For a man who has spent so many years in politics, Dick Bond finds himself at a loss when it comes to the politics of 2016.
Whom to vote for? That’s a hard one for the former president of the Kansas Senate, a lifelong Republican, who worked as a longtime congressional aide.
Donald Trump is “crazy,” Bond says.
Ted Cruz? “Everybody who’s been associated with him hates him because he’s so mean.”
Then there’s “the boy in the bubble,” Marco Rubio: “Abortion is not my main issue. However, when Rubio says he’s against abortion even in cases of rape and incest, that’s a step way too far for me, and I think for most Americans.”
The Overland Park resident could have backed Jeb Bush. But he’s done.
John Kasich is another candidate Bond likes. Despite a second-place finish in New Hampshire, Kasich’s days are probably numbered.
So Bond, like millions of other Americans from both parties, is staring into the abyss.
Just maybe, Bond says, he’ll vote for Hillary. Maybe.
“I’m certainly not excited about that at all,” Bond told me.
Yes, even in a campaign year that seems to offer Americans more choices than the candy aisle at your local grocery, legions of Americans are looking at the Republican and Democratic fields and wondering, “What now?”
Can they back Trump with all that bluster and all those vagaries? Can they back Clinton with all that baggage and email? Sanders, who visited Kansas City on Wednesday, is 74 and untested.
As Bond said, Cruz is the most reviled man in Washington, and that says something, doesn’t it? Rubio can’t shake that veneer of youth, and his flip-flop on immigration stops many.
“It’s a horrible year,” Bond said.
Even with all those candidates.
A little more than a week ago, USA Today released a survey showing that lots of Americans feared either Trump or Clinton winning their party’s presidential nomination.
Some 38 percent of likely voters were “scared” of Trump earning the GOP nod. Fully 33 percent had the same reaction toward Clinton taking the Democratic crown.
That’s a lot of scared, dissatisfied Americans.
All this says something about what happens come January after the campaigning ends and the hard work of governing begins. Can the country rally around President Donald Trump if that’s how the GOP race winds up? Could it do the same for President Hillary Clinton?
We Americans are a resilient bunch. We know how to rally. But the divisive politics of our era that only begin with the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court give one pause. We’ve got a lot of tough work ahead, and America needs a leader it can rally behind.
Dick Bond looks over the scene and wonders too. The man who has served on presidential candidate staffs has never seen a year like this.
“It’s just a show of clowns,” he said of the parade of contenders. “They keep attacking each other with absolutely no apparent concern about the future of this country.”
There’s so much hate these days, Bond says. Back in the day, members of Congress went at it on the floor, then went out and drank beers together. No more.
Can the country come together again?
“It may be impossible.”