Terry H. Schwadron
Jan. 3, 2018
You might think that hearing of the opening of the 2020 political season might be more like the reaction to pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring training for major league baseball — a chance to warm up and buckle down to the business at hand for a season of pleasurable tension.
It’d be even more so, you might consider, when what’s at stake is an attempt to replace Donald J. Trump as president.
Unfortunately, the decision by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, to start the ball rolling just seems another announcement of the Endless Campaign, the endless exchange of uncivil remarks and unending emails. With no personal misgivings about Warren — she is a very agreeable thinker who raises interesting questions, but just the first of a couple dozen Democratic colleagues — for whatever reasons of human need or personal greed, political season is omnipresent with no breaks whatsoever.
We haven’t even rolled out the new Democratic-majority House yet elected in November. We’re not even sure that the Dems know better than the Republicans how to actually tackle the issues of the day with surefootedness and actual relationship to fact.
Likewise, it took Trump just seconds to lob a rude insult or two Warren’s way even before we get to hear what she has in mind, referring a question about her possible success to her putative psychiatrist.
Forget talk of tariffs, steel industries and bringing back coal mining, set aside unmet Rust Belt job promises or the wild fluctuations of the stock market, it seems as if the Number One Industry in the United States is endless talk about who’s on top.
It takes at least tens of millions of dollars if not more to run for president; we’re now talking about 25 candidates or more each spending that much just to persuade each of us that this Democrat is just ever so different than that Democrat, and that all Democrats are angels pitted against arch-rival Republican Trump, who keeps Republican support in Congress by threatening to squash Republicans who might suggest his mendacious ways need some mending.
With Supreme Court backing for allowing uncapped corporate fund-raising and unrestrained political action committees that operate allegedly independently of candidates and campaigns, Americans have assured themselves of both mediocrity among candidates and a system that rewards the richest campaign donors, whether personally or by endorsement and adoption of pet projects.
We’ve long been through the connections between NRA support for candidates and the lack of adequate gun control legislation, oil and gas drillers and the environmental policies that widen drilling prospects and lower regulation, construction and developer campaign funds and the policies that help those businesses. These are connections that we no longer even really see as fundamentally wrong; indeed, in this administration, as an example, we praise the moves by industry people directly affected by government policies into those government regulatory positions that govern the rules in various industry sectors — even while decrying the “swamp” in
There is something refreshing to hear that Israel or Britain or other countries are calling elections only eight or twelve weeks off just because those countries will be better able to put the partisan name-calling and distressingly repetitive sloganeering away for a few months. I’m still getting emails from November candidates asking for money and expressions of love, just as Elizabeth Warren is kicking off — necessarily — her campaign for an election 20 months away.
By then, the seas will have risen another few milliliters (everywhere but in the Trump White House), illegal immigration will continue to increase (there will be no Wall in place or possibly in mind), more millions will have lost their health insurance, and computerized trading patterns will continue to overthrow any sense of logic about investments in the American and world economies.
In short, we’re going to start arguing now over conditions that may well not be in place by the time the next presidential election rolls around.
Worse, we’re going to hear daily about the horse race that, as always, will favor white men over a more diverse slate, about identity politics (how many candidates can claim the black vote or the left-handed Texan vote), about the insistence on Republicans to label all Democrats socialist or far left or, apparently, in need of psychiatric treatment.
Unlike baseball, few rules seem to apply in politics, and after the game, no one shakes hands. In baseball, there is a sense that it is the game itself that survives and prospers, and that we generally prefer a tight, competitive situation and its tension to a boring blow-away rout. Worse, if you flout the rules and say, have your campaign work with operatives of foreign powers, you then excuse it away daily as a witch hunt in case anyone asks questions about the legality of the actions.
By the way, pitchers and catchers report Feb. 21 for a 163-game season actually played this year and over before November, 2019 — not 2020.