As 2015 comes to a close, we reflect on the events of the past year and consider how we might learn from them. The following is my list of New Year's resolutions for American politics to help make 2016 a happier, more sensitive year.
Learn From Hillary – According to Hillary Clinton and her handlers, she is a grandmotherly Luddite who remains confused by modern technology. However, as we saw in 2015, Clinton was more than a match for the GOP’s unfocused “Benghazi Committee” strategy (aka "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight"); and used the event to improve her public standing, while skirting responsibility for intentionally violating federal record-keeping and transparency laws. In 2016, congressional Republican leaders should remember that if you are going to do something wrong, it is better not to do it at all; particularly if your intended target is more ruthless and cunning than you are.
Avoid Singing “Kumbaya” With Bernie Sanders – Socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has always been an outlier, but in the oddball year that has been 2015, this outlier out-polls all Democrat candidates save Mama Bear Hillary Clinton. The Vermonter's incessant diatribe against "capitalists" and in favor of "free" everything for everybody -- while designed to destroy what will be left of America's entrepreneurial foundation after eight years of Barack Obama -- actually strikes a chord with many Millennials spoiled by helicopter parents and Big Government programs. However, it is best to resolve in 2016 to avoid linking arms and singing "Kumbaya" with this crowd.
Avoid Scammers and Con Artists, or the "Trump Sanction" -- Throughout our history, hucksters have tried to sell snake oil with promises of curing baldness, wasting, insomnia and impotence. However, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump is not interested in merely curing baldness or lethargy; he has an elixir to “Make America Great Again.” The cost? Mere trillions of dollars in spending, and obliterating the values of individual liberty and constitutional rights that first made America great. Like a Nigerian prince offering millions in exchange for victims' Social Security and bank routing numbers, candidates like this are best avoided in 2016; do not forget what your parents told you: "if it's too good to be true, it probably isn't."
Give John Kasich a Hug – If Donald Trump’s plan for making America great again is a heavy dose of populist anger and unilateral Executive action, GOP presidential candidate John Kasich’s plan is heavy on love, hugs and smiles. Kasich never tires of reminding us how great a governor he is, how great a congressman he was, and that the solution to America's problems is that we all must learn to just get along. One wonders how ISIS would respond to such a message. The lesson for 2016 -- hugs are good but always be careful who you hug . . . and when.
Sign Up For Speech Therapy Sessions – Former President Teddy Roosevelt recommended that leaders “speak softly…” but GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson takes this advice to the extreme. While Donald Trump yells at everyone, causing viewers ask one another "did he really say that?," Carson’s lethargic and near-mute presence in the 2015 debates forced viewers to ask one another "what did he say?." Meanwhile, President Barack Obama also struggles with speech issues; consider his inability utter the phrase “Muslim Extremist.” Both men are in need of speech therapy in the coming year.
Be Wary of Buying Tickets for Lindsey Graham’s Stand-Up Act -- When not warning Americans of the next nuclear holocaust should our country fail to send a bomb through virtually every window in the Middle East, Lindsey Graham hoped that making cute jokes and pretending to be a young[er] John McCain would fire up the electorate. It did not. Now that he has abandoned his presidential campaign, at least his 12 supporters might still see him in action during open mic night at D.C.’s lower-end comedy clubs. But don't pay scalpers asking price for these tickets.
File Missing Person Report for Lincoln Chafee – Remember Lincoln Chafee, who for a brief and fleeting moment was a Democratic presidential candidate? No? Not to worry; neither does anyone else. It would be hard to name a presidential candidate in a major political party that has started so low and disappeared so fast as Chafee; well, maybe one other -- Jim Gilmore. The lesson is, if no one knows you to begin with, they are unlikely to vote for you (exception -- Jimmy Carter; and recall where that got us).
See Optometrist About “Log in the Eye” Syndrome –Like Bernie Sanders, the Catholic Church’s Pope Francis is no fan of capitalism, and has infused his supposedly religious duties with a healthy dose of socialist dogma. Unlike Pope Francis, however, Sanders does not spout such vehemence while serving as leader of one of the richest and most capitalist enterprises in the world (and the least transparent) -- the Vatican. This coming year, it would behoove his Holiness to make an appointment with an optometrist to have the log in his eye checked out.
Dress More Appropriately (and Sensitively) – Halloween is a time when millions of children and adults dress to scare and entertain; all in good fun. However, we learned in 2015 that, according to many college administrators, such activity can intentionally mock and inflict inappropriate “micro-aggressions” on fellow students; and in fact is so serious a threat to the sensitivities of the Little Darlings in their care, that if college disciplinarians find you have engaged in such outrageous behavior as inappropriately costuming yourself, it could get you booted from campus. So, come Halloween 2016, any college student intending to dress as the Big Pumpkin had best make certain such garb could not conceivably be considered offensive to someone who might “identify” as an obese Oompa Loompa, else their school’s football team might threaten to walk-off the field.Refill Our “Social Xanax” Prescription or How to Avoid the "Cecil Syndrome" – When a story came to light that a successful dentist from Minnesota with a passion for trophy hunting, had mistakenly killed a supposedly “prized” African lion named “Cecil,” millions blogged their “outrage” about the death of an animal they'd never heard of and their opposition to a sport they knew nothing about. The Internet hysteria led to death threats against the dentist that sent him into hiding and nearly ruined his practice. Next year, millions of these easily-outraged individuals -- many of who may actually be registered to vote -- should remember to take their “chill pill” before the next celebrity "victim" has its five minutes in the spotlight, and another human life is potentially ruined.