Is it over yet? No, sorry. We must endure five more months of the Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton battle. The clash between the two is especially upsetting, because there are so many issues that should be debated, but they never see the light of day because of the madness of Trump.
To her credit, Clinton has unveiled program after program on such challenges as high college tuition, health care costs, infrastructure needs and dozens of others. But Trump continues to muddy the political waters with his rants, none of which look or smell like real policy plans. Because we live in an era of sound bites, all that emerges from the back-and-forth between the candidates is a flurry of insults.
The planks of the Trump campaign are easy to remember. He wants to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S., deport 11 million people and prevent Muslims from entering the country. Judges of Mexican descent must not be allowed to sit on any case involving Trump University. He told coal miners in West Virginia, whose industry is dying, that they should hang on, because coal is coming back “very soon.” That formula won’t create one meaningful job.
Some people think that Bernie Sanders’s campaign had a lot more substance. His platform, too, was easy to remember. He wanted free tuition at public colleges and medical care for everyone at a modest cost, and he promised to close the gap between the 1 percent and the other 99 percent.
There’s no question that he stirred up a revolution among college students and senior citizens, but the chance that these programs would pass without a major income tax increase is extremely remote.
Some of the popular appeal of the Sanders campaign will work its way into the Democratic Party platform at the convention next month. And there’s no doubt that Clinton will be a strong advocate for some of the ideas Sanders advanced. But then, how do we get any real debate going about the issues of the day? Technology has cost America millions of jobs. Cheap labor in countries with which we do business is another problem. Those capacity crowds that attended rallies for Sanders and Trump will be riled up if they don’t hear some solid solutions.
Will there be a real debate on critical issues between now and November? It stands to reason that Clinton will continue to talk about solutions to the nation’s problems. She has come up with a carload of ideas on how to make the country move forward. The problem is that she has no one to debate them with. For all his successes in business, Trump offers voters nothing but smears and insults.
Let’s say he builds his wall. How many jobs will that create? If anything, a wall between Mexico and the U.S. would probably be built by Mexicans.
What will the summer of 2016 bring? There will be two campaigns going on at two different levels. Clinton will be traveling around the country talking about problems that have to be solved, and Trump will be looking for new ethnic groups that he didn’t already insult. Shakespeare gave us the winter of our discontent, from the lips of Richard III. The election has brought us the summer version.
I’ve seen this movie before. It happened in the early years of my political life as a local official. I watched Barry Goldwater destroy the Republican Party and take down hundreds of the party’s public officials in 1964. Because the Republican establishment has pledged to support its presidential candidate this year, many will probably go down with the ship. I’m a strong believer in the two-party system, but this election will no doubt be the undoing of the Grand Old Party.
The biggest problem with all this ugly stuff is that we’ll have to live through it.
Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column? JKremer@liherald.com.