One reason ‘both sides stink’ is the overriding theme of this election

Clinton and Trump

If there’s one thing I hear most often about the presumptive choices on our ballots in November, it’s a sense of bewildered disgust at the likelihood either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be the president in about eight months.

I hear this not only from disaffected Republicans but many independents and not a few Democrats. “How?” they ask. “How did we get to this place?”

That’s one of the better questions to ask in the months to come. And if your answer doesn’t include at least part of the blame accruing to yourself, or at least your “side,” you’re probably not being totally honest. This unappealing general election is the culmination of many years of both parties being unresponsive to the realities apparent to many Americans. Trump won a rebellious victory against that decay in the GOP; Clinton is barely staving off the revolution Bernie Sanders tried to spark among Democrats. Both uprisings cite the failure of their respective parties’ “establishments” to tend to “the people.”

I’m not going to rehash all the proffered reasons they feel that way, but I will offer another one. Look at what both parties have focused so much of their attention on: institutions. Democrats are committed to defending them, Republicans to attacking them. But I’m not sure either has convinced people besides its own partisans — and not even all of those — that its actions translate to a commitment to them.

Before you decide this is going to be too abstract, stick with me a moment. Think about what so many of the fights between R’s and D’s in recent years have concerned: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schools, the EPA, the IRS. These are creatures of the government intended to benefit all, with dubious results or consequences in the minds of many. Democrats defend them, Republicans rail against them. Real people wonder what’s in it for them.

In the face of obvious shortcomings of, say, our public schools, Democrats by and large offer one answer: Spend more money. There is not a school-reform movement from the left to speak of, because that could alienate the school employees and unions who are vital to Democrats’ winning elections. There are Democrats who support school reforms, but for the most part they back Republican proposals.

From the right, by contrast, there is a never-ending supply of school-reform proposals. Many of them are sound and would improve education and the lives of students. There are so many, in fact, that a number of Republicans come off as being chiefly interested in tearing down the public-school system — playing right into the hands of Democrats all too happy to portray them in just that way. In fact, the main argument Democrats make in favor of the mediocre institutions they prop up amounts to this false choice: The current system may not be ideal, but it beats the nothing Republicans would leave you with.

The parent whose child is stuck in an under-performing school, meanwhile, hears two things: Democrats saying the system is underfunded, Republicans saying the system is broken — neither of which sounds as if it will make a difference in that child’s life anytime soon. It’s all about public schools as an institution, not what’s best for the students they’re supposed to serve.

Or take Social Security. You might think self-styled progressives would be amenable to means-testing the benefits rather than having Uncle Sam write a check each month to retired millionaires. But that would be too much like change; better, Democrats say, to keep paying everyone than to allow Republicans an opening to changing the whole system. Republicans, meanwhile, come across as if they want to, well, change the whole system. The debate sounds like it’s about Social Security itself, not retirees.

So we have a dearth of ideas backed by fear-mongering on the one side, and a gusher of ideas that seem ideological or actuarial, not human-focused, on the other. It’s no wonder so many voters this year have looked at the establishment on each side and concluded, you both stink.

Reader Comments 0

109 comments
DerekGator
DerekGator

The school problem can't be solved with money.  The problem is that too many parents are ill equipped to be raising children.  We need a massive mandatory birth control initiative for anyone receiving benefits like food stamps, welfare and section 8 housing.  We have to break the cycle of the poor and uneducated flooding the system with kids that don't have a chance. 

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Shorter Kyle's post:  Democrats are out of ideas and are too stupid to understand those of Real Americans.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Take a phony-equivalence media narrative about the election, mix in some nonsense about school choice being some kind of solution to deeply systemic American economic problems, and for the finale, a truly ridiculous attempt to link a teensy-tiny number of rich Americans getting a bit less in SS payments to magically balancing any revenue issues SS might have, and...


well, I don't get the big bucks to write such stuff, but IMHO, it's a pretty sub par piece.

Although I guess there's a kernel of a good idea about how the political sides regard what we think of as "institutions" that might merit another go sometime.


/unpaid critic

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@JohnnyReb @Visual_Cortex

I never set out to "insult" Kyle, he's typically pretty rational and has decent arguments most of the time. 

This just wasn't one of them.

Anyway, are you--YOU?--seriously complaining about me offering a comment here? 

Seriously?

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

The problem is, we haven't had "two sides."

And this is why we have so many voters behind Trump.

The Democrats are trying to give everything away to everybody.

The Republicans are trying to give everything away to special interest backers.

Look no further than immigration for an example.

Democrats are basically for open borders.  They may not want to call it open borders, but their objectives result in open borders.

Republican leadership won't fix illegal immigration for reasons among which is the Chamber of Commerce who is big business.

Notice that immigration is a divide between Ryan and Trump.

Notice the TPP trade deal is a divide between Ryan and Trump.  

Notice how Ryan would not stop Boehner's budget that gave Obama all the funding he needs to to the end of his term.

Trump may not be perfect, but he's the only chance we have to stop the slide into the pooper.

WardinConyers
WardinConyers

I am totally dissatisfied with both candidates. Unfortunately, they reflect us, the people.  Why not do something else?  Inasmuch as technology, more specifically, the internet, has changed our lives, why can't we use it to initiate a consensual, middle-of-the-road candidate, an Independent, to assume the third party mantle, and promote it like hell?  


Sure, third parties in the past have never had a chance, but these are unusual times.  Maybe, with the technology, we could have a different result.  

CharlotteRoy
CharlotteRoy

As an old woman totally dependent on social security, I'm quaking in my boots.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

@CharlotteRoy

You have nothing to fear, because no one is even considering cutting your benefits.  Any Democrat who tells you otherwise is lying, trying to frighten you, for partisan gain.

Starik
Starik

It's not that the sides stink, it's that both sides have lost their minds collectively and individually.

Starik
Starik

This collection of blog posts is very, very strange.

lvg
lvg

Cons could care less if human life is at stake if they can defy their enemy in the White House:

""In February, Obama urgently requested more than $1.8 billion to address Zika, and Congress since then has done nothing but talk. Republicans have protested that the administration doesn’t need the money, that they have questions that haven’t been answered or that the request is vague. These objections are absurd.

Even Senator Marco Rubio laid into his fellow Republicans a few weeks ago, saying: “The money is going to be spent. And the question is, Do we do it now before this has become a crisis, or do we wait for it to become a crisis?”

Rubio is right. It’s always more cost-effective and lifesaving to tackle an epidemic early.

“I’m very worried, especially for our U.S. Gulf Coast states,” said Dr. Peter Jay Hotez, a tropical diseases expert at Baylor College of Medicine. “I cannot understand why a member of Congress from a Gulf Coast state cannot see this train approaching. It’s like refusing emergency preparedness funds for an approaching hurricane.”

We don’t know how badly Zika will hit the U.S. But, the first American has just died of it, and federal health professionals are debating whether to counsel women in Zika areas to avoid pregnancy — and to me, that sounds serious.

The larger mistake is that budget cutters have systematically cut public health budgets that address Zika, Ebola and other ailments. The best bargain in government may be public health, and Republicans have slashed funding for it while Democrats have shrugged.""""""


http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/12/opinion/congress-to-america-drop-dead.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region®ion=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region

We apparently have $463 B for the eight years late, $170 B over budget F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program.And we do have $13 B, each, for the new Ford class aircraft carriers. 



Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Maybe Obama should be working with Congress on this, instead of focusing on forcing schoolgirls to share changing rooms and showers with boys. Perverts.

Stephen Scruggs
Stephen Scruggs

Vote Trump he is an outsider. Screw the elitist, never leave, brain sucking , politicians.

Bruno2
Bruno2

Brosephus: "When your thinking is as biased and slanted as yours"

Bro--It's nice to see you poke your head in over here. 

Overall, I think Kyle is a pretty fair and balanced blogmeister.  While he generally advocates for conservative positions, he remains respectful of those who advocate for other points of view.  Hope you drop in more often.

bu22
bu22

Both sides have had a series of tone deaf leaders who have grown out of touch inside the beltway.  We desperately need term limits.

Bruno2
Bruno2

Kyle: "disaffected Republicans" 

Brosephus: "What we truly need is a whole entirely different approach to solving our problems. We put men in space and on the moon with public school education."

Penses: "I think much of the problem lies in the fact that law makers are, for the most part, lawyers rather than engineers. The latter are trained to effectively solve problems, while the former are trained to circumvent problems. ;-)"

Rafe: "Those politicians in Washington have won the lottery and joined the club, which renders them pretty disinterested in the trials and tribulations of the rubes back home.  They quickly become solely focused on club membership of them and those like them."

Count me in among the "disaffected Republicans", although I haven't been able to fully articulate why I've reached this current level of disgust.  There are some specific "Con" issues that irk me:  illegal immigration, welfare/disability fraud, govt waste, etc, but I think my biggest complaint is the one highlighted by Brosephus and Penses :  the complete unwillingness for R's and D's to collaborate and cobble together intelligent solutions to our problems.  As Rafe points out, "club membership" is the goal now, no true patriots anymore.

The most depressing part is that I don't see anything changing anytime soon.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Many of our problems are caused by earlier solutions that were cobbled together.

We've got too much government sand in the gears.

And too many lazy f*€k$ sitting around staring at their phones instead of busting tail or learning something.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

The best solutions are those developed by individuals, or the government closest to the people. The Feds might actually do a good job if they'd focus on the few things the Constitution charges them with, but no, they have to regulate every puddle and Internet connection and public restroom in the land.

Bruno2
Bruno2

@Lil_Barry_Bailout I agree with you re the best source of solutions.  If Congressmen were truly interested in solving problems, they would seek out those in the know instead of trying to solve things themselves.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

BTW, I did some research a while back and learned that when the public schools were educating the generation that put a man on the moon, we spent about $1200 (in today's dollars) per student on education.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Amen to that.

It took us fifty years to destroy the family and the culture. Probably take at least half that long to fix it, but we won't even start if leftists have anything to say about it.

Bruno2
Bruno2

@Lil_Barry_Bailout The culture was different back in the day, expectations were much higher for behavior and effort in school.

Debra Fish
Debra Fish

Who's Wingfield and why is his opinion important? Espionage is pretty serious. Hillary should be in prison. I'll go with the guy that will put Americans first for a change.

Tabitha Lynn
Tabitha Lynn

There's a third side and it doesn't stink.

DS
DS

It depends on one's political views. 

For a centrist, moderate type of person like me, I'm very pleased with Hillary Clinton's policy proposals. And her experience, intelligence and energy is unmatched. I think she's the best candidate to come around in a long, long time.

If I were a conservative Republican, however, I'm sure I would be disgusted with the field. The conservative Republican candidates left Trump unchallenged in hopes of scooping up his followers after he flopped. Which didn't happen. He got ahead on delegates, and his opponents turned to desperate tactics, which didn't work.

I'm sure Republican politicos have figured out they might do things differently next time.

Meanwhile, I'm happy with the thought that Hillary Clinton might be our next president. She's definitely capable, and our country would be in great hands.


Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

She's promised to continue Obama's policies which have stunted economic growth, made too many dependent on tax payers, massively increased our debt, and increased inequality.

She's incompetent and supporting her is stupid.

DerekGator
DerekGator

@DS :  Eight more years of Obama/Hillary and we are Greece, defaulting on $Trillions we can't pay back.

SK60
SK60


There are some points I can buy into but others not so much.  There is a dearth of ideas on both sides.  Republicans want to privatize everything with zero accountability to the private companies.  Even more when it comes to schools.  It's either private schools who teach ideology or those just in it for the money.  Democrats don't want to destroy public education and we shouldn't but more accountability absolutely needs to be there.  Congress itself is totally useless and term limits need to be put in place as well as these protected and gerrymandered districts need to be subjected to a fair and independent creation. 

In Georgia, all we worry about are guns and gay people, not real problems like good transportation and good jobs.  When will we get people in the state who actually have the courage to do what is right and not worry about those who are either just plain ignorant or have their head buried in the sand?  I'm not a huge fan of Nathan Deal but I will have to say, he took his courage in hand to veto two very bad bills.  Now, if he were up for re-election, would he have done the same? 


Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Congress is useless? What is it you want them to do? Do we have too few laws, regulations, taxes, mandates? Is the deficit too small? Is that why businesses and jobs are fleeing the country--from a lack of hassles?

Caius
Caius

I can buy into Kyle's argument and will add "defense", the Pentagon, CIA, NSA etc, etc as an institution that is a great failure.


But the big failures are the Democratic and Republican parties and their control of the people's institution of government, the Congress 


At the start of the 97th Congress, Jan 1981, the national debt was some $900 billion.

Since that point Democrats have been in the WH 16 years and Republicans 20 years.

Likewise the Democrats have been in control of the House 18 years and the Republicans 18 years.

The Democrats have been in "control" (with the 60 vote rule is anyone actually in control of the Senate?) of the Senate 16 years and Republicans 20 years.

As you see their are no innocents in Washington, D.C. All fingers need to be pointed at their owner.


In this period of time the national debt has jumped from that "modest" $900 billion to the $19.2 trillion recorded on 5/10/2016. And it will continue to grow.


What started in 1981 was a massive failure to fund the government.  Every Congress would establish what it would spend and what revenue it would take in to pay for that spending.  The spending always exceeded the revenue. And except for the 4 year oasis in the late 1990's under Sen. Domenici and Rep Kasich there has been a massive failure to pay for the government Congress approved and the President signed into law.

The 114th Congress approved $4 trillion in spending and approved $3.5 trillion in revenue for fy 2016. Once again not enough revenue to pay for the spending.


A business under control of  CEO/Board would simply cut spending. But Congress is a CEO?Bord concerned with the political party not the bottom line.

Fast forwarding to today, neither Clinton/Sanders nor Trump has indicated any willingness to pay for the government they say they will try to implement if they are president. It appears we will get more of the same.






Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Of course we'll get more of the same. That's what we vote for.

And by "we", I of course mean the majority of fellow citizens who vote Democrat, want bigger government, and for someone else to pay the bills.

Real Americans don't need your loser handout programs.

SK60
SK60

@Lil_Barry_Bailout  What about those who vote Republican?  They are just as guilty.  It's all about politics and slander with you.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

At least conservatives are internally consistent--we want smaller government and lower taxes. Democrats want bigger government and higher taxes--on someone else.

Cogito Ergo Erras
Cogito Ergo Erras

Nice column, Kyle. I think much of the problem lies in the fact that law makers are, for the most part, lawyers rather than engineers. The latter are trained to effectively solve problems, while the former are trained to circumvent problems. ;-)

bu22
bu22

@Penses And they never resolve anything until the last possible second.

TicTacs
TicTacs

If people live longer,  they should pay in more to SS.


Bad management is the school problem.  From the top (State Gov't) to the local school boards.  What is a parent to do --- the best they can.


Single payer is the solution to the medical problems.


IRS is understaffed, and marginal rates need to return to those of the President Reagan years,  we still have not paid his bills.


The real problem is Congress and folks that don't want to help, only hurt presidents and parties.


The choices for president are no worse than ever.  


You can walk around pissy all the time,  but I won't.





RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Jefferson1776 I think I will remind you of your "always support the Pres and Congress" when President Trump builds the wall and you start moaning and groaning.

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

@Jefferson1776 " If people live longer, they should pay in more to SS " I though I had heard just about all the stupid statements around but yours takes the cake. 

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

@Jefferson1776 "The choices for president are no worse than ever..."

Spot on. Anyone who has been around for more than a few election cycles understands that. Kyle is too young to have a good perspective. Compared to, for example, '76 Ford v. Carter this one's downright pedestrian.

bu22
bu22

@stogiefogey @Jefferson1776 Probably the two most ethical people to run for president since WWII.  And Hillary and Trump would both be even worse than Jimmy as president.  Ford did a good job with a bad hand.