As a child I loved the circus. Back then, they were still pitching tents. The circus wagons led by the elephants rolled through town.
There was no talk of animal rights, liability, minimal safety codes, and onerous regulations for permits. Ringling had yet to merge with Barnum and Bailey, and Clyde Beatty still had an independent show.
Frank “Bring ‘Em Back Alive” Buck with a holstered gun on his hip, gave thrills to shrieking parents and children alike as he cracked a whip and ordered dangerous lions and tigers about.
The clowns raced around in their tiny cars, tooting loud horns and quickly gave way to aerialists and tumblers and lovely lady horseback riders. Of course, the music of the midway; oh, the atmosphere; what fun under the big tent as the ringmaster conducted the three-ring circus.
Unfortunately the big tent gave way to convention halls and the mergers reduced shows to a very few. The ticket prices went up, the magic and the smells disappeared, and I had no further interest in the big top.
Nothing remains the same forever and the circus evolved into a big extravaganza without the unique character of dirt floors, temporary stands and the march through town.
The clowns remained, though, and haven’t changed much. They’re now running for president.
The clown costumes are gone as are the greasepaint and tiny cars, but the clowns are there for all to see. In their whirlwind dance across the nation, they try to convince a depressed America that they have something for everyone. Yet they shy from important issues and find comfort in slandering their foes. Although voters know what candidate/clowns are against, it is difficult to sort out what they’re for.
Bubbling to the top on the Republican side are retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and entrepreneur Donald Trump. Front-runners for the Democrats include Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The rest of the field in both camps falls well behind.
Carson, who is black, has made some stunning revelations as he strives for the brass ring. His comments about slavery are worth noting: “Actually slavery was the best thing that could have happened to us. Because of slavery blacks were brought to America we met the Christian faith. We met Jesus Christ. If it were not for slavery we would all be in Africa, hanging from trees and worshiping Allah. God always gets it right!” With that statement one must wonder whether Carson is pandering for the white supremacy vote.
Trump’s quotes have set him apart as an entertainer and comedian as well as a bombastic orator.
The Donald has said, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive,” That’s certainly a different take on global warming.
Trump is running far ahead of the field. What does that say about Republican voters?
Hillary is not without a flawed statement here and there. “Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s corporations or businesses that create jobs.” That statement would have to be classified as beyond the pale.
Hillary also stated, “No. We just can’t trust the American people to make those types of choices … Government has to make those choices for people.” The comment flooded the Republican airways.
Bernie avoids the gaffes and here is one of his observations: “A nation will not survive morally or economically when so few have so much and so many have so little.”
No candidate should be judged by selected quotes, yet voters need to follow each candidate and understand their approach to issues that confront the nation. Then vote.
Clown show or not, politics is serious business and every American needs to participate. Skimming the surface of issues, mudslinging and sound bites should not be a road to the White House.
Dr. Marc J. Yacht MD, MPH is a retired physician living in Hudson, Florida. Column courtesy of Context Florida.