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Feb. 8th, 2016.

Despite the expansive access to higher education in recent decades, there is still an awful lot of ignorance prevailing in the electorate.  It appears there is a symbiotic relationship between the blissful ignorance of candidates and the blissful ignorance of a certain segment of the electorate.

In recent electoral presidential cycles, the Republican Party has provided the electorate with an ample share of jokers.  In 2012, the Party trotted out Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Rick Perry.  Although having served in Congress, Michele Bachmann always appeared confused and frequently misconstrued issues.  For a brief time in Iowa, she was a frontrunner but as she received greater exposure, it became clear of her political limitations to be considered for the presidency.

The same applied for Herman Cain and his tax policy of 9-9-9.  Cain had not held public office.  His claim to fame was that he was a pizza businessman.  But his limited knowledge of domestic and foreign policy subsequently led to his rapid fall from grace and his sexual dalliances ended his flirtation with the highest office in the land.

Rick Perry came with a far more respectable resume.  He was a three-term Governor of Texas.  His quest for the presidency revealed that being triumphant on the state level did not mean that such an individual had a grasp of national and international issues.  Perry in one of the debates in 2012 stated passionately that he wanted to close three federal departmental agencies and in the process of naming them, he could not recall which three he aspired to shut down.  Shortly thereafter, he was forced to shut down his candidacy.

In 2016, the Republican self-selected draft has also produced a pack of jokers.  Some have already fallen by the wayside and after the New Hampshire primary more will follow as even funds from Super-pacs will see the hopeless nature of their continued quest for the Republican nomination.

What is paradoxically striking about the Republican parade of candidates is that a Party that from 1968 became a predominantly white Party, there are quite a few minorities represented.  One is not clear how to characterize Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, two white Cubans who have migratory roots yet are hostile to immigration and readily identifies with racist leaning white majority.  Both the politics of Cruz and Rubio are rooted in the anti-Castro, anti-communist ideology that prevailed among a generation of Cuban refugees who fled Havana before and after the Cuban Revolution of 1959.

Bobby Jindal, the former Governor of Louisiana, is a different kettle of fish.  During his futile quest for the presidency, he tried desperately to be heard by being to the extreme right of his colleagues.  Jindal, an Asian-American, does not represent a critical mass of Asian-American who voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama.

Scott Walker, the Governor of Wisconsin, entered the sweepstakes with great promise but he, too, was another classical example of a governor who knew nothing about national issues and made a quick exit back to Wisconsin.

Although serving in the Senate, Lindsey Graham was unable to generate any interest in his candidacy except fellow Senator John McCain, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum were seen as retreads as they had floated their candidacies in 2008 and 2012, respectively.

The darling of the Republican race for 2016 is Donald J. Trump.  Trump has shown as much interest in public policy as Michele Bachmann.  That state of blissful ignorance has not torpedoed his candidacy as it has Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson.  In the United States, billionaires are entitled to more than white privilege.

In one of the debates, Trump was queried on his position on the triad nuclear strategy.  He never understood the question as the conservative reporter was making reference as to how the next President would prioritize the three-legged stool of nuclear weaponry-submarines, land missiles and bomber aircraft.

In his presumption that he is this expert dealmaker, Trump is critical of the Iran nuclear deal with the Security Council of the United Nations.  He has not read the agreement and if he has read it, he has failed to grasp the essence of the agreement.  On more than one occasion, Trump refers to the money that was Iran’s funds that were frozen in foreign banks as if it is money that the United States government was giving to Iran based on the agreement.  This is another example of blatant blissful ignorance yet the media or his colleagues have failed to correct the falsehood.

Another glaring example of Trump’s limited grasp of issues is his response to the heroin and opioid epidemic in New Hampshire and throughout the country.  He postulates that he is going to stop illegal immigrants coming from Mexico and this will cut off the supply of heroin and thus the problem will be solved.  As long as there is the demand and mega-bucks are made from drug smuggling, smugglers will find a way to get the supply to the demanding customers.

The heroin epidemic personifies the existential crisis in America. The question is why young men and women in the suburbs and small towns have succumbed to a drug that plagued inner city folks in yesteryear.  What is lacking in their lives why they are overdosing?  New Hampshire, a small state, has a present need of 100,000 beds for treatment and presently only has the capacity to accommodate four percent of those needs.

The billionaire Trump not only lives in a state of blissful ignorance along with his throng of true believers but myopically presumes all the problems that consume America are external.  He blames America’s woes on illegal immigrants, Muslims, Mexicans, the Chinese and the Japanese, etc.  But much of America’s problems stem from a crisis within.  The greed of Wall Street, the refusal to establish sensible tax policy that can balance the federal budget and reduce the accumulated debt must be fixed internally.

America needs leaders who will not search for external or internal scapegoats.  We need leaders who have the courage to combat the existential crisis in America. The heroin epidemic is simply one manifestation of a deep-seated crisis in America.  That crisis is reflected in the research of the two Princeton economists, Angus Deaton and Ann Case, of the falling longevity rate of white Americans with a limited education who are disproportionately succumbing to alcoholism, suicides, drug overdosing and depression.

Great leaders are capable of comprehending complexity and grasping nuances.  Those attributes are beyond the capabilities of the Republican frontrunners for President.

Dr. Basil Wilson