Here is a statement that is probably not much of a stretch: The 2016 presidential election could be the most important election in the history of this country. If you cannot agree with this statement, you might want to pay a bit more attention to what has transpired in U.S. politics and policy over the last so many years. It is one convoluted mess. I recently saw a bumper sticker pasted on the back of a vehicle commonly touted by environmentally friendly Hollywood leftists last week declaring “I am ready for Hillary in 2016.” My question to the somnambulant driver might be “Ready for what?” Any continuation of business as usual in Washington, a surety if Ms. Clinton is elected, spells doom for the great American dream.
So let’s review the impending presidential landscape. Indeed, on the one side we have Hillary Clinton gearing up for a coronation as the Democratic candidate. She has hardly felt a need to even speak to the press until recently, and even now only gives snippets and sound bites or a brief speech as a reaction to some high profile incident. Her generalized rhetoric is searching for a comfortable spot somewhere right of Bernie Sanders and left of Rand Paul. While the mainstream press thinks she might eventually have a little competition from candidates like the aforementioned Sanders, it is almost a foregone conclusion that Mrs. Clinton will come out on top in the primaries.
Yet the Clinton machine has been demonstrating the same stonewall tactics over alleged problems that the Obama White House has shown over the years. Shameful facts on the Benghazi incident? Deny and deflect. Allegations of severe corruption and the peddling of influence through the Clinton foundation? Blame it all on those nasty Republicans trying to enforce a smear campaign. And as a leader to resurrect our failing foreign policy? It could be argued that her years in the State Department helped outline our flagging relationships across the globe. While Mrs. Clinton, just like President Obama, declares the values of accountability and transparency, her actions suggest anything but. This does not play well with middle class, suburban America. And any hint of true leadership has yet to reveal itself either in her character or actions. She is the political equivalent of the Back Street Boys, a manufactured, substance-less show and hit machine for the idealistic, young or misinformed.
On the other side of the aisle we have an old-fashioned western bar brawl about to break out. Too many lubed-up guys in the bar drinking from the old bottle of Red Eye while claiming dibs on the only available dancing girl. Donald Trump is dominating the early headlines by taking the hyperbole to absurd new levels. The press is complicit in painting his eccentricities as a strictly Republican shortcoming and touting his comments as unfettered lunacy. And many of the other multitude of candidates react to the Donald by trying to ride his coattails of media frenzy in overwrought reaction, perhaps their best chance of seeing competing air time. Not an ideal situation, and if things do not get a bit more coherent, the upcoming Fox News Republican debates could turn into a high school level he-said-she-said catfight. Through it all, cogent ideas to remedy the ills of the country seem lost in all of the headline grabbing. And any semblance of leadership might be displaced by the race for the next prime-time sound bite.
So what is a voter to do? Our deficits continue to climb to nearly unsustainable levels, the economy stands on trembling legs and unemployment numbers do little to reflect the sense of hopelessness an entire generation harbors in ever realizing the American dream. College graduates have to move back home and many Americans, young and old alike, have essentially given up on finding truly gainful employment. Race relations are increasingly unstable and class discontent is sown at every level as the rich are blamed for everything by the left. Our foreign policy is in tatters and enemies of freedom and human rights everywhere are running amok. And future Republican hopefuls bicker about whether or not Bruce Jenner should become a woman or what a true war hero is or is not?
The bottom line is that if we do not find some real leadership, and soon, the America we all grew up with is living on borrowed time. Eight years of Obama and a gridlocked Congress have taken their toll. The problems facing this country are adding up quickly, and only tough decisions and forceful solutions will offer any hope of recovery. The usual political rhetoric – or worse, the recent political theater – offers no real solutions.
Leadership is key. Do we have the next George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln waiting in the wings to lead us? These were leaders placed fortuitously at the forefront of this nation at critical points in history. One could argue there was almost a divine coordination of strong and unyielding political characters at critical points in this country’s history that guided us through severely trying times. Who in the entire field of 2016 candidates might possibly make the difficult decisions such leadership will inevitably require of us now?
Mitt Romney had the potential to be that transformative agent in 2012, but history ultimately did not allow us to judge that outcome. Even if he was elected, Mitt Romney’s problems would have likely just begun, with the inevitable backlash mandated by our reality-bending media against any conservative agenda that might have actually made a difference. Can we expect anything different for 2016? If elected, will Ms. Clinton get the same lapdog treatment from the media that has allowed President Obama to essentially bring the country to its knees? Will the next president even be able to coherently express and implement sound policies that can bring real and needed reform? Or will our next leader be tied to the expectation of putting on the best show?
Senator Bob Bennett once stated that our country is greater than any President. But a series of poor presidential leaders over an extended period of time may just ruin us. For the sake of our country’s future, we had better hope that a wise and timely leader steps forth. The issues and outcomes may be too disastrous to contemplate otherwise.