside down.
I’d probably have voted for Bernie Sanders had he won the Democratic nomination even though I disagree with most of his policies, primarily because he’s likeable because of his honesty, integrity and consistency. (For me and millions of Americans character does matter).
So, like many Americans, right now I’m at “none of the above,” meaning I can’t vote for Trump and I’m not ready to vote for Hillary. This will be a wild ride over the next three months leading up until Election Day. It may be that voter turnout in November will be very low owing to so many Americans’ discomfort with either candidate and many will just sit on their hands and stay home. Right now, many of us are in limbo with nowhere to go – so I’m stuck like so many folks I know in the void for the first time since I started voting in 1980.
Howard Barbanel is Editor of InauguralClock.com. More of his writing can be found on The Huffington Post and at www.howardbarbanel.net.