Our country is in a mess. I think the cause of this is that issues have been pushed beyond all reason. Take immigration, for example. I think that we have to control our southern border. It’s clear that our definition of asylum is creating a flood of people from Central America beyond our ability to manage. Most Americans, including me, think that we need to refuse entry until the asylum case can be adjudicated.
Sounds reasonable, right? Well, the backlog of cases is almost a decade long. That’s not going to work. Is the solution to let the people in anyway? That isn’t a great idea since those people have no status and can’t legally get jobs. Is the situation so dire in Central America that we should just open the doors? If so, then shouldn’t all of the people we let in get the ability to work?
This is just one of the huge problems that the far right wing of the Republican party has been using to capture traditionally Democratic voters. If given the insane choice of either shipping all illegals back to their countries or letting them all in, a lot of people will vote to ship them out.
Donald Trump may be crazy, but he isn’t stupid. His TV experience taught him that the key to popularity is giving the people what they want. Talk radio hosts figured this out too. It’s very easy to argue the status quo and get a lot of support. Keep America American. Close the borders. Ignore international treaties. Don’t spend money on hippie projects like wind and solar energy. You don’t need to graduate high school to get behind these ideas. And that’s the problem.
If you look at history, you will find that every successful dictator got into power through populist actions. We have avoided this fate because, up until 2016, our mainstream political parties took moderate positions and were able to work in a bipartisan way to solve difficult problems. Yes, there were always differences, but they came from reasoned positions that educated people could use to develop compromise.
The lunatic right has always been there (un-woke), but cooler heads prevailed. The same is true of the left. Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris border on socialism. Again, they have always been moderated by more centrist people. Then, along came talk radio. The hosts of these programs quickly lerned that they would garner the highest ratings if they took easy-to-understand, slogan-ridden, extreme right positions. It turned out that there are a lot of Americans who are ready to get behind that sort of thinking. Suddenly, the lunatic right had a voice.
It didn’t take politicians to get the message. The great unwashed were ready for leaders. Slogans, derogatory nicknames, and easy-t0-digest extremist positions became the order of the day.
The problem with all this isn’t so much the extreme positions these people hold; it’s the people themselves. Two kinds of people live on the far right and the far left. One kind are the true believers. They believe in our constitution and think their ideas are best for our country. The other kind are politicians who are willing to do anything to get power. They represent the greatest threat to our democracy.
Donald Trump has demonstrated that he doesn’t care about anything but winning. He said that he wanted to suspend the constitution. He is willing to do and say anything that will appeal to his base. He is dangerous. He’s also crazy. He constantly reminds us that he admires Vladimir Putin and other dictators. He’s made it clear that if he’s elected president, he will not leave office, ever.
Meanwhile, the White House is occupied by a political hack. Joe Biden has a long and undistinguished career in American government. Over the decades, he’s been on the wrong side of a lot of issues. The only reason he is president is that the Democratic party needed a candidate who would offend the least number of Americans. Kamala Harris is VP because she could capture the far left. Americans were left with a choice between two bad options.
If the Republican party could get past Trump and DeSantis and find a more moderate, sane candidate, people like me who cross party lines and vote for him. This isn’t the time for extremists. We have big problems that need sensible solutions. In 2024, we’re faced with a truly horrid set of options. We can vote for a populist dictator who will need the army to get him out of the White House or an aged boob with no fire in his belly. I’m voting for the boob. At least if he wins, we will be able to choose somone else in 2028.