Tuesday, July 12, 2016

This Campaign, This Damn Pain - Part 8: The Hands of Fate

Apparently the campaign for the next US president is still going on. 

I know. What did we ever do to deserve this? 

Guys, I know its hard to deal with, forced to make a choice between Clinton and Trump but there is a third alternative. No, I'm not talking about Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. 

No, I'm referring to the poll that was done about 2 weeks ago where in addition to Clinton and Trump, respondents found... another preference.  

A giant meteor striking the Earth, destroying all life as we know, clocking in at 13%. But if Trump were to join forces with that extinction causing rock from space, he could win the White House.   

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has not picked a running mate yet and time is running out. Next week marks the arrival of the Republican National Convention where Trump will formally accept the nomination for President of the United States. Unless stuff happens. And there could still be stuff to happen.

Ever since Trump cinched the nomination during the primary process, the pendulum has swung back and forth on how the party regards this interloper. Sometimes it swings one way and everybody really hates Donald Trump; then the pendulum swings in the opposite direction where, well, everybody still really hates Donald Trump but begrudgingly accepts their fate of being well and truly fucked, so what you gonna do?

There are still those within the Republican Party who think that maybe, just maybe, this terrible orange pestilence in human form will somehow be avoided. But so far in the months since Donald Trump turned himself from a joke candidate into a joke candidate with a ton of supporters, no one has figured out how to make the Donald go away. At this late stage, it is incredibly unlikely that the Republicans gathering in Cleveland will have any say over who is going to be their candidate for President when the general election comes ‘round in November.

But maybe they might have some pull on who the Vice President will be.

As of right now, Donald Trump has not named a running mate. Mostly because no one wants the job. Well, almost no one. NJ Governor Chris Christie keeps hanging around like a sad bulldog looking for a treat. But Chris Christie is damaged goods within the Republican Party for his less than conservative positions on abortion and other social issues. Oh and that whole endorsing Donald Trump thing, that didn’t help much either. Christie’s standing with the general population doesn’t look so good. Hell, Christie can’t even deliver his home state; the governor’s unfavorable ratings in New Jersey are on par with smog, sewer rats and the series finale of The Sopranos. 

Donald Trump recently floated the name of General Mike Flynn, a decorated war veteran who could provide some much needed gravitas to the ticket. Except Flynn is a registered Democrat, supports a woman’s right to choose and we should just shut up about this guy.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is on the short list and he might be considered favorable to the GOP. Pence led the effort last year for Indiana’s religious freedom law which was designed to allow people to deny goods and services on religious grounds. But would Pence want to sully his rep by sharing a stage with Trump?

The thing to remember is that delegates at the convention have to ratify the nominee for President according to the voters in the primaries on the first ballot. Trump racked up the delegates needed to do that, avoiding a second ballot where the delegates are free to vote for whoever they want. However, there is no obligation to vote for the nominee’s pick for VP. And this is where the party still has some control over Trump.  To combat Trump’s less than strict adherence to conservative principles, the party is going to push for a very conservative candidate for VP. And since Trump’s antics have limited the range of options for his VP choice (one scenario suggested he might nominate his own daughter!), the party may have the upper hand.

It may take the party leadership assuring someone like Gov. Pence that the GOP is not going to hold being Trump’s VP against him; the party knows that this person is taking one for the team and will be duly rewarded with a position of power within the party. Otherwise, Trump will not get a true conservative to serve as VP and the party will not approve a VP who is not a true conservative. There could be some drama at next week’s convention.

Or Trump could nominate a garden gnome for VP and the party just throws up its hands and gives up, accepting their fate of being well and truly fucked.

For the Democratic Party, maybe things are taking a turn for the less dramatic. Later today, Sen. Bernie Sanders is scheduled to appear at a Hillary Clinton campaign event in New Hampshire where it is expected that Sanders will finally endorse Clinton for President. (AMENDED: As he in fact did. Click here for more on that.) Over the past weekend, the Democrats finally nailed the last few planks into their party platform and while Sanders did not get what he wanted on trade, the platform is the most liberal it has been in years. But will it be enough to convince the Bernie Or Bust supporters to come out in November and vote for Clinton? Who knows? I’ve seen on Twitter and other social media where Sanders’ supporters are very vehemently opposed to Clinton being the nominee; the anti-Clinton rhetoric from Bernie’s followers has been particularly filled with hate and anger. It’s almost enough to make Donald Trump go, “Whoa! That’s a bit too far!” 

Things have not been exactly smooth sailing for Hillary Clinton as the Democrats ready for their own convention in a couple of weeks. Last week’s announcements by the FBI and the Department of Justice that Clinton would not face any charges relating her use of personal email servers stirred up a whole mess of negative reaction from both the Republicans and the hold outs within her own party.  While the FBI Director said there were not sufficient grounds for a criminal prosecution, his harsh words about Clinton’s otherwise lax standards regarding email security are going to provide fodder for her opposition through election day and beyond.

Hillary Clinton has also not announced her Vice Presidential running mate as of yet. Unlike Trump, Clinton has a wide selection of choices available to her, all with different strengths. The most popular choice is Sen. Elizabeth Warren who is a strong voice for the progressive views promoted by Sen. Sanders during his campaign. However, she is a powerful presence in the Senate and the loss of her influence there could undermine Clinton’s Presidential goals, particularly if the Democratic Party does not regain control of the Senate with this year’s election.  

The picking of a VP is the first real Presidential level decision a candidate can make. It can determine the course of the campaign and perhaps even the fate of our nation. We should watch this process with interest as it unfolds. 

Or we could just accept we are in the hands of fate. And our fate is to be well... you know.  

Everyone be good to one another. I'll be back with another post tomorrow. 

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You 

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