11/5/15

Infighting . . .

You may have heard (and perhaps watched . . . with 14 Million viewers the spectacle grabbed more eyes than the World Series and was CNBC's highest-watched program in the history of the business network) that the GOP/RNC held their third Presidential Debate last Wednesday evening.

While the debate itself was another two-parter (with the proverbial "kids table" hosting four men not-yet-ready to admit they are not going to be our next President (or even Under Secretary for National Park Admission Rates at this point) and ten "contenders" who are all fighting for a piece of the - presumed - larger pie of American voters . . . the Conservative block. I won't get back on my soapbox here on how confused I am by our politically (financially) conservative leanings but I WILL get on my soapbox on one thing . . . the Republican nominee process is in big, big trouble.

No. This is not my personal politics (as vaguely hinted at - I am a liberal, Bernie Sanders socialist at heart (who is far more centrist and practical in my political approach . . . which is why I still think Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee)) this is the established, political punditry conscensis. But WHY is it in trouble? I have three theories.

1) The GOP campaign, thus far, has been all about "soundbites" and "moments" versus "politics" and "leadership". Sure, sure, the GOP can blame the media outlets that host its debates and cover its candidates for this simplicity (and they will blame the American attention span and the pressures of media-as-business) but we all (both major parties and all smaller parties that can't get any airtime) have to admit that politics has lost America's interest. FDR held an average of 35% of America's attention for 13 - 45 minutes (each) for 30 consecutive Fireside Chats. For context that would be like 111 Million people watching the CNBC debate last week. If the GOP is serious about debate moderators not asking candidates what their Secret Service "handles" would be or what their greatest weakness is they should sit down the 13 men and 1 woman that comprise the candidates pulling enough support (with four of them at less than 1%, three more of them at 5% or less, four more at 10% or less with just two candidates higher) and explain to all of them how fewer candidates would mean a more constructive, real debate and conversation. But, instead, blame the media.

2) As I've discussed several times on this blog there is clearly a frustration with Americans and politicians. We (to approximate) see "them" as pawns of the establishment with no ideas or work or resolve in them. They, like my Congressman Mike Pompeo really is, are just there to do the bidding of their party and their donors. WHY else would Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina (who, admittedly, has dropped way off the last few weeks) have been leading a pack of Governors, Senators, Congressmen, and hybrids of the above in pursuit of the highest office in the land? Say what you want about the Democrats but Lawrence Lessig (who has a quite compelling, single-issue platform) has less than 1% support in the polls . . . the same as two Governors, a Senator, a former Senator, and a former Governor across the aisle. Again - if there were less candidates in the mix there would be less noise and clutter and the candidates with the best ideas (and I'll openly acknowledge here that might mean first-time candidates/never-before-elected aspirants still lead) there would be more opportunity for all of them to clarify who they really are and what they really want to do vs. just being dismissed as the status quo keepers.

3) ENOUGH with the in-fighting. Yes, yes. Obama and Clinton went at each other like actual animals (while politely smiling and eventually working together for a historic effort to rebuild American ties with the world during Obama's first administration) and I know that attacking opponents is seen as a way to gain favor and differentiate but there is a way to do it (voting records and historic positions on issues) and a way not to do it (releasing personal cell phone numbers and generally talking sh*t like the campaign is a rap battle or MySpace wall). This is never more obvious than the disaster that has become of the once-collegial dynamic between Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. Sure, sure. Jeb was - for YEARS - the presumed nominee (Dad, brother, and history can't be disputed). Sure, sure. Rubio was - for YEARS - seen as the future of Republican politics in America (Latino, not of the wealthy elite, etc.). Both Floridians, the men are frustrated that - as my alma mater notes - they are not leading their own state and they don't collectively, hold a third of the support in the state (for context Christie support in New Jersey is now in the single digits - something he (hilariously) believes is based on their want to keep him in the Garden State). But these men are not going to make any inroads with frustrated American voters who hate politics-as-usual and are so desperate for a departure from it that they will support . . . ANYONE else.

So there are my three theories on why things are the way they are now. The GOOD news (for Republicans who want to stay engaged) is that I fully believe this is temporary. As is the curse on Bernie Sanders . . . people "support" Trump and Carson but don't believe them to be electable. So by the time the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary are held we'll likely see a Bush or Rubio or Cruz surging and, within a few frenzied months, we'll be back to a slate of just a few, traditional politicians who can and will HOPEFULLY be talking about real issues and real positions as they try to secure a very important nomination (the GOP doesn't want to lose four out of the last five popular votes while the presumed majority of American political persuasion).

I don't know if we'll be any better for it but hopefully there will be lessons learned and BOTH (major - and all the other minor) parties will start adjusting positions and buy-ins and platforms and issues so develop better candidates (first time and, in time, established) that can pull more people back to politics and issues and meaningful discussion on who we are and where we are going.