Many people are disengaged from the political process, especially during primaries. In my opinion, if you don’t vote, you forfeit your right to complain.

The negative campaigning and barrage of distorted information fed to voters leaves many thinking the whole process is corrupt and every politician is dishonest. So should we pick the least objectionable candidate or vote against someone rather than for someone? Discerning voters can see through the campaign rhetoric and realize there are some good people on both sides of aisle trying to do their best to serve their constituents. (Some manipulators, for sure.)

This Presidential cycle has been especially contentious, with many Republicans vying for attention. The front-runner has controlled the news cycle with his bombast and obvious claims that he won’t be able to follow through on without Congressional support. He has successfully challenged one of the most biased institutions in the USA, however: the news media, while Trumping the other candidates in controlling the news cycle. At a recent rally Donald Trump insisted that the cameraman capture the large crowd at his gathering. The crowd made noise until the cameraman turned. More problematic is his recent support for ethanol subsidies – an obvious ploy to win votes in Iowa.

The latest Des Moines Register poll showed support for Trump at 28%, Ted Cruz at 23%, and Marco Rubio at 15%. Whether Trump’s boycott of the last debate will hurt or help him with Iowans and nationally remains to be seen. Fox News played video clips of Ted Cruz supporting immigration reform (an amendment which none of the proponents of a path to citizenship would accept), then insisting on camera that he is strong “against amnesty.”

With Trump absent from the stage, Senator Cruz faced most of the criticism from other candidates and seemingly from the moderators. His jokes fell flat and he appeared defensive. Cruz does not win many points for getting along with his fellow Senators, a plus or a minus depending on your perspective.

Marco Rubio appeared more confident, upbeat and positive in his vision for America than his rival Ted Cruz. He may be more electable in November than Cruz. His Achilles heel is his past support for comprehensive immigration reform (a path to citizenship for “undocumented immigrants” or “illegal aliens” depending on your perspective on the issue) and his unwillingness to say whether he would support it as President. He rightly says we need to secure the border first, but then says let’s see what the people want, that he wouldn’t violate the Constitution like President Obama has. Perhaps he would go for permanent legal guest worker status and not a path to citizenship, but he won’t say.

Dr. Ben Carson seems to be losing support in the polls. He did not field questions confidently in the last debate. He did make the point that he was able to build teams of smart people to make critical decisions. I’ve no doubt he would be able to make wise decisions as President.

Moderate Republican candidates like Governors Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Chris Christie are polling in the single digits in Iowa; some will probably see their voters go to other candidates in the Iowa caucus process. In the Republican caucus process, after speeches by people representing their candidate, voters cast a secret ballot for their candidate.

The New York Times endorsed Hillary Clinton and John Kasich for President. Kasich will welcome that endorsement, but it might hurt him with conservatives who know that NYT endorsed the least objectionable Republican and will probably endorse whichever Democratic candidate gets the nomination in November (even Bernie Sanders).

Politics, Ethics and Religion Combine for Some Voters

Abortion is an ethical question, not specifically a religious one. Not everyone who is pro-life is a person of faith, but many are. Evangelical voters are a big part of the Iowa Republican electorate and tend to be pro-life. Passages like Psalm 139, written by Israel’s King David are used to back up their position. Here are verses 13-16:

“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.”

According to NARAL (formerly the National Abortion Rights Action League), all of the Republican candidates oppose “reproductive freedom.” (their euphemism for abortion on demand.) Their website explains why “choice is important” and their endorsement of Hillary Clinton.

In an unprecedented move, Planned Parenthood has even endorsed a candidate in the Presidential primaries: Hillary Clinton. No surprise that they back Democratic candidates given the Party platform, but this article discusses why they are choosing Hillary in the primaries.

Republican candidates Chris Christie and Donald Trump have changed their views on abortion, switching from pro-choice to pro-life. Well, for Trump, sort of. Read the links to see their current positions. My own views changed from moderately pro-choice to pro-life in 1987, when I heard pro-life arguments for the first time. So I can sympathize with a one-time change of views, or an evolving position. That is not a flip-flop unless one switches back. It is deplorable to do it merely to pander to voters or to get elected. For many voters, “a woman’s right to choose” or “pro-life” is not a deal-breaker.

My personal opinion is that Vice President Joe Biden is likely to be the Democratic nominee. So far it looks like a two-horse race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, both of which carry significant baggage for the general election.  Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is a dark horse in Iowa and nationally. Some of his supporters will go either to Clinton or Sanders if he doesn’t reach the 15% threshold in each precinct’s caucus.

Rocky De La Fuente, a San Diego Cadillac car dealer, submitted petition signatures for the Michigan primary ballot. De La Fuente expects Governor O’Malley to drop out of the race soon and endorse Clinton, leaving him as part of a three-way race according to the Detroit News.

Early Iowa Results

Here are early returns from the Iowa caucuses, showing Cruz leading with 30-27 percent over Trump, and Marco Rubio at 21%.

Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders 51-48%.

We’ll see how it breaks after all the votes are counted.

Crossover Votes

This is the first year I have been undecided this close to the Michigan primary election on March 8. My favored candidate and another low-polling governor dropped out of the race early on. I’m still not sure which candidate I will vote for. Some undecided voters may cross over and vote for the least electable candidate from the opposing party. This is a dangerous tactic in this unpredictable year, though. I don’t plan to do this. I’ll pick the best of the Republican candidates.

Whatever your preference is, I encourage everyone to reject cynicism and negativity and get out and vote for the candidate of their choice. At least then you will have some grounds to complain, having participated in the democratic process that so many of our ancestors fought and died for.

Other articles

In previous blog posts, I began telling the story of my brain tumor and the depression which followed it. The second article in the series described my faith in God which sustained me through both trials.

Having recently started a word-by-word translation of Martin Luther’s Bible from German to English, Iintroduced the project and published Matthew Chapter 1. Later I wrote commentary on it; my church background and theological training is in my USA Melting Pot bio.

Dale Murrish writes on historytraveltechnology,religion and politics for the Troy Patch and USA Melting Pot club. You can help this non-profit club by making your Amazon purchases through the link on the left side of their website. You can also see over a dozen ethnic presentations from people with firsthand knowledge under Culture & Country (right hand side), and outdoor presentations (Hobby & Fun), including posts on bicycling, skiing and camping.

 

Other interesting articles on the USA Melting Pot website have recently been written by Bilal Rathur on his hajj to Saudi Arabia (Part 6) and by Carl Petersen. Thanks to both of them for their contributions.