Slouching Toward Washington
I’ve lived through and paid attention to elections going all the way back to Eisenhower. Each time, people chose up sides, whacked away at the opponent, and the votes fell where they fell. Then everyone stood up, dusted off their hands, and went back to work. People had conversations about policy and their favorite candidate, but such conversations required either an awkward phone chat or a face-to-face discussion and for much of that time both religion and politics were not considered proper fodder for social gatherings. Societal lids limited the whole election process.
Not so today. People occasionally ask me what I think will happen, assuming I suppose, that the wise old woman will have something intelligent to say. But not so. Even if I had a state-of-the-art crystal ball and a graphing calculator, I’d be clueless. Variables buzz around this election like mosquitoes in a swamp.
- Health issues -- Bernie Sanders is 73, the Donald 70, and Hillary 67, all hovering around that precarious post-baby-boomer life expectancy precipice. Hillary appears to be tottering on the edge of actual ill health, going into occasional coughing fits and bouts of confusion.
- Legal issues -- we don’t know what will happen with the FBI probe of Hillary and her infamous emails. If 147 agents are really on the case and since, on the face of it, she shouldn’t have had that email setup in the first place, she’s on some shaky ground. And Benghazi is always lurking in the background. Of course we have to add into this the fact that she is Hillary Clinton and therefore not subject to the same laws the rest of us are. We also must figure in the even more disturbing fact that most people left of center don’t seem to care about her apparently pending indictment. What do we do if she becomes the Democratic candidate (and the “if” here is very iffy) and she’s been charged with a crime? What does the Constitution say about the people electing a felon? Nor do we know what the Obama administration will do about this -- there’s no love lost between him and the Clintons, but on the other hand, if he lets her off the legal hook, then he would continue to have influence over a Clinton White House. What a tangle.
- Unpredictability issues -- Donald Trump is, pardon the pun, a complete wild card. No one knows what he will say next. We can count on Cruz not to utter foul-mouthed personal insults, but we can’t predict what words will come shooting out of the Don’s mouth. Neither can he. We don’t know what skeletons will crawl out of his closet if he wins the nomination. We do know that his rabid supporters will hang on even if illegal behaviors surface. (I don’t know that any will, but given Trump’s take-no-prisoners approach to life, no one would be surprised.)
- International issues -- we are at war with ISIS. North Korea is rattling sabers. Iran is building a nuke. The European Union is shaky at best. Any blow-ups on any of these fronts and this election could ricochet off in a direction none of us can imagine -- like Obama declaring martial law and just staying in office.
- Financial issues -- our economy is shaky, as is the economy of most of the world right now. That is going to affect this election, but will the effect be a lurch further left in the hopes the government will kiss the boo-boo and make it all better? Or will it wake people up to the realties of economics and the value of a free market? Who knows? And which candidate represents which economic theory? Hard to tell.
- Overstock issues -- we have from the beginning had too many candidates. A plethora of presidential wannabes has fractured the process to such an extent that the math becomes nearly impossible. Why is Kasich still in this? Why is Bernie? Neither has a realistic hope, so do we assume that insanity is part of this election’s algorithms or do these men just want to muddy up the works? And if the latter, who’s paying them? What will the Bernie supporters do when Hillary walks away with the convention? Will they bail to Trump? Swallow hard and vote for Hill anyway? Or will they stay home? With Kasich still in the Republican race only Einstein could do the math and he’s dead.
- Math brings us to the delegates. Delegates are just people; they aren’t automatons programmed to vote according to the popular vote. They can, after the first vote, change their minds. So who knows what they’ll do?
- That’s to say nothing of the snarl of convention rules, which appear not to be longstanding, time-honored methods, but made up as the delegates and party chairmen determine, sort of a fly-by-night, make-it-up-as-you-go, we’ll-cheat- to-get-our-way approach. Republicans could end up with a candidate who hasn’t even been running. The chaos that will cause is hard to picture.
- Which brings the next variable: anger. I can’t remember ever seeing people this scared for their country, their families, their futures, and scared people are angry people. Republicans are mad because our elected officials have betrayed us. Democrats are mad because their socialist dream is a nightmare and they can’t admit that. Angry people act; this is good, but angry people don’t think first. They don’t worry about anything much beyond alleviating the pain of their fury. Worse, angry people are unpredictable. If things don’t go their way will they stay home and pout, or hit the streets and rampage? I used to be pretty sure that my conservative compatriots wouldn’t do anything desperate and dangerous, anything violent, but I don’t know that any more. No one does. We can count on the Bernie-lovers to throw a fit -- especially if Trump or Cruz wins the general election, but what will happen if Hillary marches back into the White House? Yikes.
- The voter ID issue -- we don’t even know who’s voting, whether they are alive or dead, Americans or illegals, informed or dismally ignorant. We don’t know how often each person votes. This issue alone throws the whole thing off.
- And last, but most important, what is the will of God in this matter? Looking at this objectively as possible, it doesn’t look to me like we deserve a better president than we currently have. If 50% of the country is happy with either a criminal or a communist what chance have we of maintaining our freedoms? But, God is gracious, and whereas He never gives a nation a worse leader than it deserves, He has sometimes given a country a second chance, (Israel, for instance) so maybe. He does answer prayer and millions of us are praying for the welfare of this nation and all it once stood for. We also need to at least glance at biblical prophecy, which has always been dead on in the past, so it bears looking at now. What will this election look like to our non-Christian countrymen if the Rapture really does take place? Could, you know.
So what do you think will happen? I know one thing for sure – we will be highly entertained for the rest of the year -- entertained in the edge-of-the-seat horror movie sense of the word, but entertained nevertheless. There is one blessing in the chaos; I’m very clear about all of this being out of my control, so I’ll not worry, just watch and pray.
Deana Chadwell is an adjunct professor and department head at Pacific Bible College https://pacificbible.edu in southern Oregon. She teaches writing, logic, and literature. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.