Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Crazy Fact of the Day

Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich, George Pataki, and Rick Santorum have not dropped out of the Republican Presidential race yet!

Bonus crazy fact of the day: Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich, George Pataki, and Rick Santorum are all declared Republican Presidential candidates!

Seriously, though, it is a little hard to understand why so many of these guys are running. The national conversation has been reduced to Trump, Carson, and Bush, with occasional comments about how Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and Bobby Jindal are floundering/are keeping their powder dry for the inevitable implosion of Carson and Trump. (Delete where applicable, although I'm still waiting for an extremely bored opinion columnist to try to combine the two into one column.) To be honest, Jindal has already been moved into the "death watch" section, where the only articles he gets are speculation about when he's going to drop out.

But those other guys...they're not even being mentioned in the conversation about who's going to leave the race yet! They are seriously so irrelevant to the national political discussion that they're not even given consideration as potential losers. It's already assumed that if they're not gone already, it doesn't really matter because they soon will be. Basically, they're the Lincoln Chafee/Jim Webbs of the Republican Party, except that those two guys had the common sense to give up after humiliating themselves on national television. The Republicans appear to be clinging to delusions of grandeur until the bitter end.

My current hypothesis is that this is another unintended consequence of Citizens United. Because it is now so much easier than it ever was to raise vast amounts of money for political campaigns, and because the rules on how that money is spent have been loosened (and the laws that do exist have been loosely enforced) it is now at least a theoretically lucrative proposition to run a losing Presidential campaign. Basically, you find a few big-money donors and shake them down until their teeth rattle, then live high on the hog touring the country and spouting the kind of crap that stands no chance of getting you elected, but does loosen the purse strings on other donors. If you work this system right, you end up with a string of contact information for people with poor critical thinking skills and disposable income who you can milk for years in between elections by sending out fear-mongering emails about Planned Parenthood and Agenda 21.

(I leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out why it seems to be the Republicans who have so many of these political tapeworms in their collective gut.)

As a lifelong Democrat, I'm of mixed opinions about this. On the one hand, I obviously think it's terrible that the current political system actively encourages con artists to pretend to run for President in order to prey on the gullible and stupid. I think it helps to encourage the notion that politics and policy are unrelated, and that the business of elections is a combination of sideshow and sporting event rather than a job interview for the people who will be in charge of our country for the next four years. On that level, I would really like all of these frauds and charlatans to get out of the process. (And yes, that goes for Trump and Carson too. They're no less frauds and charlatans; they're simply much better at it than Rick Santorum is.)

On the other hand, if the gullible and stupid will insist on getting involved in politics, and if they will put their money where their mouth is and throw cash at terrible human beings who spout racist, sexist, nativist garbage and whose idea of a solution to our problems is round up all the furriners and give everybody a gun...well, then I suppose it's not such a bad thing that they're spending that cash on people who have no hope in hell of being elected. If the net result of the Republican effort to openly sell our political offices to billionaires is that in the end, the billionaires are all taken for a ride by con artists and legitimate-but-terrible candidates like Jeb Bush flounder while Hillary Clinton (or better yet, Bernie Sanders) have a smooth path to the White House, I guess that's not the worst solution.

Basically, I think what I'm saying is that until we get real campaign finance reform, I'd much rather conservatives give all their money to the ineffective candidates. Because the alternative is them donating to people who actually stand a chance to win.

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