This Election Depresses the Hell Out of Me

I haven’t written much about the 2016 presidential election. One could cite the usual fatigue felt even by those like me who like to keep up with politics. The cable news channels, the networks, and social media have done a splendid job of overanalyzing everything to death. No word, no thought, no belch, no fart from the candidates has gone unnoticed. Each has been dissected, distilled, folded, stapled, and manipulated until replaced by the next.

I wrote about my own observations of the race recently, but even that post ignored the elephant in the room and the real reason why I haven’t spent much time talking about the election. It depresses the hell out of me. The Republican primary has outdone itself in terms of juvenile antics. The nadir for me came when Marco Rubio intimated that Donald Trump has a small penis. “You know what they say about men with small hands,” he joked. This allowed The Donald to go on about his endowment at the next presidential debate. And for the topic to dominate the news cycle for days.

Dick jokes. The race for the presidency came down to dick jokes. That’s not funny. It’s depressing. Leave the dick jokes to @Midnight. Don’t use them in presidential politics. (And as an odd addendum to this sad chapter, Marco Rubio says he’s now “warming up” to Trump.)

What is meant to pass for substance hasn’t been much better. This past week Donald Trump held a press conference to discuss in detail his foreign policy stances. The BBC did its best to cover Trump’s remarks with the type of seriousness one would normally accord an event by a major US presidential candidate. But given the source material, i.e., Trumps aimless ramblings (despite using a teleprompter), the resulting article looked like a Monty Python sketch rather than a serious news story.

And then there’s Ted Cruz. He apparently wants to turn the US into a theocracy, with his own bizarre brand of religion as the nation’s moral and political touchstone. No thanks. Canada has Justin Trudeau as its Prime Minister. We have Ted Cruz. Can’t we do an exchange? That Cruz’s birth in Canada doesn’t disqualify him does not sit well with me at all. President Obama also had an American-born mother and was born in Hawaii. But his citizenship, and thus his qualification to be president, continues to be questioned. Folks no doubt will want to impeach him and put him in prison even after he has left office.

The Democratic presidential debates had, until the last two, been beacons of reasoned discussion. But then the race became tighter, and both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders engaged in petty attacks against each other. I found Secretary Clinton’s contention that guns killing people in New York come from states with lax laws like Vermont to be a bit much. Similarly, I thought Senator Sanders’ claim that Clinton is unqualified to be president silly. Both candidates have shortcomings. All humans do. I prefer to hear how they will each rise above any shortcomings to effectively lead the country.

But the wacky antics of the Republican candidates have dominated the news cycle, much to the detriment of the race as a whole. Some broadcasters have admitted to focussing their coverage on the outrages of Donald Trump solely because doing so improves their ratings, hence their bottom line. That’s disgusting. Abdication of duty by the Fourth Estate only further undermines our democracy. The race might be a joke. It might have its funny moments. But I’d rather have serious political discussion over dick jokes. We have no lack of problems to solve.

© 2016, gar. All rights reserved.


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