British Prime Minister David Cameron resigned this past July 11. Two days later, the Brits had a new prime minister, Theresa May. Across the pond, excuse the cliché, we Americans began this presidential campaign at the end of the last campaign in 2012, and already Sen. Ted Cruz in lining up his forces for 2020. (Incidentally, how many times in that campaign will we hear “20-20 hindsight” and “Cruz control” — a million? Currently we are suffering through an avalanche of campaigning until the first Tuesday in November. To get through the muck and mire, here are a few suggestions:
Muck & Myer is not a law firm but the way we run presidential campaigns ever since Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich crawled out of the swamp, but both political parties have “oppositional research departments,” which means these bottom-feeders delve back to the other candidate’s life and family tree seeking to discover any rotten apples or low-hanging ancestors who should have been hanged. Donald Trump made nicknames a part of his attack speeches: Crooked Hillary, Lying Ted, Little Marco and Energy Challenged Jeb. (Rick Perry didn’t last long enough to earn an insulting moniker.) No one on the Dem side has come up with one for The Donald. The Dems have no imagination. Anyway, be ready for ads and speeches without programs, policies or specifics, but filled with angry insults about the opposition. Lots of heat, no light, but that’s the way a candidate whoops up a crowd: using sure-fire applause lines. No sweaty mob at the Nebraska State Fair wants to hear a new plan for the national debt, global warming or immigration quotas.
Be prepared to hear of Benghazi constantly. (“Dad, what’s Ben Gazzi running for? I hear about him all the time.”) Also: “This is the most important election in our nation’s history!” That is self-important twaddle, making us feel our vote will decide the nation’s fate for the next century. We either get four more years of Obama or four years of Trump jokes. Anyone who has taken History for Dummies knows the outcome of 1860 was the most important. The election of Lincoln started the Civil War, which really did decide the nation’s fate, and for more than a century.
This is a unique election, since polls show many would-be voters prefer none of the above. Pollsters say a record majority of voters surveyed say they find both Hillary and Trump untrustworthy, loose with the truth, don’t have the temperament to be president and don’t even know all the words to “Hail to the Chief.” Of course, we all realize that, come Election Day, GOPers will grudgingly vote for Trump and Dems will stay home. There are 313 million Americans. Take away those who are ineligible to be president: under 35 years old, not natural born, have not lived in the United States for at least 14 years or have already served two terms (Bill and George W.). Subtract11-million illegal immigrants and that still leaves at least 100-to-200 million. Why did we get down to these two? Another point: How many times will we hear: “I give you the next president of the United States, (Trump or Hillary)”? Remember, that’s the way they introduced Henry Clay. William Jennings Bryan, Adlai Stevenson (twice) and John Kerry.
What we will not see or hear this election campaign: For the elephant, no mention of George W. His dad, yes. His mom, yes, but W. will be MIA. No mention of Richard Nixon, Dick Cheney, the Iraq War (but the VA will get crucified), former Speaker Dennis Hastert, Ted Cruz. Mitt Romney and Mike Pence. Incidentally, I wish Trump would have picked Newt Gingrich for veep. That way, between them and their six wives they could have resurrected Family Values, but I thought Romney was the Mormon. In the donkey’s corner, don’t plan on hearing anything about Benghazi, the VA, Monica Lewinsky, LBJ, emails or Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Fox News will not bring up its former chief, Roger Ailes.
Presidential campaigns supposedly don’t really begin until Labor Day. During the summer, people are on vacation, checking out June’s back-to-school sales or getting inoculated against the Zika virus. Wrong. The campaigns are already shopworn, yet the candidates are on the trail non-stop. This brings us to the next point: money. Jesse Unruh, also known as Big Daddy, a California politician, said, “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.” Big Daddy vastly underestimated the power of mother’s milk. Now, about the down-ballot candidates who desperately want to move up ballot. Congress has one of the lowest opinion ratings since pollsters started surveying us. Our lawmakers are never in session. (Currently the members are on yet another vacation which will last till September) and don’t do anything while they are in session.
Actually, most are very busy – raising money for their re-election campaigns despite a $174,000 annual salary. Studies show that in a typical 10-hour day, they might dedicate three hours to seeking cash. In election cycles, like right now, it might escalate to more than half of their time. That’s why it’s not only presidential candidates we are hearing from, but the lower hanging pols. About 80 percent of all donations goes to TV ads, then to the pockets of Disney, Viacom, Comcast and other mom-and-pop operations. Think of your political contribution as an “economic trickle up” operation.
Texas is such a red state that neither candidate will spend much time campaigning here, but that doesn’t mean they won’t visit. They come for the money. Texas is called the GOP’s ATM. The Dems would like to come here with a collection plate, but Texas doesn’t have many voters of the donkey persuasion, and most of them don’t have any money. So the nice part about this mind-numbing sport is that Texas will be a mere spectator – except for mother’s milk. Maybe David Cameron is available.
Ashby will write-in at firstname.lastname@example.org