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The Campaign of the Century

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Meet The Democratic Candidates Running For President In 2020 | TIME Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper dropped out in August to instead run for the Senate. His departure was followed quickly by that of Washington Gov.
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Has there ever been, in living memory, a presidential campaign as crucial as the current one? Never since the Civil War is the country more divided on fundamental issues. Let's begin with the setting of the coming election.

The cardinal "issue" of global warming that could obliterate nations is given low or no priority in the nation's present administration. Then comes a long list of issues under the heading of inequality: the extreme inequality of wealth ranging from the homeless to the top few billionaires owning as much as the rest of us; the inequality of education and cultural benefits; the inequality of health and living conditions; the inequality of work conditions and compensation; the inequality of minority "rights" and treatment; the gulf between moral compassion and amoral indifference in government.

The sum of these and other issues reflects an historic divide between rulers and ruled, aristocrats and common people, masters and servants, the wealthy and the poor, upper and lower classes, and point to an elemental crisis in democracy: whether, as presently functioning, it holds any hope of ameliorating or resolving these perpetual and growing problems. The issues challenge the rationale of our basic economic operating system of capitalism that prioritizes private profit over social good - over our constitutional purpose of promoting the general welfare. This could be a turning point in American history and America's position in contemporary civilization.

A house divided against itself cannot stand, warned Lincoln quoting from the Bible. But we see now an intransigent discord among ourselves based mainly on the tradition of party loyalty. Instead of "E Pluribus Unum", we are suffering from bi-polar disease. Elections usually boil down to "us against them" with the outcome determined by a small minority of voters who examine the issues seriously. The elite wealthy investor/managerial/business class is far outnumbered by the worker and economically deprived or insecure class; so how does it compete politically? It can only do so by surreptitious means: by a deluge of deceptive propaganda persuading some who should be in the opposing camp that it is in their best interest to associate with those who, ostensibly, generate the wealth and provide jobs, by painting the opposition as a "red herring" threat of socialism - a threat to personal liberties, by discouraging and impeding passive and despondent people from voting by any means, by disqualifying or manipulating opposing ballots.

In this topsy-turvy situation, the Republicans - traditionally the conservative party - are now neoliberal free-wheeling with respect to business and commerce. They want little regulation and restraint of their business interests. For them, conservative means status quo - don't change anything that will alter their command of the business world and all the perks that go with it. The Democrats, on the other hand - at least those accused of being radical liberal socialists - are conservative in the sense that they want to regulate business more to prevent rampant inequality, as we see today. They - not the Republicans - are the conservationists of the environment attempting to hold corporations responsible. The big changes promised in the Obama campaign never happened. We did recover mostly from the great recession that his administration inherited, only to return to the status quo.

Against this chaotic background, we have a confusing situation of an overabundance of democratic contenders for president, most of whom propose similar plans, varying mainly in priorities and degree of change. On the Republican side, there is the question of whether Trump, the avatar of status-quo party ideology, will still be around after impeachment proceedings. The biggest challenge for the democratic candidates is to raise money for the enormous costs of campaigning and media ads needed to offset the virtually unlimited money available to the corporate opposition to dominate the media conversation. The outcome of the contest may be a matter of who can raise the most money rather than who promises to be the most effective leader for real change and salvation of our democracy - and of our environment.

On this score, for future elections we need to re-think the over-powering influence of money in political campaigns - not to mention in government policy. Besides the fallacious Citizens United decision that opened the gates for unlimited campaign spending under the guise of money being equivalent to free speech, there is the matter of the excessive costs of TV and radio media.* This seriously limits contenders to self-financed billionaire candidates, corporate-backed candidates, or those highly successful at crowd sourcing.

As the elections approach, it is time for the Democratic candidates to narrow the field and consolidate their efforts to oppose the Trump (or proxy) candidacy. As some drop out, they should throw their support to the most promising candidate who presents a clear and positive agenda for real and necessary - perhaps radical - change sufficient to turn the tide of decline we now suffer. In current poles, Sanders and Warren presently hold that position - certainly, none of the billionaire candidates.

But there is one distinct voice which has not yet gained prominence that may be key to the fundamental transitions needed beyond any current political agenda. In the major media, Marianne Williamson is either totally ignored or downplayed as irrelevant.

However, in her speeches she has demonstrated an intelligence and political astuteness equal to any of the candidates, and she brings a wisdom from her extensive experience in spiritual guidance that gets to the basic truths behind our social malaise, - truths that could re-awaken our faith in the spirit of democracy and the future of mankind. The conscientious voter must sample videos of her speeches at:

* Here is one proposal for future elections: the "air waves" - the medium for broadcast communication - is subject to licensing and regulation as a public "commons". Included in that licensing, in addition to the opportunity for prodigious profits, are certain responsibilities of public service. Since the broadcast media are fundamental to the election process, every broadcast station should be obligated, as a condition for license renewal, for a substantial amount of free, non-partisan service to candidates for public office, at least equal to paid political advertisements. This service could be combined with government subsidies to help fund campaign expenses that otherwise would give the advantage to wealthy and ultra wealth-backed candidates.

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Veteran, retired from several occupations (school teacher, technical writer, energy conservation business, etc.) long-time Sierra Club member

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