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Chris Honoré: Random political thoughts

I acknowledge that I watch the Republican primary campaign unfold with growing trepidation.

I assuage my anxiety with a familiar internal monologue that goes something like this: “When push comes to shove, well, there is just no way that voters will elect one of these candidates as our president. Are folks not listening to the same rhetoric that I am?” But then I hear that countervailing voice that reminds me that in the last election, the electorate, in all its wisdom, gave the Senate majority to the Republicans and it’s possible that same cohort might rinse and repeat, this time regarding the White House.

I find myself wondering how it’s possible that the prism through which I’m watching the Republican candidates could be so vastly different from those who are seemingly in full-throated approval of what they are hearing and seeing. It begins to feel a bit surreal.

I know it’s still early, but still. Witness the phenomenon of Donald Trump. After a long summer of what should be disqualifying and chilling statements about immigrants (he would round up 11 million undocumented immigrants and ship them back across the border; historically, an awful image to contemplate), Trump, the original birther and the most improbable of all possible GOP presidential candidates, continues to hold his front-runner position. Though the GOP voters may eventually grow tired of his insufferable style and obscure answers to questions regarding foreign and domestic policy, he continues to remind all who will listen that through sheer force of his personality he will get Mexico to pay for a wall along its border with America to stop the steady stream of rapists and criminals cynically sent here by Mexico.

Tied for second Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. Fiorina would eagerly obliterate Planned Parenthood and thereby deny countless women health care screenings, contraception counseling and testing. To buttress her position, she’s made statements about clandestine tapes that she’s seen, detailing a graphic image of a live fetus, its legs kicking, kept alive so its brain could be harvested. As reported, it was sheer fabrication. No such image exists. And Planned Parenthood does not sell aborted fetuses as part of a profit-making enterprise. However, her statements were made with such clarity and conviction that she was gushingly declared the second debate winner. She also made it clear she would never talk to Vladimir Putin of Russia, for any reason. Never?

Ben Carson, surging of late, stated unequivocally that no Muslim should ever be considered for the presidency. While Trump refused to correct a man at a town hall meeting who said America had a Muslim problem and that our president was a Muslim, Carson claimed that Muslims would follow the laws of their faith (Sharia law) before they would follow the tenets of the Constitution. Like Trump’s statements on immigration, Carson’s comments are sheer demagoguery (not the antidote to political correctness). And this verges on the laughable, considering that the Republicans are prone to declaring that religion trumps the Supreme Court’s decision on, say, gay marriage or the right to choose.

Meanwhile there’s Ted Cruz, who will immediately tear up the Iran nuclear agreement while damaging long-term alliances and posing no realistic alternative.

All of the candidates would eliminate Obamacare, again with no proposed alternative. Back to Emergency for millions of Americans. Irresponsibly, Trump has linked autism to childhood vaccinations and neither Carson nor Rand Paul has taken a hard, unequivocal position on the science that affirms that there is absolutely no linkage. Both physicians added a qualifier that only confuses the issue.

Meanwhile, no Republican candidate touched on global warming, ISIS, racial issues, ubiquitous gun violence, our crumbling infrastructure, child poverty and the social inequality of our educational system. But to a person they are eager to establish their anti-abortion bona fides by cravenly de-funding Planned Parenthood and thereby denying health care access to women who have few options.

Is it possible that come November 2016, Americans will actually choose one of these candidates as our next president? I want to say, “Not a chance.” But then I was convinced that Trump would have been gone long ago. And he isn’t.

Chris Honoré lives in Ashland.