The Constitution Is Vague Relating To The Selection Of New SCOTUS Justices

By Sal Bommarito

The Supreme Court confrontation between liberals and conservatives is in high gear and could have very serious implications in the November presidential election.

The best way to determine which political party is on higher ground is to review what the Constitution specifically tells us about the selection of new justices.

The document says “. . . [the president] shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate shall appoint . . . judges of the Supreme Court . . .” The Constitution does not provide any guidelines relating this process. The definition of “advise and consent” is “a power of the United States Senate to be consulted and approve . . . appointments made by the president . . . to public positions, including . . . federal judges . . .”

The Constitution does not mandate that the court must have nine justices, there is no such thing as the “rule of nine.” Congress determines the size of the court. In this regard, the Judiciary Act of 1869 requires a quorum of six justices, and  the Court can have no more than nine justices in total.

The obvious reason to have an odd number of justices is that it decreases the chances of a tie. But, this is still a problem from time to time when a justice recuses his or herself. Justice Kagan did so  recently in a crucial affirmative action case.

The most important political consideration is the composition of the court, liberal versus conservative. Until Antonin Scalia’s death, the Court was generally tilted conservative with Justice Kennedy frequently serving as the swing vote. The direction of the Court will be greatly influenced by the next appointee.

If President Obama nominates a liberal judge, and the Senate  approves him or her (very unlikely), it would drastically impact several huge controversies affiliated to abortion, immigration, health care, racial quotas in universities, etc. A conservative appointee by a Republican president after the next election would keep the Court with the balance it had before Scalia passed away.

It should come as no surprise that Obama and Democrats are pushing to fill the Scalia vacancy immediately, and Republicans in the Senate are  uninterested in fielding any nominees by Obama.

Liberals and conservatives disagree vehemently about the responsibilities of the executive and legislative branches of the government regarding the current vacancy on the Court. The former says the president must fill the Court vacancy now (this is not a constitutional mandate). The latter says that the president ought to yield the job of filling the vacancy to the new president (there is no legal requirement to pass the nomination to the next president in the last year of the current president’s term in office).

The only facts are that a president must nominate and the Senate must advise and consent. This means that either the president or the Senate has the ability to delay without violating any laws. True, the efficiency of the Court could be impacted by this eventuality because it’s presently broken down four liberal and four conservative. But, there is no constitutional requirement to fill a vacant hastily.

A non-partisan assessment of the situation would favor conservatives. But, a delay by this group, which is well within legal bounds could be politically dangerous if deemed to be obstructionist. Of course, if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, the Senate will see only liberal nominees.

 

Election Fatigue Is Setting In

By Sal Bommarito

One day after endorsing Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, the New York Times demanded that she make her speeches to “Big Banks” available to the public. The Times should have also insisted that Clinton clear up her percolating email problems.

This was a seminal moment for the paper. Honestly, I’m shocked that the editorial board would do the right thing, considering that its editorial hurt Clinton to some extent. Kudos to the paper.

But really, the endorsement for the nomination was a no-brainer. The board had to pick Clinton. There’s only one other choice, and he’s a socialist. The real test will come when the newspaper endorses Clinton for president in the face of all her lies, distortions and evasions. I wonder if the paper’s backing will come even if Clinton is indicted relating to her email scandal. The choice will be between a liar or a loudmouth. Look for some serious wordsmithing by the editorial board when the endorsement is published.

The importance of the Wall Street speeches is undeniable. It’s highly unlikely that Clinton, who received $200,000 or more for each appearance, would portray her audiences as crooks responsible for all the economic woes of the country. Yet, that’s what she’s doing on the campaign trail to prove she is more liberal than Sanders. The left loves to see bankers squirm as populous candidates make inane accusations even if there is no proof of wrongdoing.

Clinton can’t have it both ways. She’s either going to support Wall Street and receive its financial backing, or not. What’s incredible is that many bankers continue to give Clinton money when she acts like she hates them. I suppose the donors believe Clinton will go easy on Wall Street if she is elected. Don’t depend on this.

Let me pose a simple question. Are you tired of Hillary Clinton yet with all her drama and deception? Keep in mind there have only been a few primaries and caucuses to this point. Hillary must still win many more delegates, speak at the convention and then run against Trump (probably).

A Clinton/Trump debate will be a TV extravaganza. The accusations and lies will be flying all over the stage. Both candidates are going to crawl into the sewer, seeking to expose the others warts. The contenders have plenty of skeletons in their closets, so it should be juicy.

I expect the election weariness we are experiencing will get worse. In New York, voters are anxiously awaiting political ads that will bombard their TVs prior to the primary. How many times do we need to hear about the “f-word wall” (to quote a former Mexican president), or that Hillary is a woman? Note: Hillary would be the first female U.S. president in history if elected. Just in case you didn’t know.

Frankly, I’m exhausted trying to decide whom to vote for. My choices are a reality program performer and real estate developer, a senator who has not been endorsed by any of his colleagues, another senator who is an inexperienced flip-flopper, a liar or a socialist. Can’t America do better?

Most Americans Think Clinton Is Untrustworthy

By Sal Bommarito

What do Americans think about Hillary Clinton’s trustworthiness?

Voters will elect a new president in November. The most likely Democrat nominee is Clinton. The question many are asking is why are any voters supporting a person who is so devoid of character, and who lies to the electorate as if we are all fools?

I know, all politicians fib and distort the truth to get ahead. But Clinton’s reputation as measured by recent polls is eye-popping.

As evidence, I will present two recent polls by Gallup and Quinnipac University that clearly indicate that the majority of voters are well aware of Clinton’s moral shortcomings.

In the Gallup poll, the top overall impression of Clinton is “dishonest.” In a survey that too place between February 13-14, U.S. adults had the following negative reactions to Clinton:

Dishonest                               21%

Dislike                                       9%

Criminal                                    7%

Not good for the country      3%

Overall, Democrats were split 52% positive and 27% negative, while Republicans were 77% negative.

A Quinnipac University survey asked the following question: “Is your opinion of Hillary Clinton favorable, unfavorable or haven’t you heard enough about her?”

The response was:

2/10-2/16      Favorable      Unfavorable

Rep.                   8%                    90%

Dem.                76%                   20%

Ind.                   31%                  61%

Overall              37%                58%

 

Hillary Clinton has been dogged regarding her character for years. All Americans know that she twists the truth to achieve her ends. More recently, Clinton has been outed on numerous occasions relating to Benghazi and the email scandal (for which she may be indicted) that have been well publicized.

Why do Americans continue to support candidates with such obvious character flaws? Shouldn’t our presidents be honest and transparent with their constituencies? Why shouldn’t Americans expect Clinton to be untruthful about serious issue if she gains the White House?

Democrats can do better than Clinton, and the socialist Bernie Sanders for that matter.

The Fat Lady Is Singing Trump’s Song

By Sal Bommarito

Now that Jeb Bush has mercifully suspended his campaign, the picture is becoming clearer for Republicans. The Trump phenomenon is real and has momentum. His goal of obtaining the nomination is a fait acccompli according to many political gurus.

Trump’s ability to connect with the electorate has been a total surprise to America. In the meantime, he’s turned the election process upside down. Everything about the man runs counter to what has taken place in presidential races in the past century. Yet he keeps winning.

Political correctness has been cast aside. In the past, when a candidate lost his composure and unveiled his deepest and darkest feelings to voters, he was lambasted. Not so any more.

Trump emotes loudly about every thing on his mind, and voters love it. Moreover, he insults everyone without any concern of reprisals. His targets have been illegal aliens who he depicts as criminals and the dregs from societies south of our border. He has categorized Muslims globally as potential terrorists and says he will ban them from entering the U.S. He calls his opponents stupid, liars, losers and incompetents. All the while, the electorate revels in his circus sideshow.

Particularly unnerving is Trump deftness in dancing around the issues that are so passionate to him, while the media sits by and never calls him on it. In a nutshell, he says he will make America a winner, but he provides no specifics. How does Trump plan to round up millions of illegal aliens and send them back to their countries of origin? It’s a subterfuge and will not happen.

But the real achievement of Trump’s campaign is his ability to connect with the frustrations of so many diverse groups of people. He has emboldened many Americans to emerge from the shadows and say exactly what’s on their minds. We are now able to discuss freely how much we despise people that threaten our financial and national security without being labeled a bigot. These situations span people of all walks of life from low-income workers to one percenters.

The writing is on the wall. Trump is going to crush Cruz in the next few primaries; he’s even winning the hearts of evangelicals, a group that Cruz is very dependent upon. Somehow, Trump’s bravado and vulgar rampages haven’t turned off religious people.

Marco Rubio will soon have an epiphany- it’s not time for him to be president. He will likely begin to make noises that he wants to be vice president in a Trump administration.

So, Trump is going to be the Republican nominee. Will he win the general election? Consider that Hillary Clinton is being outed every day for being a liar and an opportunist. And, Bernie Sanders is a socialist.

Yeah, Trump is going to win, unless Mike Bloomberg can figure out a way to deprive Bloomberg and Clinton of an electoral majority, and win the election in Congress.

Scalia’s Death Will Create A Constitutional Confrontation Between Obama And The Senate

By Sal Bommarito

The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is going to create another huge confrontation between President Obama and Congress. At stake is Scalia’s very conservative seat. If filled by a liberal judge, the nature of SCOTUS will change for the foreseeable future. This turn of events is also going to be a major issue in the presidential election.

Here are the issues that were very well reported by the New York Times.

The president has the constitutional responsibility to nominate new Supreme Court justices when vacancies occur, generally from death and retirement. The Senate is constitutionally responsible for approving nominees by a simple majority. However, in recent years, the opposition party has used the threat of a filibuster to quash some presidential nominees, so the minority party has some power in the process.

As expected, the president indicated that he will nominate someone to replace Scalia to meet his responsibility. Simultaneously, senate leaders have stated that they will defer any votes on nominees until after the November presidential election. A confrontation is in the making.

For the past 80 years, the Senate has deferred confirmation hearings in a national election year so that the newly elected president would have control. This is not required by the Constitution, however.

If a Democrat wins the presidency, he or she will select a liberal judge. This will change the current makeup of SCOTUS from 5 conservatives (generally) and 4 liberals to 5 liberal and 4 conservative judges. If a Republican wins the election, he will nominate a conservative, restoring the court’s makeup to 5 conservatives and 4 liberals.

Often times, voters do not appreciate the impact of a presidential election on the totality of American life. In this regard, SCOTUS is currently considering several important cases dealing with immigration, Obamacare, contraception, “one person, one vote” and affirmative action by colleges.

If the Senate refuses to accept nominations from the president, only eight justices will vote on outstanding cases, 4 conservative and 4 liberal. In situations that result in a tie, existing laws take precedent. For instance, in a case involving labor unions, the existing ruling by a federal court would remain in effect and workers who chose not to join a union would be forced to pay for the union’s collective bargaining costs. With Scalia or another conservative, this decision would likely go the other way.

A lot is at stake, so how this all plays out will have a huge effect on the decisions by SCOTUS. As expected the presidential candidates, including Hillary Clinton, are lining up with their parties. Interestingly, Clinton is prepared to lose an opportunity to select a judge in the interest of party loyalty.

Trump Is Not Qualified To Be President

By Sal Bommarito

The viability and credibility of our political system is under attack by unconventional candidates. Of note, Donald Trump walked away with a landslide victory in New Hampshire and is now on the cusp of running the table and becoming the Republican nominee for president. It’s wishful thinking to hope that any of the remaining candidates will be a serious challenge to Trump in the forthcoming primaries.

Making the situation more problematic is that Democratic candidates are equally poor options. Most Americans don’t trust Hillary Clinton because she has been exposed in one lie after another during her entire political career. Her latest misadventures could result in an indictment by the FBI. Hillary’s campaign is in total disarray even with the assistance of husband Bill. Nevertheless, it’s likely she will ultimately win the nomination.

Her opponent, Bernie Sanders, is a self-proclaimed socialist who has competed effectively with Clinton up to this point. However, his unrealistic vision for the country would lead us into bankruptcy and obliterate our capitalist system, one that has made America the greatest economic power in the world.

If nominated, I believe Trump will run away with the general election as the electorate falls more in love with this real estate developer turn politician.

Trump is a phenom. His stance on many controversial issues is giving hope to unhappy Americans who are fed up with political correctness. For instance, voters are asking why the U.S. has been unable or unwilling to respond to the tsunami of immigrants entering our country illegally. These undocumented interlopers are draining the resources of our cities and states. Yet, a large number of liberal American lawmakers want to grant them amnesty.

Not Trump. He wants to build a large wall between Mexico and the U.S. and send back illegals to their countries of origin. The fact that families will be split and some immigrants are productive and law-abiding is irrelevant. Are you among those who have kept your feelings about illegal immigration to yourself because you feared being labeled a bigot? Trump is giving us all a chance to express our true opinions without reprisals.

What about Muslims? Are you frightened by the threat of radical Islam? Do you believe terrorists will immigrate to the U.S. and create havoc? Are you secretly in favor of suspending immigration of all Muslims from Middle East hot spots? Well, now you can say so aloud because a man who is likely to be elected president has publicly endorsed this perspective and given it legs.

Any thoughtful person understands that America must be more cautious about immigration. But, are you prepared to take it to the limit? Are you supportive of Trump’s radical proposals to disenfranchise millions of undocumented immigrants and send them packing? Remember, immigrants built our nation. Perhaps there is a kinder and more thoughtful way to reform immigration. But don’t expect Trump to be empathetic towards undocumented people.

The sorriest dilemma is the inability of our leaders to work together. Congressional stagnation and bad feelings between lawmakers and the Obama administration have greatly disrupted our country. Congress has been unable to make laws, approve budgets and conduct business in an expeditious manner.

Our government is supposed to improve our society. In the past, presidents brought together opponents and orchestrated great compromises. President Obama is not capable of doing so and has resorted to leadership by fiat, which is infuriating the legislative branch of government.

Do you honestly think Donald Trump will be a great conciliator? Is he a man of compromise? Does his temperament and background as a real estate developer give you confidence that he has the ability to find the middle ground? At this time, it appears that at least one-third of Republicans believe he can.

Consider the craziness around the world. Iran is eventually going to develop a nuclear bomb. North Korea already has a nuclear capability. India and Pakistan are threatening each other with nuclear weapons. Former Soviet states have nuclear material that may fall into the hands of terrorists. Russia is trying to reclaim its former glory and is attacking sovereign nations. Africa is a hotbed of increasing terrorism, genocide and disease. The list goes on and on. What credentials does Trump have to deal with these issues? Has anybody ever asked him to explain the difference between Sunnis and Shiites? Maybe someone should in the next debate.

Trump is a man who has always oversold himself, and now he’s buffaloing Americans. Donald Trump will surely find it very difficult to deal with Putin, Netanyahu, Assad, Kim Jong-un, the ayatollahs in Iran and el-Sisi, especially if he negotiates with them like he has with fellow real estate magnates.

Americans should think twice about giving the White House to Trump.

Bernie Sanders Is Correct, The Wealthy Have An Undue Effect On Elections

By Sal Bommarito

I’m totally disgusted with the election process in America. Some might be resigned to the fact that politics is a dirty business and nothing can be done to change it. But, it’s untrue. America can improve the process so that we all have an equal vote and our best people become leaders.

Several issues greatly contribute to the nasty and unprofessional behavior of our politicians. The greatest problem is unbridled political contributions. Here is a chart that lists contribution limits for the 2015-2016 federal elections. If you read it carefully, you will observe that “unlimited” donations can be made to “independent-expenditure-only political committees” called Super PACs; corporations and labor unions may also donate unlimited funds to Super PACS.

The only important restriction governing Super PACs is that they are not supposed to coordinate directly with political parties or candidates. This is a sham. The rule is so loose that some Super PACs clearly support certain candidates and take direction from their people.

The Citizens United Supreme Court ruling endorsed the existence of Super PACs based upon the constitutional right of free speech. The logic of how free speech applies to this situation escapes me, especially since it tilts our election process making some voters more influential than others.

One of the most vehement opponents to the Citizens United decision is Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT-IND). Sanders claims: “We have a horrendous campaign finance system in which Big Money is able to elect candidates of its choice and defeat those who oppose its agenda.” Essentially Sanders believes the affluent dominate the election process with their money.

Multi-million dollar Super Pacs are prolific purchasers of TV advertisement, arguably the most powerful tool available to candidates. Currently, we are being bombarded with commercials that support a candidate or expose the warts of others. One estimate is that “TV ad spending will top $4.4 billion for federal races this year, up from $3.8 billion in 2012 . . .”

In the 2012 election, there were over one million ads during the presidential campaign between April 10 and October 22; most had a negative tone. In fact, negative ads were 7 times more prevalent than positive ads.

So, unlimited money that is used primarily to fund TV ads is pervasive and negative. Unfortunately, this “right” to contribute to Super PACs is protected by the Constitution. An amendment to the document would be needed to put a halt to large donations. And Super PACs, in particular, are the source of most lies by candidates. The perpetrators of such deception are anonymous, unlike debates where the accused can respond to unfair and untrue allegations.

Amending the Constitution would be a gargantuan undertaking. But, it would be worth all the trouble. If you are disgruntled with negative campaigning that is ultimately financed by the wealthy, you should support an amendment. If you want to have the same impact as a millionaire on an election (one vote, and that’s all), you should support the amendment.

In a world without TV ads, those vying for office would have to convince voters to cast ballots for them the old fashioned way, visit them personally and appear on local TV to sell themselves.

The political world would change on a dime if Americans backed a change to campaign financing rules.

Do Any Of The Republican Candidates Deserve To Be Elected?

By Sal Bommarito

The New Hampshire primaries takes place this week. Is it a do or die situation for certain contenders? It appears so.

Let’s consider, one more time, what each GOP candidate brings, or doesn’t bring, to the table.

As an aside, the polls during this election cycle have been remarkably inaccurate. Therefore, voters need to be skeptical of them moving forward. We would be better served by supporting the best candidate and not influenced by polling alone.

Trump. Polls have him at about 31%. He’s led in New Hampshire from day one. Voters are now getting to know the real Donald Trump; New Yorkers have been aware of his shtick for a long time.

Trump is a hustler and a self-promoter who knows little about government. His responses to those asking for details about his vision and plans are always non-specific because he is incapable of elucidating them. The man is entertaining and successful, but his potential as a president can only be evaluated based upon his career in real estate, certainly not domestic and foreign affairs.

Voters had better be cautious about his demeanor along with is lack of experience. Trump cannot deal with criticism. His responses to it have always been vulgar and highly personal. Trump has single-handedly dragged down the civility of the election process more than any former candidate.

How will Trump deal with a media that assesses every move by the president? How will he get along with world leaders he has already called out on numerous occasions? I hope voters recognize that Trump is a bully, and not a diplomat by any stretch of our imagination.

Cruz. Polls have him at 13%. It’s now clear that Cruz is very religious. This perspective, in part, causes him to take positions that are far from mainstream attitudes in America. Cruz’s vision of government is uncomfortably radical, and this makes him unelectable in the general election.

Another incredible discovery about the first term senator is that so many of his acquaintances dislike him personally. Even those who knew him as a young man have been critical. How can Republicans support a candidate that is despised by both opponents and colleagues? Usually, such wide-ranging disgust is reserved for men that have been in the White House for a period of time.

Cruz’s campaign has been accused of dirty tricks including a message sent that Ben Carson was dropping out of the presidential race. This may have been an important factor in his winning the Iowa caucuses.

Rubio. Polls have him at 15%. Personally, I think Rubio is a Republican version of Barack Obama. As another first time senator, he is inexperienced, ideological and ready, willing and able to say anything that furthers his political ambition. Former senator, Rick Santorum, endorsed Rubio, but was unable to offer one major political accomplishment attributable to Rubio.

Chris Christie has been particularly vocal about Rubio’s resume. He said he is a “talking point candidate,” who walked away from an immigration bill that he originally sponsored.

Every other candidate has one weakness or another.  Kasich (11%) is highly qualified as the sitting governor of Ohio and a former member of Congress. But, he may be too moderate to win the nomination (hard core Republicans shun moderation, for some strange reason).

Bush (10%) was the odds on favorite to win the nomination. He’s experienced as the former governor of Florida. But, personality has trumped substance in this primary (no pun intended). Bush is not exciting nor is he an effective orator (just like his dad and brother, who were both presidents). If Bush doesn’t have a good showing, he may be finished.

Christie (5%) would be a wonderful vice presidential candidate. As a powerful speaker with a great presence and a good record in New Jersey, he could be the presidential nominee’s henchman. It’s doubtful he’ll make a strong move in New Hampshire.

Fiorina (5%) is another VP candidate. She has no political experience other than losing a U.S. Senate race in California. Some question her business acumen; under her leadership, Hewlett Packard performed horribly.

Carson’s (3%) candidacy has become a joke. Being a great surgeon doesn’t qualify him as a president. Similarly, being a great president doesn’t qualify someone as a surgeon. Carson looked foolish during the introductions at the last debate.

Well. There you have it. The only salvation from Trump (real estate hustler), Cruz (the hated one) and Rubio (the empty suit) are Kasich and Bush. I think they are long shots, but I wish them well.

Sanders and His Socialistic Vision For America

By Sal Bommarito

In Iowa, Bernie Sanders was ordained a legitimate presidential candidate yesterday. His mandate doesn’t represent a statistically significant sample of Americans. Iowa has less than 1% of the nation’s population and less than 10% of its citizens actually caucus. Yet, it’s time to consider what a Sanders’ presidency would mean to America in the long-term.

Sanders is a socialist. Many books have been written comparing socialism to capitalism. I wouldn’t dream of trying to summarize the perspectives of great leaders and economists about the implications of abandoning capitalism for socialism. Nevertheless, a summary of what a socialistic president might set into motions is worthy to consider.

A determined and calculating socialist always uses inequality as his or her principle talking point. After all, in America, there is great inequality between the most affluent (1% of the population) and everybody else (the remaining 99%). This disparity creates great angst for some of the have-nots, especially when politicians drive the concept home at every opportunity. Often, this dubious political ploy encourages class warfare and calls for revolution.

The masses feel that the affluent are a protected class of people, who have what they have because they were lucky to be born into a wealthy family. Informed people know that this assessment is untrue, as the great majority of current personal fortunes have been self-made. These people work hard and enjoy the fruits of their labor much to the chagrin of others.

Socialists demand equality. Personal property, if you have little of it, is considered something that only the affluent enjoys. The ownership of the finer things in life, along with a fat bank and investment account, distinguish the 1% from the 99%. These resources supposedly enable the affluent to exercise undue influence over the government, which effectively protects their elevated status.

Socialists fail to mention that most socialist experiments have been abject failures. For one thing, totalitarian leadership usually accompanies socialism. Government forcibly ensures that no member of society has too much. There are democratic, socialistic countries, but they are few and far between.

The greatest socialistic failures include: the Soviet Union, China, Greece, Cuba, Haiti, several Eastern European countries, numerous African countries, etc. Of particular importance, China has slowly gravitated towards capitalism.

Being the same as everyone else is not a comforting thought unless most others have a better life than you. But, people around the world who work hard and are ambitious usually become disenchanted with the early and over-exaggerated benefits of socialism, especially when they observe American society, which has for nearly 250 years prospered as a capitalistic country.

So, what would America be like if it was more socialistic? For one thing, the assets of the affluent and the upper middle class would be absconded through some form of taxation and swallowed up by the government. The latter would then use the money to benefit everyone, supposedly.

After an extended period of time, Americans would live in houses that were all similar. We would go to public schools; private schools and tuition universities would no longer exist. Point zero, zero one percent of the population would manage others for no additional compensation. Everyone would start at the same salary, which would increase with inflation every year. There would be no such concept as performance compensation.

The government would suck in all the money not used to pay wages just above a minimum standard. The funds would be allocated to education, health care, food and security. No longer would any federal activities benefit by privatization, economy or ingenuity.

The stock market would no longer exist, nor would schools of higher learning, nor restaurants. Americans would eat modestly at home every day.

You get the point.

This process would take generations to implement, so we will be able to enjoy our assets for a period of time until the government over-taxes our hard earned money.

Do you really want to set this in motion by electing Sanders?

Consider the following quote: “Socialism is the Big Lie of the twentieth century. While it promised prosperity, equality, and security, it delivered poverty, misery, and tyranny. Equality was achieved only in the sense that everyone was equal in his or her misery.”

Final Observations Before Iowa Caucuses Begin Today

By Sal Bommarito

All parents should warn their children that they need to have thick skin if they want to run for president. The mudslinging in the Republican campaign is increasing every day. The stakes are high and the candidates are smearing each other with lies and distortions.

In national campaigns, most political strategists believe candidates must over indulge their bases, Republicans to conservatives and Democrats to liberals, in the primaries. But, in the general election, candidates must tilt to the center (and be more moderate) to capture independent votes that usually determine the victors. Juggling this flip-flop tactic is very tricky.

Republican competitors are currently very conservative because they are in the primaries, and they are competing aggressively for the title of “most conservative.” I’m finding it tiresome to hear the debates on this because, for the most part, each candidate espouses identical positions on the most controversial issues such as immigration, abortion, gun control, national security and fiscal discipline.

Yet, you hear it all the time. “I hate ISIS more than you do.” “I was against all amnesty for illegal aliens earlier than you.” “I dislike budget deficits far greater than you.” “I despise Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama more than you.” Give me a break. The candidates are on the same wavelength, so they should spend more describing specific plans to deal with ISIS, immigration, deficits and Clinton.

I rue the day Donald Trump entered the race. I certainly appreciate that he may be the  winner of the primaries, but I still hope he will fade away and let experienced politicians vie for the presidency. Call me old fashioned, but I’m turned off by people who are unable to criticize others without malice and disrespect. If a candidate supports an issue that another disagrees with, fine. Say so, and refrain from calling him or her an idiot, a loser or an incompetent. Trump is the biggest offender in this regard. He has dragged the campaign into the gutter. Yet, the electorate seems to love his brash and obnoxious attitude. My concern is that world leaders will not be so tolerant of his real estate developer shtick.

It seems that Republican candidates are very divided even though they agree philosophically on all the key issues. The venom being exuded during the primaries is going to hurt whomever rises to the top through all the muck. It’s inconceivable that also-rans will collectively support the primary winner after the bashing they are foisting upon each other. This could be a huge problem in the general election.

I have nothing against Iowans. In fact, I called upon them to take down Trump because of the way he behaves and because he skipped the last debate. Yet, I find it strange that the state has so much influence on the election. There are about 3 million people in the Hawkeye State, and 320 million people in the U.S. Iowa represents less than 1% of all Americans. Moreover, not that many Iowans participate in the caucuses. The record turnout for Republicans is 122 thousand, and if the weather is good, some say 150 thousand may turnout this year.

What does this mean? For one thing, the outcome of the caucuses is difficult to predict because the number of voters participating is so small and their votes will be divided among so many candidates. There have been huge upsets over the years. Because there are so many competitors, a few thousand votes could swing the results. The real question is why America allows Iowa to have such an inordinate impact on the selection of our presidential candidates.

Iowa selects its candidates tonight. It should be a very wild evening as the talking heads parse the incoming results.