From orange skin and looming indictments to JFK conspiracy theories and the success of a know-nothing socialist, this has been a crazy electoral season.
But perhaps the oddest aspect of this house of mirrors election is that it is Republicans who are absorbing the damage from Barack Obama’s presidency while the Democrats blithely practice the politics of “what, me worry?”
Until now, Obama has been the best thing to happen to the Republicans since Ronald Reagan.
Once Americans saw what Obama meant by hope and change, they flocked to the GOP – delivering huge majorities in the House and Senate, control of state and local governments across the country.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
Last year, Republicans seemed poised to administer the coup de grace by winning the presidency. Nominate a safe choice – Jeb! Marco!! – and Cruz to victory.
Meanwhile, the Democrats responded to their defeats by tripling down on Obama’s failed policies. The first term was frustrating? The second term disappointing? Let’s do it again, this time with Hillary Clinton!
Who better to bring our angry nation together than the most polarizing political figure of the last 25 years?
It’s the definition of insanity.
And yet Republican voters are described as unhinged because they did not follow the script. I will have a very hard time voting for Donald Trump this fall – like President Obama he does not seem to have the background, knowledge or temperament to lead this nation. Still, a part of me admires his supporters.
It is clear that we are in crisis: About 65 percent of Americans say we are on the wrong track. Yet only Trump voters seem willing to take the next step and admit the obvious: Business as usual will only make our problems worse.
In this upside down world, Democrats smugly ask how anyone could for vote Trump as if it makes perfect sense to support a candidate who promises to keep digging the hole we’re in.
If we take Clinton at her word – I know, but still – she would embrace policies that have given us the weakest recovery of the post-war era. Indeed, from 1959 to 2000, the GDP grew at an average rate of 3.5 percent. Since 2009, it has grown an average rate of 2 percent; it was 0.5 percent in the first quarter of this year.
The unemployment rate is a respectable 5 percent. But every fair-minded person knows that number ignores the millions of discouraged Americans who have stopped looking for work. More telling is the labor participation rate, which was 65.7 percent when Obama took office and now stands at 62.8 percent (near a 38-year low).
Those who have jobs are seeing smaller paychecks as stagnant wages have defined the Obama era.
Building on Obama’s ‘success’
And yet Clinton pledges to build on that “success” while extending the “benefits” that Obamacare has brought to the health care market – assuming anyone is still selling insurance on the private market in 2017.
She will continue to ignore the federal debt, which stands at $19 trillion and is choking off our ability to invest in schools and roads and anything but our budget-devouring entitlements.
Bill Clinton told the truth about the Obama economy during a recent speech in Indianapolis: “The problem is, 80 percent of the American people are still living on what they were living on the day before the (2008 financial) crash. And about half the American people, after you adjust for inflation, are living on what they were living on the last day I was president 15 years ago.”
Does anyone believe that four more years of Obamanomics – of higher taxes, greater regulation and increased government spending – will create a thriving economy?
The situation abroad is even worse as Obama has done all he can to alienate old allies and embrace longtime enemies. As the world spins out of control, there is no better evidence of the media’s liberal bias than the steady refrain that foreign affairs are Clinton’s strong suit. To put Clinton’s nomination in context, imagine if the Republicans had tapped Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to head their ticket in 2008.
Unfortunately, Donald Trump is probably not the answer to our troubles. But at least his voters are paying attention. The fall election will not pit elephants against donkeys so much as canaries in the coal mine versus ostriches with their heads in the sand.
Contributing columnist J. Peder Zane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.