How I Feel About This Election Year

It is likely that only a handful of people will read this, and 2 will probably be my parents (thanks, guys).  I’m not some political analyst, who has experience, savvy and inexplicable knowledge of facts and figures.  I’m just a voter, who has what is most likely an extremely minority view of this year’s elections.

Background:
I have a B.S. in Political Science, with a double major in English Literature and a minor in Philosophy, from SUNY Brockport.  I graduated in 2000 with $25K in student loans, and I never thought it should have been free. I had always known there was a cost to get to go to college, and it never had occurred to me that it should be free.  I love the idea, though, so I’m on board.  After college, I worked as a sous chef at a country club, while “moonlighting” in the day time, volunteering at the Monroe County Democratic Committee (MCDC).

From there, I was hired at the Board of Elections, in the Information Systems department. I was working there for the 2000 election, as we sat around at midnight (our county successfully reported), and were so glad we weren’t in Miami Dade county. I’ve been around computers since I was a kid, so I ended up in IT, which has been great.  Great, because it’s kept me employed, for most of the time, since I graduated.  I was quickly asked to be the Director of Operations at the MCDC, which lasted almost 2 years (2 elections, at least).

When the chair stepped down, his replacement needed a salary, and it would come from mine.  I eventually found a job, again in IT, but not in politics anymore.  I haven’t worked in politics since 2002.  But I still vote.  I still try to learn about the candidates.  There have been a couple of local elections where I was lazy.  I didn’t learn about the candidates, and I didn’t vote.  I kick myself for that, because I know better.

Now:
This year, something rare is happening.  The candidates in both parties are causing people to pay attention.  Trump is one of the scariest people a Jewish Lesbian, like myself, could see on the stage.  But this isn’t about him lighting a match to hate, racism, violent vigilantism, etc.  This is about the party I have been registered with, since I turned 18.  I was so excited to register, and vote absentee ballot for Bill Clinton.  Now we have two candidates in the Democratic Primary, and it’s lighting a different fire.  The trouble is, for some, this has become divisive instead of producing productive debate.

Where I Stand:
I am a Hillary Clinton fan.  I know, for some this will cause distaste.  I don’t really get it, but I hope you will hear me out.  In my experience, she has done an incredible amount of good.  She has fought for the middle class, and took a huge beating for trying to improve health care as First Lady.  She took the flack, in an effort to try to move us forward, and I don’t think she gets the credit she deserves for that work.  I was excited to vote for her for US Senate, in NY.  She did a lot of good for NY state, and I was selfishly not wanting her to run for President, in 2008.  I wanted her to stay in NY, doing good for our state.  I still planned to support her run for President.  When I was a kid I decided that I wanted to be the 2nd female President of the United States.  Just day dreaming, you know.  I wanted there to be a female President, and I really felt we should have one in office by the time I was 35 (the legal age to run for President).  I’m 38 now, and that hasn’t happened yet.

But when I heard President Obama speak at the Democratic National Convention, I was blown away.  I looked at his platform and Clinton’s.  I felt that he was a Jr Senator, with little ties or promises to make him beholden to special interests.  Hillary Clinton has shattered glass ceilings for women, but she also does have a lot of ties to special interest, and I just believed Obama might have that rare opportunity to have slipped in under the wire.  I was incredibly happy when President Obama appointed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.  She has built a lot of international relationships, which puts her in a great position to lead this country in the global community.

But here we are again.  Hillary Clinton is running, and I was planning on supporting her.  I’m sorry that I don’t have that blind loyalty to just say it is her turn and throw her my support.  Bernie Sanders got into the race, and it was probably meant as a spoiler.  Raise the debate and try to up the dialogue.  Something happened.  He sparked a fire of his own. One that is incredibly progressive.  The kind of progressive rhetoric that I was used to hearing from the Clintons.  They have become much more moderate, and Bernie Sanders is liberal and dreams so big.  It’s fantastic.  He wants to blow open the doors to the corruption and special interest agendas in our government.  He wants to create the kind of equality that will ensure the middle class is the strongest it can ever be, and ensure we all have the opportunity to reach our potential.

In order to do that, people making minimum wage, must be able to survive.  And not just survive, but have health care, the chance to go to college, and raise kids.  I get that minimum wage jobs are meant to be a stepping stone, but they are also the only job that some people can get, and it’s not right that the pay check is not enough to pay bills, afford proper nutrition, health care etc.

I think Hillary Clinton wants these things too.  I really do, and I wish Democrats and Independents would ease up on the barrage of attacks against her.  So much of that is coming from the GOP, because they are terrified of her getting in the White House. A lot of people are not willing to unite behind her, if she gets the nomination.  I absolutely will.  She is a fantastic candidate and I respect her career and her run for President.  But we are not there yet.  While Bernie Sanders has an incredibly tough road to getting enough delegates to push a 2nd ballot at the convention, I think he can still do it, and a lot of people can.  There are a lot of primaries left, and I think we should keep supporting our candidates in a positive manner.  We should respect both candidates, because one of them WILL be the nominee.  We have to remember the big picture.  The GOP candidates have all made statements that are sexist, racist, homophobic, etc.  They are a scary bunch and the Democratic candidates shine in comparison.

The Voters’ Issues:
So now we have an issue of voter suppression, which has come to light from the NY primary, as well as AZ and other states.  I wanted to speak to this, because again I have what is probably a minority view.  I was in a good position, having worked at the Board of Elections, that I knew the election laws.  I understand them.  Yes, they are strict, and I somewhat agree with the complaints of how strict they are.  In NY, when you register to vote, you can register with a party or no party.

You can vote in primaries of the party that has a primary, IF you are registered with that party.  You can change parties, but you have to do it before a general election.  So if you want to vote in next year’s primary for the Republican party, you have to change your party affiliation to Republican before this year’s general.  That’s where a lot of the complaints in this primary are coming from.  Independents wanted to vote in the Democratic primary, but they didn’t change their affiliation before last year’s general election.  The contest between Sanders and Clinton hadn’t heated up by then, so people didn’t know how much they would want to be able to take part in the primary.

The idea of open primaries is interesting, but I am not sure I am in support of it.  If you want to vote in a party’s primary, I think you should be registered with that party.  This law that you have to change your affiliation before the next year, seems logical to me.  It (I think) is meant to prevent a bum rush of people voting for a spoiler who won’t be a contender in the general election, in an attempt to sabotage a party’s primary.  Imagine if a candidate with no real experience or agenda was running against an excellent candidate in either a Republican or Democratic primary.  If voters from the opposing party wanted to sabotage the nomination of the other party, they could vote for the spoiler and prop up a lesser candidate against their party’s nominee.

If I Had My Way:
But what am I in favor of?  I got beat up on twitter this week, for trying to explain this whole view, and was even accused of supporting Jim Crow laws.  Yeah, online posters are something.   I am in favor of the following – automatic enrollment at 18, with no party affiliation, until you choose one.  You must be affiliated with a party in which primary you want to participate at least 6 months ahead of the contest.  I know, that may result in missing out on their primary, but it does prevent people from enrolling with a party that they don’t genuinely favor.  I also support elections being a national holiday.  We pride ourselves on our free and open elections, but laws keep getting passed to make it harder to vote, not easier.

I think elections should be a holiday, where voter turnout is as close to 100% as it can get.  Students from high schools should take part, by helping at polling places, so they can learn the process and see democracy in action.  It should be part of their curriculum in school, but we can iron that out with the educators teaching participation in government, or PIG as we called it.

So there you have it.  I want nothing more than for Bernie Sanders to shock the political world, and this country.  I want him to win the nomination and I probably haven’t expressed that as well as I would like, here.  But it’s true.  I am a #Berner and I love the movement.  I #FeelTheBern and will keep supporting his campaign all the way to convention.  It was the coolest feeling, canvassing for his campaign.  I didn’t do as much as I would have liked. I only completed 1 list, but I tried to do my part.  I donate to the campaign and I plan to make time for phone banking this weekend.  I loved getting to vote for him, and I am excited to see how the convention goes.  I have a positive view of how the debate in this primary can raise the level of what we can accomplish in this country.

I am in the absolute minority that I would love to see a Sanders/Clinton ticket.  She would be the presumptive nominee in 4-8 years and that would be perfect, to me.  If that can’t happen, I would also love to see a Sanders/Warren ticket, but I’ll hold off on dreaming too big, until we see how the remaining state primaries go, and how the convention unfolds.  I am a realist and I know there is a real probability that Clinton will get the nomination.

Down with the Hate, Let’s Come Together:
It’s not my first choice, but please don’t take that to mean that I don’t believe Clinton will make an excellent president.  She will, and the hateful attacks on her are so disrespectful.  A lot of them are inflamed by her true opposition, but it makes me sad to see Democrats, Independents and liberals attacking her, and saying #BernieOrBust.  She is not the enemy, and you are doing the bidding of the conservative republicans, when you bash her.  I can’t believe that people will be willing to stay home or vote for Trump, Cruz or Kaisch, just to stick it to Clinton.  I just can’t grasp the reasoning. Trying to write in a name, or vote for a 3rd party, will only ensure that the election is handed to a republican, and that is truly terrifying right now.

I hope those people come around and see what is truly at stake.  Our civil rights, the environment, health care, education and so much more.  Good luck to Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.  Good luck to the citizens of the United States.  May we always pay attention to elections.  Learn the candidates. Respect them, but stand up for what you believe in.  Insist that the people elected to office represent you and all of us.

Revolution Now and Forever:
It’s time we vote out the officials who are clogging our system with pandering to lobbyists and conservative prejudices.  McConnell, Cruz, Cotton, Rubio, Paul, Graham.  The list goes on.  It’s time to vote these career politicians out of office, and be willing to vote out any elected official not doing their job.  Our vote is our way of hiring/re-hiring someone for a position, where we are the boss.  It is our right and our duty to pay attention to how people represent us, and to not reward them with votes or by not voting and allowing them to stay in office. Let’s not let this opportunity to wake up and pay attention, go to waste.  Let us move forward with a commitment to vote, not just in Presidential years. Let’s pay attention to the local officials too.  That’s where the power struggle starts.

So we as citizens must start there, if we want to change the way our government is run, from the bottom up.  I believe we can do it.  I believe our vote matters.  If 50% of the population believes their vote doesn’t matter, we have what we have today.  Low turnout and not a lot of participation in choosing who is in office at any level.  If those same 50% would just get involved enough to learn the candidates, and what elected officials are doing in office, we might just get some of the politician not serving the people, out of office and out of the way.  Imagine 90%+ turnout.  What a revolution for democracy, that would be.

Let the twitter attacks commence. (Please don’t be too mean!)

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