Fear and loathing 2016: Clinton and Bush edition
On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton gave a brief press conference at the United Nations in response to her supposed State Department email dilemma. Aside from trying to explain away the most boring scandal ever, she also unofficially confirmed that she’s actually running for president. (She wouldn’t have done the presser if she was planning to retire.) An April launch has already been planned, but the Clinton campaign began this week in the only it could: by fending off a cheap, self-induced scandal. Jeb Bush, already the GOP 2016 frontrunner, actually had to ask his campaign bundlers to slow down on the contributions. Seven years after we elected Barack Obama, and we’re back to where we were in 1992. Fuck.
Cynical people might say that elections are nothing more than the devil you know vs. the devil you don’t, and they are merely a selection of the lesser evil. But that’s actually the case here. We know both of the devils. It’s the bullshit drama of the Clinton years vs. the catastrophe of the Bush years.
Here’s the thing: aside from the mind-numbing possibility of another Bush vs. Clinton presidential contest, there are the polls. While the majority of voters want a different direction for the country, and most see Clinton and Bush as a return to the past, they are, at this time, far and away their parties’ favorites to win the nominations. So while many Americans don’t care for either of these presumptive nominees, they also are probably going to make them their only two real choices for the presidency. Let that sink in. Americans want a different direction for the country and also overwhelmingly support the choices they think will take them back to the ‘90s. This is really fucked up. It’s electoral insanity, but that’s what 2016 is shaping up to be.
Maybe it’s just that I still get not-so-great vibes from Clinton, and am having trouble getting excited for her. She’s right on the issues, and it would be very cool to have her become the first woman president (Christ knows she deserves it), but I can’t forget how nasty that 2008 primary got. And a former Florida governor, especially a Bush who helped steal the shitty 2000 election, is a horrifying prospect. But at least we’d get immigration reform, even if it turns him into a one-term president. It’s not the end of the world, but it sucks. It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.
I’ll just sit here and patiently wait for Kamala Harris or Cory Booker to run for president. Clinton’s so extraordinarily boring she makes the listless trolls who hate her seem interesting. And Bush is a crooked, empty suit. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that Obama is a once-in-30-years politician, and that we’re reverting back to the boring, melodramatic, warped choices of the ‘90s. I hope to god I’m wrong. I’d love nothing more than an epic ideological throwdown like Martin O’Malley vs. Rick Perry. Or better yet, Elizabeth Warren vs. Ted Cruz. But that’s not in the cards.
The 2016 election will be exciting; There will be scandals, VP picks, another clown car of Republican candidates, and the prestige of Obama’s legacy up for grabs. There will be excitement, gaffes, and craziness; but at the moment, it all seems to be barreling toward a 50/50, low-turnout split, with a lukewarm candidate winning the race. And then the country gets to endure the inevitable cratering poll numbers and malaise of whoever wins. Billions will be spent to select a president who we already kind of know and don’t like. It’s like the wildest party you ever went to, except someone accidentally died, and close friends had to bury the body somewhere in the woods behind the house.
Obama was elected in large part because the country was sick of see-sawing back and forth between the Bushes and Clintons. He was a physical manifestation of the country turning the page. Obama was supposed to move the country forward. And he did. It just seems to be moving further back now. So here we are, with a choice between someone Obama beat in 2008, and the brother of the president he replaced. It’s an ironic and cruel addendum to the Obama years. He can destroy Al Qaeda, make health care more affordable and available, help to right centuries-old racial wrongs, further gay rights, and even save the country from another Great Depression. He can fix a million problems but he can’t correct that one basic thing that’s wrong with the country: Americans.