Photo by bored-now/Flickr

By Colleen O’Connor

This election has produced more theater, rancor, and nonsense — while simultaneously driving some of the highest primary voter turnouts in decades. What fun!

Who knew politics could be so “binge-watching” worthy and educational at the same time?

And the voters and non-voters alike are responding.

Which leads me, among the very few, to cheer the combatants. No one in this country can claim they were unrepresented in this fight. All sides –sane, nuts, conspiratorial, true or outrageously false — have been given a hearing.

Hence, the obvious reason for the high turnout. The “establishment“ is on life support, but the rout isn’t yet complete.

Happy is California — the near-last state in every Presidential primary — that this year’s votes on June 7th could bring more of us to the polls. That is what healthy democracies need. Alert, engaged citizens and a buzzing press.

California will be a winner in all this.

The amount of political campaign funds — from both parties — that will be spent on television, newspaper, digital, and radio ads, and consultants, will be considerable. Plus, all those disappearing political jobs that were in once danger, might be temporarily revived.

California’s Secretary of State just requested $32 million dollars to prepare for the “major voter surge” turnout he expects — mirroring what has happened in numerous earlier primary states.

Donald Trump has generated so much attention and so much energy (proving the axiom there is no such thing as “a bad press story”) that he has elevated voter turnout numbers for and against.

Ted Cruz and John Kasich and the entire GOP establishment are spending massive amounts of money to navigate these treacherous anti-establishment times and simultaneously stop Trump.

Off to a floor fight at the convention in Cleveland.

Late to the party, comes the fun on the Democratic side — up until now a civil campaign.

Bernie Sanders‘ digital fundraising campaign is keeping the Democratic-Socialist “revolution” alive and is the envy of every other campaign. While the self-funding Trump is the champion of Twitter-dom, Sanders dominates the online fundraising universe.

Thus, Sanders is to fundraising what Trump is to hell-raising. Neither is dependent on the “political elite or mega-donors.” They can speak without currying favor. And each has an army of followers — perhaps angrier at the currently perceived “rigged economy and corrupt establishment” — than any uprising since the angry 1960s.

And both may lose. Sanders senses this already. Trump not yet. He leads with delegate and popular votes…but not enough to avoid a convention fight.

Perhaps jealous of all the fun in the Trump universe, the two still standing Democrats have just generated a small “spitting contest” of their own.

Despite losing while he is winning (mostly in the caucus states or those primaries that are predominately white, well off, and allow “cross over” voters from Independents to vote on the Democratic side) Sanders still trails Hillary Clinton’s insurmountable delegate count. And popular votes as well.

She wins with delegates — no matter what. Do the math and the rules.

However, armed with boatloads of money, Sanders, like Trump vows to take his “revolution” all the way to the convention and fight.

Hence, the change in tone.

Ostensibly, Sanders “started it” — the dust-up — by claiming “Hillary is not fit to be President.

Stunned by the blowback from multiple quarters, the Sanders’ team has since replied, “Hillary started it.” Remind you of 2nd grade?

The Clinton team returned fire, suggesting that Sanders “take a deep breath and a time out.”

“Them’s fightin’ words.” They elevated the drama a bit. Clinton showed her savvy as a debater (and someone who needs those Sanders’ voters in November) by taking the higher ground. Her comeback, “I would take Sanders over Trump or Cruz.”

Still the sandbox fights continue.

And then there is the real world.

And oh, one of the biggest leaks in history — on offshore dark money laundering and tax evasions by the rich and powerful — titled the “Panama Papers.”

Already tagging the Prime Minister of Iceland, Britain, the leaders of China and Russia and lots and lots of rich bankers, corporate executives, etc. A must read. And more to come.

Effectively, The Panama Papers underscore the Trump/Sanders dominant narrative.

How can anyone turn off this election?

Have fun. Vote this year.


Colleen O’Connor is a retired college history professor. 

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