CHARLOTTE, NC, September 9, 2016 – During every presidential campaign season we hear cries for the candidates to “talk about the issues.” Usually we really don’t want to hear about “the issues” but we say we do anyway.
Especially this season.
When Bill Clinton was elected to his first term, advisor James Carville used the phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid” to define the issues of that election. That little idiom was so effective that we still hear, and use, some form of it today.
Barack Obama was elected the first time around on “hope and change” which were two ambiguous words rather than any defined “issues.”
What really elected Obama over Hillary Clinton at the time was race beating out feminism in an epic “get-to-the-White-House-first” competition.
This election is based upon the personalities of two unpopular candidates. Whatever favoritism exists is based upon which person a voter dislikes the most for a variety of some valid, others not so valid, reasons.
But its not race. Not gender.
In the Republican free-for-all for the presidential nomination involving double digit candidates, Donald Trump survived but not without enough debates and mud slinging to create an entirely new category for reality television. That is until the public reverted to the standard cry of “talk about the issues.”
On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders waged a losing battle from the outset while basking in the glow of a youth movement which has no conception of the realities of his socialistic message.
No matter, because Sanders wasn’t going to win anyway. The Clinton Democratic machine had already decided that and, again we heard screams of “talk about the issues.”
Now, as the traditional green flag drops on the two-person race following Labor Day, a new pile of mud is being made from the dirt track where the match race will be run. Already we have heard from each side that the other’s candidate is unqualified to be president.
But there are some aspects of Campaign 2016 that are obvious.
Donald Trump is everywhere.
Hillary Clinton appears now and then but she is basically being sequestered because the more she shows up the less she is liked.
There is also the question of Clinton’s health to which Trump has cleverly responded, “I’ll release my tax returns, when Clinton releases her health report.”
Trump’s advisors have managed to calm him down and make him appear more presidential. Clinton still laughs her way through appearances while shouting to her audiences when not coughing. Yesterday, from the tarmac in Hill-Force-One’s shadow, she cried that the Main Stream Media is not treating her fairly.
“I don’t understand the reasons for it,” she said. “I find it frustrating, but its just part of the landscape that we live in and we just keep forging ahead.”
Clinton praised members of the media who questioned their colleagues, suggesting that they were too easy on Trump.
“I have been somewhat heartened by the number of articles recently pointing out the quite disparate treatment of Trump and his campaign compared to ours,” she said.
But the main thing nobody seems to notice is that, of the two candidates it is Trump who is actually “talking about the issues.” Not that Trump doesn’t get his barbs at Clinton into the mix, but at least he has outlined an immigration program and a military program in detail.
Yesterday he addressed a Cleveland audience on the failure of common core and lack of school choice that leads to sub-standard educations for the poor.
Agree or disagree, Trump has laid out definite strategies.
And then there are the actions that speak louder than words (or policies).
Both candidates were invited to Mexico. Trump went, Clinton declined.
Both candidates could have gone to flood ridden Louisiana. Trump beat Obama there because the president could not allow his golf game to be interrupted. Clinton went to a high dollar fund raiser.
Yet, Trump was the person who was chastised.
Trump has gone to black evangelicals to discuss the disparity of opportunity in black neighborhoods, saying “I am here to listen” and “I need your help in creating an effective civil rights policy for all” before asking them for their vote.
Meanwhile, Clinton continues to employ the age old Democratic playbook consisting of espousing generalities such as “tax the rich” and “unify the country” and “we will help the middle class” while offering nothing but the same tired rhetoric that perpetuates the good old boys club for both parties in Washington.
In the meantime, despite her claim that the media is in the bag for Trump, the loyal media ignores Clinton scandal after Clinton scandal while choosing instead to critique Trump’s efforts at trying to focus upon the genuine problems we face.
In essence, the “issues” are not really the “issue.” The lowest common denominator and the mud are easier to understand. We just say we are tired of it, when, in truth, we prefer to stop and watch the train wreck.
Ultimately, this year’s election may be decided by the debates barring some earthshaking event for either candidate that changes the dynamics.
John F. Kennedy’s televised debate performance was the difference against Richard Nixon. The same could be true this time around. If Trump continues to look sharp and be sharp in contrast to Clinton looking tired and lacking energy, none of the issues may even matter.
The moderators will be forced to use issues for their questioning because they do not want to risk another “Candy Crowley moment” that nailed the coffin on Mitt Romney.
Clinton’s resume is impressively long. It is also impressively lackluster.
In the end the winner could be decided by whichever debate does not conflict with an NFL game.
Both candidates will be well prepared, meaning the next president could very well be the one with the fewest “issues” under the microscope of public opinion.
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Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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