Post-Nevada: Caught Between Political Hell No and I Don’t Know

Long troubled by the disproportionate primary process control of party extremists, I’m struggling to find a presidential candidate who offers me refuge from political homelessness.

With my political philosophy defined by non-traditional concepts of following Golden Rule principles and building unity – ideas that cross party lines – it’s not easy to find candidates I fully support. This year is no exception.

Republican leader Donald Trump routinely displays a full-force middle finger to anyone opposing him, emulating the contempt that President Obama has routinely displayed to his critics by not even pretending that different ideas could contain elements of merit. Perhaps Trump’s unflinching bravado explains his popularity among elements of the Republican electorate eager for payback, but he likely won’t build unity and he hasn’t even come close to sidling up to critical Golden Rule concepts.

Democrats are torn almost equally between a woman chosen by less than 10 percent of those Democratic voters who think honesty matters and a man committed to a Santa-like flow of government gifts. It seems Bernie Sanders would conscript more than half the nation into lifelong servitude that crosses the line between our Golden Rule duty to provide helping hands to those in need over to forcibly requiring the majority to porter around people who are both capable of walking on their own and likely to build better lives if left to paths with fewer bureaucratic obstacles.

Once I wake from the concept of changing my legal name to Hell No and running a November write-in campaign, I’m faced with the realistic dilemma of having to choose among less-than-desirable alternatives. Nevada caucus results only elevate my nightmare scenario prospects.

So what primary should I vote in when given a chance in mid-March? Who deserves help at least making it to November?

Each of us has our own priorities, but three fundamental reforms seem essential to the nation’s ability to survive long past our current 240 years (which also happens to be the average existence of empires before implosion or invasion).

  • First, the concentration of money and power in our political system requires dramatic constraint and reform.
  • Second, government plays far too large a role in the nation’s economic activity. A cap on the percentage of the economy filtered through government bureaucracies will force leaders to prioritize and, as importantly, innovate.
  • Third, far too many laws and regulations, including many mandatory minimum sentence requirements and unrestrained government confiscation rules in some areas, can’t conceivably be considered to fit any Golden Rule standard.

No single candidate offers an ideal option on all three concepts, let alone the nation’s overarching need to be led by a bridge-builder able to unify and integrate rather than divide and segregate.

All three concepts require such fundamental transformation that they would need to be enacted as constitutional amendments to have any real, lasting effect. As I look at Presidential candidates, I question where the candidates would likely stand if asked about these three fundamental issues. I rate on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being likely to lead the charge toward a constitutional amendment that I could support to 1 being a candidate who would be highly antagonistic to any such effort.

Before I get into explanations, here’s my grid of how I rate the current candidates on just these three vital concerns:

  Political Reform Cap Size of Government Golden Rule Adherence Total
Clinton 3 2 4 9
Sanders 8 1 6 15
Trump 3 5 1 9
Rubio 3 8 5 16
Cruz 2 10 3 15
Kasich 4 5 7 16
Carson 3 6 4 13

Viewed from this perspective, my nightmare scenario is a Trump-Clinton general election. Before taking into account their ability to serve as a unifying force, I’m left with Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich as almost identically mediocre at the top of the current heap.

If it comes down to choosing among the four on the basis of who will better unite the country, Rubio and Kasich have an edge. Cruz can certainly unite the hard right and Sanders the far left, but Rubio and Kasich are likely to have at least some crossover appeal on some issues.

So what will I do in March? What do I do in November?

Right now, I’m torn between Hell No and Hell If I Know. I wonder if I even will have any acceptable option.

 

Addendum

A few notes to explain my ratings (and I welcome your comments/disagreements):

  • Bernie Sanders would best lead political reform efforts, though he falls short of a 10 rating primarily because he wouldn’t impose the same restrictions on bundled political involvement by many groups that support his ideas as he would on those who oppose him. He would, however, help purge concentrated money out of the system. While others in the group may support some of the numerous political reforms I believe we need, no others can be trusted to make this a presidential push, particularly if it would impede their reelection. Those who might argue Trump would be great on this issue could have a point except that I believe we must cap financial presidential candidate support from any individual to well under 1 percent of total support, including from the candidate himself or herself.
  • Ted Cruz is clearly the superior candidate when it comes to pushing government reform and reduction. Rubio and Carson have similar conservative leanings on the role of government, but Rubio gets a higher rating than Carson here because he’s more likely to be effective. Kasich and Trump like government, but at least prefer it to work. Sanders and Clinton show almost no propensity to eliminate even government programs that are proven failures and have a near-limitless appetite to add more.
  • From a Golden Rule perspective, Kasich and Sanders have shown similar ability to consider the broad implications of policies on those affected by them. They both wear their hearts on their sleeves. However, neither is rated a 10 because they often focus on first order implications (immediate emotional impact) of their policies with less regard for limiting the debilitating human effects of long-term dependency and entrenched government bureaucracy. Rubio shows a greater ability to display and act on empathy than Hillary Clinton and the other Republicans, along with a concern for program effectiveness. Clinton supporters might disagree with this assessment because of all the new programs she supports, but I view her ever-changing policy views as politically driven. Trump believes firmly in his own version of the Golden Rule (in which he makes the rules), not the one about treating others as we would want to be treated in similar circumstances that is contained in the scriptures and teachings of every faith and most secularist/humanist philosophies.

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