The Third Third

The Political Circus

So, just when we’re on the cusp of finally being able to say to our daughters, “Look, you, too, could one day be the President of the United States,” much as Americans have said to our sons for more than 200 years, we’ve got the Republican Right trotting out so many hare-brained candidates as to give this promise of ultimate opportunity a really bad name.

While the original impetus for the message had to be to encourage young boys to strive to be all they could be in this great new democratic land of freedom and limitless possibility (at least for white males), i.e., Do well in school; work hard; live a good, productive and moral life, it must have gotten lost in translation somewhere along the way. Or at least overpowered by egos that won’t stop.  Some of these clowns, er, I mean candidates, actually believe anyone, literally Anyone,  can be President of the United States, no matter his or her qualifications or experience (or lack thereof), no matter how narrow his or her point of view, no matter how publicly or miserably he or she might have previously failed in any similarly grandiose undertaking.  

Cringe-worthy doesn’t begin to describe the self-promoting pronouncements of Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump, Rick Santorum, Ben Carson and Bobby Jindal, though Sarah Palin (and how I hoped I would never have to type that name again) may still win the there’s-absolutely-no-there-there prize. (Dontcha’ know?)  Then there’s Rand Paul’s three years of scolding in the U.S. Senate and Ted Cruz’s 18 months of take-no-prisoners tactics there — Do they have any idea of how the time-tested institutions of government actually work?  Which is, at base, what is most concerning.  These folks don’t really care if government works anymore; they may be more inclined to destroy it. They’re not out to lead the country or strengthen the democracy; they’re out to serve their own discrete self-interest(s).  With the likes of this field, “small-minded” takes on new meaning, which would an amusing thing to say if it weren’t beyond embarrassing and even a little dangerous to imagine that the complex world we live in doesn’t appear to demand more of our highest elected leader.   

When our expectations are so drastically reduced, what significance is it possible to invest in our lone vote, our personal involvement in the process?  And that’s terrifying:  that we would take our marbles and go home disillusioned and disgusted, effectively abandoning democracy to characters like these and the moneyed interests pulling their strings.

I hear us, people like us, retreating, and I am fighting the temptation to do so myself.  What motivates me to engage the process instead is this very real threat I see to democratic (small d) politics and policies writ large and, returning to my first thoughts, the very real possibility that women across the country will, from this election forward, finally be able to say to their daughters as well as to their sons, “Look, you, too, could one day be President of the United States.” I don't want to let the clowns to destroy that promise.

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