We aren't having a presidential election this year. There are only congressional elections this year. Keep reading. If you want to understand anything happening this year, you just need to understand the history of congressional elections. Most years, the incumbent wins. Or, the incumbent is weakened by scandal, partisan tides, etc., and the out-party wins. Then, very, very occasionally, the weakened party holds onto a seat that they have no business holding onto because the party that is supposed to win nominates a fuckwit who can't possibly win. In congressional elections. This has no implications for presidential politics.
Let's take a stroll down memory lane. In 2010, the Delaware Senate seat vacated by Joe Biden was supposed to be won by Mike Castle, former member of the House of Representatives and Governor. He was a moderate Republican, not well-suited to the rise of the "Tea Party," but well-suited to the Delaware electorate. We was set to face Chris Coons as the Democrats' sacrificial lamb. However, the Republican primary electorate was not satisfied with Castle. Instead, they chose to nominate a tv personality by the name of Christine O'Donnell. Here's the thing about tv personalities. When you make a living saying provocatively stupid shit on tv, you don't necessarily make a good candidate. On an old Bill Maher show, she once said that she "dabbled into [sic] witchcraft," which became her catchphrase, so to speak, leading to this ad.
When you have to start an ad by saying that you are not a witch, what you are not is a viable candidate. Obviously, this has no implications for presidential elections. The concept of a reality tv personality making it past legislators and governors to a nomination and having to disavow a record of saying stupid and vile shit? That only happens in legislative elections. We are not having a presidential election this year. We are only having legislative elections this year.
Next, let's talk about another classic from 2010. Harry Reid. He is retiring this year, but he was supposed to face forced retirement in 2010. As the wildly unpopular incumbent in Nevada, he was supposed to lose back then. But, fortune smiled upon him. Or, at least, the Republican primary electorate did, when they nominated Sharron Angle. Unlike O'Donnell, Angle had some experience in the Nevada State Senate. That, however, didn't stop her from saying vile shit like this:
Wow. Yeah, that happened. When Sharron Angle got the Republican nomination to challenge Harry Reid, that was Reid's lifeline, and hey, look, Reid is just now retiring. Can you imagine how batshit crazy it would be if a presidential candidate talked that way? Obviously, that's pure fantasy. Nobody like Sharron Angle could ever get a presidential nomination, so the implications of this story don't extend to presidential politics. If we were to hear stories of candidates making references to the second amendment as a political solution, it would only be in the context of legislative elections. We have no presidential elections this year. We are only observing legislative elections in 2016.
Does anyone remember Ken Buck? This guy ran for the Senate in Colorado in 2010. What a banner year that was.
Ken Buck is not a Senator. No presidential candidate would ever talk this way. Obviously. So, in keeping with the theme of the post, we are not observing any presidential elections this year.
And how can we skip some of the greatest ick moments of 'em all? Here's a true not-ready-for-prime-time-player, Todd Akin! Back in 2012, Claire McCaskill was supposed to lose her Missouri Senate seat. So, she ran ads "against" Todd Akin while he was still running in the Republican primary. Those ads criticized him for being too conservative. Thanks to the assist, Akin won. Then, um, this happened.
Wow. Candidates stepping in it on rape. This could never happen at a presidential level. Oh, and how could we forget?! The grand-daddy of 'em all! George Allen! While campaigning in 2006, he was being followed around with a camera by a campaign staffer from his opponent, Jim Webb. That staffer was of South Asian decent. At one point, Allen did this:
Macaca? What the hell is that? It's a macaque monkey. Yeah, get it now? It's a French slur for North Africans. Allen spends a lot of time in France and speaks fluent French. Before this moment, Allen was expected to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2008. Say hello to Senator Webb instead. Obviously, this kind of blatant racism could never be seen at a presidential level.
Reality tv stars at the presidential level? Direct appeals to the second amendment as a solution to political disagreement? Blatant misogyny? Blowing it on rape? Open racism? This isn't the kind of thing we see in presidential politics. Rather, in legislative elections, what we see is that occasionally, some nitwit blows an election that their party has no business losing by engaging in this kind of thing.
Obviously, this has no implications for presidential politics. We simply aren't watching any presidential elections this year. We only have legislative elections this year.