Okay, both political conventions have concluded, and I have some thoughts, opinions, and conclusions. I will try to keep this as objective as possible, although my opinions and beliefs may seep through.
- In accordance with long-standing tradition both parties sought to unify their members behind the nominee. Thus, the Dems attempted to placate the Bernie Sanders supporters and Clinton-haters among them, and the GOP tried to bring the conservative wing and Trump-haters into the fold. Given the historically high negative ratings of both candidates, this will be an ongoing struggle throughout the campaign. Safe to say, however, that the degree to which each party succeeds or fails in this endeavor will be one of the keys to the election.
- For the most part, the myriad of speakers in support of both candidates did well. As expected, the general theme was to praise the nominee and vilify the opposition. Speculation, rhetoric, half-truths and exaggerations ruled the day. Only the “Kool-Aid” drinkers believe everything that was said.
- It appeared to me that the Dems and GOP seemed to be talking about two different countries, like they are existing in two alternate realities. According to the GOP things are terrible, as bad as they have been in many, many years. According to the Dems things are just fine, much better than they were eight years ago. We are on the right track. Just give us four more years to complete the job, and everything will be fine.
- The GOP says we are and have been at war with ISIS and other radical Islamic terrorist groups whose main goal is, simply, to either convert us or kill us. They cite, as examples, recent attacks by Muslims in the US and Europe. They favor more aggressive action. The Dems say it’s not that bad. Those radical groups are being contained, if not defeated. The Dems will not even acknowledge that they are terrorists, will not even speak the phrase “Islamic terrorists.”
- The GOP wants to build a Wall to control the flow of immigrants from the south and deport illegals more aggressively. The Dems want open borders, where anyone who can make it here can stay. The GOP wants to restrict, temporarily, emigration of Muslims from certain areas, for example, Syria, until they can be vetted thoroughly. They point to other countries, such as the UK, France, and Germany, that have been having problems with immigrants who entered their countries via the Eurozone’s open borders. The Dems view them as refugees that should be allowed to enter unfettered and unverified.
- The GOP says we in the midst of the worst economic recovery in memory. The “recovery” is stagnant. The latest real growth is about 1%. The average middle class family’s “real” income is lower than it was a decade ago. In addition to the unemployed, millions more have quit looking for work, and still millions more are underemployed. The Dems say the economy is much improved over eight years ago, and if the voters would give them four more years they will continue to improve it.
- The GOP says Obamacare has not worked and is a financial drain on the middle class. The Dems denote Obamacare has provided affordable health insurance to millions who, otherwise, would have had none.
- The GOP says “political correctness” has gone too far and cite, as an example, Obama’s “bathroom policy.” The Dems embrace it, and, in fact, want more of it.
- The two parties have different opinions on crime and cop killings. Are guns too easy to acquire? Are too many cops overzealous in their interactions with AAs or, worse yet, racist? Are cops being hampered by excessive political correctness? Is “Black Lives Matter” helping or exacerbating matters? The answers to these questions are very complex and will not be resolved in this blog, but they are emotion-charged and will play a major part in the election.
- The GOP wants to return to capitalism, self-reliance., and smaller government. The Dems favor big government or even outright socialism.
- Perhaps, the most significant issue is that due to death and/or retirement the winner will likely get to nominate as many as five Supreme Court justices, which will have a huge impact on the Court and our lives for many years.
The foregoing are just the major issues, impressions, and conclusions. They illustrate the vast differences between the two parties. I could continue and bore you to death, but I think you get the point.
Whose vision of America do you believe? Unlike in many elections, voters will have a real choice. Most political observers agree that there are very few undecided voters remaining. Most voters have hardened their positions and believe very strongly in their party’s version of the situation. It seems as though not much can or will occur that will change their minds. That is probably true, but the debates may be a critical factor. They figure to be very heavily watched this cycle.
Also, external factors are always a “wild card.” For example, many believe that Superstorm Sandy played a pivotal role in Obama’s election in 2012. This time around some other unforeseen event, such as a disastrous terrorist attack, could have a decisive impact.
So, I ask you the time-worn question: Are you better off today than you were four years ago? Do you feel more safe and secure, both on the streets at home and when traveling abroad? Is your financial situation better or worse? Do you feel the government is representing you and your desires appropriately? Do you want a de facto Obama third term? At the risk of oversimplifying matters, if the answers to those questions are “yes,” you will be inclined to vote for Clinton. On the other hand, if the answers to those questions are “no,” you will be inclined to vote for Trump.
When formulating your answer, don’t focus on the political rhetoric, personal attacks, half-truths, or outright lies promulgated by the candidates, their campaign organizations, or the less-than-objective media. As the expression goes, “are you going to believe what you are told or what you see with your own eyes?”
As for me, I hinted at my opinion in the title. Based on empirical evidence I believe the GOP’s version is considerably closer to reality. By the way, according to most polls over 70% of Americans believe the country is “on the wrong track.” Also, history tells us that socialism or an omnipresent government system has not had enduring success anytime, anywhere. If you can think of an instance when it has, please tell me.
As I write this, according to the average of all major polls Clinton and Trump are in a statistical dead heat, although the Dems can expect a “bounce” from their convention. Hold on to your hats. The best (or worst) is yet to come.