I don’t really want to spend any more time on the Democratic and Republican Debate schedule. The only reason I originally broached the topic was because the Democrats sounded like they were taking student debt and crime on Wall Street seriously. After three debates, it sounds like the Republicans are willing to even give some air time to these issues as well. The reason I want to stop covering the debates is because it has been giving me some really negative feelings, and one of the reasons I started this blog was to bring some positivity into my life even as I face some of the more difficult topics like personal debt and predatory financial practices.
There have been a couple of debates since I started writing follow-up articles, and I am not going to cover them in detail. Rather, I want to wrap-up the whole concept by putting everything in perspective. In Michigan, the primaries for both the Democratic and Republican Party take place on March 8, 2016, and I want to be prepared when they happen.
THE REMAINING CANDIDATES
As of the latest debates, there are three Democratic candidates — Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, and Bernie Sanders — and eight Republican candidates (with a 2.5% or higher in an aggregate of polls) — Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump.
This may not properly represent the candidates we are going to see on the tickets in March, and this is mainly because there are still four candidates campaigning in the Republican Party with an aggregate pole percentage of 1-2.5% — Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Santorum — and potentially others in either party with lower percentages still.
We will deal with the undercards and misfit toys if/when it comes to that, but for now I want to develop a strategy of dealing with the eleven candidates who are in the running right now: Bush, Carson, Clinton, Cruz, Fiorina, Kasich, O’Malley, Paul, Rubio, Sanders, and Trump.
RED, WHITE, AND BLUE
As a show of my patriotic spirit, I have divided the candidates into three categories: red, white, and blue.
Red represents the candidates who I do not under any circumstance want to proceed to the general election. These include Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Carly Fiorina. The phrase I associate with this group is “In the Red,” because these are the candidates that I think would be detrimental to our country in the highest degree. Businesses don’t want their ledgers in the red, and I don’t want this election to go that way either.
White represents the candidates who I would not generally vote for, but who I would consider voting for if it is between them and one of the candidates from the previous category. These include Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. The phrase I associate with this group is “White Elephant,” since they are both Republicans and the elephant is the symbol of the GOP.
Blue represents the candidates who I would vote for in the general election. This does not mean that I believe in everything that they stand for. Rather, it suggests that these candidates are relatively acceptable and with the push of activists they might actually get some good policy passed. These include Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley for the Democrats, and John Kasich, and Rand Paul for the Republicans. The phrase I associate with this group is “Out of the Blue,” mainly because I thought Paul and Kasich would have been knocked out of the running by now and they pulled it together enough to leap frog over Christie and Huckabee and stick around.
Hillary Clinton – There are some serious problems associated with Clinton. I have no problem admitting to that. Her email scandal suggests problems with government transparency and she leans a little too far to the side of the hawks for my taste, but with the exception of maybe Rand Paul I think the issues of aggressive war-mongering and dishonesty probably apply to all of the candidates equally. The fact of the matter is that we have a Republican majority in the House and the Senate, and as long as that is the case I am going to support a Democrat who actually has a chance. That’s who Hillary Clinton is to me. She is also, as Marco Rubio suggested, probably the most experienced candidate out there.
Bernie Sanders – There are plenty of people out there lining up to show that the numbers don’t add up when it comes to Sanders’ policies, but I am enamored by the fact that he approaches economics from the perspective of ethics first and foremost. The seemingly endless supply of Sanders Facebook memes proves that he has lived his platform for decades, and the excitement young people feel for him is reminiscent of the activist college movements to support Obama in 2008. Beyond that, the other candidates yap about their issues with special interest groups but Sanders has an average campaign donation of $33.51 with 99% of his funds coming in under $250.
Martin O’Malley – I think O’Malley would probably make a better Vice President than a President. In fact, a mock election at Western Illinois University boasting 100% accuracy since 1975 predicted that a Sanders/O’Malley victory in the 2016 Election. On his own, I think he would make a better candidate than most of the Republicans, so I wouldn’t mind seeing O’Malley as the Commander in Chief of this nation.
John Kasich – Kasich feels like the old-school traditional Republican that we’re used to, with a reasonable distaste for big government but a natural tendency toward bipartisan solutions. He has a proven record for balancing some really tricky budgets on both the state and federal level, and that is something that nobody on either stage can claim. He spits in the face of trickle-down economics by presenting bottom-up solutions for the American people. I have been getting ready for the tragic moment when the Republicans oust Kasich — their best hope for a legitimate President — from the running, but it hasn’t happened just yet and I consider that a victory for democracy.
Rand Paul – Where I describe Kasich as bipartisan, I would call Rand Paul anti-partisan. Where does this place his allegiance? It would seem that he is in pretty tight with the Constitution and sensible solutions to world problems. Paul is one of a few candidates who appears to have a clear, well-researched plan for tackling most of the nation’s big ticket issues and his campaign against hypocrisy in his own party makes for some interesting debates. He turned the November Republican debate into an object lesson on what it does and does not mean to be fiscally conservative. SPOILER: Fiscal conservatism does not resonate well with ever increasing Defense Department spending.
Marco Rubio – Rubio has a terrible attendance record in congress, a fact that I overlooked from the get go but which bothers me more and more daily. I’m not worried that he would be an absentee President — in fact, I don’t think that is possible. My concern is that Marco Rubio has been accepting a paycheck for not doing his job. On the other hand, I see Rubio as a subtle politician who is much more progressive than he appears, especially in terms of immigration. If you read between the lines, Rubio is more concerned with reforming the legalization process and getting to the root of the issue than building any walls. I started out thinking Rubio might be the Republican for the job, but at this point in the Primary cycle his strongest qualification seems to be that he is not Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, or Carly Fiorina.
Jeb Bush – Jeb Bush is awkward as f*&$, but he may be the most qualified candidate on the current GOP Primary ticket. Though Trump and Carson have shown some early surges of support, the same Western Illinois University mock election that predicted a Sanders/O’Malley ticket to win the general election predicted Jeb Bush to win the Republican primary elections with Rubio as his running mate.
Donald Trump – If we have learned anything from the last several months, it is that Donald Trump is racist, sexist, he speaks at a fourth-grade level, and he has bankrupted four companies, putting thousands of people out of jobs. If you want someone who speaks his mind, vote for Sanders or Paul. The writers at South Park got it right when they said that Trump’s run for presidency was a joke that we all took a little too far.
Ben Carson – When I heard Ben Carson was a highly accomplished neurosurgeon, I immediately liked him, but I liked him less and less with every word that came out of his mouth. I don’t know if his highly specialized training blinded him to the verifiable truths of economics, archaeology, and science in general, or if a misguided religious fervor is at fault here, but I cannot believe the things this guy can get away with saying. He makes a fool out of the Christians in America that he claims to represent with his caricature of the belief system, and that’s not something we should be rewarding him for. Also, the guy has no charisma. One of my most Conservative friends said he wouldn’t vote for Carson simply because he looks like he’s asleep even at lively public debates.
Ted Cruz – Cruz has a preacher’s voice and a car salesman’s attitude, and so far it has kept him in the race despite his supreme lack of substance. When I think of Cruz, I see him as a one trick pony. The nearest he has ever come to significance was the moment when he called out CNBC for trolling the candidates during their GOP Debate. That is not the makings of a President. It is the makings of an auto-tuned YouTube video.
Carly Fiorina – While I don’t think Fiorina would make for a good President, I also do not condone the ad hominem attacks that keep flying in her direction simply because she is a strong woman. Donald Trump doesn’t get accused of not smiling enough. Donald Trump does not get torn down because of his strong stances on issues. Donald Trump does not get judged by his wardrobe (his hairpiece, maybe…). Fiorina is a woman, and for some people out there this means that she is not a human as well. Shame on you. I have a problem with Fiorina’s politics, not with the fact that she doesn’t have a Y chromosome. While she will start many of her speeches with well researched details, sensible criticism, and much needed outing of hypocrisy of both parties, she always finds a way to tie these thoughts together with some scary iron fist policies that don’t actually benefit the people she claims to be speaking for. Is Fiorina better than Trump, Carson, and Cruz? Yes. But if that were a qualification for public office then there are probably at least a million people over 35 in this country I’d rather vote for.
* * *
The debates have already gotten out of hand, and the terrorist attacks in Paris are just going to turn this Primary Election into even more of a circus. As such, I don’t think I could have found a better time to step away from writing on politics. As you can see, there were a few people in the list of candidates that I didn’t have much good to say about, and that is exactly why it is time to back up and reassess. Once we know who is going to be on the Michigan Ballot, I think I might pick up on some of these themes once again, and if the topics of college education and Wall Street criminality don’t get completely dropped from the discussion maybe we can talk about each candidate’s stance on these issues. Until then, pay attention to what is going on and think for yourself.