Elections 2016: Unwholesome Competition

The crazy season descends upon Indiana today. Yesterday was the New York state primary, and the next big prize, in terms of presidential delegates, is Indiana. No doubt within the next two weeks we will tire of the barrage of countless negative political advertisements. The primary will be good for our economy, as it is expected to generate well over $10 million in media expenditures in the Indianapolis market alone. I cannot imagine how much more will be spent on hotels and food and advertising on a statewide basis, but it will be substantial.

By May 3 we will all, I hope, either go to our respective polling sites, or will have voted in advance. We vote to select the candidates of our choice, though sometimes our vote is against candidates. Each of us have our own criteria to measure candidates for all of the offices, from the presidency on down. This year it may be difficult to sort through criteria as we prepare to vote ‒ to date I have not seen much substantive discussion of issues in any races. Along with the presidential circus, there are many other important contests to decide this year, including the one for the Republican candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Dan Coats. This race pits two outstanding U.S. representatives, Marlin Stutzman and Todd Young, against each other, and observers have noticed considerable mudslinging in their campaigns.

There also are some heated contests for state-level Senate and House seats, primarily on the Republican side. With some exceptions, most of these contests are one-issue ideological challenges, rather than broad-based issues disagreement. While that is not entirely new, it strikes me that it is more prevalent throughout this year’s races than in the past.

At the presidential level, much has been said on the Democrat side about the influence of the top 1 percent of wage earners, what to do with banks, and relative political experience. Little has been said about how to lead our nation, how to direct foreign policy, or how to realistically plan our domestic future. Hillary Clinton has been cast as a serial liar, and Bernie Sanders is an admitted Socialist, which somehow makes him at age 74 the choice of young voters. This is all confusing to me. Then there is the Republican side, where we have Donald Trump and Ted Cruz ‒ both of whom have their share of party detractors ‒ as the leading candidates. Add to the mix John Kasich, who remains in the race despite having no visible chance of getting enough delegates to win. There is conjecture that none of the three will have enough votes to win the nomination on the first ballot of delegates, which could open the final process to anyone. This, too, is confusing to me.

My reflections on all of this are twofold. First, each year more Democrats move further to the left politically to win their primaries, and Republicans move further to the right. In this two-party system of ours, those of us who live in the middle are left unrepresented. Will a third party spring up to represent those of us in the middle? Second, I am thankful that we have the Summer Olympics this year to divert our attention away from politics for two weeks, while we enjoy a more wholesome competition!

– S. Joe DeHaven

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