I went to one of those Halloween stores in my neighborhood the other day that sells all kinds of costumes, character masks, fake blood and ghoulish, green make-up among other things. They’ve got it all - from Disney princesses and mermaids to Superman, racy cocktail waitresses, Frankenstein, Dracula, skeletons and Sponge Bob. It’s all there.
As you would probably guess, the two bestselling masks by a wide margin so far this year are none other than Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Even Bernie Sanders costumes are still flying off the shelves. Everybody wants to be President.
I really appreciate the irony of Halloween as a metaphor for our upcoming presidential election. Suffice it to say, the 2016 campaign is proving to be more than just a little scary for most Americans. And the global ripple effect from the outcome should make it scary for you too, wherever you live.
What makes this election especially frightening is that whoever wins will inherit an incredibly polarized and angry nation where everyone is at odds with everyone else for one reason or another. As a country, we’ve never agreed on so little. Gender equality, religion, race relations, healthcare, taxes, politics, policing, job creation, money . . . pick any one of them.
We’re just one flittering spark away from igniting a raging national bonfire that will send everything up in flames.
But fear not. On November 8th, we’re about to be delivered from over a decade and a half of George W. Bush and Barack Obama’s dismal stewardship of America. It’s OK though. Because swooping in to save the day is reality TV star and the fearless foe of liberalism everywhere, Donald Trump - and the scandal ridden, establishment heavyweight contender herself, Hillary Clinton. Our two agonizingly flawed superheroes that everyone loves to hate – and that close to 65% of the voters view negatively.
It’s no wonder though. The mainstream media is having a drunken piñata party beating them both mercilessly around the clock. They’ve called Trump arrogant and impulsive. Inexperienced, misogynistic, racist, unqualified and irrational. And they accuse Hillary of being a liar, manipulative, hypocritical, pandering, unhealthy, unlikable, patronizing, dishonest, careless, and mean-spirited.
And here’s the punch line. Like them or not, one of them will be elected the 45th President of the United States and have their hands on the steering wheel of the free world.
Suffice it to say, we’re at an inhospitable ideological crossroads in America in 2016. The good old days of either moving to the left or the right depending on the mood in the country have been relegated to the dust bin of history. Over the past few years, we’ve actually begun to move to the leftand the right simultaneously as the country’s demographics continue to change. The once highly prized “center” of the political spectrum is melting away like an ice cream cone in the summer sun as the Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers age start to pass the figurative torch to a new generation. Our political and social identity as a country is changing.
Now, these new younger Democrats and Republicans are grinding up against each other like tons of twisted steel collapsing under its own weight. And as we continue to shift toward the political fringes, and thanks to social media, every whiner from New York to California has a megaphone in their pocket and wants you to know that they’re mad as hell. Thank you Twitter.
So when you blend all these ingredients together in the giant national mixing bowl, sprinkle in a few terror attacks, add a flat, lifeless economy, mix it all up and then pop it into the oven - out comes Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.
And they are us.
But one thing is for sure. Whether it’s Clinton or Trump, this is going to be a watershed election that flips everything you ever knew right on its head – both here in the U.S. and around the world.
Clinton’s Democratic Party is no longer the party of Roosevelt or Kennedy. It’s no longer my parent’s Democratic Party. It’s no longer the Party once dominated by European immigrants whose ancestors started arriving here en masse in the 1850’s. Those democrats were more centrist. They wanted to build, not tear down. They wanted to assimilate. In 2016, the rise of Bernie Sanders signaled a sharp shift to the left in the Party’s underlying philosophies. Dominated by wide a mix of multi-cultural millennials, these democrats are younger and angrier and have brought a highly progressive agenda with them. They’re a broad, colorful mosaic of every disenchanted splinter group out there and Clinton is pandering to them all for their votes.
If elected, she would likely continue where Obama left off and push to grant citizenship to the 11.4 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. Add to that the one million legal immigrants already here that applied for citizenship in 2015 and I think the end game is pretty clear; stack the deck for the Democrats. Not to mention, this year for the first time, the naturalization drive in the U.S. also had backing from the White House which gave $10 million to community groups to get people sworn in as citizens (read: voters) according to the New York Times (September 30, 2016).
The net result is obvious. This would ultimately add millions more future Democrats to the electorate and would almost guarantee the left an absolute hammer lock on the White House for decades to come. Although temporarily stopped by the Supreme Court, the immigration issue will not go away. It’s core to the democratic platform and is a permanent thread that runs through the broader public dialogue. Newly minted citizens almost always vote Democratic as they initially lean on the government for support.
This fact was not lost on Barack Obama which is why he brought the immigration question to the fore. He’s set the table for the left before leaving office using a highly emotional and hotly debated issue. This was his political pincer move as the voter math would doom the Republicans. Essentially, they would simply be outnumbered and not have enough votes to win an election. It is not inconceivable that you might not see another Republican president for decades – or quite possibly, ever again. The House and the Senate would also be skewed far to the left as well making any attempt at imposing a conservative agenda on immigration - or any other issue - an afterthought.
She would also move the Supreme Court to the left as some of the older justices retire or pass away. The average age of the judges is 69.7 years old and the court is currently split 4 conservatives to 4 liberals. So just one new liberal appointee would push the majority to the left. And assuming Clinton was reelected and lasted an additional four years, she would certainly have more than one opportunity to appoint new justices. A liberal majority on the court would reshape the nation socially for a decades and push all the hot button issues right to the front of the line. Abortion, guns, gender, free speech, race relations, policing and gay marriage would all come sharply into focus.
The combination of a Democratic White House, a Democratic Congress and a liberal court would ultimately come to be viewed as a tipping point in the country’s history.
The Republicans, on the other hand, are moving in the opposite direction. Once the party of the patrician elites, these new Republicans are conservative, somewhat pro-Isolationist, gun toting, anti-abortion, evangelical, constitutionalist and largely white working class men and women. And they’re pissed off. And there’s a lot of them too. And while many of them didn’t like George W. Bush, they loath Barack Obama and pin the blame for the weakening of the country - both domestically and internationally - squarely on his shoulders.
If Trump wins the country could come apart at the seams - a social breakdown. Riots. Race wars. Immigration conflicts. Police shootings. There would be a sort of Civil War between the haves and have-nots. Between the left and the right. Between religion and everything. Internationally, relations with both our allies and enemies would become strained and the threat of nuclear proliferation under a Trump administration would likely increase. America’s credibility and image in the world would suffer dramatically. And Donald Trump would strike the match that starts it all.
So the end of the election is now in sight and, as a country, we are conflicted and vulnerable. As Hillary said so eloquently said during her campaign; “the next 40 days will determine the next 40 years….” The choice is like picking from a lunch menu with only two items on it, both of which you don’t like; four more years of Barack Obama’s feeble left leaning policies under Hillary Clinton or four years of the political equivalent of Salvador Dali running the United States.
One of the reasons that America has long been viewed as the leader of the free world is because of great stewardship. Visionary leadership. The courage to build and work. JFK and FDR. Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln. Leaders that all exemplified what has made the U.S. great; determination, work ethic, education and the belief in assimilating and contributing to the greater good. This is why for over the past century millions of people fleeing oppressive governments, intolerable living conditions, war and harsh economic conditions have sought sanctuary in America. They’ve come for freedom.
But now the pendulum has begun to swing the other way. There are no more Kennedy’s or Lincoln’s. No more Martin Luther King’s. Instead we’ve had sixteen years of George W. Bush and Barack Obama and now face another four to eight years of either Trump or Clinton. Frankly, if I had a crystal ball and could peer into the future I’m not sure I‘d actually want to.
I remember back when I was in college, one of my political science professors said that “whoever we elect to the White House is a direct reflection of ourselves…” So this Halloween, as we are putting on our Donald and Hillary costumes, we need to ask ourselves this question:
What has happened to our country that two such frightening characters are what’s staring back at us from the mirror? Is this reallyourreflection? Are Donald and Hillary the best we have?
Because if they are, whoever wins, America has already lost.