I don’t know about you, but I’m having a hard time keeping up with all the presidential candidates. Your odds these days are about the same when it comes to seeing an old classmate at Kroger or running into a presidential candidate on a street corner. They’re everywhere!
Here it is more than a year before the election, and there are more candidates out there than there are lightning bugs in my back yard. At last count (and depending on how you do the counting), there were 17 declared candidates for the Democratic nomination and 31 declared candidates for the Republican nomination. That could change any second, but for now, here is what you need to know about the big race:
There really is only one Democratic name you need to know. Hillary Clinton. Unless she does something really stupid or a plane with her on it crashes, she will be the Democratic nominee for president.
There are a few other interesting characters involved. Bernie Sanders is getting the most press, primarily because he’s a nice guy and he says he’s a socialist, which really attracts attention. Bernie is getting all that attention because the press needs someone else besides Hillary to talk about. He gets pretty much a free pass because he has absolutely no chance of winning.
Guys like Jim Webb and Martin O’Malley used to be senators or governors or something like that. They’re in the race because if Hillary is abducted by aliens someone has to take over, so it might as well be one of them.
Jeff Boss, meanwhile, is all about the National Security Agency. He says the NSA is bugging his phone and maybe even trying to poison him because he knows the truth about 9/11 — the NSA did it! Willie Carter, meanwhile, is running for president for the eighth time because the Lord told him to. If Willie wins, there will be no other explanation than divine intervention.
As for the rest of the Democrats, I would tell you to forget them but you’ve never heard of them so don’t worry about it.
Here’s where the real fun begins. Right now at the top of the Republican pile, at least according to recent polls, is none other than Donald Trump. This sounds worse than it is, since polls more than a year before the election are worthless when it comes to predicting results. The Donald has no chance of winning anything except contest for the biggest ego. He is kind of fun to have around, though.
Jeb Bush’s biggest problem is his last name. Lots of people are still mad at his brother for Iraq and that economic downturn. Some people are still made at his dad, the first President Bush, but I’m not sure why. He seemed like a pretty good guy and how can you not like a guy who jumps out of airplanes when he’s 85 years old? The best thing about Jeb is it would create another Bush-Clinton race, which could be fun.
There are all kinds of serious politicians in the Republican race.
Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and Scott Walker are very popular with the Tea Party people and will spend lots of time trying to outdo each other in primaries to prove they are slightly to the right of Attila the Hun. Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, George Pataki, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum — all these guys have been senators or governors in their past lives, so they ought to know something about government.
Then there is Ben Carson, a brain surgeon who speaks his mind. I think a lot of people in Washington could use some brain surgery, but I’m not sure how a brain surgeon as president actually would work.
Carly Fiorina’s claim to fame is that she was the CEO of the giant tech company Hewlitt-Packard. Unfortunately, while she was CEO the company almost went in the tank and the board of directors eventually forced her out. I guess this makes her an ideal candidate for president. She does have the best name of any candidate.
There’s also Ricky Rubio — no, wait, that’s the guy who plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves. It’s Marco Rubio! He has a lot going for him. He’s Hispanic, he’s from Florida and conservative Republicans love him.
Chris Christie, the doughnut candidate. People say his weight is a minus, but I say with all the fat people in America, he could get a lot of votes.
And there’s Ohio’s own John Kasich. Ohio hasn’t had a president since 1920, when Warren Harding was elected, and most of us try to forget about him as much as possible. On one hand, hardly anyone outside of Ohio knows who he is, and a lot people who live in Ohio don’t pay a lot of attention to him. On the other hand, he’s from the right place. Since 1896, Ohio has voted for the winning candidate in every election except two — in 1960 Ohio went for Richard Nixon over John Kennedy and in 1944 the state went for Tom Dewey over Franklin Roosevelt (what were we thinking?) So if you want to win Ohio, and maybe the election, Kasich is the right guy.
There are a bunch of other people floating around, but here’s all you need to know about them: . That’s about it.
So why are all these people running for president when most of them have no chance? Well, you get to travel around the country for a year, live off contributions and get treated like a Very Important Person even if you’re not really all that important. It beats working for a living.
I’m holding out for Republican Michael Bickelmeyer, who advocates the use of a Star Wars kind of death ray from outer space to blast terrorists, against Democrat Harry Braun, who is all for an emergency building program of self-contained “arcologies” where the human race can live after we’ve destroyed the environment.
Or maybe a third party candidate. But that’s another story …
David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.