Groucho Marx, one of the great comedians of all time, has the best (probably borrowed) description of politics: Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, assessing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedy. There are 95 days until the Presidential election and many people are trying to decide between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I suspect most people are like me and don’t like the choices, but will nonetheless decide to vote for one or the other.
Many people are going to base their votes on the fact that the next President will likely appoint Supreme Court justices that will affect that decisions of the court for the next generation. Two legal issues are at the forefront of many voters’ minds: Roe v. Wade and the Second Amendment. Many people think that Roe v. Wade needs to be reversed. It was decided in 1973, so 43 years later it is still the most controversial of all Supreme Court decisions. Many Pro Life and Pro Choice proponents are basing their votes on this issue alone. While I can’t criticize such thinking because both sides have valid reasons for their position, there are many other issues that the Supreme Court will address that are more important to our democracy.
While many may disagree with me, the worst decision in the last 100 years was not Roe v. Wade, but the Citizens United case, decided in January of 2010 which decided that corporations have First Amendment rights to spend as much money as they want to in elections. The floodgates of contributions have opened and unprecedented amounts of money will be spent on elections this year. Many of the contributions will be given secretly and foreign interests will undoubtedly have an impact on our national election. The influence of special interests threatens our way of life. If Hillary Clinton is elected, I suspect that the Supreme Court will ultimately reverse that decision. While Bernie Sanders had some policies that were difficult to support, I applaud him for bringing this issue to the attention of the public. He understands that special interests are a threat to democracy.
The last week has been an interesting week in the political realm. Commentators have begun speculating about Donald Trump’s possible withdrawal from the presidential election. That makes for interesting discussion, but is highly unlikely. Of course, nothing would surprise me about Mr. Trump. The open warfare that he has conducted with other Republicans is mind-boggling. His refusal to support the Speaker of the House in his re-election campaign is unbelievable and the shots that he has taken against John McCain are simply amazing: “I like people who weren’t captured.” I don’t always agree with Senator McCain, but to blame him for getting captured during the Vietnam War is ludicrous. He is one of the great military heroes in his generation.
You can love or hate Donald Trump, but there can’t be much disagreement that he has no filter. He says what is on his mind. Taking on the Gold Star parents of the young Muslim who died in Iraq while saving his unit was not one of his brightest moves. There are truly times when one wonders if Mr. Trump has read the Constitution as Mr. Khan suggested.
As the primaries were being conducted, I remember thinking that that there is a dearth of qualified candidates. As I listened to the speeches in both political conventions, I was wondering who the next Barack Obama is. President Obama was first introduced to America in the 2004 election when he spoke at the Democratic National Convention as a state senator from Illinois who was a candidate for the United States Senate. Hopefully, both parties will find some good mainstream candidates for the future.
Perhaps a new political party will be formed. I have argued for years that if the moderates in the Republican Party and the moderates in the Democratic Party would join forces and offer up candidates, they would win easily. Gridlock has caused Congress to become ineffective. A handful of politicians have effectively stopped reasonable debate about the issues affecting our country, which is why the job approval rating of Congress is between 10 and 15 percent. Kansans just removed one of their Congressmen from office, so there is a “throw the bums out” mentality in the electorate. However, unless there are reforms in the electoral process in campaign spending, we will just replace the current bums with new bums.
The problems we face are monumental, but we can only hope that the politicians will heed the warning of Groucho Marx. They should also abide the words of President John F. Kennedy who said: “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”
Bob Buckley is an attorney in Independence, www.wagblaw.com . Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org