Watching the politicians running for president in 2015-2016 has become an exciting show. Big TV and a sprinkle of citizens chosen by TV ask the presidential candidates questions. The politicians then bluster their message. "Elect me," say the Republican presidential candidates to the American people, "and I will wipe out the terrorists in the Middle East and restore America to greatness." "Elect me," say the Democratic presidential candidates, "and I will raise the minimum wage and bring prosperity to the middle class."
The Republican candidates come primarily from the world of big money, funded by millionaires, billionaires and corporations. Their vision is that of the super-rich. They are determined to maintain and expand the power and wealth of the oligarchs funding them. They see nothing wrong with corporations plundering America, but, still, America for them is an exceptional country. They have no doubt they are running the world.
Republican president George W. Bush invaded and destroyed Iraq in 2003 and set the seeds for the greatest upheaval in the Middle East since the Mongol invasion of the Middle East in the thirteenth century. Bush did all this for oil companies and the industrial military complex.
Republican presidential candidates want to duplicate the Bush model of foreign policy. They keep talking about national security, terrorism, and how they plan to give the Pentagon more billions for more wars. In fact, they hate President Obama because Obama withdrew most of the American troops from Iraq.
Republican presidential candidates ignore the home front. Faithful to the orders of those who fund them, they are silent on social and environmental crises, especially poverty in the US and the tragedy of global warming.
Republican Donald Trump is a billionaire who routinely insults both his Republican and Democratic competitors. He is the personification of hubris, which is the emblem of any man with so much power. Yet, despite his riches, he does not have the heart to raise the minimum wage for millions of Americans living precariously and often working on more than one job to survive. He is also insulting foreigners, especially Mexicans and Moslems.
Trump's colleagues Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio look to god and Jesus in particular for popular appeal. Listening to Ted Cruz uncovers a mind mired in dark-age thought. This Evangelical has zero respect for the separation of church and state. His biblical doctrines date back to Europe after the fall of Rome in the West. Barbarians swarmed over Western Europe and established kingdoms. The new barbarian kings then turned to Christianity to legitimize their rule. Cruz is doing the same thing. By mentioning Jesus repeatedly he thinks Americans are morons and cannot see through his deception, diverting them from life and death struggles to church catechisms.
Marco Rubio tells a sob story from poverty to riches. He demands more tax breaks for the rich and is promising to demolish the little that Obama accomplished. He also wants an almighty Pentagon to cleanse the world of terrorism.
In contrast to the bellicosity, religiosity, plutocratic ambitions, and American nationalism of the Republicans, the Democratic presidential candidates are less inclined to divide the country into masters and workers. They are friendly to the millions of illegal immigrants in the US. They are selling themselves as friends of the middle class. They are also recognizing climate change as a threat and promise to promote solar and wind energy alternatives to oil, coal, and natural gas.
Hillary Clinton makes a valiant effort to appear critical of Wall Street, but it does not work. She stumbled in her explanation of receiving $ 675,000 for speeches she made to the Wall Street bank of Goldman Sachs after she left the State Department.
Bernie Sanders is capturing the imagination of the country. He openly opposes the oligarchy of the Wall Street banks and the insurance-medical complex. He wants to abolish the giant banks for modest banks serving the economy. He also advocates affordable health care for all Americans and promises free public college education.
Sanders speaks passionately and looks Americans in the eyes. He is a genuine democrat that is revitalizing politics in America. In fact, by fighting for the important needs of the people and the country, he is probably one of a few politicians who is a true politician. After all, politics is the affairs of the polis: country and its people.
All presidential candidates, however, avoid addressing what the industry does to the health of Americans. Certainly, the Democrats have said they will do something about the looming crisis of global warming. But what about nuclear bombs? They are the number one danger. I add pesticides right after nuclear bombs because they have been contaminating our food, drinking water and the natural world for several decades.
This danger comes from industrialized agriculture that has converted rural America into an agribusiness colony for corn, soybeans, cattle, chicken and hogs. This concentrated pollution and chemicals in the environment cause mass extinction, epidemics of disease and poisoning of humans, rivers, creeks, birds and wildlife.
I did not expect the Republicans to utter a word about the human health and ecological effects of agribusiness. They did not. But why Clinton and Sanders said nothing about such vital issues of health, life, and democracy?
Clearly, the Republican presidential candidates are risking both the health and the democratic politics of America. Clinton and Sanders are the best hopes for America. They need to expand the debate on the environment. A healthy natural world is absolutely necessary for a healthy America.
Nuclear weapons, like pesticides and agribusiness, are incompatible with health, security and civilization. Alternatives exist. The ultimate test of politics in America will be to inform Americans about those alternatives and start facing out our existential danger.