Utah Presidential Caucus: Character and office

“The only difference between a Democrat and a Republican is the type of programs they choose to overspend on.” – Former Utah Senator Bob Bennett, 1993.

“The United States of America deserves whichever president is in office. If we are not living godlike lives as a nation, we will not have a godlike president. Men will ultimately be governed by God or by tyrants.” – Benjamin Franklin; Spirit of Liberty, Spring Creek Book Company, 2013, page 13.

By David Rogers
By David Rogers

The technical machinations of the 2016 election move forward. The contentious debate that has sometimes characterized past political intercourse has reached a frenzy. The search for true political character and leadership is ongoing. On the one hand you have an entrenched establishment candidate that is surrounded by controversy and possible criminal liability opposed by an aged socialist wingding whose rhetoric makes Che Guevara look conservative. On the other, you have a blustery, self-inflated business man who is literally hijacking the Republican Party, marching to the pounding beat of “down with the establishment”. He is leading two somewhat more “establishment” candidates that are fracturing the remaining vote.

Utah’s caucus shows that character counts to local voters. The two candidates most suspect on issues of character, and also the clear front runners for their parties based on other primaries to date, received the least amount of votes from a historically large turnout. Signs are pointing to no Republican candidate achieving a needed majority. An open convention in July spells big trouble for the Republicans if bait and switch games are planned by the party elite. Either one of the Democrat candidates spells big trouble for the future of America in general. How in the world is this mess going to be straightened out? Let’s look at each conundrum.

With the path to a required number of delegates looking uncertain for anyone on the Republican side at this point, and with Donald Trump holding a decided lead in number of delegates, the prospects of an open convention loom large. Mitt Romney was robo-calling delegates in Ohio for John Kasich and in Florida for Marco Rubio prior to last Tuesday’s primary. We see how that worked out. Rubio is gone and Kasich is sticking around to further fracture the delegate count after carrying his likely one and only home state. The so-called establishment is pining for ABT, Anything But Trump. However, if Mr. Trump enters July with the clear majority of delegates over any other candidates but not an outright majority, and is outmaneuvered in the convention, count on the real chaos to begin. Cruz, Kasich or dark horse, it matters not.

With such a result, the many voters who have supported Mr. Trump will feel disenfranchised. Sean Hannity has stated publicly that if such a bait and switch is perpetrated he is done with the Republican Party. Many other conservatives will likely have similar feelings. Could this be the dawn of the Independents? You can take it to Vegas that if the convention does pull such a stunt that Mr. Trump will launch his own independent candidacy. Which could spell doom for him and any Republican cohort crowding a three party ticket in November.

Such shenanigans will only reinforce the perception of Washington insider corruption that vaulted Mr. Trump to the front running position in the first place. The fact that our first majority Republican House and Senate in over a decade has yielded none of the fixes promised only adds fuel to that anti-establishment fire. The American people have watched Republicans do little to slow the plunder of our national treasury. Entitlements and special interests still control the purse strings of Washington insiders as our national debt soars to unimaginable heights.

Mr. Trump is seen as a threat to the status quo, never mind his apparent personality flaws. There are those who believe he would put his neck on the line to actually change business as usual in Washington. He scares insiders to death. Unfortunately, that same dynamic may keep many conservatives at home on Election Day, as Mitt Romney discovered in 2012 with Evangelicals, if Mr. Trump indeed secures the Republican nomination. The prevailing logic is that current shortfalls in promised results are better than a Trump oligarchy. That pesky issue of character looms large. Whether such fear is real or imagined, that line of thinking does not bode well for anyone hoping to turn the White House away from Democrats.

But the fact is that, as ugly as some of the dialog has been in the primaries, the dialog is going to get a lot rougher if America is ever to reverse course away from the precipice of financial ruin. If Mr. Trump is suffering from perceived character flaws now, imagine what he, or any other candidate for that matter, will have to suffer if they actually begin to weed out entitlement spending, special interest pork barrels and every other necessity to bring our national budget back into balance. The jury is out on whether this can actually be accomplished, but it would entail severe political bloodletting if there is to be any chance of success. And no one wants to be the first to be pulled away from the government feeding trough. The media, social activists and lobbyists would attack from all sides, and we would witness legitimate social and political unrest on a scale heretofore unimagined. That well may be the necessary price of change, if anyone is actually willing to pay it.

On the other side of the ticket we have only slightly more difficult alternatives. Hillary Clinton defines everything wrong with Washington. Her record of incompetence, personal profiteering and corrupt influence peddling is being shown under an ever brighter light. She would likely take crony capitalism to a new high. Those who know her best would admit she would envision herself as queen of the world if possible. A truly frightening prospect. Even some previously devoted liberals are chafing at her shrill deportment, deflection of charges of corruption, and lack of substantive truth. Utahans voted for Bernie Sanders 4 to 1 over her in the primaries. The main question at this point is will she be able to see her campaign through to the end?

Bernie Sanders on the other hand, is wooing young voters and other disenfranchised or restless masses with a feel-good, quasi-socialist dogma that is as disconnected from reality as many of his supporters. A substantial portion of what he proposes is either legally impossible or financially unfeasible. Never mind the details. It is about peace, love, power to the people, and stick it to the man! And here we thought the sixties were in our rearview mirror. If he were elected, his ineffectiveness and policy malfeasance would make Barack Obama look like a political genius. If our country is not bankrupt already, Mr. Sanders would finish the job in short measure. If either of these two are elected, America as we know it is done within a few years.

So the question hangs continually in the air. Is there any leadership out there with the character to see us through our considerable challenges over the next four years? It is a question that bothers many a politically motivated individual at the moment. We really seem to be witnessing the two party system breaking down into harsh conflict, both among themselves and pointedly at their rivals. It would be a sad day to walk into a booth in November and be hesitant to cast a vote for any of the candidates on the ballot. But as the primaries continue to unfold, that may indeed become a reality in the eyes of many Americans.

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