Disappointing choices for 2016

For the record, I’m not a Democrat or a Republican. I doubt I’ll ever be either one. I was a bit of an unofficial young Republican in my youth, swayed by the idealism of Ronald Reagan. Now, I’m an independent swayed by the idealism of Bernie Sanders. While I find myself against many items on the GOP agenda, I also find myself repulsed by the Democratic Party’s shenanigans throughout this primary season.

I’m not a #BernieOrBust guy, though. As much as I disdain Hillary Clinton’s pandering to anyone who can help her get elected, I’m more disgusted by Donald Trump’s pandering to America’s lowest-common-denominators of thinking. So, I’ll be voting for Hillary this fall, just not enthusiastically.

I do believe this is the end of the Republican Party as we know it. After Trump loses the general election, the establishment will either push out the right-wingers, or they’ll flee the right-wingers and let them have the Republican Party. Of course, it may run counter to their instincts, but forming a smaller, more moderate group of former Republicans in a new party would make them the ultimate power brokers in D.C. Nothing would get done without their support from the middle.

The Democrats, meanwhile, will survive as their party elites have all kinds of tricks up their sleeves and stop-gaps like superdelegates to keep truly independent-minded candidates from taking over their party the way Trump hijacked the Republican Party.

I do wish the Democratic establishment would have kept an open mind on Bernie, though. If you look at the map of primary states won by the two remaining Democratic candidates, you’ll see that Hillary has built her big lead on the strength of whopping victories in states like South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas — solidly red states she has no prayer of winning in November. They’re going to need the support of the independents they’ve pushed out of their political process and those voters in Sanders country to beat Trump.

But despite Trump’s pledge to Make America Great Again by doing great stuff, so great it’ll make your head spin and you’ll get sick of winning and despite the right-wing’s ever-present red herrings (this time it’s bathrooms and religious liberty) to distract conservative voters from issues that truly matter, I believe enough discouraged Sanders supporters, independents and folks repulsed by Trump will bite their lips and vote for Hillary. She’ll win. Picking Elizabeth Warren as her running mate might be the only way she can attract enthusiasm to her campaign.

I do hate, though, that our choices are a candidate who is beholden to entitled rich campaign backers and one who is the entitled rich. Either way, the common folks remain shut out of the process. At least the common folks gave it the ol’ college try this campaign season and put a real scare in the establishment. Unfortunately, the only thing likely to change by the next presidential election is that the party elites will batten down the hatches and tweak the process further to ensure they don’t have to deal with us common folks again.

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