Historically, America has been a country of broad ideas and vision as evidenced by the words of the 1776 Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed–”
This document challenged the concept of the divinity of the king and rule by Divine right– which asserted that a monarch was subject to no earthly authority, deriving the right to rule directly from the will of God.
It introduced to Europeans the concepts of the Laws of Nature and a Divine right of equality instilled into every man by the sheer fact of birth. Roosevelt’s “New Deal”, Kennedy’s “New Frontier” and Johnson’s “War on Poverty” were also broad ideas and visions of what America had the potential to attain.
America has also been a conflicted country. High ideals and lofty aims have often been in conflict with capitalism, greed and concepts such as “American exceptionalism” and “Manifest Destiny.”
As a settler colonial state and global hegemon, America has imposed some of the most heinous crimes upon the world. Chattel slavery, Black Codes, Jim Crow, the genocide against Native Americans, the support of Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians and the invasion of Iraq are just a few examples of how America’s corrupt sense of self has wreaked havoc upon the world.
The 2016 presidential campaign should be a time when the best that America has to offer comes to the forefront. The America with a progressive domestic agenda, broad ideas and vision; and an inclusive Weltanschauung – “comprehensive conception or image of the universe and of humanity’s relation to it…a broad world view” should carry the day.
As we move into the 2016 presidential season and listen to the rhetoric of the presidential frontrunners from both parties, all we can conclude is that the American political landscape has become a barren political wasteland. In assessing the current slate of candidates, the American voter is truly left with the unenviable task of selecting between the best of the worst and the lesser of evils.
As of this writing, according to Real Clear Politics in the national polls Donald Trump leads the Republican Party with 26.5%. Trump offers worn xenophobic rhetoric “I want to make America great again”, which is a rehash of Tom Tancredo’s Tea Party chant, “We want our country back”. According to Trump, “When Mexico sends its people they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they’re telling us what we’re getting.”
Trump offers constitutionally unrealistic solutions to immigration reform such as stripping citizenship from U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants, who become citizens at birth under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
Here is what we do know – according to the Washington Post, “Data on immigrants and crime are incomplete, but a range of studies show there is no evidence immigrants commit more crimes than native-born Americans. In fact, first-generation immigrants are predisposed to lower crime rates than native-born Americans.”
Dr. Ben Carson trails Trump with 12.0% of Republican support. Carson believes America is being destroyed by political correctness, “We need to be in a place where people feel free to express themselves and not to be intimidated by political correctness It’s destroying our nation.”
Carson believes that being gay is a choice and he linked homosexuals to “people who believe in bestiality.” A surgeon, here’s what Carson believes about the Affordable Care Act (ACA):
“You know Obamacare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,” Carson, who is Black, said addressing the Values Voter Summit. “And it is in a way, it is slavery in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government, and it was never about health care. It was about control.”
At the Republican Leadership Conference in 2014 Carson made comments to the Daily Beast in an interview saying the ACA “has been even more damaging to the United States than the terrorist attacks of 9/11.”
As a presidential hopeful Carson should be less concerned with political correctness and more concerned with truth, factual accuracy and correctness. He offers no data to support his outrageous, inaccurate and wrong pronouncements. On the international front, Carson did not know that the Balkans are a part of NATO.
Jeb Bush is in third place with 9.5% of Republican support. He cannot bring himself to admit that his brother’s failed invasion of Iraq is the cause of the current conflicts in the Middle-East, Nigeria and other countries and regions, with the rise of extremism. According to Jeb Bush, Obama and Clinton, “stood by as that hard-won victory by American and allied forces was thrown away,” referring to Iraq.
First, there was no “hard-won” victory. Second, Jeb conveniently ignores the fact that his brother President Bush agreed –reluctantly but he did agree– to a withdrawal deadline of December 31, 2011 without leaving behind a residual force.
Hillary Clinton leads the Democratic hopefuls with 49% of support. According to a Huffington Post poll, Clinton has a 51% unfavorable rating to a 39% favorable rating. She is so bogged down in mismanaging a contrived email scandal that no one can hear her discussing serious issues such as income equality, college affordability, women’s health, and equal pay.
Sen. Bernie Sanders says he’s an independent in his heart but is running as a Democrat. He has also admitted that he will support the Democratic candidate should he loose the nomination. He has shown his hand and relinquished any negotiating leverage before the game has even started. In a nutshell, he’s running hard-left and even though he’s gaining in the polls he will probably fold in 2016, leaving progressive Democrats with Clinton.
Many voters are fed up with the gridlock in Washington. During President Obama’s term, the source of that gridlock can be traced back to the Republican leadership at a dinner on January 20, 2009 at the Caucus Room restaurant in Washington, DC. During that dinner several Republican leaders and strategists devised a plan to oppose any economic legislation proposed by the President. Other candidates are playing into the politics of phenotype and ethnicity in the wake of an African American president and the myth of drug crazed raping Mexicans streaming across the U.S. border.
Some Conservatives –Republicans– are speaking in racist, homophobic invectives and rants that have no basis in fact, but ring true in the ears of those narrow but well-funded and organized Tea Party and Christian conservative sects.
Democrats with no clear message are constantly taken off message and consumed by fiction and lies that they cannot put to rest.
The country of vision and great ideas is falling victim to a narrow sense of identity and single issue politics that is turning the American political landscape into a barren wasteland.
Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the Sirius/XM Satellite radio channel 126 call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon” Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email:[email protected]. www.twitter.com/drwleon and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at Facebook.com © 2015 InfoWave Communications, LLC