Wikileaks, crude remarks on a hot mic, and the second presidential debate

The revelations of condescending e-mail of the Clinton campaign and of crude remarks by Donald Trump, discussing what is a crime if real, have confirmed once again how bad the next four years are likely to be.

Sunday night’s debate gave both candidates the opportunity to dodge a detailed discussion, which comes as no surprise, given the trend in debates over the last several decades.  The key zinger of the evening came when Clinton said that “it’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.”  Trump’s snap response, “because you’d be in jail,” has drawn fire in the media with comparisons to the behavior of third-world dictators and wanna-bes who threaten their opponents with death or indefinite detention.  Given his loose verbal style and the fact that he did say he’d call for a special prosecutor to investigate her actions with her State Department messages, it’s once again hard to know exactly what he meant.  His willingness to dance on the edge of tactics expected in a banana republic, though, makes the idea of a Trump presidency something I don’t want to contemplate.

To many, this implies that I must support Clinton.  But that would be a false dichotomy.  Yes, the common perception is that elections are binary choices, and that perception, the claim that we must choose the lesser of two evils has brought us to 2016 and the candidates offered to us by the Republicans and Democrats.

The aforementioned email just released by Wikileaks illustrates the problems that many of us have with the Democratic nominee.  In one exchange between Bill Ivey, an adviser to the Clinton campaign, and John Podesta, the latter Clinton’s campaign chair, Ivey observes that we live in a culture that has accepted celebrity politics, noting how Trump is a star of reality television, while Clinton is “not an entertainer.”  Ivey goes on to say that “we’ve all been quite content to demean government, drop civics and in general conspire to produce an unaware and compliant citizenry.”  From the context, it seems that the “we” in that means political insiders, and if so, this is yet another illustration of the smugness that permeates the leadership of one of our two major parties.

But it gets worse.  The speeches that Clinton has given to the financial people of Wall Street and that she worked hard to keep secret are coming out.  Though she tried to deflect questions by saying her comments were movie criticism, citing the recent movie about Lincoln and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, in fact, she has a public position that she gives when the news is paying attention or when she’s trying to win over the supporters of Bernie Sanders and another that she shares with her donors.  Claiming that she remembers what it was like before she and her husband became rich, she said that there is an anxiety among ordinary Americans who feel that the game is rigged against them, and this causes them to have a bias against wealthy people.  She went on to complain about rules that require bankers to avoid conflicts of interest and spoke about her desire to see a western hemispheric common market with open borders.

Regardless of the views that any of us might take to these private positions, it’s clear that they run counter to what she says in public.  And so we’re left with two bad major party candidates and the practical reality that while there are alternatives, the truth is that Jill Stein and Gary Johnson aren’t going to win.  For the moment, the voters will continue supporting Democrats or Republicans.

What do we do?  We’ll only get better candidates when we force the parties to give them to us or we run ourselves.  That means taking the time to get involved on the local level in the party operations.  It means voting in primaries.  It means using our rights to speak and assemble and petition – read harass – our government.  In one sense, Bill Ivey was right.  Passive voters have let 2016 happen, and it’ll only be when all of us stop tolerating party insiders giving us bad candidates that we’ll have the government that we want.

We always receive the government that we deserve, and it’s time to deserve better.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of

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