As we prepare to say goodbye to 2015, there are a few things I wish didn’t have to say about this year:
Under-Educated Voters on the Rise
As American citizens, our most important right is the right to vote. The rules are more or less simple: turn 18, be a US citizen, pull the lever. It is a right that many people, especially Democrats, take far too lightly, given that non-college-educated, white Republicans tend to be very reliable voters and the 2016 slate of candidates are likely to be a dream line-up for them. In such people, the GOP faithful sees similarities in world views and will likely bond with the Presidential candidate as bigoted, gun-loving, misogynist and Evangelical Christian as they are.
So-called “outsider” candidates fit this bill perfectly, even if, technically, they’re not much in the way of being “outsiders.” Take Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, for example, who some under-educated voters consider the Biblical Second Coming, a fire-breathing preacher from the old 1930s tent revivals, his hair as slick as his demeanor. But he’s not an outsider — this Harvard-educated; Supreme Court-clerked figure is squarely in the American intellectual elite. But he can just twang that accent and sound like a good ol’ boy when it serves his purposes. And yes, like his supporters, Cruz is wholeheartedly against women making their own health and reproductive decisions, doesn’t believe in any gun control (A+ from the NRA!), doesn’t believe in scientific facts on climate change, and won’t concede evolution over creationism.
We all know, however, that Cruz doesn’t take top prize for fomenting White Rage, the hallmark of the under-educated voter. The Donald owns that brand. Last week at a Las Vegas campaign stop, his supporters suggested that a Black Lives Matter protester — at that moment already being physically assaulted — should be lit on fire, and they shouted such niceties as “Kick his ass,” “Shoot him,” “Bitch,” and my personal favorite, “Sieg Heil!”
According to Newsweek, a recent YouGov poll found the demographics of Trump voters “interesting”:
Slightly over half of Trump supporters are female, about half are between 45 and 64 years of age with another 34 percent being over 65 years old and less than two percent younger than 30. One half of his voters have a high school education or less compared to 19 percent with a college or post-graduate degree. Slightly over one third of his supporters earn less than $50,000 per year while 11 percent earn over $100,000 per year.
The Growing Possibility of a Brokered Republican Convention
The GOP crazy car will careen into Cleveland, Ohio, starting July 18, staying for four days. Every four years, the candidate winning at least 1,237 out of 2,472 total delegates selected by primary elections and caucuses becomes the nominee and goes to the convention to make it official and be feted by big-money donors. John Kasich, the current governor of Ohio, hoped to make his state’s delegates a lock for him, but 2016 will not be in any way a typical Presidential election year. Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — the first four states to caucus or vote — show in the polls no consistency in terms of who leads whom. Cruz could take Iowa, as he now leads Trump there in a Dec. 13 Fox News poll. But New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may take New Hampshire because New England states tend to be pragmatic and won’t vote for such a deeply flawed candidate as Trump. Christie’s endorsement from The Union Leader won’t hurt him, either.
This leaves Nevada and South Carolina up for grabs — literally, it’s anybody’s race. And no one has any idea about Super Tuesday, when there are 12 primaries in one shot. Plus, while the Republican candidates are crazy, they’re not especially ideologically different, so the contest is as much about personality as politics. The bottom line is that if no one candidate gets a majority of delegates — the last time that occurred was in 1976 — then a full-out brawl will break out in Ohio. And that leads to a host of terrifying scenarios. If Trump ends up with the most delegates but not the majority required to win the nomination, I believe he will force a floor vote of the so-called super-delegates — people free to vote their conscience — which could be disastrous for one or more wings of the fractured GOP. That is to say that no one in the GOP establishment wants Trump as their nominee because they know Hillary Clinton would destroy him in a general election and set up the GOP for massive losses in state races. Another scenario finds Trump not getting the nomination and bolting the party, screwing the establishment and running as an independent. (The more he denies it, the more plausible it seems.) If that happened, Clinton could simply drink tea in her living room beside her FBI-investigated email server while the Republicans literally rip each other apart.
Terrorists Are Mostly White Men
Surprise! All American terrorists are not Muslim! In fact, most American terrorists are not Muslim! Instead, a recent study reveals that the majority of mass shooters are white men. But most of the media won’t label them terrorists. Only if you have an unpronounceable name and are Muslim are you a terrorist. So white men get a pass, their love of murder and their goal of striking terror into the heart of a community chalked up to being mentally unbalanced. Not only that, but the NRA-owned GOP politicians actively work to allow these men to access as much ammunition and weaponry as possible to make the next mass shooting that much easier. In fact, the NRA’s legal arm, the US Congress, just stopped legislation that would have prohibited anyone on the No-Fly terrorist watch list from obtaining guns. The GOP voted to allow suspected terrorists to walk into Walmart or any gun shop and buy as much artillery as they can carry.
The Continued Assault on Women’s’ Access to Healthcare
It would never occur to me to knock on a stranger’s door and tell them exactly how they are supposed to live. Yet that is what all the Republican presidential candidates want to do. These men (and one woman) feel it is their business to tell me my business. That one woman, fired Hewlett Packard CEO and current mean girl Carly Fiorina, continues to propagate lies about a Planned Parenthood video even after it was thoroughly debunked. One wishes she would stop being so sneery: her natural bitch-resting face is enough without having to make her voice match it. These assaults on my basic right as a woman to control what happens to my body must stop. Note to GOP: You’re not my daddy; stop treating me like a child. Your religion does not belong in legislation or inside my body. Your religion is private, just like my health choices.
As states make outlawing abortion their goal by legislating clinics out of existence, the Supreme Court is starting to hear cases that have made it up to DC. Last week, the Court ruled that they won’t hear an “appeal from North Carolina officials seeking to revive a state law that had required doctors to perform ultrasounds, display the resulting sonograms and describe the fetuses to women seeking abortions.” Because clearly women are not smart enough to understand what a fetus is so we need pictures! According to the New York Times, the order left in place an appeals court ruling that had held the law unconstitutional as a violation of the First Amendment:
‘The state cannot commandeer the doctor-patient relationship to compel a physician to express its preference to the patient,’ Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote in December for a unanimous three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va.
The tide may be turning as lawsuits like this and others make their way through the appellate system to wind up on the steps of the Supreme Court. We may finally see women’s rights and their dignity restored and the shaming of Planned Parenthood finally stop.
My hope for 2016 is that this ship rights itself and the media calls out the lies of the candidates as ferociously as they did with Mrs. Clinton and the hundreds of hours spent on Bengazi and her email server. I hope that Mr. Trump will finally stand up to the ugliest of his supporters the way John McCain did in 2008. But honestly, I’m a bit tingly watching these incompetent GOP actors try to out-right-wing each other. I’d love to see what happens in Ohio this summer if there’s no clear nominee. I think watching the GOP tear itself apart and thus losing the White House again may be the healthiest thing for them — it would force their leadership to take a long, hard look at what they have become and then maybe, just maybe, the Republican Party can start to re-build.