“Oh thank heaven for Seven Eleven,” was the long time slogan of the quick-mart gas station chain that brought us the Slurpee. Yesterday’s Super Tuesday primary elections gave front runner Donald Trump a decisive seven out of eleven states victory. I feel that heaven has nothing to do with this outcome.
Faced with circumstances as they are I am trying to accede to the British government’s 1939 World War II advise that we, “Keep Calm and Carry On.” I am finding this remonstration difficult to follow.
Like many people mine is a mix of political opinions. On the one hand I have at length vilified the outcome of the Supreme Court of the United States’ (SCOTUS) 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that paved the way for abortions up to and including the abomination of an end of term partial birth pregnancy termination. The preamble of our Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” and the legal right to terminate innocent life up to the moment of birth are completely at odds with one another. It is obvious that somewhere at or after conception, but while still in utero, a child is most certainly a human being and therefor entitled to the same legal rights and protections afforded a child immediately after birth.
In the same vein, but on the other side of the political spectrum, I was thoroughly pleased with the 2015 SCOTUS decision favoring Obergefell v. Hodges. Jim Obergefell’s suit brought equal rights regarding the institution of marriage, whether the marriage be between opposite or same sex couples, to all Americans. This non-traditional take on marriage is absolutely in keeping with the above quoted section of our Declaration of Independence. As marriage guarantees multiple rights for couples, denying some the right to marry is gross discrimination and was rightly declared illegal.
My left/right, near/far political proclivities do not fit either of the two US major political parties’ agendas. Because we live in a two party country where power is split between two rival groups, Republicans on the one hand and Democrats on the other, I am coerced into claiming party loyalty to one of the belligerent, befuddled, behemoths and call myself by that term of derision RINO, or Republican In Name Only.
I endeavor never to simply fall in line with a belief or position because a celebrity endorses it, nor because “my” party says that this is what is best for the nation. I try to understand the positions and pragmatisms involved with a political issue and decide using intellect rather than blind party loyalty, gut reaction or a “What’s in it for me?” attitude. It is for this reason that I find our current run-up to the 2016 presidential election so irksome.
My party’s front runner is a foul mouthed buffoon who has not only remained popular but gained backers while defaming more Americans than any other major candidate in recent history. Neither party has an inside track to truth and both Democrat and Republican will slander, mislead and lie to get what they want but Donald Trump seems to be lowering the veritas bar to subterranean depths while simultaneously lifting self-aggrandizement to its loftiest peaks. The man worries me and it makes me sad that he is seen as a savior by so many. (I am tempted to mention Anti-Christs but that would be stooping to his level.) I fear for a country that embraces Trump.
Which leads us back to keeping calm and carrying on. I recently read Stephen B. Oates’ 1977 Lincoln biography, With Malice Toward None. Among other things the 400 page book describes the back biting and mudslinging that occurred in early and mid-nineteenth century US politics. The lies, deceit, and misdirection by and toward Lincoln puts today’s political fracas in perspective.
Similarly, I am currently just shy of three hundred pages into William Manchester’s 1973 narrative history of the US that spans 1932 through 1972. At just under 850 pages The Glory and the Dream shows the same deception, intrigue and corruption that we are experiencing today. It doesn’t bode well for the country that Lincoln was president during our uncontestably bloodiest years and that FDR reigned during World War II, our second most deadly military campaign.
Hatred, vitriol, pitting class against class, insulting one’s opponents rather than debating them on policy, promising things that can’t be delivered and rallying around or against race, religion, ethnicity and sex seem to be the hallmarks of our 2016 election cycle. I’ll keep hoping for a better selection, a better process, and I’ll go in, hold my nose and vote for the least repulsive candidate in my state’s primary. Macabre humor would have me point out that since our country began its great experiment with democracy that we keep hoping that our leaders will use reason to rule our nation. Fat chance with this group of fat heads.
(BTW- I really enjoyed Oates’ With Malice Toward None because it was informative and easy to read but can’t recommend The Glory and the Dream. William Manchester barely hides his contempt for some historical figures while all but worshiping others. Additionally, he seems to have written it as retrospective for people who lived through the times more than as a book to elucidate and educate. I’m missing out on a lot of the popular 1930’s and 40’s references he glibly sprinkles among the pages. Perhaps if they were not void of much or any explanation I would enjoy the book more but as they occurred decades before my birth I simply find them irritating.)