While I honestly think that there are much more important issues which deserve attention such as the climate, the future of energy and the future health and prosperity of people around the world, I can not keep quiet in the face of what has happened to american politics.
Some weeks ago I wrote a post defending the current primary/caucus system in the United States because it obliges candidates for national office to prove themselves with voters from disparate constituencies such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. While I still believe that the system has been effective in the past, at least on the Republican side it is deeply and perhaps irreparably broken.
In Detroit a few days ago, Ohio’s John Kasich said that people tell him he is the “Adult on the Stage” and in my view he is right about that. Trump, Cruz, and Rubio spend their time insulting each other and playing tit for tat and Fox News (and even CNN) appears to treat the whole thing as a spectacle.
In Detroit, the so called candidates constantly interrupted each other, spoke at the same time and called each other names. This is not the way to inform the body politic.
Their facts are wrong
While I abhor their style, what is even more concerning is that each one of these three people seem to make up numbers, facts, and pluck ideas out of the air with no sense of rigor or responsibility. The guys at Fox news seemed to have woken up to this and actually challenged them on a number of issues.
Their policies are worse
What is even more concerning than the tone and the made up numbers is some of the policies that are thrown around. In answer to the question about where he would cut waste in the federal government, for example, Donald Trump offhandedly included abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA has a total budget of approximately $ 8 billion and was founded in 1972 by the Nixon Administration. Over more than 40 years it has gradually created a framework for environmental protection which, although imperfect, is one of the most comprehensive and effective in the world!
Another example is their attitude on immigration which I have written about in an earlier post. I will not even comment on the issue of torture as it has no place in civilized society.
One of the issues in the debate is it appears that Mr. Trump disavowed his own loopy ideas in an editorial meeting with the New York Times but did so off the record.
Perhaps the biggest concern I have about these guys is that it is not clear that they even believe what they are saying. If people will say anything they need to say in order to get elected, how can anyone be sure of their word once in office?
Its not a TV show!
The problem is that the combination of paid political advertisements, too many debates, and the uncontrolled spending by unaccountable political action committees have broken the Republican nomination process.
That a television performer can get this far in the race and that politicians like Senators Rubio and Cruz will adopt the same style is simply appalling. Let’s just hope that Kasich wins in Ohio and stays in the race so that Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders has someone serious to run against.