Montana Viewpoint: Keeping a wary eye on a crazy primary

This has to be the most entertaining primary election that I’ve ever witnessed, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

My particular favorite among the Republican candidates, Jeb Bush, just dropped out and I suspect it was because he was not as big a charlatan as the others. Kasich will be next for the same reason.

Jim

Jim Elliott

I am sure that all the American people want in an elected official is competence and honesty, and there really are elected officials like that. And they lose elections. Why? Well, honesty plays a big part in that because it’s their weak point. I think that’s what distinguishes Kasich and Bush and what dooms them to failure.

What we have left is a billionaire who has figured out that Americans are fed up with government and who knows how to tap into it. We have Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, two men in their first term in the Senate.

Of course, our current president was also in his first term in the Senate when he won his first term in the White House. You can slant that any way you want to. I make no judgment. Where it seems that nothing Trump does or says, no matter how inflammatory or crude, hurts him, Rubio and Cruz are engaged in a battle of tearing each other down so drastically that by the time the dust settles we won’t like either one of them.

On the Democratic side you have a similar show, but with a bit more substance: a 74-year- old senator who has defied the normal laws of politics and has actually become a serious contender by pushing a dream that is worthy but unobtainable, and a woman of exceptional ability shrouded in an aura of distrust.

At first the Democratic contest was a model of good behavior, the kind that we all admire, I’m sure. But the good behavior got lost quickly as soon as it became apparent that Bernie Sanders was gaining on Hillary Clinton, and fast. You can only take politeness so far and after that it becomes a liability.

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But back to Cruz and Rubio; Cruz has the anger of the American public figured out, too. He talks about the elites of Wall Street and lawyers and how they are screwing the rest of us. He’s right, too, and he should know because he has experience in both areas; he’s a Harvard educated lawyer whose wife is an executive at Goldman Sacs, one of those companies that helped bring down the American economy a scant eight years ago.

How is it possible for a person to demonize others who are exactly like him, and get away with it? However it works, it happens all the time. The interesting thing is that they are both Cuban-Americans, although one might be Cuban-Canadian, but small difference there.

At the end of a primary campaign we are faced with choosing between two people who have been successfully savaged by their previous opponents to the point where you don’t like either of them, but you have to pick one, or stay home.

I have heard some Republican friends say that if it’s a contest between Trump and Clinton they will stay home, although a couple did say that if they voted it would be for Clinton. Democrats I talk to are going to vote for Clinton in that matchup.

At any rate, we wind up with a president we wouldn’t want near the cookie jar if everything their opponent said about them was true. Have a nice day!

Jim Elliott is a former chairman of the Montana Democratic Party and a former state senator from Trout Creek.

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