Vol. 11    No. 20
SEPTEMBER 29, 2016
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                                                       Soap Opera Politics
I have to admit that I’ve been feeling a little depressed for the past few days. There are an innumerable number of things that could make me
depressed on any given day. It sure seems as if the world is offering up lots of things to be depressed or gloomy about. I could start reciting a
lot of things, but that’s not the purpose of this column, to get our readers all depressed.

What has me depressed right now is the U.S. presidential election and the low level of negativity that it has sunk to. I have to admit that I am
not enthusiastic about any candidate. I have to admit that I am not enthusiastic about any of the candidates, although I will end up voting for
Hillary Clinton.

What really has me excited about November 8th is the candidacy of Russ Feingold for the U.S. Senate seat. Russ is the closest candidate
whom I know who is a realistic idealist. He is realistic on what can be done, but idealist in his values and positions on the issues. He is
running against U.S. Senator Ron Johnson who had the audacity to run a campaign television ad with probably the only 10 African Americans
who support him — and I don’t know if those were paid actors or individuals in the ads. For the past six years, I haven’t seen him at an African-
American event in Milwaukee or Madison, although I had heard a rumor that he made an appearance at an event at Fountain of Life Church. Do
you see what wealthy people like Ron Johnson try to buy, credibility without making an effort to earn it? It disgusts me, but I digress.

I can’t get enthusiastic about this year’s presidential contest. I could spend an entire issue on Donald Trump and why he isn’t fit to be our
president. But I am disappointed in Hillary and how she handled the whole State Department email affair. I couldn’t help but feel that she
handled it in the same way as Bill Clinton handled the Monica Lewinsky mess. Instead of owning up to his “sin” — and I say it that way
because the religious right was pushing for his ouster — Bill exclaimed, “I never had sex with that woman” while making up his own definition
of sex, a definition not shared by 99.99 percent of the populace. Bill — like Richard Nixon before him — was punished for the cover-up. And it is
Hillary’s cover-up that went from reason to reason — or should I say excuse to excuse — to see if anything would stick and quell the continued
questions. I just feel that Hillary shares that flaw with Bill and maybe it is a flaw of many who attain those heights where there is too much to
be lost by going with the truth. It just disappointed me and it is just difficult for me to get enthused.

It’s hard to get enthused, but what can be lost does scare me where I will definitely vote and I hope that everyone who reads this takes a voter
or two to the polls with them to vote.

I get depressed about the presidential election because it is so Peyton Place. It is a soap opera that is designed to either make fringe voters
say, “What does it matter,” and stay home or it is meant to confuse the voters so that they will vote for someone who doesn’t have their
interests at heart.

For the first time that I can remember, the Republicans don’t have a socially-divisive issue that they have been promoting — especially before
the presidential campaign began — like abortion and same-sex marriage.

And yet, there is all of this BS that seems to go back and forth — who slept with whom and who said what about whom — where I’m not sure
where candidates actually stand on the issues. It is all getting personal — personal in ways that the candidates feel will improve their standing
with the voters they are trying to court — and so little on policies that will address severe problems this country faces. It is Peyton Place
politics. It is a soap opera that seems to have been directed by Hollywood where you turn in to see who did whom to what and why.

I don’t even know if the candidates have adequately addressed Social Security and what is going to be done to strengthen it. What are people
going to do to improve wages and lower the unemployment rate? What are people going to do to strengthen the public education where all
children learn the knowledge and skills that they will need to compete effectively in the 21st century labor market? What are they going to do to
keep health care affordable and in reach for all Americans? These candidates are going to have carte blanche to do whatever they feel like
doing once they get into office because they will not have made any real commitments. The presidential campaign has been all smoke and
mirrors so far.

And people say whatever they want to say for convenience regardless of the truth or facts or how just plain stupid it is.

Take for instance the defense put up about the possibility Donald Trump hadn’t paid federal income taxes for up to 18 years because of a $916
million loss that Trump claimed and could be used against future income for up to 18 years.

CBS News said Trump stand-in New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said this. “He said the report is a net positive for Trump because it showed
“what an absolute mess the federal tax code is, and that’s why Donald Trump is the person best positioned to fix it.”

This was stated after the Trump campaign stated the Trump had a fiduciary duty to his family and taxpayers to make his taxes as low as
possible. So my question is, “Will the Trump family and his corporations be able sue Donald Trump after he fixes the tax code and eliminates
the tax loopholes that he has taken full advantage of?” Of course not! Donald Trump, as narcissistic as he is, will not deprive himself of
millions of dollars. He will not go against his class interest.
So someone like Chris Christie can say the most unlikely thing to happen in response and not feel like there will be any repercussions?

And I can’t believe that Donald Trump feels that he can spread innuendo by aspersion and feel that it benefits him. It’s like Trump’s campaign
rallies are the set of a soap opera and he is talking to another character on the show.

“I don’t even think she’s loyal to Bill, if you wanna know the truth,” Trump said according to CBS News. “And really, folks, really, why should
she be, right?  Why should she be?”

There has never been any hint of Hillary being unfaithful to Bill — I am sure her detractors would have dug it up by now — yet Trump put that out
there, the first time I ever heard a presidential candidate say something like that without a shred of proof. But I am sure there are folks who
would believe it because it is something they themselves would do. After all, Trump cheated on his first wife and I am sure he would feel
justified to cheat again if Melania cheated on him. This is called projection.

And all of this is so far away from what a presidential campaign should be about. These soap opera politics are going to hurt me and most
Americans when the election is finally over. God help us!