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Presidential election: Too soon to call but not too soon to laugh

I know we still have a long election season before us, but can I talk about the elephants (and asses) in the room?

Never have I seen such a bizarre and disparate cast of presidential hopefuls.

Never has the prospect of a Clinton v. Bush showdown felt so redundant and unappealing.

And never would I have expected to see real estate mogul, reality TV star and poll-dominating Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump in the same category as the lesser-known progressive superstar and independent senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders.

But both represent a powerful, establishment-toppling climate of rebellion among their parties’ constituents. Both candidates are unlikely nominees and both candidates could “split the ticket” debilitatingly if they run as independents.

It’s fun at this early stage to indulge in real and satirical possibilities as we follow candidates’ gaffes and unlikely successes. But it’s hard to remain detached in the face of an election that’s an unpredictable mess and a country at a serious crossroads.

Public opinion is violently divided and yet collectively dissatisfied. Extremely discordant views compete to decide what direction we should be heading.

But one thing is clear: Americans want an honest president. Voters are responding to the two candidates who don’t mince words, who say what they think, who will stand up to the powers that be and bring about actual change. Trust may be the biggest issue of this election.

Because let’s be honest. If you’re paying attention, things are more than a little tenuous.

Despite a seeming uptick that may or may not last, the economy remains in a holding pattern of uncertainty.

Expensive bailouts have been followed by zero reform, growing debt, a sneaky trade deal, widespread outsourcing and automation of labor, plus a pro-corporate climate that is sucking precious dollars out of communities large and small. Even families supported by three or four jobs struggle to make ends meet.

Meanwhile, our environment is in a crisis scientists warn is so big, it feels unfathomable. People call it a hoax, but denial, as they say, ain’t just a river orange with toxic sludge.

If we don’t take responsibility for our damage to the natural world, we will destroy ourselves.

Around the world suffering caused by war, environmental chaos and economic peril is commonplace. Privileged Americans may not notice, though plenty are feeling effects.

War refugees have nowhere to go and wealthy nations want to build walls to address the problem. But in reality, the Western history of colonization and imperialism, especially America’s foreign policy over the last half century, laid the groundwork for many humanitarian crises in South America, the Middle East and Africa.

Our domestic problems are many – crumbling infrastructure, foolish education policies, physical and mental health problems, Social Security, health care, privacy, corruption, money in politics, media lies, and on and on and on.

Yeah, we need better leaders, I’ll give that to Trump. But even more than that, we need an engaged and informed populace that is willing to come together and stand up for the future.

Sadly, we live in a time when information is confused for knowledge and no one has time to weed out truth from lies.

While it’s tempting to view the election as theater, actually, it’s all too real.

Maybe more people will pay attention and vote, considering the incredible entertainment value of the election so far. Or maybe they’ll withdraw in disgust.

Maybe a politically incorrect (racist misogynist) reality TV star leading in the polls is what it takes to grab people’s attention, or maybe that’s not even enough.

As a fan of Sanders, I’m thrilled and inspired by his populist success, but I have my doubts – strategically speaking – about him winning a general election. I have real doubts about Clinton too.

But I’m terrified a politician owned by hawkish fiscal and social ideologues on the right could beat a divided left. This country cannot risk another George W., whose war-torn legacy of lies and debt still haunt us.

It’s a nerve-wracking situation, but there is no lack of humor in all the absurdity. So read, laugh, vote; and try to keep the blood pressure down to a moderate level.

Just don’t hold your breath for a moderate in our political landscape any time soon.

Editor’s note: Mary Wardell can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.

Presidential election: Too soon to call but not too soon to laugh

I know we still have a long election season before us, but can I talk about the elephants (and asses) in the room?

Never have I seen such a bizarre and disparate cast of presidential hopefuls.

Never has the prospect of a Clinton v. Bush showdown felt so redundant and unappealing.

And never would I have expected to see real estate mogul, reality TV star and poll-dominating Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump in the same category as the lesser-known progressive superstar and independent senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders.

But both represent a powerful, establishment-toppling climate of rebellion among their parties’ constituents. Both candidates are unlikely nominees and both candidates could “split the ticket” debilitatingly if they run as independents.

It’s fun at this early stage to indulge in real and satirical possibilities as we follow candidates’ gaffes and unlikely successes. But it’s hard to remain detached in the face of an election that’s an unpredictable mess and a country at a serious crossroads.

Public opinion is violently divided and yet collectively dissatisfied. Extremely discordant views compete to decide what direction we should be heading.

But one thing is clear: Americans want an honest president. Voters are responding to the two candidates who don’t mince words, who say what they think, who will stand up to the powers that be and bring about actual change. Trust may be the biggest issue of this election.

Because let’s be honest. If you’re paying attention, things are more than a little tenuous.

Despite a seeming uptick that may or may not last, the economy remains in a holding pattern of uncertainty.

Expensive bailouts have been followed by zero reform, growing debt, a sneaky trade deal, widespread outsourcing and automation of labor, plus a pro-corporate climate that is sucking precious dollars out of communities large and small. Even families supported by three or four jobs struggle to make ends meet.

Meanwhile, our environment is in a crisis scientists warn is so big, it feels unfathomable. People call it a hoax, but denial, as they say, ain’t just a river orange with toxic sludge.

If we don’t take responsibility for our damage to the natural world, we will destroy ourselves.

Around the world suffering caused by war, environmental chaos and economic peril is commonplace. Privileged Americans may not notice, though plenty are feeling effects.

War refugees have nowhere to go and wealthy nations want to build walls to address the problem. But in reality, the Western history of colonization and imperialism, especially America’s foreign policy over the last half century, laid the groundwork for many humanitarian crises in South America, the Middle East and Africa.

Our domestic problems are many – crumbling infrastructure, foolish education policies, physical and mental health problems, Social Security, health care, privacy, corruption, money in politics, media lies, and on and on and on.

Yeah, we need better leaders, I’ll give that to Trump. But even more than that, we need an engaged and informed populace that is willing to come together and stand up for the future.

Sadly, we live in a time when information is confused for knowledge and no one has time to weed out truth from lies.

While it’s tempting to view the election as theater, actually, it’s all too real.

Maybe more people will pay attention and vote, considering the incredible entertainment value of the election so far. Or maybe they’ll withdraw in disgust.

Maybe a politically incorrect (racist misogynist) reality TV star leading in the polls is what it takes to grab people’s attention, or maybe that’s not even enough.

As a fan of Sanders, I’m thrilled and inspired by his populist success, but I have my doubts – strategically speaking – about him winning a general election. I have real doubts about Clinton too.

But I’m terrified a politician owned by hawkish fiscal and social ideologues on the right could beat a divided left. This country cannot risk another George W., whose war-torn legacy of lies and debt still haunt us.

It’s a nerve-wracking situation, but there is no lack of humor in all the absurdity. So read, laugh, vote; and try to keep the blood pressure down to a moderate level.

Just don’t hold your breath for a moderate in our political landscape any time soon.

Editor’s note: Mary Wardell can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.

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