By Wayne McLaughlin:
Perception is reality and perception is what people perceive. What the public is led to perceive is a product of the media – how else do we, those “ordinary” citizens, know anything? There are real issues, domestic and foreign for which the Democrats have had their legs cut out from under them by eight years of agenda driven stewardship by Obama. Before labeling Barack Obama as simply incompetent, remember that he was elected twice on the promise to fundamentally transform America – he has, and a lot of people don’t like the results.
It is not a random juncture of events that brought these two candidates together in 2016 who agree on little beyond today’s date, resulting in the most definitive confrontation of issues with a blinding clarity which voters cannot see. We are having a political earthquake and the people don’t feel it.
The Bliss of Ignorance
Did Big Pharma come up with a Big Dumb Pill labeled as a miracle weight-loss drug that everybody is taking? Maybe we are just so preoccupied with a millimeter of sea level rise due to global warming that nothing else matters.
If this writer’s experience is any indicator, fewer than one in twenty can name one of the two people representing their state in the U.S. Senate, yet they can quote the point spreads on the upcoming weekend sports schedule or the latest in celeb antics picked up by any one of several media sources that compete for their attention. People don’t care about earthquakes of any kind and, more to the point, they haven’t a clue as to why they should care.
Our culture is preoccupied with reality TV, sitcoms and demeaning drama that fills our entertainment schedule when we aren’t playing thumb hockey on our electronic alter egos. We have become a people engaged in a trivial pursuit of life.
The 1960’s cast off the burdens of commitments and self-discipline enforced by the rigors of The Great Depression and World War II. Natural Law (read God) met head on with Natural Rights (read “do your own thing”) and the latter won. The Baby-Boomers were coming of age and re-inventing the wheel. Hard rubber was replaced with balloon tires to give a “cushier” ride.
In congress, conservatives and liberals who had traveled parallel paths converging from time to time to pass legislation needed to solve critical problems were slowly being purged of moderates. Presidential elections were still mostly popularity contests with issues confined to campaign rhetoric. Looking back over the last 56 years, the upward trend of big government and budgets was inexorable regardless of who controlled congress and the white house.
When the Out-House Meets the Fan
Eisenhower’s last budget for FY 1960 was 79 billion dollars. The next president will take over a 20 trillion-dollar deficit. Time flies when you’re having fun but the party’s over sports fans. You can blame Obama, but he is simply the crowning glory of a 56-year-old organism that has been nurtured by Democrats and Republicans alike and is now due for extinction.
When interest rates escape the stifling hand of the Fed, U.S. debt service will become our biggest budget item pushing aside entitlement obligations and other essential expenses needed to run our government. For a parallel, 19th century Egypt blew their budgets year after year so bad that they were forced to cede fiscal control to Great Britain for the next 100 years. How hard can it be to learn Chinese?
A caricature of the protagonists in this contest could not be more appropriately drawn; Hillary Clinton is the essence of the public’s view of politicians and Donald Trump is the bull who found his china shop. In a popularity contest, they would finish last and next to last.
Issues? I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Issues
Although the mainstream media has done a pretty good job hiding the existence of issues, there are some real bones of contention summarized in the table below.
|POLICY||R (TRUMP)||D (CLINTON)|
|Energy||Fully develop our fossil fuels||Obeisance to Climate Change|
|Foreign Policy||Assert strength||Continued acquiescence|
|Medical||Free market||Single payer|
|Trade||Deal from strength||Weak|
The differences are stark, yet how many of us “ordinaries” are conversant enough with any of these issues to apply them to a voting decision. That is the 20 trillion-dollar question.
For beginners, answer the following nine questions:
1- Name the two senators who represent your state
2- How many people represent your district in the U.S. House of Representatives?
3- Name one.
4- What is the total number of representatives and senators in the U.S. Congress?
5- What is the term length of a U.S. Congress person?
6- What is the term length of a U.S. Senator?
7- How many justices are there supposed to be on the Supreme Court?
8- What does POTUS stand for?
9- What is Net Neutrality?
Fifteen minutes of Googling should fill in the blanks for you. Now you are ready to begin to evaluate issues.
In other words:
Many people don’t give a rip about politics and know as much about public affairs as they know about the topography of Pluto.
-Tony Snow, press secretary to George W. Bush
I realized that public affairs were also my affairs.
-Helen Gahagan, Actress and politician
Wayne McLaughlin is an OpsLens Contributor and U.S. Army veteran.