Election 2016! And the Winner is…

As I write this, it’s been a couple of weeks since the Presidential Election – or if you prefer, the Pestilential Election since the ads probably qualified as a Biblical plague.  Anyway, Hillary lost and Trump won.  Or did he?  And no, I’m not talking about the Popular Vote vs. the Electoral Vote.  Take a look at this graph.


The numbers have been rounded off a bit but what you’re seeing that right.  48% of the Eligible Voters in the US did NOT vote for either Clinton or Trump.  And since neither Gary Johnson nor Jill Stein is the President Elect, the vast majority of that 48% didn’t vote for them either.  So the “Landslide Victory” for Trump and the “Significant Popular Vote Win” for Clinton simply didn’t happen.  Trump won with about 26% of the eligible voters.  Oddly enough, Clinton lost with about 26% of the eligible voters.  And if you figure in the people that didn’t vote FOR Trump so much as they voted AGAINST Clinton…and vice versa…the true percentages for either candidate are even smaller.  Trump’s “Landslide Victory” was the result of Electoral distribution and nothing else.

So what really happened?

What really happened is almost half the eligible voters in this country didn’t vote!  It’s not that they didn’t vote for Clinton or Trump or Johnson or Stein.  They didn’t vote at all!  Of course, that begs the question of “Why?”.

There’s a whole raft of reasons.  Some of the ones I’ve heard are:

  • I don’t trust the system.
  • Neither party/candidate really represents me.
  • I never registered.
  • There’s no real difference between the candidates.
  • It doesn’t really matter anyway.

What all these reasons and a bunch of others boil down to is that a whole lot of people feel so disenfranchised that they can’t be bothered to vote.  That also begs the question of “Why?”.  Asking a few further questions  points to one possible reason.

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies. – Groucho Marx

Both parties have their entire identities tied up in political ideologies that only appeal to themselves.  To put it more simply, they’re preaching to the faithful.  And the sermon is based around one simple idea – you’re either with us or against us.  Both parties do it.  Take a look at the political ads and listen to the speeches.  It all boils down to us versus them…and “them” is evil.

The modern version of this bit of political brilliance goes  back to the 1960’s with the Republican Party’s Southern Strategy.  The basic idea is to make a lot of noise about what scares a bunch of people and then blame the scary shit on the other party.  Sound familiar?  The Republicans and the Democrats both have been beating that drum this entire election.  The only difference is which side of the drum they’re pounding on.

It’s an effective idea as far as it goes but it ignores a basic reality of life.  No one agrees with everything.  I’m a Republican.  There are proposed policies of the Republican platform that I agree with.  But there are a lot that I don’t agree with.  By the same token, there are proposed policies of the Democratic party that I agree with and others that I don’t.  My wife, a Democrat, will say pretty much the same thing.  This means that neither party really represents me…or her.  And apparently almost 48% of eligible voters feel the same way only more so…more so enough that they didn’t bother to vote.

If you find a good solution and become attached to it, the solution may become your next problem. – Robert Anthony

So how do the parties fix this problem.  They fix it by making a concerted effort to talk to those disenfranchised voters, to listen to their problems and to work with them for solutions that more people can live with.  The only problem is, I don’t think either the Republicans or the Democrats are up to the challenge.

Both parties have existed long enough now that they’re almost completely devoted to the singular goal of simply continuing to exist.  “We exist so we must continue to exist because we have to exist if we want to continue to exist.”  They don’t really care about the American People anymore…except where those people vote and help the parties continue to exist.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not against the Two Party System.  I think it’s a fine idea.  It works – maybe not all that smoothly but I consider that a safety feature to keep either party from gaining complete control.  My problem is with the current two parties.  I think they’ve both outlived their useful lives.  It’s time for them to be replaced.

And now for something completely different

Half the problem the current leading parties have is that they’ve become so polarized that they only appeal to their own brand of True Believers.  There’s this big group of people in the middle that don’t feel they’re really represented by either party.  Take a look at this chart…


Now consider the 48% of the eligible voters that DIDN’T vote.  That’s roughly equivalent to all the independents and about half of both the Center Left and Center Right.  Think about all the Hillary and Bernie-philes you know.  They probably fit over on the left edge of that curve.  And all the Trump-philes fit in on the right end.  Who represents the people in the middle of the curve?

Over the last several elections, the political polarization has gotten worse and worse.  This is what Pew Research has found over the last twenty-plus years.

political-polarizationIf this trend continues, by 2020 or 2024 we’ll have two parties that represent nothing but extremist liberals and extremist conservatives with everybody else left unrepresented in the middle kinda like this…


Or maybe more accurately like this…


Think about the last 8 years.  When President Obama was first elected, Mitch McConnell stated that Republican’s top priority was to deny Obama a second term.  Not to work with the President, not to work for the people, not to support their constituents.  No, their job was to make sure that the next President was Republican.  In other words, “Screw what’s good for the country and the voters!  We want to make sure we remain in power!”

The Democrats did similarly heinous things by stacking the Super Delegates in the Primary so that Hillary Clinton was the chosen Candidate instead of risking the possibility that Bernie Sanders might win.  Again, “Screw what’s good for the country and what the voters want!  We want to make sure we remain in power!”

If the two major parties are willing to do that to their own constituents, what are they willing to do to the other party’s constituents?  And what are they willing to do to the unrepresented 48%?  They’re certainly not trying to win them as voters.  If they were they’d be willing to at least discuss less extreme responses to the issues.

A Modest Proposal

Here’s a quick question for you…what could happen if we were to have a strong Moderate 3rd Party?  Just think about it.  A Moderate Party would be able to find common ground with both Democrats and Republicans on certain issues.  A lot of the Partisan Politics that aggravate so many of us would get cut down to a minimum.  And most importantly, the large, moderate middle of the US political spectrum would finally have representation.

We need a Moderate Party.  Call it what you will – Centrist, Moderate, Average Joe’s Party, whatever – but the majority of eligible voters simply don’t have anyone looking out for their interests and that needs to change.  The status has been quo for far too long.  Instead of more and more extreme candidates and policies we need moderation.  We need Congressmen who will work with the other parties.  We need a President  who is willing to work for compromise solutions for the common good.  We need politicians who work for us, their constituents instead of for themselves and who work for our interests instead of the interests of their political party.

Late Breaking Edit…

The final vote count is in…I hope.  An updated version of my opening chart is in order to reflect the final numbers.

newelectiongraphThe unrepresented percentage changes from 48% to 45% but that doesn’t change my argument one bit.  Nearly half of the US population is not represented by either the Democrats or the Republicans in any meaningful way.  They…WE…need and deserve people who represent our interests.  Not people who are only interested in keeping their party alive to the detriment of the United States.

Hail to the Chief

The National Election is only a couple of days away.  Normally that’s a time for hope, renewal and OK, a little bit of mud slinging.  This year is different.  The Election so far has been filled with back-stabbing, vitriol, wild accusations and some of the dirtiest partisan politics I’ve ever seen…and that’s just the news broadcasts.  The Candidates have been even worse.

Image result for mudslinging

Even so, I still hold out hope that we’ll get a President who will strengthen the economy, keep us strong and safe and not take away any more of our Civil Liberties.  Mind you, I don’t expect to get it but I do hold out hope.

To tell you the truth, for the first time in my life, I’m scared by the possible outcomes of this election.  I have voted in every Presidential election since I was 18.  There have been times when I’ve had a hard time making up my mind who to vote for but there was never a time when I was scared by my choices.  Until now.

Let’s look at the Major Candidates

Jill Stein – Green Party

My strongest objection to Jill Stein isn’t her Party or her Platform.  It’s her background…or more precisely, her lack of it.  She has only held one elected office and that was Town Meeting Representative for Lexington, Massachusetts.

She’s run for Governor, State House of Representatives and Secretary of the Commonwealth in Massachusetts but she’s only ever been elected as Town Meeting Representative.  She doesn’t have any experience in any Executive office…not even Mayor of a small town.

That lack of experience takes her out of the running for me.  She might be an absolute genius of a President God’s  and Gift to both Foreign and Domestic policy but with her current resume I don’t see how we can take that leap of faith.

Gary Johnson – Libertarian Party

Gary Johnson and his running mate, Bill Weld are both two-term Governors.  They both have the experience of holding Executive office…and they both did it in States where the majority of voters were not from their party which at the time was Republican.

Johnson finished his terms with reduced taxes and a budget surplus.  Weld did similar good things during his tenure.  Neither has had political or other scandals.  Both men are strong supporters of Civil Liberties, Religious Freedom, Internet Freedom, Abortion Rights and the Environment.

The problem is, the only way Johnson can win the Presidency is to get enough Electoral votes to keep either of the front runners from getting 270 Electoral votes.  If that happens, according to the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution, the House of Representatives votes for President.  That actually happened in 1825 when the House elected John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson.

The other problem – at least for me – is that I don’t agree with a lot of what Johnson wants to do…or at least how he wants to do it.  For instance, he wants smaller government but wants to achieve it by closing entire departments like the Department of Education.  He wants to change the tax laws but he wants to change it to a Fair Tax system – nice on the surface but it could allow for easy tax evasion.  He wants to cut Federal spending but he wants to do it by cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.  Essentially, he’s a somewhat scary long shot.

Hillary Clinton – Democratic Party

Former First Lady, former Senator, former Secretary of State – she’s been in and around the White House for years.  She’s shown that she has what it takes to do difficult jobs.  She’s known and respected by world leaders.  And she’s a party politician just like every other one we’ve been dealing with for the last 50 plus years.

That’s really the thing that bothers me the most about her.  Yes, I know about the emails and about Bengazi and about all the other stuff, too.  And guess what?  She’s no worse (and a damn sight better) than a lot of other Presidential Candidates…and Presidents.  Look up how many emails were lost and how many US Diplomats were killed during George W. Bush’s time in office.  Look at all the scandals that occurred while Ronald Reagan was in office.  Now, can we move on, please?

My main issue with Clinton is that she’s just like every politician before her.  She’s a Party wheel horse.  She’ll push the Democratic line, get continually attacked and stone-walled by the Republicans and WOW, haven’t already had enough of that?  Let’s move on.

Donald Trump – Republican Party

I could write a tome on why I don’t like Donald Trump.  From his misogyny to his racism to his flip-flopping on issues to his out-and-out lies on what he’s said and not said.  If he wasn’t running for President, that last one would be funny.  I mean, COME ON!!!  He’ll say something in public and on tape.  It’ll make the news and be talked about all over the planet.  Then, two weeks later he’ll say he never said it.  It’s scary…because I actually think he believes it when he said he didn’t say it.

What’s scarier still is that his followers definitely believe it.  Some of them I can actually have a conversation with and they’ll defend their decision to vote Trump over Hillary with calm deliberation.  Then there are the ones that don’t bother with anything approaching rational thought and just keep repeating, “Trump will make America great again!” like it’s a Buddhist mantra and they’re seeking enlightenment.

Either way though, they all seem to gloss over the fact that he has lied repeatedly.  They step around the fact that he has encouraged his followers to commit violence.  They excuse the fact that he hasn’t released his tax returns like everyone else has.  And they flat out ignore the fact that he has repeatedly made statements about all the wonderful things he’s going to do when elected…but he hasn’t given hardly a single detail about HOW he’s going to do them.

Add in the accusations of sexual misconduct and assault, the thin skin that makes him attack anyone who takes a stand against him, his seeming inability to understand that nukes are bad and we don’t want everyone to have them and we don’t want to use them and you have someone who is, in my opinion, quite possibly the single worst candidate for President in the history of the United States.

So you see my dilemma…

Who do I vote for?  I have four candidates, none of whom I can really get behind.  One is too inexperienced.  One wants to make changes that I don’t agree with.  One is the same old thing we’ve always had.  And one is…too many bad things for me to list.

Eight years and this is the best that the major parties have to offer the American people.  I don’t know whether to call it pathetic or scary.  Regardless, America needs better choices and there are none on the ballot.

My advice is to go out and vote.  Vote your conscience.  Vote for who you think is the best of a bad lot.  Vote against the candidate you don’t want.  But whatever you do, VOTE!!!  It’s your responsibility as a citizen.  It’s your duty to your country.  Plus, you don’t get to bitch for the next for years if you don’t.

Oh, and one final bit of advice.  Vote Out The Incumbents!

Traitors, Oath-breakers and The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has been one Justice short for six month today.  Why is that?  Did the President not do his duty and propose a new Justice?  No.  President Obama nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland on March 16th of this year.  So how come the Senate hasn’t confirmed him?  Simple, really.  They haven’t confirmed him because his confirmation hearings are being blocked…by the very people who’s job it is to hold the hearings.

Let’s take a look at a few things here…

The Oath of Office for the President of the United States reads as follows:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Article II, Section 2, clause 2 of the Constitution states that the President

“shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint … Judges of the supreme Court.”

The Oath of Office for a United States Senator reads as follows:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take
this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that
I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter:
So help me God.

Nowhere in there does it say that a Senator can refuse to hold hearings for a Supreme Court Justice just because they don’t like the President.  The Constitution and the Senate Oath of Office are very clear.  The President “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint” and a Senator “will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

So essentially, any Senator who willfully blocks, delays or in any other way refuses to hold fair hearings for a replacement Supreme Court Justice is breaking his Oath of Office and violating the Constitution of the United States.

Anti-Constitutional Oath Breakers!

This strikes me as sufficient reason for a recall election…or considering that this is an election year, reason to vote them out of office.  Just my opinion…as a registered Republican.  I understand that others may disagree and that’s certainly their right.  But I can only tell you that if I refused to do any part of the job I was hired to do because I didn’t like the president of the company I work for…and was dumb enough to talk publicly about it…I’d be fired.  And rightly so.

What Mitch McConnell and his fellow Senate obstructionists are doing is precisely that.  Refusing to do the job they were hired to do.  Which in this case also means that they’re breaking their Oath of Office.  That is not something that we should allow our employees to do.  And that’s just what all the Senators and Representatives are.  They’re our employees.

I know it’s common these days to call them “our elected officials” or “our elected leaders” but what they really are is “our elected employees”.  Which means we can fire them by the simple act of electing someone else who will hopefully do the job better.  Someone who will hopefully not lie to us.  Someone who will hopefully not break their Oath of Office.  And they will hopefully NOT defy the Constitution.  Because that’s what McConnell and his cronies are doing.

A politician is known by the promises he keeps. ~Author Unknown

By breaking their word…their Oath of Office…they are defying the Constitution and saying that what they want is more important than what the Constitution says.  They are saying that an Oath they took  before God is worthless.  They are, in essence, placing themselves above any other rule or law in our Nation and saying that what they want is right…even if they have to lie to get their way.

Please note, I’m not saying they’re committing treason.  According to the Constitution “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”  I’m saying that their actions make them traitors.

A traitor is defined as “one who betrays another’s trust or is false to an obligation or duty”.  That sounds like what McConnell and the others are doing – betraying the trust of their constituents. You know…the people that hired them in the first place…the people who should fire them.

A quick thought about the killings in Dallas…

What happened in Dallas was a crime and a tragedy.  The brave Officers who died or were wounded and their families need to be comforted and prayed for.  The perpetrators need to be caught and tried in a fair and open court.  That is what we need to do NOW!

What we do NOT need is for everyone to start spewing their personal “This is why we need X” crap. Anyone who uses the senseless tragedy in Dallas as a soapbox to try to advance their favorite agenda is a complete and utter shitstain and should be ignored and shunned by everyone.  Giving them any attention whatsoever only fuels their delusion that they are somehow relevant.

Please…if you can’t limit yourself to expressing sadness for the Fallen and concern for the wounded, please do the entire world a favor and keep your damn mouth shut!  This is not the time for recriminations and accusations.  This is the time for coming together, for comfort and for healing.

With that said, my prayers go out to the families of the killed and wounded Officers, their brothers and sisters on the Dallas Police force and most especially to the Officers themselves.  May God be with them in their time of need and may he comfort them in their loss.

Happy Birthday, America!!!

On this 4th of July, this day of celebration of the birth of our great nation, I’d like to take a few minutes to…sound a little less pompous.

Today is the 4th of July!!!  Happy birthday, United States of America!!!  You’re still looking pretty good for a 240 years old.

Jokes aside, our country has endured for 240 years.  Think about that.  240 years.  That’s 12 generations of people who have lived, loved, worked and raised families here. And 12 generations of people that all too often have had to fight and die to defend this country.

I’m not going to talk about that, though.  There are tons of people who will tell you all about it much better than I can.  What I’m going to talk about is how I feel on this 240th Birthday of the United States of America.

We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately. – Benjamin Franklin

Adams and Jefferson Singing the Declaration

First off, notice that I said “United States of America” and not “America”.  Think about that difference.  Almost no other country on earth declares in their very name that they are independent states working together as a group.  Think about that for a minute.  The definition of state is “a nation or territory considered as an organized political community under one government.”  In other words, a country.  So essentially, the United States of America is a cooperative group of 50 independent countries working together for the common good.

It’s a (pardon the pun) revolutionary idea.  And unlike a lot of other revolutionary idea, it’s a very good one.  One that has stood the test of time and proven itself.  So much so that we’re now seeing other collections of States joining together for common good…with common laws, free (as in unrestricted) travel and easier inter-State trade – the European Union or the United Arab Emirates come to mind.

a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action
b : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another

Second, freedom is essential to the survival of the United States of America.  There was another Union of States in recent memory that didn’t have freedom – no unrestricted travel, no local autonomy.  They didn’t make it.  That country, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, dissolved because they weren’t free.  They only paid lip service to the idea of a Union of States…and so they failed.

As I sit here in front of my computer typing this, I’m aware of those freedoms.  I can say pretty much anything I want to about our elected leaders (also known as our employees) without fear of retribution.  The only thing I have to avoid is saying anything that falls under the legal definition of slander.  And even if I do cross that line, it’s a civil matter and I’ll get sued.  I won’t get arrested and thrown in prison for it.  Take a second and think about that…and how it’s been throughout history…and how it is in so many other countries.  And then thank your Maker that you were born in or able to emigrate to the United States of America.

Give us your tired, your poor…

Which brings me to my third and last thought for today.  We’re all immigrants or the descendants of immigrants.  As I’ve pointed out before, “Even the Native Americans originally came here from somewhere else.”  We’re strong because of our melting pot heritage.  We’re strong because we are a collection of people and ideas and beliefs and faiths from all over the planet.  We’re strong because we’ve chosen to live together peacefully (usually) and work together (for the most part) toward a common good.

The Great Seal of The United States of America has the words “E  pluribus unum” inscribed on it.  That means “Out of many, One.”  One Nation, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.  Not “with Liberty and Justice for all that are like me.”  For ALL.  For every single citizen of the United States of America, regardless of their country of birth, regardless of their faith, regardless of their skin color, regardless of their political party.  For everyone.

That freedom is what makes the United States of America the shining light that it is.  It’s the thing that makes people from all over the world want to come here.  Because we have what they don’t have.  We’re free.  Our destiny is whatever we can make it, not what some local warlord or terrorist says it is.  And as citizens of the United States of America, it’s our duty to welcome “the homeless, tempest tossed” and give them and their children the freedom they crave and the opportunity to contribute to our great nation and make it even greater.  To do anything less would be un-American and would betray the ideals that our Founding Fathers had when they declared the birth of The United States of America.

Happy birthday to us all!