By on June 14, 2016

2016: Election or infection?

160615RedneckJACKSON HOLE, WY – The candidates in this year’s presidential election are feeding off voter discontent like jackals on a bloated carcass. Bernie Sanders gained a huge following by promising to take the power from rich son-of-a-bitches. People flocked to his banner, the majority of whom seemed glad to be in a movement that rebelled against the general unfairness of life without bothering with details.

Ted Cruz preached a new level of intolerance and “anti-this” and “anti-that” to the point no one knew what he was for. But despite his best efforts, Cruz was outdone by Donald Trump, whose invectives against all who stood in his way not even Cruz could match.

Populist movements typically galvanize behind a particular personality because the cause, often noble in itself, is diluted with explosive and random charges of injustice, grandiose promises and, as we have seen throughout history, blame on a specific segment of the population. Sanders blames the rich, Cruz the liberals, Trump everyone who doesn’t love him, oh, and minorities.

By offering himself as a savior, Trump is able to dismiss contenders with simple name-calling and outrageous accusations. (Ted Cruz’s dad was in the plot to kill Kennedy? I thought Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy between the CIA, the mafia, Castro, Russia, the John Birch Society and LBJ!)

Trump’s favorite subject to talk about is Trump. He even talks about his private parts. (I am no Freudian, but I would not trust the genitalia bravado of anyone who builds towers and names them after himself.)

Americans have made their voice clear; we don’t want a torch bearer; we want a torch thrower, someone willing to destroy our nation in self-righteous wrath.

Petty interparty squabbles have even infested Teton County. The local GOP chair resigned after Trump won here and Bernie Sanders supporters heckled those with whom they disagreed at the local Democratic caucus.

All this anger has me wondering: what are voters so pissed off about? Does anyone take their eyes off their smart phone screen and the latest pundit’s rage fest to think for themselves? We can all come up with a selection of injustices that need to be addressed. But has anyone been to Mogadishu, Somalia lately?

While we debate proper bathroom etiquette most of the world lives in what we would consider abject poverty without the freedoms or protections we take for granted. What is it about America today, with Obama as president, or when Bush was president, that is so bad that we need to spew hate at all with whom we disagree?

Freedom of speech is guaranteed in the First Amendment. Implicit therein is freedom of thought. When we mock those of differing opinions it cheapens our freedoms and degrades our integrity.

We have allowed pundits and politicians to turn us into a nation of angry finger pointing weenies. Instead of counting our blessings or giving evenhanded consideration to policy, we’ve nominated two candidates universally despised by all but their most fevered supporters. I don’t know who will win, but I know who will lose. To paraphrase H.L. Mencken: Democracy is when voters get what they deserve good and hard. PJH

About Clyde Thornhill

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