To what depths will the Republican presidential hopefuls go to attract the votes of the paranoid, racist and criminally uninformed away from Donald Trump?

I’m not sure if it was done for pure entertainment value, but the fact that the Republican National Committee made the decision to cap the number of participants in their first televised debate at 10 has resulted in some of the craziest shit I have ever seen. Apparently, when 17 candidates compete for just 10 slots in a field where a reality television character is the frontrunner, others in the field feel as though they have no choice but to play the game and try to out-crazy their opponents in hopes of appealing to the most delusional members of the Republican base… folks who, instead of turning away from Donald Trump in disgust when he says that Mexicans just cross the border to sell drugs and rape our women, or that John McCain isn’t a hero because he allowed himself to be captured in battle, actually flock toward him in greater numbers. [Trump, according to a poll just released by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, now has the support of 19% of GOP primary voters, giving him a sizable lead over Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who is polling at 15%.]

Last week, it was presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee telling the Jews that Obama was “lining them up for the ovens”. And, yesterday, we got to hear New Jersey Governor Chris Christie saying that the teachers union deserves a “punch in the face”. Then, today, we were rewarded with video of Texas Senator Ted Cruz eating bacon from the red hot barrel of a machine gun… One can only imagine what tomorrow will bring.

As they haven’t decided yet who the 10 candidates are who will take the stage in Cleveland on Thursday, you can bet we haven’t seen the worst of it yet. Others on the bubble will surely attempt to differentiate themselves in increasingly desperate ways in hopes of possibly dominating a news cycle and driving their numbers up by another percentage point or two tomorrow. [Four candidates are essentially tied for the tenth spot as of right now.]

So that’s what I’m thinking about this evening… “What,” I wonder, “will the next big stunt be to attract far right GOP primary voters?” “What will it take to pull votes away from Trump?” Will anti-abortion crusader Rick Santorum go on a talk show to share those creepy family photos he had taken with his one-day-old dead son? Will Carly Fiorina suggest that Hillary Clinton “played softball” in college, with a wink? Will Rick Perry do a drive-along with the Ferguson, Missouri police force on the first anniversary of Michael Brown’s shooting? Will Bobby Jindal shoot up a solar farm with a bacon-wrapped machine gun while screaming “Drill, baby, drill”? Will Lindsay Graham, in a desperate attempt to prove himself straight, release video of a painfully awkward sexual encounter Ann Coulter? Will someone pull Trump’s wig off? I feel like it’s the night before Christmas… I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow and see what’s happened.

On a more serious note… What the fuck have we allowed to happen to this once great country of ours? How is it that we’ve come to a place in history where these are our leaders… where it’s acceptable to have presidential nominees talking about punching teachers in the face? How is it that we’ve come to a place where a reality television character known primarily for being douche has the support of almost 20% of primary voters? How does that even happen?

I don’t know that it’s an explanation, but I was just looking through the site archives, and found the following, which I wrote just after the last presidential election. I think it’s somehow appropriate to this conversation.

…I can’t help but wonder whether our nation has a reasonable chance of surviving this perfect storm which has arisen around us, having been fed for so long by the forces of paranoia, fear, environmental volatility, and economic uncertainty, which are all surging at unprecedented levels, and amplified by rapidly shifting racial demographics and dramatically constricting natural resources… Clearly, two paths are emerging. One would have us band together and fight alongside one another, challenging each other to think creatively, and relying upon facts and science to guide our way. The other would have us battle it out, Hunger Games style, with those more adept at doling out the ultra-violence progressing farther…

Clearly, it’s the latter who will dominate the stage in Cleveland, self-professed tough guys with their machine guns, bacon and threats of violence, pandering to a dumbed-down electorate drunk on reality television and scared shitless of what lies ahead.

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37 Comments

  1. Elviscostello
    Posted August 3, 2015 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    I watched the Voters First Forum tonight on CSpan (I know, glutton for punishment), and what kills me about these evnts are the lack of follow up questions. For example, Jindal said, “I think it’s important to get with our military leaders and anounce to the world that America is coming back. We will tell Iran that it can not become a nuclear power. We will tell Russia they can nor come into Eastern Europe.”

    Okay, Piyush, and when they tell you to fuck off, what next? You sending troops into Iran and Ukraine? They never get asked, what comes next, and Bush never got asked “What comes next if…” in Iraq.

    Lindsey Graham said that he’d said 10,000 troops back into Iraq on day 1 of his Presidency. Okay, then what? Will you institute a draft? Put the nation on war footing? If this is the existential threat of our time, what steps will you take to meet it? Use nuclear weapons?

  2. Posted August 4, 2015 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    Given what happens in the primaries, I can’t believe that anyone could ever take the Republican Party seriously.

  3. Demetrius
    Posted August 4, 2015 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    I mostly agree with the comments above.

    Hard to me to imagine that members of the “mainstream media,” as well a many individual citizens. are taking any these corporate-sponsored PR flacks seriously as potential presidential contenders.

    Until people, and the press, start demanding real answers to real issues facing real Americans — jobs, education, the environment, energy, health care, globalism, military adventurism, etc. – we are going to continue to suffer from this political circus.

    Shame on them for treating this with anything other than contempt it deserves.

  4. Eel
    Posted August 4, 2015 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    I want Scott Walker to beat an immigrant child to death with a gold cane.

  5. David McNeal
    Posted August 4, 2015 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    With the way things have gone, I don’t think the Republican party will win the presidency for at least a generation, that gerrymandering has gifted conservatives the House for the foreseeable future and that the Senate is going to be the only competitive branch of government for a long time.

  6. Joe
    Posted August 4, 2015 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Politics has always been reality TV, even before there was reality TV. The fact that we’re seeing the seamless merging of the two shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Republican Party is done pretending that they represent the interests of the people, and has become pure simulacrum, with no relation to reality, and little to no pretense about that fact. For this reason, Donald Trump is uniquely well suited to be the face of the Republican Party. He is the most honest of all the GOP candidates, because he has no qualms about revealing the depths of his dishonesty and unscrupulousness.

    Also, the question “What the fuck have we allowed to happen to this once great country of ours?” assumes that the politics of the past was somehow better than it is now. But honestly, this is probably the best election cycle in decades. We have a pseudo-socialist doing better than any socialist in the last century, and a cartoon character bragging about how rich he is. If they both made it to the general election, it would be a clear choice between hope for a better future, on the one hand, and an unequivocal expression of complete hopelessness, with bad hair, on the other.

  7. Joe
    Posted August 4, 2015 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Also, the fact that Roger Ailes gets to choose who can compete in the Republican primary and who gets eliminated, before the people get any real say, is just a more obvious representation of the role Fox already plays in every presidential race–it’s already done the job of promoting certain candidates over others and telling Fox viewers/Republicans who to vote for, so now it can pretty concretely exercise that power by simply eliminating candidates before the first debate.

  8. EOS
    Posted August 4, 2015 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Admit it. You’re all biting your nails hoping Hilary doesn’t screw up again each day and you’re glad to deflect the attention away from her lies, distortions and incompetency and Bill’s bimbos. It’s likely the real candidates from each party haven’t even entered the race yet. So go ahead, knock yourself out destroying this pool of also rans.

  9. Demetrius
    Posted August 4, 2015 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    I agree.

    I think there is a (small, but unlikely) chance legislation that improves real people’s lives – reasonable job security, a living wage, sustainable trade policies, universal healthcare, etc. could still come back in vogue. (But, so far, Bernie Sanders is the only major candidate talking about any of these issues … and he’s already been deemed, by our betters in the “mainstream” as a a crazy old Socialist who’s “unelectable” so … )

    Otherwise, the Reagan-style coming-together of wealth, “entertainment,” and politics, is nearly complete … and our Democracy is nearly extinguished.

    “Scott Walker beating an immigrant child to death with a gold cane,” indeed! But unless he’s willing to bury him, dig him up, and beat him to death again on live TV while generating high-enough ratings for Fox (and perhaps a corporate sponsorship) , he would likely be labelled a mere RINO … and therefore deemed unworthy of the nomination by Sunday-morning “talking heads.”

  10. Demetrius
    Posted August 4, 2015 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    @ EOS

    Except for a few social issues – such as abortion, women’s rights, gay rights, etc. — I don’t see much difference between Hillary and any of the other Republicans on the issues that matter most.

    I doubt you would see much daylight between any of them on issue such as corporate domination of our politics, Globalism, Militarism, “Free Trade,” etc.

  11. Eel
    Posted August 4, 2015 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    We all remember when Eisenhower released audio of himself making stew in a Nazi skull.

  12. EOS
    Posted August 4, 2015 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    @Demetrius,

    I agree with Rand Paul being the exception.

  13. anonymous
    Posted August 4, 2015 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    When you destroy public education and convince people that Fox News is actual news, this isn’t all that surprising.

  14. Posted August 4, 2015 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    “Admit it. You’re all biting your nails hoping Hilary doesn’t screw up again each day and you’re glad to deflect the attention away from her lies, distortions and incompetency and Bill’s bimbos.”

    I’m not but I’m surprised that you of all people would be worried about lies and distortions.

  15. Posted August 4, 2015 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Actually, I agree with EOS. I think the real candidates have not yet begun to fight.

    That said, I agree with the earlier statement that gerrymandering has set the House of Repz (that makes it look all cool and gangsta and shit) for the foreseeable future. Likewise, we are pretty set up here in Michigan, as well.

    Truly, I think most people just do not care or else think this does not affect them. I heard on the radio that they are expecting 8-10% voter turnout for the election in Ann Arbor today. I also read somewhere that A2 was voted most educated city by Forbes or somewhere. Think about that for a minute.

  16. Jcp2
    Posted August 4, 2015 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Why would primaries matter much to the average Ann Arbor resident? A third of them are not Democrats, the average length of residence in Ann Arbor is less than five years, and most of the remainder won’t be significantly affected by City Council decisions as long as the general “not a Republican” mantra is followed. Ann Arbor’s population swells by 42% during the workday, implying that the majority of the workforce cannot vote as they reside elsewhere. Most of the controversial decisions that City Council makes affects the center of the wedge where all the wards meet downtown, and where the minority of residents live. The important things that affect daily living, such as schools and transit, are controlled by agencies other than the City.

  17. Elviscostello
    Posted August 4, 2015 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    EOS, please don’t presume to speak for me. I don’t want Hillary. I’d like Sanders to be my nominee. A great election would be Sanders vs. Kasich.

  18. Meta
    Posted August 4, 2015 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    Evangelical crazy has given way to sideshow crazy.

    “With Declining Evangelical Power, Only Two Candidates Attend Southern Baptist Forum”

    Read more:
    http://thinkprogress.org/election/2015/08/04/3687481/why-evangelicals-need-bush/

  19. EOS
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    @ Elvis,

    Kasich would pummel Sanders. The socialist has about as much chance as Rand Paul in getting elected.

    Story this morning is that Hilary is being investigated by the FBI in addition to the Justice department. Her biggest donors are also donating to Bush. One thing that we can all agree on is that either another Clinton or another Bush would be a disaster.

    Let’s work together to identify an honest candidate who doesn’t support “corporate domination of our politics, Globalism, Militarism, “Free Trade,” etc.” and who is outside the beltway and not beholden to the media.

  20. Mr. X
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    While I doubt that Hillary Clinton is being investigated by the FBI, I think I agree with EOS. God help us.

  21. EOS
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/fbi-looks-into-security-of-clintons-private-e-mail-setup/2015/08/04/2bdd85ec-3aae-11e5-8e98-115a3cf7d7ae_story.html

  22. Kit
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    William Zantzinger for President!

    https://thebluereview.org/now-time-tears/

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqqQcjK2phU

  23. Dememetrius
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    EOS must be really pissed-off this time …

    Here he/she is making an after attack on Hillary Clinton, only to have a majority of this blog’s readership mostly AGREE.

    I agree with Kit above … and suggest that most “won’t be fooled again” into voting to support the “corporate domination of our politics, Globalism, Militarism, “Free Trade,” etc.”

    I fear that if Hillary does end up being the Democratic nominee next year, a majority of true liberals/progress will stay hone (or vote alternative party) on Tuesday, November 8, 2016.

  24. EOS
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    No, not pissed at all. I get it. You like Sanders. But the longer you let him stay in the race, the more likely you will end up with Hilary. And when it’s Hilary v. any Republican, you’ll hold your nose and vote for her. Unless you find a viable alternative.

    And hey, it’s my best day on this blog – two people have agreed with me on something I wrote.

  25. Meta
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Fox News chooses the Republican candidates.

    MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Tuesday night tore into Fox News for the polls they used to decide which ten Republican presidential candidates will compete in the first debate on Thursday night.

    “This is nuts. I can’t believe they did this,” Maddow said. “I mean, I get that Fox News only wants to have 10 candidates on the stage. They know, and everybody knows, that arbitrarily setting this 10-candidate cutoff when you’ve got 17 people running is gonna have politically-fatal consequences for if not all, at least most of the candidates who make that top 10.”

    Fox said it would use the five most recent national polls to determine which candidates would compete in the main debate, and the channel ultimately calculated that Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) would make it into the debate, pushing Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) into the second-tier debate.

    Yet Maddow pointed out that Fox did not use the fifth most recent national poll — an NBC/WSJ poll conducted through July 30. The channel instead used a Quinnipiac University poll conducted through July 28.

    Though using either the NBC/WSJ poll or the Quinnipiac poll would have scored Kasich a place at the top-tier debate, the Quinnipiac poll, which had Kasich leading Perry by 3 points, gave the Ohio governor a more definitive lead.

    “They violated their own previously-announced criteria of what polls they’d use. They moved the goalposts in the middle of the game in a way that makes it look like they were trying to justify the lineup of who they wanted on stage,” Maddow said Tuesday night.

    Fox News announced Tuesday night that the channel disregarded the NBC/WSJ poll “because it did not meet our criterion that the poll read the names of each Republican candidate in the vote question,” according to Politico.

    Despite Fox News’ reasoning, Maddow said that their choice in polls made it look as though they disregarded the NBC/WSJ poll to give Kasich a larger lead.

    Read more:
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/rachel-maddow-fox-gop-debate

  26. Posted August 6, 2015 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    I won’t hold my nose and vote for Hillary Clinton.

    Supreme

    Court

    Justice.

    If “progressives” stay home, then they can’t complain when we get a string of ultra-right wing Justices to fill soon vacant seats on the SCOTUS.

  27. Demetrius
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    The lesser to two evils is still evil.

    For too long, one group has been using “but what about the Supreme Court?” and “but, once we get a majority, etc.” as a smokescreen, an as threat and weapon to get Americans to vote for them … while they continue to support policies that are pro-corporation (pro-Wall Street) anti-worker, pro-militarist, pro-empire, etc.

    Some (many) people are finally beginning to figure out that out. Despite the rhetoric – real wages and living standards have been going down for generations – and many have instead decided to focus on the the the things they can do for themselves, and their communities, rather than waste their time and energy on what has become the spectacle of U.S. mainstream (two-party) politics.

  28. maryd
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Our form of government is one big compromise. NO one gets 100% what they want ever. That is why it is not currently working. Many republicans signed a pledge to never compromise, thereby compromising our whole process. Lesser of two evils, that imagines that you know the whole story. Do you think the chosen one will have a magic wand? As if!
    What we do know is the nest POTUS will be filling more spots on the Supremes. The last few months have demonstrated to us just how important those spots are. The Same Sex Marriage ruling is hardly a smoke screen…Also in the lineup is with health care, minimum wage, education, pipelines, the artic, climate change, war, Iran, Israel, Syria, Afghanistan… Who in their right mind would ever want a single one of the clown act they call the republican nominees to be president? That is the fucking deal. And I would imagine if Bernie does not win the primary that he would encourage every progressive to vote for the democrat to save our union.

  29. Demetrius
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    “Our form of government is one big compromise. NO one gets 100% what they want ever. ”

    I understand that … and I can live with that. But when the system is totally stacked against ordinary people in favor of the rich and powerful, the only choice I have left is not to be a willing accomplice.

    If the interest of keeping a few important rights … women’s rights, equal marriage rights, abortion rights, etc. — also means giving up any hope of economic equality, justice for big banks and big business, universal healthcare, etc., it is really worth it?

  30. maryd
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    and the alternative Demetrius? The alternative to a democrat is never going to be universal health care ever…economic equality will again only happen under a democrat…
    Rights are always worth it.

  31. Posted August 6, 2015 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    I am very much pro rights.

    Not to say that rights and equitable distribution of public goods are mutually exclusive, but I will find my own health care if I have to, I will live in poverty, but rights of the individual, for myself and others, are absolutely essential.

  32. Lynne
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think Clinton is a horrible candidate. She is a little bit more conservative than I like and I don’t like it that she has so many large corporate donors but unfortunately, that is the reality Citizens United has given us. A decision, btw, that was very much related to the justices sitting on the court at the time. Frankly, I consider the SCOTUS appointments to be of such importance that I would vote for Clinton even if she were otherwise 100% horrible. As it happens, I like Bernie Sanders better and will be voting for him in the primary but I wouldn’t really consider voting for Clinton in the main election to be voting for the less of two evils but if I did, the evil of the one side is so bad that voting for whatever lesser evil the Dems come up with would make sense to me.

    I get it that people feel that they have no meaningful choices in the general election but isn’t that what primaries are for? The reality of our political system is that refusing to participate just gives more power to the ruling class. It also tends to benefit the extreme right wing since they don’t seem to give up voting when they feel disenfranchised. Seriously, it has been demonstrated time and time again that voter turn out benefits the left which is why people on the right do whatever they can to make voting difficult. They want people to give up and not vote or to give up and vote for non-viable third party candidates.

    I see not voting or even voting for non-viable third party candidates as an effective vote for whomever wins. If you really don’t care that a Republican president will put conservative justices on the court, then by all means throw your vote away or make a protest vote or whatever. If you are male or white, that certainly isn’t going to hurt you as much as it might hurt those of us who don’t happen to be male and/or white. It will likely hurt me. I mean, we already have a guy on the court who specifically says that he doesn’t believe that the 14th amendment applies to women and that is a guy appointed by Reagan. Such bad appointments can have a lasting effect and I will be very angry at everyone who doesn’t vote or who votes for a non-viable third party candidate because my status as a full citizen in this country is routinely questioned in our courts. It is VERY important to me that we get the best possible outcome there.

    Of course, in the best possible world, we would reform our election process such that we could have viable candidates from other parties. That isn’t likely to happen any time soon though so we must do what we can to work with the system we have.

  33. EOS
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Democrats appoint only extreme liberal justices. The Republicans appointed the current two swing votes. Ginsberg may retire before Obama leaves office but there will be hell to pay if they try to nominate someone as liberal as her.

    Justice Date of Birth Appointed by Sworn in
    Antonin Scalia 3/11/1936
    Age: 79 yr 4 mo Ronald Reagan 9/26/1986
    Served: 28 yr 10 mo

    Anthony Kennedy 7/23/1936
    Age: 79 yr 0 mo Ronald Reagan 2/18/1988
    Served: 27 yr 5 mo

    Clarence Thomas 6/23/1948
    Age: 67 yr 1 mo George H. W. Bush 10/23/1991
    Served: 23 yr 9 mo

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg 3/15/1933
    Age: 82 yr 4 mo Bill Clinton 8/19/1993
    Served: 21 yr 11 mo

    Stephen Breyer 8/15/1938
    Age: 76 yr 11 mo Bill Clinton 8/3/1994
    Served: 21 yr 0 mo

    John G. Roberts 1/27/1955
    Age: 60 yr 6 mo George W. Bush 9/29/2005
    Served: 9 yr 10 mo

    Samuel A. Alito, Jr. 4/1/1950
    Age: 65 yr 4 mo George W. Bush 1/31/2006
    Served: 9 yr 6 mo

    Sonia Sotomayor 6/25/1954
    Age: 61 yr 1 mo Barack Obama 8/8/2009
    Served: 5 yr 11 mo

    Elena Kagan 4/28/1960
    Age: 55 yr 3 mo Barack Obama 8/7/2010
    Served: 4 yr 11 mo

  34. Eel
    Posted August 25, 2015 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    God has come out in favor of Trump. He’s given a sign.

    http://thelibertystandard.com/woman-claims-donald-trumps-face-appeared-to-her-in-tub-of-butter/

  35. new yorker
    Posted August 30, 2015 at 3:41 am | Permalink

    Future generations will ask why Americans didn’t resist when tyranny appeared in the USA.

  36. Demetrius
    Posted August 31, 2015 at 3:00 am | Permalink

    If what we’re seeing isn’t actually yet fascism, I think the seeds are definitely being sown …

  37. Demetrius
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPRfP_TEQ-g

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