Saturday, July 25, 2015

Table Talk

At dinner with friends last night the conversation turned briefly to politics. One person announced that she supports Hillary, one came out for Sanders, and one hoped that Trump would prevail. My spirit sank within me. These are all intelligent people, what could they possibly see in any of these candidates? What was I missing?

Hillary Clinton is a corrupt, dishonest opportunist whose public life is wreathed in scandal and who, despite being given so many unmerited opportunities, has not a single accomplishment in her career except having married a man who carried her to national prominence. It's very difficult to say exactly what she stands for, other than her own personal aggrandizement, and what reason anyone could have to vote for her.

Bernie Sanders is an acknowledged socialist who believes Barack Obama has not gone far enough in dismantling the capitalist system that has brought a higher standard of living to more people than any other system at any other time in history. Socialism has proven unsustainable and thus an abject failure everywhere it has been practiced. It has only worked for a time in European countries which were able to shelter under the American military umbrella in the post WWII era and which were thus able to spend their dwindling resources on high pensions, health care, education, and housing rather than defense.

As Margaret Thatcher famously observed, however, the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money, and you wind up an economic basket-case like Greece. Why would anyone vote for a man whose policies, if implemented, would turn the United States into Greece?

Donald Trump is saying things that resonate with the American people, especially about immigration. He's saying things other politicians won't say, and best of all he's not afraid to stick his thumb in the eye of the media, which is always enjoyable to watch. The problem, however, is that much of what Trump is saying today is at odds with what he was saying a decade or so ago. He's touching a nerve but, given his past statements, one questions his sincerity, not to mention his egotism. In fact, Trump is in many ways a mirror image of Barack Obama, so why, with so many more tested and principled candidates in the GOP field, would someone throw their support to Trump?

Anyway, nobody at last night's dinner asked me for my opinion so, not wanting my friends to be offended by having their views questioned in front of others (people often get testy or embarrassed when asked to actually defend their opinions), I didn't say much, but inwardly I despaired. I can only hope that my friends do not represent a cross-section of the American electorate. After all, if intelligent people are prepared to vote for corrupt crony-capitalists, socialists, or unprincipled demagogues, what in the world are the masses of uninformed, disinterested 2016 voters going to do?