New Hampshire 2016

I was last in the granite state in 2008 as I recall and remember seeing lots of political signs for various candidates including then Senator Barak Obama and many more for the maverick senator John McCain in towns like Conway and Warner. As a democrat, I worried that New Hampshire was in the bag for the GOP. As it turned out, my fears were unfounded and Obama won New Hampshire in 2008 and again in 2012. 

In 2016, I am seeing a dusturbingly “bigly” level of support for Trump/Pence as evidenced by signage just as I did in 2008 for McCain. As I drove through Nashua, I even saw a display of Trump signs encircling an impressive and omnious show of civil war canons. This certainly puts a new light on what Trump may mean by “Make America Great Again.” Some of his supporters have actually begun talking about a revolution, an armed one I presume, because Trump along with the NRA controlled GOP, have low information voters, to put it politely, convinced, wrongly, that HRC will take their guns away, a claim they also made against Obama which turned out to be huuugely false. 

Trump now claims the election will be rigged, casting doubt on our democratic institution, as a conspiracy theorist and authoritarian fascist would. It’s not only Trump, however, but also GOP leaders who have been using this voter fraud angle to justify voter suppression laws which have made it harder for people, particularly students, blacks, latinos and the elderly to vote. By the way, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, an inconvenient fact, so this strategy is clearly designed to keep a reliable democratic base from turning out, or voting. The only frightening signal of voter tampering appears to be some sort of Russian hack into electronic voting machines in several states. Given Trump’s unwavering praise for Putin, his announcement that the election will be rigged is alarmingly suspicious. If a large scale hack  crippled voting machines, Trump could then appeal the election results. If HRC does win, Trump will argue that her presidency is illegitimate, not unlike his birther foolishness to delegitamize Obama. 

New Hampshire is an odd place. I am not certain HRC can win here with its predominately white voter base that has an independent streak. And the polls show a virtual deadlock between Trump and Clinton. I’ve seen as many Gary Johnson signs as I have ones for HRC while passing through towns in search of fall foliage, which is in short supply in the mountains but has been plentiful near the lakes region. This may have something to do with climate change, which Trump denies. He’ll instead promise to bring back brilliant fall foliage to the state of New Hampshire as part of his campaign to make America great again, “colors that will make your head spin, believe me.”

Cain, Down and Out

I watched Herman Cain’s dramatic farewell speech.  He portrayed himself as a victim of dirty politics.  He denied all the allegations of infidelity and sexual harassment that had  plagued his campaign for months.  He said he had gotten into the race because he loved this country and that Washington wasn’t doing its job.

His said his main priorities been been economic growth, energy independence and deficit reduction.  Really?  I don’t remember hearing him or any of the candidates talk much about energy independence.  That doesn’t even sound very Republican, unless what it means is “drill baby drill”, or in the case of natural gas, “frack it,  frack it good”.

He made some joke about being 99.9% certain that people knew the name Cain.  In typical pizza guy businessman fashion, brand recognition is his crowning achievement.  But now that he has suspended his campaign, he may go down in history, as Chris Hayes put it,  as just a footnote or an answer to a trivia question.   I think that in ten years, he’ll be as obscure a figure as he was when he briefly ran for the Presidency in 2000.

So who will his supporters support?  It appears a great many have already defected to the Grinch camp.  The rest, the “loyal” 8%, and maybe some scattered curiosity seekers who attended the farewell gathering, perhaps in the hopes of a free slice of pizza, might head on over to the wild-eyed Michelle Bachmann camp.   Michelle Bachmann – imagine if she wins the nomination and selects Sarah Palin or Christine O’Donnell as her running mate.  What a Tea Party that’d be.  Oh, and SNL would have a field day!

Now that Herman is out, RNC, why not let Buddy Roemer and Gary Johnson play? They’ve been on the sidelines waiting patiently to get in the game.  Or is Newt really the chosen one?

 

 

A Weak Republican Field

I was watching Up With Chris Hayes this past weekend and he had some interesting topics for discussion including the latest round of Republican debates, fracking and the border.  I’ll save the topic of fracking and the documentary Gasland for another post.  I want to focus for the moment on presidential politics.

Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico was one of the guests on the show.  He is a Republican candidate for President and has been virtually ignored by the national media.  He has been excluded from all of the debates save one, for reasons that are not altogether clear.  What is clear is that he has a few reasonable ideas that are worth discussing, but won’t be discussed because his views don’t align well with the Tea Party or social ultra conservatives.  He favors open borders, and a guest worker program for immigrants.  In true libertarian fashion, Johnson favors legalizing marijuana, arguing that to do so would take the criminal element out of it, and allow the government to regulate and tax it like it does alcohol and tobacco.  On foreign policy, he advocates bringing the troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq.  On other issues, however, he sounds very much like the standard Republican – reduce taxes and reduce government spending on entitlement programs.

As a Democrat, I don’t endorse him, but I don’t understand why Republicans haven’t embraced him because he is more electable than the other candidates. Instead, the Party prefers candidates with exteeeeeme  positions (Bachmann and Paul) and controversial personalities with no experience and vague ideas (Cain) or the professorial type (Gingrich) whose Contract for America in the 90’s was more like a Contract on America, or the monied type (Romney) with more flip flops in a year than a regular beachgoer will own in a lifetime, or the goofy Rick P. Gov. Perry of Texas who has had some of the most stunningly bad public performances  of any candidate in the history of politics.

But Seriously, Folks (a great album by former Eagles guitarist, Joe Walsh, not the politician by the same name) Can’t You See (a great song by the Marshall Tucker Band) that none of these weak Republican candidates stand a chance of defeating President Obama who has one of the lowest approval ratings of any President in recent times.  If the Republicans continue to pander to the narrow social interests of ultra conservative voters or the interests of corporate America as espoused by the Tea Party, they will lose a significant portion of the power they gained in the 2010 midterm elections and squander away the chance to privatize the country.

As an Obama supporter, it’s not in my best interests or the interest of the country for me to give Republicans advice, but they really should take a look at Gary Johnson.  He’s not nearly as cooky as Perry; not as dangerous as Bachmann; much more consistent than Mitt; far more experienced than Cain;  less divisive than Newt; more electable than Paul; more likeable than Santorum and more libertarian than Huntsman, to give him some credibility with the Tea Party.

I hope nobody is reading this, but if you are, don’t spread the word!