So here I am, on Monday,
in the basement of my mother’s house; it’s damp and dark, but
there’s a gas heater, a big-screen TV turned to the ongoing Iowa
caucus, a radio tuned to conservative talk, and of course my
computer, over which I am hunched reading tons of conspiracy
theories by other crazy people living in their mother’s basement, so
I can share them with other crazy people like supporters of Donald
Trump or Ted Cruz, and hopefully pass them on to you in my weekly
Wait, that can’t be true.
My mother died more than 14 years ago; we sold the house, including
the basement, when she moved into senior housing. I’m actually here
in my sunny living room, small television but yes, radio tuned to
what’s left of conservative talk, reading my email that today
includes an article from The Atlantic about the Donald Trump
“He has changed the
electorate…” said a senior strategist for one of Trump’s rivals, who
asked for anonymity. “He has brought in something closer to a [Ross]
Perot voter, more downscale, less educated, more on the fringes of
So, first thing I do is
dismiss this analyst’s opinion because it’s anonymous, from a
strategist for one of Trump’s rivals; we don’t know which but I’d
guess it’s not Cruz because the same criticism has been aimed at
him. Since I’d be voting for one of those two if I were at an Iowan
caucus instead of in my sunny living room, I must be “downscale,
less educated … on the fringes of economic security” and probably
voted for Ross Perot in 1992.
Others call Trump and Cruz
supporters fanatics, racists/bigots, conspiracy theorists, and
perhaps worse, “right-wing Republicans.”
Actually, I’m a senior
independent, educated no further than my common sense could carry
me: after two years at Penn State I quit college rather than go into
debt. Because I didn’t go into long-term debt for anything but my
sunny little home, my economic security is as good as anyone’s can
be in today’s economy.
While I didn’t vote for
Ross Perot, I appreciated his candidacy, which was focused on
“educating” all of us about the dangers of the national debt, which
until then had been increasing unnoticed, year after year. Though
Perot didn’t become president, he encouraged other candidates to
address that debt, which is why we occasionally hear about President
Bill Clinton working with John Kasich and other congressional
Republicans to reduce it.
My partner Chip Ford did
vote for Ross Perot, actually worked for his campaign, and if I knew
him then, I could probably have been convinced to vote for his
candidate. I recognize now the value of the “outsider” who runs on
important issues, like the national debt and, this year, illegal
immigration; this new outsider is hated by both establishment
Republicans and liberal Democrats.
Of course rational
Republicans, along with independent libertarians like me, are
appalled by the idea of a socialist in the White House, and have
been for seven years now. Some of us knew what Obama meant when he
ran on “moving the wealth around” and “transforming America,” which
explains why I, a normally rational senior citizen sitting at her
computer in my sunny living room, am laughing at the panic of
traditional political types.
are wondering what they are going to do if Hillary is indicted on
her email server issue. As much as they tend toward socialism, they
aren’t ready for an “outsider” like Bernie Sanders actually running
on it, just in case the majority of the American voters aren’t ready
for full-blown socialism yet.
had planned to coronate Jeb Bush, but Republican primary voters are
rejecting him; so they leap from one so-called moderate candidate to
another, hoping to find someone who fits their moderate model to
stop Trump and Cruz. Kasich? Not moderate enough, he helped Clinton
balance the budget back in the late ’90s. How about Rubio, who once
seemed to be for amnesty for illegal immigrants?
Caucus results are in.
Hillary barely beats Bernie, Cruz beats Trump, and look, Rubio is a
very close Republican third! Maybe the establishmentarians can
survive this non-traditional election year after all. Maybe they can
put anti-establishmentarians in their place, in their mother’s
basements, feeding off each other’s lack of education, racism, and
But what about people like
me, in our sunny living rooms, reading everything we can find in the
newspapers, watching the establishment pundits on TV, listening to
and calling talk radio, and telling people on the Internet to check
for validity with
Snopes.com before sending out conspiracy theories to all their
email addresses? What if we grandparents are genuinely outraged at
the debt that is being piled on our grandchildren this century, the
“transformed America” that we can’t even recognize anymore, the
political correctness that tells us we shouldn’t even talk about the
things that don’t make sense to us?
What about those of us who
are appalled by the open borders supported by establishment
Republicans and liberal Democrats, albeit for different reasons? Or
the younger people, who were told by the president they could keep
their health insurance if they liked it, and now can’t find where
the government hid it?
If I had been living in
Iowa on Monday, I’d have voted for Cruz despite the Bible-beating
that I guess is necessary in that Republican primary. If I were in
the Senate, I’d have been obnoxious with him while fighting another
increase in the national debt ceiling. I was impressed by his
principled position on phasing out ethanol subsidies, which was
attacked by Trump, who was pandering to Iowa voters. No matter which
outsiders had won in Iowa this week, I’d have enjoyed the discomfort
of those who can’t stand outsiders like me.
Barbara Anderson of
Marblehead is a weekly columnist for the Salem News and
Eagle-Tribune Publishing Company.