Speaking for the outsiders
© by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, February 4, 2016


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 column.

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 phenomenon.

“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 economic security.”

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.

Establishment Democrats 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.

Establishment Republicans 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 conspiracy theories.

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.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

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