A little over seven years ago, I wrote about how bad I felt the Republican Party had gotten. Shockingly, I now look at the primary field two election cycles later and I can’t help but feel it has somehow gotten worse.
This is important to me because if I’m stuck in a two party system, I’d like to have two parties that are at least not batshit crazy. I think it was George Carlin who said (paraphrasing) that two options for President is only one more than people in a totalitarian regime have. And when one of them is legitimately crazy, where does that leave us?
I’m using the word a lot here, so I should clarify. By crazy here, I don’t mean “I think we should have single payer health care and you don’t agree with me so you’re crazy”. I mean literally crazy. Like hearing voices crazy.
Let’s look at the Republican polls right now. We have Donald Trump at 28% and Ben Carson at 12%. Jeb Bush is in third at 7%.
Trump, I maintain, is a sideshow. There’s a valuable lesson to be learned from his popularity, which is that people are legitimately sick of the status quo. Love him or hate him, Donald Trump is not just another politician. He doesn’t play the game. I could go on and on about how the big problem in democracy right now is campaign finance, and that corporations have essentially bought both parties. But Donald Trump is the first guy who can honestly say they haven’t bought him. If he had a mind to, he could finance his entire campaign out of pocket and he honestly might. He’s one of the buyers.
I like to think Americans still require some level of decorum from politicians, and that they’ll never vote for a guy who tweets daily about what a bimbo a reporter is. But the fact that he’s come as far as he has shows that we really are tired of politics as usual. Probably not enough to do anything about it yet, but closer. Still, he is a homophobic, misogynistic racist, and that ain’t good in a general election. It will be just too easy for the Democrats to nail him to quotes and crush him among the 70% of the country that isn’t a white male. The Republican Party knows this, and they’re already turning on him because of it, like they did to Huckabee 8 years ago.
Number two is Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon who doesn’t believe in evolution. That’s like a computer programmer who doesn’t believe in electrons. It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. If someone I loved needed brain surgery, and that guy was in the OR, I’d pay out of pocket to life flight them to another hospital.
I realize there are two sides to a lot of issues. I’m often sympathetic to the opposing side. For instance I’m pro-choice, but I get that the people on the other side think life begins earlier than I do and therefore it’s murder. And even though they all say that if we ban guns criminals will still get them, they think banning abortion will stop them from happening which is, you know, not what happened last time. So I disagree, but I understand.
Evolution is not one of those issues. If a candidate said “I don’t believe in gravity, I just think angels are pushing everyone down all the time. Gravity is just a theory!” you’d think they were crazy and not vote for them. Saying that the earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago is no less ignorant or insane. Even the organization that wrote the Bible, the primary “evidence” (insofar as a 3,000 year-old folk story can be evidence of anything) against evolution agrees. And yet not one major Republican candidate will take a pro-evolution stance.
The Republican stance on global warming is equally crazy. I realize they get a lot of funding from people who make money causing global warming. If one of them got up there and said “Anthropogenic climate change is real, but we should let the market deal with it.” I’d probably piss myself out of happiness. But instead they say “the science isn’t conclusive” even though 97% of scientists, including basically all governmental science institutions, say it’s real and needs to be dealt with.
I’ve come to realize that on the evolution issue, some Republicans actually believe in it but they can’t say that because too much of their primary chances are dependent on the nutjob wing of the religious right. So their code is “I think it should be up to local school districts to decide what they teach.” For some reason the religious right loves states’ rights, so it works. Or they simply dodge the question, which also is good enough. I think John McCain sold his soul in his run for President by picking Palin and not disagreeing with Bush on torture, but at least he had the balls to raise his hand and state he believed in evolution. When you find yourself wishing the new crop of candidates had the political courage of the guy who picked Sarah Palin as his running mate you’re in bad shape.
Jeb Bush falls into that camp on both evolution and global warming. He’s obviously smart enough to know the truth, but his party is crazy enough that he can’t say it. And that’ why he’s the obvious candidate for the 2016 nod. He’s smart enough not to fall into the traps. And also smart enough to understand science as well as your average twelve year old.
Why can’t I get just one candidate who believes in getting our government out of debt but also isn’t anti-intellectual and anti-science, and is willing to admit it? Is just one rational conservative too much to ask? Does America have to choose between a Democrat and a crazy person, or someone who at least caters to crazy people, every election cycle? Because I don’t like either of those options.
People think I’m a Democrat, but I really am not. I just can’t pull a lever for someone who is anti-science, anti-intellectual, has less than a sixth-grader’s comprehension of science and wants to base public policy on 3,000 year old folk stories. I can’t do it. Whatever disagreements I may have with the other side, they at least have a rational decision-making process. And I’ll take a reasonably intelligent guy I disagree with over a nutjob, no matter what his politics, every time.