Beware the Ides of March

There are a number of presidential primary elections today as Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio vote. This has been dubbed Super Duper Tuesday because there are a lot of delegates up for grabs. I don’t purposely get into politics much on this blog but it happens — and, as was recently pointed out, this Trump candidacy is becoming a moral issue and less of a political issue.

I, of course, will be voting Democratic in the November election as I can’t stomach any of the current Republican candidates. I will be OK with either Bernie or Hillary. Democrats are known by their first names. Republicans are known by their last names…for some reason. I like Bernie but I’m leaning toward Hillary.

It seems like Trump could put the whole thing to rest today on the Republican side if he wins Florida, Rubio’s home state. Kasich is the former Governor of Ohio so maybe he can win there. Cruz has been trying to win Missouri, for some reason. That is my old home state and it is full of bible thumpers and gun toting rednecks so it might be easy to pick up. Cruz has a state campaign operative who has been publicly blamed as the cause of a leading gubernatorial  candidate’s suicide. It’s just plain ugly.  Illinois Republicans are sort of like orphans in search of a family so they might run to Trump.  I suspect North Carolina is Trump country.  We will know tonight.

On the Democrat side the struggle is interesting but not too surprising. Hillary has a lot of deep support and Bernie is the outsider with a vocal following. I think Illinois might be interesting to watch.

The ascendancy of Donald Trump is a puzzlement as he doesn’t possess the usual GOP traits to be a presidential contender. He has no elected or governmental experience and no military credentials.  Even Sarah Palin, the low-water mark for recent GOP candidates, had more in her favor in that regard.  His business experience is a mixed bag of wheeling and dealing. He has had business failures and has outsourced companies abroad. He inherited his wealth and if he had just invested it passively he would be richer today than he is. That would seem to make his touted business acumen very questionable. His knowledge of constitutional restraints and requirements is lacking. He is very poorly informed on many foreign and domestic issues that he should be aware of. Lack of knowledge and being poorly informed seems to be strengths in the eyes of his avid supporters…who are equally clueless. He enjoys demeaning people who are different, condones a level of violence against his opponents and advocates identifying and tracking Muslim citizens through a special government data base. That’s the moral equivalent of a yellow star used by the Nazis to identify Jews..

I worry about the Republicans. Informed observers and political pundits are speaking of Trump’s rise in the face of clear opposition by GOP establishment and the old core of party supporters as the likely death of the Republican party as we know it.  If that is the case, and I hope it isn’t, they have it coming and deserve this meltdown.

It always comes as a surprise to Republicans that they are the minority party in this country. When they discover this they open their ranks to any and all kinds of fringe extremists, bible thumpers and charlatans hoping to attract more fringe voters. That’s the only way to remain a national party. Do this long enough and you get Cruz and Carson and Huckabee and Palin and a half dozen others. The core is diluted and drowned out by the fringe. The tea partiers saw the GOP as ripe for the  picking and the ensuing struggle weakened the party further. By the time Trump launched his hostile takeover the leadership was too fractured and weak to field an effective counter attack. It will be a miracle if they can get their act together to save the party.

GOP defenders say that the party is in control of the House and Senate and therefore the party alive and well. Not if you take a good look at the GOP members of Congress and their lack of legislative success or even the semblance of governing. They actually haven’t tried. There is little real party discipline and their only common goal is to obstruct all things Obama…shutting down the government if need be. If obstruction is your only tool you are not governing.

Trump is bad for the party but he and his supporters don’t really care and it appears that this is almost a third-party campaign in a fake Republican cloth coat. Cruz is equally dangerous to the party because of his aggressive and unpredictable behavior, tea-party affiliation and his odd-ball religious fervor. It seems that Trump lies or deflects the truth sometimes because he doesn’t know any better. Cruz knows better but chooses to lie. He was the GOP darling when he was happy being a tool to attack Obama but now he is eating his own and is a monster of their own creation.

Sure, the Dems have their own set of problems but they pale by comparison and are usually individual moral or judgment issues. Voters can get past John Edwards, Bill and Hillary but not the maniacal fringe craziness in the current GOP. The wing-nuts on the right concoct all sorts of goofy claims because it appeals to them…and no one else.   The Republican debates were an amazing spectacle before a national TV audience demonstrating how far the GOP has gone off the rails.  It’s sad and dangerous in the long run.

Professor Robert Reich, who formerly served in the Ford, Carter and Clinton administrations, recently wrote an article on the impending demise of the Republican Party. (Robert Reich: The GOP died in 2016 – Salon.com) He points out the obvious…that the party is decaying into a group of “warring tribes” who are feeding on the carcass of the old GOP. His second point that I wish he would have expanded on a little is that this is actually bad for the country.

Really…what comes next? The fight over the GOP party platform this summer will be more interesting and may be more important than choosing the nominee. Whatever solidifies as a platform will define the future course of whatever the party carcass morphs into. There will be some sore losers…where will they go?. I’m a Democrat, mostly, but we, as a nation, need a viable and rational counter weight to the Democrats that understands governance and compromise. The foolishness of obstruction and the fractured confrontational approach we have seen for the last decade or more isn’t working.

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