Fred LaSor: Is this the best we can do?

It appears America’s two major political parties have reached a conclusion on who the contenders are going to be in the November general election. This is not certain, no matter what Hillary and Trump are saying, as the parties still need to gather in their respective national conventions and nominate their pick for president, vice-president, and ratify the party platform.

Bumps remain in the road for both front-runners: several Republican office holders who have previously endorsed the Donald are now un-endorsing him, while Bernie’s supporters are still angrily questioning the apportionment of super delegates between Sanders and Clinton and claiming the super delegates don’t reflect the will of the voters. Bernie supporters openly speak of violence at their convention.

Trump meets criticism he’s not a polished politician with the observation Republicans have rejected his polished opponents in the voting booth as he has amassed far more votes than any previous GOP candidate. He also notes the establishment is represented by office-holders like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan — who are not well liked by average voters — and vows to keep speaking out in a brash and unscripted manner. He made those points, though, in a scripted political speech.

Anti-establishment candidates are par for the course in American politics. Many of the politicians who have campaigned during my lifetime have done so with a call to “change” and “throw the bums out!” But things don’t change, and last year’s crop of new politicians are next year’s bums who need to get thrown out.

Hillary Clinton has played up the historic nature of a woman at the top of her party’s ticket and there’s no denying the historic nature of her pending nomination. What remains to be seen is whether she can enunciate a compelling argument for support aside from being a woman. That alone is unlikely to win her the White House.

So far she’s running for a third Obama term even though opponents can point to numerous failures on the part of the current administration. Obama’s supporters have been busy over the past six months putting out numerous talking points to make the case his eight years have been good for the country. They say the deficit is down, unemployment is reduced, and the economy is recovering. They seldom mention international affairs.

Those talking points only work with a generous reading of national statistics: the debt has doubled, more Americans are outside the workforce than in the past half-century, and many others are chronically under-employed. The number of Americans on food stamps is at a record high, and four “recovery summers” have passed with no improvement in the economy.

There’s no way this administration can claim international affairs are better than eight years ago, four of which were during Hillary’s tenure as Secretary of State. Our allies don’t trust us and our opponents openly mock us. Is Hillary really going to run on Obama’s record? That doesn’t look like a winning ticket.

In her victory speech on June 7, Hillary spoke ringing words: “We’re stronger when our economy works for everyone, not just those at the top.” Yet her life is a recurring example of privilege, like quarter-million dollar speeches to Wall Street.

The best argument for voting for Trump is the alternative is Hillary. And the best argument for voting for Hillary is Trump is the alternative. Their campaign slogans might as well be, “I’m not as bad as the other guy.” Is this really the best we can do?

Fred LaSor is a keen observer of the political and economic scene from retirement in the Carson Valley.


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