William Rivers Pitt | How to Run for President for Fun and Profit: 2016 Edition

The first presidential campaign I remember actually paying attention to was Carter vs. Ford in 1976. My addiction to politics began in true when I heard someone say “That Reagan guy is going to get us all killed” during the I-paid-for-this-microphone election of 1980. Then came the landslide of 1984, followed by Dukakis in the tank in 1988, followed by the one-termer scion getting stomped by Arkansas in 1992, followed by Dole literally falling off the podium in 1996, followed by lockboxes, theft and doom in 2000, followed by “Run on the war” in 2004.

Then, in 2008, something truly remarkable happened. Greasy little snake-oil salesmen like Mike Huckabee realized that if you run for president on a platform of fetuses and Jesus, you can make so much money that you’ll have to buy wheelbarrows to carry it all away. It doesn’t matter if you’re facing certain defeat; quack the proper crap, and the segment of the population who thinks dinosaurs never existed because they aren’t mentioned in the Bible will vacuum up quarters from between the couch cushions and send them to you. Combined with the vast cash coming in from the big-money donors, it’s better than winning the lottery.

In 2008, the Republicans had some fairly heavyweight contenders. Romney, Giuliani … but Mike Huckabee stayed in the race, and stayed in the race, and stayed in the race even though he knew the exercise was a fool’s errand. In primary after primary, he pulled 25 percent of the vote, slicing the hamstrings of the major candidates by sucking up the votes from the no-dinosaurs-because-Jesus people, until he eventually ran the other contenders off the road, and John McCain won the nomination by default … and then picked Sarah Palin as a running mate, and the rest is sadly hilarious history.

Huck ain’t care. He got paid deep, and is a trend-setter in his own fashion. The phenomenon took root in 2012, and has quite simply exploded on the eve of the 2016 race.

Make no mistake: The Democratic field is no prize. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a man I would personally walk through fire for, is going to get beaten by the “news” media with the “socialist” stick because he has the audacity to think we should fill potholes and have fire departments, and pay for it all with public money. Martin O’Malley, who isn’t actually in the race yet but has been thinking long and hard about it, has to contend with the sudden eruption of Baltimore police violence, and politically speaking, it’s like someone stapled a wooly mammoth to his back.

And then there is Hillary Clinton, the Anointed One … who voted for the PATRIOT Act, who voted for the war in Iraq, who champions fracking and the Keystone XL pipeline, and despite her recent eruption of populist rhetoric is chummed up and cashed in with the worst breeds of cat Wall Street has to offer. Wrong on personal freedom, unjust war, protecting the environment and economic equality … hm … those are only four of the most important issues facing the nation today. Yeah, I’m just lathered in trust.

All that being said, gadzooks. Mike Huckabee? Carly Fiorina? Ben Carson? Marco Rubio? Rand Paul? Ted fa-chrissakes Cruz? Have we plummeted so far that these people are actually worthy of consideration to sit the chair of the President of the United States of America?

Mike Huckabee believes women use birth control because they “cannot control their libidos.” Carly Fiorina ran Hewlett-Packard into the ground, which maybe means we’ve had enough of failed business owners (cough George W. Bush cough) sitting the big chair.

Ben Carson said this: “My thoughts are that marriage is between a man and a woman. It’s a well-established, fundamental pillar of society, and no group – be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality – it doesn’t matter what they are – they don’t get to change the definition.”

Huckabee, Fiorina, Carson, the three latest entrants to the Republican presidential field for 2016. You can chew on the inside of your cheeks until you spit blood trying to figure out what this eruption of nonsense really means – Is the country really this bent? Are we doomed? Who would vote for these people? Why do I have to listen to these barmy fools for the next 18 months? What have I done wrong? – but you’ll be missing the point.

The point: It’s a fundraiser, writ large. Ted Cruz didn’t want to shut down the government back when he pulled his little wingding. He wanted to bank some cash, and he surely did. These people are the 21st century version of the carnival barkers and tent revivalists who have been fleecing the same segment of the populace since God wore short pants.

Enjoy the show.