Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Who Wants to Be President?

So...Bernie's back!

The 77-year old Senator from Vermont, with almost 30 years of elected service on Capitol Hill, joins a bubbly pot of Democrat Frenzy Stew that's currently boiling over with meat and potatoes like: Julian Castro (TX), Cory Booker (NJ), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Kamala Harris (CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Andrew Yang (NY), Amy Klobuchar (MI), Tulsi Gabbard (HI), John Delaney (MD), and Pete Buttigieg (IN).

Oh, and 173 other people.

Yep, that's right. As of this afternoon, 184 Democrat hopefuls have filled out a Statement of Candidacy form with the Federal Elections Commission. 69 Republicans have also made their intentions clear, along with 19 Libertarians and 14 Green Party candidates. Sprinkle in affiliates from People Over Politics, the Jewish/Christian National party, the Independence Party, The American Independent Conservative party, the Commandments Party (to name a few), and the total number of people registered with the FEC to run for President in 2020 comes to 538. We are still 623 days out, so check back often to see who else hears the call to Lead.

Surely, I thought, this is unprecedented. It must be Donald Trump has opened wide the gate for the Seymour Cats and Pig Refinos and Sexy Vegans (real names on the filed list) to believe all a candidate needs is natural-born citizenship, 35 years on the planet, two thumbs and a Twitter account to be President of the United States.

But - surprise - Presidential politics seems to have a history of begging the weird out of the woodwork. In 2016, 1,776 people filled out the FEC's Form 2 declaring candidacy for President. Among them: Ponzi Schemes Suck, Toy Testicles, and The Muslim Dictator Trump. (Pour yourself a glass of wine, and peruse at your leisure. It's entertaining.)
In 2012, 428 people were candidates.
2008 - 360 people
2004 - 219 people
2000 - 252 candidates...

You get the picture. It's America. And despite what we read online and believe when we watch House of Cards, nefarious evil-doers are not the only people in the queue with hopes and dreams for the country. This is still a place where the process includes every wacky one of us. 2008/2012 gave us Stephen Colbert for President. Roseanne Barr was a Green Party candidate in 2012. Pat Paulsen ran a funny campaign in a very unfunny year, 1968 (We Can Be Decisive, Probably). Gracie Allen "campaigned" with the help of husband George Burns as a candidate for the Surprise Party in 1940.😊 1984 and 1988 gave us Bloom County's Bill. The Cat.

It would be wrong to leave you with the impression that filling out FEC Form 2 gets anyone terribly close to the oval office. Take a look at those columns at the FEC site labeled Receipts and Disbursements. It's an unholy amount of money. Required, it seems, to woo voters from sea to shining sea.

I hear Bernie raised $1 million this morning in 3 hours.

There is no blocking an American citizen from joining a list of filers...that's nice. Go ahead, make your mark. You and your BFF start the People's Party of Peace and Love. File Form 2. Put it on your resume.

  • Candidate for President, 2020

But live with our reality: There is a $400 million (at least) pot hole in the road between filing SEC Form 2 and moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.




Thursday, January 24, 2019

Time Out

I think as little as I possibly can about the state of our union.
About the dirty-handedness of politics.
About Donald J. Trump.

Eliminating the SOTU address from my prime time lineup next week is a non-event. I would not watch. I'm betting plenty of Americans believe they already know the state of the union. It's not great. The grandstanding, political pandering, and theater of the house-divided that is Congress is not necessary. We should be freed to watch our regularly scheduled programs. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

I watch episodes of House of Cards to relax. (That's right. I'd rather sit with the bone-chilling/creepoid Doug Stamper than the stomach-turning/ethics-churning orange face of reality.) At least I can walk away from HofC believing it's all fiction, and that the murderous-lapdog-to-an-evil-president is really just a nice actor named Michael Kelly who probably loves puppies and his mother.

My husband argues that this is no time for good, compassionate thinkers to turn away from the pile up of stupidity, egotism, ass-kissing, and lies that seems to define the real world in Washington, DC. The hubs says ignoring the problem is not going to solve it. He reminds me that Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. He wants me to get back to work, telling stories of real people struggling in real time.

But I am mired in grief and despair, humiliation and disgust, anger and indignation. No light. No love.

I make my case regularly:  If every major newspaper, TV network, and online commentator would go to a ZDT  (Zero Donald Trump) policy, I wouldn't have to look away. The man is only in this for the attention, you know. People with EQs of a 3-year old are like that. (Apologies to the delightful 3-year olds I've known. Your attention stealing antics were adorable!) As a nation, we can't conquer a contradictory, chaotic reign of calamity by giving it air time. It simply feeds the Beast.

Trumpian philosophy is not new to me. The President has torn a page from the playbook of a long-deceased TX state representative I used to work for. This was his motto: "It doesn't matter if they say good things or bad things about you, as long as they're talking about you." (RIP R.B. McAlister)

As long as they're talking about you...let it sink in.

So, how 'bout that ZDT policy? As a former journalist, I'm a devoted fan of the First Amendment. No one believes as strongly in the necessity of a free press to a thriving democracy as I do. But how free could it possibly feel to spread the Trump Tantrum/Bully Brand day in/day out? Ugh.

I'm not advocating leaving the manchild completely unattended/unchecked while he terrorizes us all with tweets and tantrums and twits, but he has to slip below the fold, after the commercial break, into some kind of ho-hum space in the news cycle.

Don't bury the lede, dear editorial decision-makers, just bury the lies the little boy tells.

Nancy Pelosi is more than a political mastermind who could outsmart any of us on any day (before her first cup of coffee). She's the mother of 5 children. I suspect she knows exactly what to do with a misbehaving 3 year old: Tell him he can't have what he wants until he settles down, follows the rules, plays well with others.

Until then, she knows, the best thing to do is send the kid to his room.

For the love of humanity, (and the effectiveness of this parenting move), let's NOT let his pout/rant/name-calling/door kicking get our attention while he's in time out. #ZDT

Maybe we'll have room in the house for some light and love if we ignore the noise from the back room for a bit.