Opinion

An Ugh-ly choice for Idaho: Clinton or Trump?

kjones@idahostatesman.com

Now what, Idaho?

The presidential candidates the Gem State went for in its GOP primary and Democratic caucus in March have either abandoned ship or are dangling by dental floss from the bow.

In fact, all of the Republicans who had Idaho backing from the time there was a 17-member GOP field until this week are footnotes: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (the Idaho GOP primary winner), Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

The Democrat who won in an Idaho landslide, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, is as popular as ever but unable to catch up to Hillary Clinton’s delegate lead. He gets his oxygen from the fraction of passionate followers who won’t let him give up.

So, that’s it. It’s Clinton and Donald Trump, Idaho, two flavors of political castor oil the majority of people I run into are loathe to swallow.

Those bewildered by Trump’s presumptive nomination wonder whether, all along, we were oblivious to an alien infiltration that could account for his support — or whether this is just an occasional populist political episode, not unlike the cicadas emerging from a 17-year slumber to rattle the nerves of a nation.

Democrats who rallied behind Sanders to lead them down a more progressive path are instead encountering after-Bern.

Though I am happy to hear from people who believe Clinton or Trump “will save the world, and here’s why,” I’m preparing myself for something else.

Even House Speaker Paul Ryan, the Republican vice-presidential candidate just four years ago, is stuck at the yuck stage on Trump — and I have a hard time believing he’s going to jump on the Hillary bandwagon.

“I’m not there right now,” Ryan said Thursday, hedging any pledge to Trump. Well, then, where is he? Where are the rest of us?

I am going to take a wild guess and posit that a lot of you won’t be voting for somebody in the 2016 presidential election, but rather against somebody.

Though I hear plenty of people say they are going to sit this one out and “send a message” by not voting, I’ve got news for them: that message will go undelivered, unread and wind up in the spam bin of history.

In case you haven’t figured this out about politics, when you don’t care, neither does anybody else. When you skip over the top of the ticket, your nonvote shows up as an “undervote” statistic, an impotent asterisk.

I’m not going to go that route and I hope you don’t either. I’ve voted against people before and, if necessary, I am getting fired up to do it again.

This mutant political year has caught much of the nation by surprise and left many of us off balance. New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote a moving, sobering piece this week that basically says that this, too, shall pass. But in the meantime, America, we need to listen to this message: We have not been listening. Brooks said we need a “new story” because that American Dream rags-to-riches script is not working today for too many of our fellow citizens.

My take is that we are in some kind of transitional phase and that the next four years might be a transitional presidency — a one-and-done four-year term like the ones served by Jimmy Carter and George H. Bush that may not be fully understood until history has its way with it.

I hope that “new story” Brooks yearns for emerges in the months leading up to the November election — or over the following four years.

We need it.

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