Muftic: It’s the middle again in the presidential general election |

Muftic: It’s the middle again in the presidential general election

Felicia Muftic
Courtesy Photo |

The presidential race will be decided more than ever by the middle.

The way it appears in January 2016, the likely outcome of the presidential general election will be decided by the middle. A large number of Democrats, independents, and Republicans will have to choose between either extremes or settle for the least extreme. The middle, while shrinking in the recent years, will be larger because both parties’ bases have swung to their farthest ideological corners and their disparate positions split the anger vote. The result is to give the advantage to a candidate who appeals to a majority of the swing middle.

The Iran deal and its initial success has highlighted the power of diplomatic and economic tools that required the building of alliances, even including the Russians and the Chinese. The anti- Muslim rhetoric by the extremes in the Republican party have made that kind of diplomacy nearly impossible by alienating or insulting European and middle eastern allies needed to forge those diplomatic agreements. Left as a tool in the US quiver would be near solo military action a la Iraq. We know how Iraq turned out ,fueling the rise of ISIS, eliminating Iran’s chief enemy, Iraq, and the cost in blood and billions in dollars. The new blood would be contributed by this current generation of younger voters.

Adding to the GOP’s extremist problem is a sizeable chunk of GOP voters supporting either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. Both have alienated Hispanics who are swing votes in states crucial to winning the electoral college. It is still GOP litany that government control of health care is bad and Obamacare should be repealed, leaving 19 million without affordable coverage and no economically veto feasible way to provide coverage of pre-existing conditions.

The Democratic debate last Sunday was between the more pragmatic Hillary Clinton and the idealism of Bernie Sanders about whether to improve on Obamacare (Clinton) or support Sanders’ radically changing the entire health care system to a single payer government controlled program eliminating private health insurers. Sanders plans to pay for his single payer system completely government controlled with a variety of higher taxes on even the middle class in exchange for lower out of pocket and system costs. It is unclear if Sanders’ earlier proposal continues, that states would agree to chip in 14% of the cost. Getting Obamacare’s nearly free Medicaid expansion has met with significant numbers of states not participating. Most state governments are controlled by the GOP.

For the Democrats, a bird in the hand should be worth two in the bush. It has been nearly six years since the Sanders’ approach and a “public option” giving consumers a choice of a government plan or a private insurance one, were debated and rejected. Then both houses of Congress and the White House were in the hands of Democrats. Chances of a Sanders’ proposal succeeding now is even dimmer .The House is and will be in the hands of the tea party protected by gerrymandered ‘safe seats” . The Senate control of either party is up for grabs. Opening the debate on health care again is a gamble. Democrats could be divided. A united GOP could succeed in altering or killing Obamacare, especially if their legislation is veto proof or signed by a GOP president.

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