By Michael Howard
Considering all the media attention bestowed upon the small army of Republican candidates running for president, you could perhaps be excused for thinking that any of them stand a chance at winning a general election. But let me clarify: they don’t.
Why don’t they stand a chance, you ask? Because they’re a bunch of twits.
According to the latest polls, the two leading candidates for the GOP nomination are Donald Trump and Ben Carson. Neither man has held public office. Which means that, between the two of them, they have zero political experience. But that’s only part of the problem.
Carson is a neurosurgeon who believes the world was created in six days. (How’s that for cognitive dissonance?) During last month’s CNN debate, he refused to distance himself from Trump’s boneheaded remarks about the supposed link between vaccines and autism. No such link exists, and perpetuating that myth is, in addition to being profoundly stupid, actually quite dangerous. Here was a golden opportunity for Carson to unequivocally assert that Trump’s comments were unscientific and irresponsible, and he chose not to. If that’s not considered a violation of the Hippocratic Oath, it certainly should be.
In addition to that, Carson has implicitly compared Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler, and has all but blamed the victims of the recent Umpqua Community College massacre in Roseburg, Oregon for not being courageous enough. Since the shooting, he has been by far the loudest and most obnoxious of the gun fiends, going so far as to suggest that teachers everywhere be equipped with firearms in class.
Trump, on the other hand, is a bombastic demagogue. His nativist position on immigration hits home with the paranoid and deluded sector of white Republican voters who believe that their place in society is being usurped by illegal immigrants. He has actually resurrected the stupid idea that Obama is not a United States citizen. Also, that Obama is a Muslim.
Speaking of Muslims, Trump and Carson don’t like them very much.
At a Trump rally in New Hampshire, a man stood up and claimed that “We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims.” He followed that up with a question: “When can we get rid of them?”
Trump’s response? “We’re going to be looking at that, and plenty of other things.”
Carson recently came out in opposition to the idea of a Muslim president, claiming that he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.” That, he claimed, would be inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States. Never mind that the Constitution explicitly states that the government shall not prioritize any one religion over another.
Lost in all of this nonsense is the fact that neither Trump nor Carson has any significant ideas about serious political issues. Trump is against illegal immigration, and Carson is against gun control. Alright, fair enough, but that tells us absolutely nothing about their plans to run the most powerful country in the world.
What is their stance on nuclear proliferation? Do they think it’s a good idea for the government to spend up to a trillion dollars over the next three decades to modernize and upgrade our nuclear arsenal, in violation of the NPT (the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons)? What are they going to do to address the Military-Industrial complex? How do they feel about Obama’s global assassination campaign via killer drones? Do they have any intention of reducing the obscene wealth inequality in this country? Will they prosecute Wall Street crooks? Are they at all concerned about our enormous contribution to the destruction of the planet? Should healthcare really continue to be commodified?
These are serious political questions. And yet, predictably, they are never discussed. Why not? Well, because the capitalists who run our country don’t want them to be discussed. That would be bad for business. The weapons industry is an extremely lucrative one. Modernization of nuclear missiles – and thus a ratcheting up of the risk of nuclear holocaust – equals lots of money for Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Wall Street finances presidential campaigns; in return they ask for carte blanche, and they get it. Offshore drilling yields tremendous profits, in spite of its disastrous environmental impact. And of course, the private corporations that sell us medicine are some of the richest in the world.
But I digress.
The point is that the GOP has become a bad joke. Noam Chomsky was quite right when he described the Republicans as a “radical insurgency” who have “long abandoned the pretense of functioning as a normal parliamentary party.” And it becomes even more of a joke when we admit that Trump, in all his absurdity, is not even the worst of the lot. Jeb Bush still defends his brother’s criminal and catastrophic invasion of Iraq. Ted Cruz is a climate change denier. Mike Huckabee is totally confused about what “freedom of religion” means. And so on and so forth.
Since the GOP is unable to offer an even remotely viable candidate, we can be near certain that our next president will come from the Democratic Party. This is not exactly a good thing. The overwhelming favorite, in spite of the recent Sanders surge, is Hillary Clinton, which means we can look forward to another eight years of corporate hegemony, economic inequality, imperialist (and totally incompetent) foreign policy, and everything else helping to constitute “American exceptionalism.”
Trump, Carson, et al.? They’re just glorified clowns, performing in the circus that is the Grand Old Party.
Michael Howard is a freelance writer from Buffalo, New York.