December 9, 2019

2016 all over again

Posted

Though I may be far from a political pundit, it seems to me as though the writing on the wall is becoming increasingly clear in regard to the 2020 presidential election, and that writing looks suspiciously similar to that of the 2016 election. With Biden still leading in most polls, his position perhaps solidified through his alleged victimhood at the center of an impeachment inquiry, the Democratic Party is seemingly leaning toward the same strategy that worked so well the last time around. But no matter who wins the primary and the election, and regardless of which way the houses of congress move, one thing above all is certain, and that is we have another four years of increasingly divisive and nonproductive political discourse to look forward to.

Before I go any further, I feel compelled to disclose a couple things. First and foremost, I am what you might call a conscientious objector to the presidential election, beginning with the last one. I voted in the most recent midterms but purposely stayed home in 2016 and will likely do so again next year. While many see this as forfeit to a political view regarding presidential candidates, I have personally come to find that voter apathy is frequently driven by an inability to take a political culture such as ours has become in recent years seriously rather than an overall ignorance of and disinterest in politics in general, and that is certainly true in my case. There was a time when I truly a political idealist, but now you couldn’t pay me to care on most days. Secondly and consequently, I have observed the events leading up to and following Trump’s election with the sort of amusement that is reserved for those who really couldn’t care less. But just because I may have lost any sense of vested interest in the trainwreck that is U.S. politics, that doesn’t mean I can stop watching it happen.

I know I’m not alone in that sentiment, and it is that same sentiment that left Hillary Clinton dead in the water during the 2016 election. A bland and overly familiar candidate, especially one of the sort of political royalty that has become so loathsome across the political spectrum, does not make for a particularly appealing candidate to potential voters compared to someone as far outside the political norm as Donald Trump.

Regardless of what you think of Trump, you have to recognize that he has something that none of the usual Democratic suspects have, and that is the ongoing spectacle that is his existence. You can interpret that in whatever way you deem appropriate, but it is undeniable that the man commands attention, whether positive or negative, in a way that is unique from any other candidate in U.S. politics. That being said, the general division between parties which has been steadily widening over the past few decades has truly grown to redefine the term “political circus.”

And doesn’t Trump thrive in a circus? He has shown time and time again that he is perfectly happy to play ringleader or clown, depending on your political leanings. Consequently, the juxtaposition of his persona against that of any other candidate he has faced or will face creates the exact kind of spotlight upon him that he desires.

It appears that the Democratic Party’s response this time around will be either Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren, with Biden currently seeming the more likely candidate. One one hand, if Warren was to go on to take the Democratic nomination, we will be left with a president who will only continue to drive a wedge between the parties regardless of who wins. On the other hand, Joe Biden? Seriously? You thought that picking a middle-of-the-road relic of the status quo worked so well last time that you thought you’d try it again, minus the staggering lead in the polls and whatever value that the clout of the Clinton name carried with it? In other words, he is yet another mediocre candidate being shoehorned through the Democratic primaries, and the presidential election will prove that if he makes it that far.

But who knows. Maybe my perspective has become too clouded by negativity to see all the possibilities. Maybe I’ve become too disconnected from politics to understand the relevance of any given candidate. To be honest, I think that my thoughts on the matter may be driven mostly by the fact that I cringe at the thought of another five years of Biden reminiscing publicly about all those times with his “buddy Barack,” so take my opinion as you will.

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