There was a knock on my door a couple of nights ago at a strange hour. Turns out it was two AFSCME volunteers attempted to get me* to commit to caucusing for someone (they have endorsed Hillary) and potentially voting in the general election (which is 11, long, tortuous months away) and to my surprise, for the first time in my adult life, I honestly found myself faced with the prospect that there was absolutely no reason to vote.
After the Republican debate last Wednesday, the prospect of Trump is all to real. Bernie Sanders is coming up fast on Hillary in Iowa and while he says a lot of things I like, I'm dubious on a lot of stuff he says as well. I used to think that the prospect of a Bush vs Clinton rematch would be depressing enough, but no, now there's a chance of a real live Socialist versus a Lunatic, which seems to be even more depressing.
I want to feel the Bern. I really do but he's got a couple of things working against him (at least where I'm sitting.) First of all, Bernie doesn't work unless you vote straight ticket Democrat. Now, if he's running against Trump that could provoke enough of a swing against the Republicans to shift the margins in the House and Senate to do that, but if he's running against anyone else, I have no idea how those numbers play out. You want to feel the Bern? Great. You need a Democratic Congress and to pray that Trump is the nominee. And even then, getting that done is a long shot- but not, I admit, impossible to do.
Second, I go back and forth on the amount of stuff he's promising to do. I mean, the dude is essentially offering voters the moon on a string- and forgive my cynicism, but I have my doubts. Yes, it's good that he's showing how he's going to pay for it all, A+ for transparency, but what about the Unintended Consequences of it all? There's a fuckton of new taxes he's proposing on corporations and Wall Street that might be entirely warranted- but business exists to make money. Period. End of discussion. Progs/Lefties can preach about social responsibility and blah blah blah, but if you impose too many taxes on business they'll just fucking leave. I mean, look at the fast food industry: everyone is out there screaming for a $15/hour minimum wage and what are we hearing about now? Automated kiosks that allow for custom ordering.
(That said: I do think his infrastructure plans and paid family medical leave are worthwhile investments though- and roads and bridges are entirely in line with what I expect my taxes to pay for. The rest... I have my issues with.)
All of the Bernie Thunder could be a moot point though. Howard Dean was looking pretty sweet in 2004 and then ended up coming in 3rd in Iowa- and I'm honestly not sure how Bernie plays in places like South Carolina or Nevada. (I checked... not well.) Could be he takes Iowa, New Hampshire and not much more after that.
The Republicans, on the other hand, are the greatest slow-motion train wreck on the face of the planet right now. If they don't have a party enforcer (you know, an old dude with a vaguely menacing air that summons people to smoke-filled rooms to tell them what's what) they need to get one stat. (Maybe Dick Cheney is available?) Some of these chuckleheads need to drop out before people start voting, because right now, I think it's going to be a nailbiter in Iowa between Trump and Cruz and it's going to be all Trump in New Hampshire, because the more mainstream Republicans are crowding the field too much.
If Jeb! wanted to really do some good for his party, he'd drop out now and release his money and support to go elsewhere. (Huckabee, Santorum, Fiorina, Paul and Carson can all go as well.) But if the Republicans don't want Trump, they need to get their act together fast, because if the field remains this crowded, it's going to be Trump by default.
Third party options are looking a little brighter though: Gary Johnson is officially in, which means, if nothing else, there might be one guy on the ballot who's not a complete loon. Jim Webb is mulling an independent run- which may be harder to swing if Trump runs the table, because the voters he's aiming for are going to be Trump's bread and butter.
Two weeks out and there's not a lot of good news anywhere you look out there- just the looming melancholy despair of wishing you had better people to vote for.
*Sigh. Yes, fine, I admit it. I joined the Union at work. Why I did is somewhat complicated, but the TL;DR version is that I was persuaded that it could be a useful way to advocate for change within the room, so to speak. We'll see. I'm beginning to suspect this might be nothing more than an annoyance that pelts me with spam mail, knocks on my door and costs me forty bucks a month.
**Apparently this party exists and is out there... interesting article and it seems as if the Left took the lessons of Occupy and the Tea Party to heart and is getting down and funky in the trenches. Might not agree with their politics, but I agree with flogging the corporate parties with a stick whenever possible. Good for them.