Biden? Trump? Seriously?

Biden? Trump? Seriously?

Unless an earthquake occurs in American politics, this time next year, Joe Biden and Donald Trump will be the presidential candidates for the country’s only two major parties.  Yes, Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

Of course that earthquake may occur.  After all, there’s a good chance that Trump will be in prison.  And, if he’s not actually behind bars, he may still be a convicted felon.  Indeed, given the likely makeup of his juries, the smart money says he will be.  But having one or more felonies on your record doesn’t prevent you from running for president or even serving as such.  Think summit meetings with world leaders in a Georgia prison cell.  Boss Tweed’s got nothing on this guy.

Then there’s the possibility that Biden may be impeached.  Needless to say, he won’t be convicted by the Democratic Senate; whatever the House does and whatever Biden has done, he won’t be removed from office that way.

Still, if the Republican-led House Oversight Committee finds that the then-Vice President profited financially from his son’s position on the board of Burisma, and it likely could, criminal charges for him too are far from out of the question.  Indeed, Hunter Biden’s own private emails state outright that he paid hefty sums for his father’s monthly bills.  He even said that Joe demanded and got 50% of his income.  Without anything more, that strongly suggests a financial benefit conferred on Joe by Hunter paid out of “earnings” from his job at Burisma that was procured for him solely because his father was Vice President.  That’s more commonly called a “kickback.”  Plus, the Biden Justice Department seems to have intervened in an IRS investigation of Hunter and then in the charges against him.  What role, if any, did Joe play in that?

What will happen?  No one yet knows.  But whatever the case, think about it: the only two candidates for the highest office in the land, may well be a convicted felon and a president impeached for sleazy influence peddling and accepting bribes.  Such may well be the state of play in U.S. presidential politics 12 months from now.  Very dignified; the U.S., a beacon unto the world.

But even if Trump avoids conviction and Biden impeachment and criminal charges, look at the candidates who want to become the leader of the most powerful, albeit declining, country in the world.  Look at them and ask yourself the question, “Seriously, is this the best we can do?”

There are 332 million people in this country; we have amazing resources of talent, intelligence, drive and creativity.  And this is what we come up with?  Even without the legal/ethical baggage, Joe Biden seems plainly unqualified for any office, much less the presidency, on the grounds of mental disability alone.  He’s 80 years old and in obvious cognitive decline.  Intellect has never been his strong suit and his abilities erode daily.  What will he be like five years hence?  The prospects aren’t good.  Plus, he has a long history of dishonesty, i.e., what bounced him out of the 1987 Democratic primary.  Here’s Slate on that topic 21 years later:

Biden’s misdeeds encompassed numerous self-aggrandizing thefts, misstatements, and exaggerations that seemed to point to a serious character defect.

Indeed.  He eagerly censors the constitutionally-protected speech of Americans, owns three houses and has a net worth of about $10 million.  Where’d he get all that on a senator’s salary?

Trump?  He’s a narcissist, a casual liar who will do pretty much anything to keep the spotlight on himself.  Like Biden, he’s not smart, but he is abusive.  Is there anyone of quality who’d agree to work in his administration?  Few people can stand the man and with good reason.  If you’re qualified to be the U.S. Attorney General, why would you want to be treated like a contestant on The Apprentice?  Foreign leaders think he’s a clown.  In office, Trump made good on essentially none of his campaign promises.  That’s not all his fault of course, but exactly what is there to recommend the man for the nation’s highest office?  I like the fact that he sometimes speaks truth to power, but that’s not a sufficient recommendation to be the power.

How is it that our political system has saddled us with these two utterly mediocre, possibly criminal, certainly dishonest men?  It’s worth pondering.  A majority of Americans don’t approve of Trump (56%) or Biden (54%), and yet somehow, they’re our only choices.

Last time I wrote about the precipitous decline in the public’s trust in our institutions.  This is more of the same.  Americans neither like nor respect the two major parties and the choice of only Trump or Biden will make matters vastly worse.  It’ll be seen for what it is – another two-party exercise of monopoly power over politics in this country and, if their candidates happen to be cheats and liars, well, the public’s only alternative is to swallow the bitter pill as usual.

We live at a critical time in our country’s history.  This is not 1992 when the Soviet Union was dead, the economy strong, crime falling, etc.  Now, perhaps more than at any time since World War II, we need a president who can lead us back to some semblance of unity, civility, honesty, integrity and an understanding of the nation’s place in world affairs.  Neither Biden nor Trump even comes close.

A real third-party candidate won’t solve all our problems, but he/she would do one thing – inform the other two that their behavior is not acceptable, that they need radical reform, that they need to care about the rest of us.  About 56% of Americans say a third party is needed, and may be ready to back that up with their votes. A third-party president would be in a position to show what ethics, honesty and leadership look like and, in the process, convince voters to give the system another chance.

I’m not optimistic, but the incompetence, venality, dishonesty and complete unconcern for the welfare of everyday Americans by our political class has, I believe, passed the tipping point at which change needs to come and soon.  Peaceful change may still be possible, but just another edition of the status quo – an election with only Biden and Trump as candidates – may make the other kind the only alternative.

This originally appeared at The Word of Damocles.


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