From the Publisher: The Presidential Election

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Arnold G. York

We are now plunged into the early stages of the presidential election cycle, and the strange and most anomalous thing is that the two people with the least likelihood of getting elected or even nominated —Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders — seem to be drawing the largest, most enthusiastic crowds. In Trump’s case, he’s also at the top of the Republican political polls, even after getting bashed a bit in the last Republican debate. It’s only a matter of time before Sanders starts cutting into Hillary Clinton’s lead in the Democratic polls, so what exactly is going on here? Is this the year of the outsider, or is something significant shifting in the American body politic?

Why do I say that neither has any chance of a nomination or election? The fact is, America is a fairly politically conservative country, and whoever gets elected president (from either party) tends to be sort of a centrist — both in policy and in personality — and the voters overall (although not necessarily in every state) tend to be frightened off by anyone from the extremes. Just look at the presidents from the past century; they are almost all centrists.

Also, the race to the presidency is a marathon, not a sprint, which generally means that one candidate will emerge and then recede, and most potential candidates want to hang back a bit, close enough to the leaders to be considered in the running, but not necessarily in front, where the media and social media tend to focus. They all know that it’s a long weary battle and, so far, not a single vote has been cast in anything, so to date, it’s pretty much name recognition and organization. To raise that name recognition and build a national organization takes lots and lots of money, and there are many people who are anxious to give you that money but, the problem is, big money all wants something in return. What they want in return may help you get the nomination, but doom you in the general election. So for a candidate, it’s a constant cost-benefit analysis.

This is partially the current attraction of both Trump and Sanders. Whereas most of the other candidates who are trying to stay up there remain as gray as they can at this stage of the campaign, both Trump and Sanders can go in there swinging and, in the process, perhaps force the ultimate winner over in their direction. There is a certain freedom when you know that you’re not going to be in the final.

Let me give you a couple of examples. Hillary (I’m going to call her that because that’s the way everyone knows her) has been running the campaign that those in the lead try to run. Keep out of controversy that will cost you votes, try not to offend your money base and act and look presidential. Sanders’ campaign will probably ultimately force her out. He’s talking about issues: the criminal justice system, free education, support for college students so they don’t have to go deeply into debt, income inequality, immigration, sexism, racism and, perhaps most important, issues dealing with national security and war policy. Some of those issues will help her — some will cost her support. I suspect that the Sanders campaign will force her to show us what she’s really made of, which is risky for her, but probably unavoidable.

The Republicans are being forced by the outspokenness of the Trump campaign to perhaps begin to take some policy positions that many would prefer not to take. It won’t be enough to just say they oppose Hillary’s education proposal; they may actually be forced to propose something of their own. Trump’s support comes from older, angrier, white people — primarily guys who think that, in this new economy, they are being cast aside. In the main, they are not wrong. Manufacturing is down, no one stays with a company for a lifetime, global competition is increasing, and women and minorities are getting a larger slice of the pie, which means, in general, those angry, older white guys are getting less. The Republicans also have to try and moderate the anti-immigration anger without getting mauled by the Hispanic vote. Their principal problem is that the nomination is going to be secured in the red states, but the election is going to be decided in the dozen or so battleground states, which could go either way.

Personally, I think it’s good for democracy when the debate is pushed out into the open — not the usual platitudes, but real, open debate, which I believe, with the presence of Trump and Sanders, might actually happen this time.

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The Malibu Times received a number of letters from people who were upset that we reported on the murder of Gabriela Kabrins. They felt it was cruel and insensitive. I understand how they feel and what it’s like to lose child, but our job is to report on the news, and what people are thinking about and talking about is news. Many times, it’s difficult, but our job is to report, and we will continue to follow the investigation and the trial when it happens.