Tom Clyde: The unmarkable ballot
When my ballot in the presidential primary came, I opened it with excitement and hope. The key to getting back to normal was right in my hand.
All I had to do was color in one of the little bubbles and mail it in, and, before you know it, President Trump would be set free to golf every day. The hard process of putting things back together again could begin.
It all begins with coloring in one little bubble.
Then I looked it over, and ended up stuffing it all back in the envelope. It’s been sitting on the kitchen counter ever since.
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Of the 16 choices, several have already dropped out. Julian Castro, Andrew Yang, Cory Booker, Michael Bennet, Marianne Williamson and Deval Patrick have all withdrawn. Booker and Bennet had potential, and while they never caught fire, I would have felt OK electing either one. Tulsi Gabbard seems nuts, though that is probably the first qualification for running for president these days. No rational person would subject himself or herself to this for 18 months. There are two names on there that I had never heard of despite following this pretty closely. They would be an improvement over the very stable genius we have now, but I’ve got no idea.
The local favorite is Nathan Bloxham. I Googled him, and the first item that came up was some other Nathan Bloxham, a baseball player at Montana State. An outfielder from South Jordan. Candidate Bloxham is from Kamas. And that’s about it.
He’s not going anywhere, but someday, the first line of his obituary will say, “Former presidential candidate Nathan Bloxham…”
Bernie Sanders is the frontrunner at the moment, though South Carolina may shuffle the deck. I like some of Bernie’s proposals for health care and education. Those two items prevent too many people from moving up the economic ladder. Student loans and medical emergencies block the path to the middle class all too often. Bernie has been a little dodgy on how to pay for either one. Taxing billionaires is a great idea, and getting big corporations to pay any tax at all would be a major switch. But we could have Jeff Bezos broke and sleeping in a discarded Amazon box and it wouldn’t cover it for a year.
The answer, I guess, can be learned from the Republicans. Deficits don’t matter, Dick Cheney explained. And the latest round of tax cuts, which were miraculously supposed to pay for themselves, have dug a deeper hole instead. To no one’s surprise. So I guess Bernie could just take a page out of the Republican Bible and say free college and Medicare for all will pay for themselves.
The moderate Democrats are freaking out at the idea of Bernie being the candidate. We’ve seen this before. In 2016, the sane Republicans split the vote among themselves, leaving Trump out there on the fringe. He didn’t split that mad-as-hell vote with anybody, and here we are. The Democrats seem likely to repeat that process, with Biden, Buttigieg and Klobuchar splintering the middle. The centrist candidates, combined, have been drawing more votes than Bernie. They aren’t running as a team, and individually, they aren’t getting enough votes to matter.
Bloomberg is late to the party and made a grand entrance, or will, with the Super Tuesday voting. So far, he hasn’t won a single vote because he hasn’t been on the ballot. If the goal is getting back to normal, he might be a good choice — a sort of technician manager to put things back together. He might even be able to fill the cabinet positions with qualified people. I don’t see it happening. It’s impossible to get excited about him. Bloomberg has all the charisma of day-old tapioca.
So there it is. The muddled middle can’t get out of their own way and select a single candidate. Warren and Klobuchar both seem plausible, and we’re certainly overdue to elect a woman president. They aren’t gaining any real traction. Tom Steyer is still there, for some reason, spending a ton of his own money and nobody cares.
That leaves Bernie out front, riding the same mad-as-hell tide that brought us Trump. He’s older than dirt and had a heart attack within the last month. Every time I see him giving a campaign speech, I expect him to clutch his chest and hit the deck. This may be the only election in history where anybody cares about the vice presidential pick.
Given a choice between Trump and anybody else, I will vote for anybody else. The first wino to stumble out of Pioneer Park couldn’t be worse. But I just keep staring at the ballot wondering, how, in a country of 350 million people, these are our choices.
The ballot is still sitting on the kitchen counter.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.
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With ski season over, Tom Kelly signs off for now. “Like a ride up a chairlift,” he writes, “I hope that you’ve enjoyed your conversation with me this season.”