Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Frank Watson
Gazette Columnist 



March 14, 2019

I didn’t think it was quite time for political season, but it seems to have started. I was just sitting down to dinner when my phone rang. If it had been thirty seconds later, I would have let the answering machine take it even though I was expecting a call from my agent. The caller asked for my wife, and being well trained, I asked if I could tell her who was calling. I guess talking to my wife wasn’t the caller’s highest priority because he went right into his spiel. He started by thanking me for past contributions I have either forgotten or never knew anything about. He then launched into a glowing account of our President’s accomplishments so far. I hadn’t realized how much had been accomplished in only two years. He then warned about believing anything I hear from the national media. The commentary was so perfect I suspected it was a recording, but he stopped when I inserted that I had not believed anything reported by the national news since Walter Cronkite. He continued by warning me that a Democratic victory in 2020 would be the beginning of the end of life as we know it. It was about this time I figured out that he was going to ask for contributions to Trump’s reelection campaign. After telling me that Mr. Trump deserved all the help I could provide, he asked if he could put me down for a $75 dollar contribution. When I hesitated, he asked if $50 would be better. I said, “Probably not,” and he hung up. I turned my attention back to my chicken pot pie and wondered how many times I would have my dinner interrupted in the next year an a half.

I have watched the list of presidential hopefuls grow and have been around long enough to understand successful campaigns take a lot of money. According to a recent report, a candidate will need to raise about $65 million before Super Tuesday, one year from now. When multiplied by the number who have already entered the race, the total becomes about what the President wants for the wall. Most will never raise that much and fall by the wayside. President Trump, of course, has the inside track on the Republican side. He began raising campaign money in 2014 and has never stopped. I keep some hope that a viable candidate will emerge to challenge Trump for the nomination, but it is highly unlikely.

Bernie Sanders is well out in front of the Democratic hopefuls. It is reported he raised over $10 million in the first week after he announced his candidacy. Has anyone checked his birthday? He is older than I am!!! I thought Donald Trump would be too old to complete another term, but Bernie is five years older. If elected, he would be 83 when he finishes his term. The other Democrats are either left of Bernie, if you can believe that, or they are focused on a single issue. Kamala Harris wants to soak it to the rich. Beto O’Rourke wants to use our tax dollars to support those who choose not to work. Joe Biden is ahead in the polls, but still refuses to run. Hillary is campaigning but denies being a candidate. Amy Klobuchar wants to put the environment ahead of people, and Governor Inslee is the “Climate Change Candidate.” It doesn’t look like a great field so far. Michael Bloomburg had Warren Buffet’s endorsement and sufficient money to fund his own campaign, but he recently decided to drop out rather than challenge other Democrats.

As I see it, former Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz is the wild card. He is in the same tax bracket as Trump, so he doesn’t need party funds. If he generates a significant following as an independent, we could have a ticket of two ego inflated billionaires and a septuagenarian socialist. Our country deserves better than that. We had a choice in 2016 between bad and worse. I would hate to see a final ballot of bad, worse and worst.

(Frank Watson is a retired Air Force Colonel and long-time resident of Eastern Washington. He has been a free-lance columnist for more than 19 years)


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