The Madness Begins

The Madness Begins

Oh no, I do not speak of the madness of Senator Ted Cruz's positions about climate change, immigration or science. Nor do I speak of the GOP at large with any number of possible presidential candidates who will also spout nonsense about science or foreign and domestic policies.

I also am not talking about the madness of Democrats, who want to see Elizabeth Warren or anyone who is not named Clinton at least try to make it through a primary. A longstanding pathology that Democrats and their supporters have about undermining their own party because they too, like their ideological purity tests.

The madness of which I speak is John Q. Public, the American voter.

When a presidential campaign starts, so does the amnesia of the public, who wake up from a slumber dating to the last go around. Everything that has occurred during the last four years is out the window. Four years of potential thinking, looking at facts and seeing the direction of the country based on fact, not self-serving radio talk show hosts. But not for the average voter, who shuts all of that out for the most part. Each presidential campaign cycle is a tabula rasa.

Voters often think they are capable of deep rational thought, but the truth is that voting is often centered around a single pet issue. The election will be about abortion. No, it will be about the economy. No, repealing the Affordable Care Act. No, foreign policy. Candidates will shift several times a day to address the current, temporary opinions of the electorate. That is not as difficult as it may seem, since the electorate's position is often dictated by the closed communities where they get their news. So for right-wingers, the election will be about Benghazi. Or blaming President Obama for ISIS. Or out of control government spending.

Now, if voters were truly cognizant, they would know that the deficit has actually gone down. That unemployment has gone down. That more federal workers have lost jobs because of the need to "tighten our belts." That the Obama Administration has deported more people than the Bush Administration. That we have two wars still not paid for. That millions of people did not lose their health insurance. But right-wing voters don't pay attention to this at all, because they are facts. So they will repeat the opposite of those facts to the degree that it no longer matters what is fantasy and what is reality. For all the constant talk about Obama being a Marxist, the right wing is more prone to totalitarian control methods and ideological kangaroo courts than they could be aware of. And of course, if Obama is such a dictator, why is he even allowing a presidential election to be held anyway? He should have canceled them by now. The worst predictions about him destroying America have failed to materialize, something that one might hope might dawn on his opponents, but even that goes unchecked. It's madness, plain and simple.

Left-wingers are no better. Disappointed that the president did not prove to be the political messiah they had hoped for, they will take their revenge out on Hillary Clinton. They will recast her 2008 campaign as a failure on her part, pure and simple, easily forgetting their complicity in taking her down, believing she brought it upon herself. They will endlessly invoke the "Clinton Machine," whose overall effectiveness should be a point of pride in taking on the Republican noise machine, but disdain for anyone named Clinton always trumps left-wingers' sensibilities. Hence the quixotic idea that Elizabeth Warren, who doesn't have the national recognition they believe she has, really should at least try to primary Hillary Clinton. Because the bruising, divisive fight in 2008 has apparently gone down the memory hole.

Since the Republican field looks to be the crowded one, even if one or two Democrats decide to challenge a potential Clinton candidacy, that group will draw more scrutiny. But none of these possible choices is going to say anything new. Each of them, from declared Ted Cruz to all-but-declared Jeb Bush, or Rand Paul and the rest, will simply trot out the same talking points as last time. And they will resonate because their supporters have mostly blanked out since 2012. The themes of Obama weakening America, creating ISIS or whatever else will be taken up with gusto. Even if there are more than a handful of right-wing voters who dismiss this because they know such things are not based on anything real won't matter. These played out themes will seep into their everyday conversations as if it's something self-evident and brand new.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

The madness of the electorate, the deliberating forgetting of what has happened since 2012 and dismissal of facts will be on full display. Just like it always is.