We head into the 2016 Presidential election year with more anger, more pessimism and more outright hate than I have seen in more than a half-century of covering politics as a reporter or working inside the system as an operative.
“This year’s Republican presidential campaign is where hope and optimism go to die. Don’t pretend that Donald Trump is an exotic outlier. His spirit haunts a party that can’t get enough of gloom and fear,” writes Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr.
The Democrats aren’t faring much better. Front-runner Hilliary Rodham Clinton is wrapped up in a classified email scandal that won’t die and her campaign is facing a re-emergence of former President Bill Clinton’s womanizing and dalliances in the Oval Office during his two terms.
The semen stain on intern Monica Lewinsky’s dress may be a symbolic stain on the entire Presidential process in America today.
Dionne points out that conservative writer Mitchell Blatt felt optimism in the early states of this year’s election season. He praised Senator Marco Rubio of Florida as “a Republican Obama” who “is just what the Gand Old Party needs to face a changing electorate.”
Now even Rubio is spouting doom and gloom:
Something’s happening. This doesn’t look my country anymore. I don’t recognize America. What’s happening to my country? I feel left behind. I feel out of place.
And who is Rubio blaming? Barack Obama. I hear the same dismal rhetoric about the decline of America at breakfast tables in Floyd and from longtime friends who work within the political system.
Many point to the angry and hateful rhetoric of Donald Trump, the flashy real estate promoter and former talk show host who leads most polls for the Republican nomination for President.
Trump is a calculating, hateful man who plays on fears of those who believe in conspiracy theories and looks at the worst. Trump’s followers hate America while claiming he, and only he, can save it.
Others blame the Presidency of Barack Obama. He is a disappointment to many but is here the root cause of our problems?
Candidate Rubio, once considered a serious contender for the GOP nomination, now sounds more like Trump as he tried to find a way to resurrect his failed campaign.
“This is why people are so frustrated,” he said to a fundraising gathering in New Hampshire last week. “This is why they’re so angry, this is why they are so scared. If we get this election wrong, there may be no turning back for America.”
Turning back for what? The failed policies of the Republican-led Congress or the shameful war-mongering of former GOP President George W. Bush?
Or maybe a bit further back to the days of Ronald Wilson Reagan, the former actor who recited scripts carefully prepared by GOP operatives in the 1980s? I was one of those operatives (principle writer of the “Voices for Victory” operation) and that is a shame I must live with.
America is undergoing change that is more like an upheaval. The economic downturns that sent manufacturing jobs overseas and eliminating a once-thriving middle class are failures of both political parties that sold their souls to the big-money special interest devils that control the political system.
Sadly, I was also one of those devils. As vice president for political programs for the National Association of Realtors from 1987 through 1992 I directed the association’s political action committee — then America’s largest — and dispensed millions to members of Congress and/or those who wanted to join the party.
Did I serve America? No, I served the special interests of the real estate community even if those interests conflicted with what was best for the country. Am I proud of that? Hell, no. I left the Realtors in 1992 an alcoholic, a cynic and — in far too many ways — a broken man who found little to believe in or support.
Today, after 21 years, six months and five days sober and living one step at a time with help from Alcoholics Anonymous, a loving wife and supportive friends, I see an America consumed with hate, greed, bigotry, racism and a path to destruction.
America is a broken nation, a dream that has turned into a nightmare and a culture that puts political agendas ahead of what is best for its people.
Is the end near? God, I hope not. Some say it is already over. Let’s hope they are wrong.
Can we repair what is wrong? I hope so. The answer does not lie in the shameful and hateful rhetoric of Donald Trump or the constantly changing stories of Hillary Clinton.
Is there someone else running for President who can fix things?
Not that I can see. Each are part of the existing system or promote a system that cannot, in my opinion work.
“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves,” wrote William Shakespeare in his play, Julius Caesar.
Ironically, legendary television journalist Edward R. Murrow would also use the quote in his classic dissection of the America-threatening antics of Sen. Joseph McCarthy.
It helped bring an end to McCarthy’s “war on Commmism” tyranny in the early 1950s. Maybe we need to dust it off for use again.
We need to try something…anything…if it is not already too late.