Electors – Don’t be Faithless, Be Faithful

I have been renewed in my faith in democracy, seeing electors say they will be faithless on December 19th.  The elector, from Texas who stepped down, didn’t help his cause.  He couldn’t vote for Trump, but stepping down was really just dodging the responsibility of the position.  Convictions only mean something when you have to put yourself on the line to hold to them.  They mean nothing, if it is just talk.  By stepping down, he just gave the GOP in Texas the power to prop up someone who will vote for Trump.

Either the electors agree that the electoral college serves a purpose, or they think the popular vote is what should prevail.  Those are the only two arguments I see, and they both should arrive at the same end.  Electors should vote for Hillary Clinton. Before you refuse this argument, let’s explore both sides, to see why I arrive at that conclusion.

The Electoral College Serves a Purpose

The electoral college is a funnel through which each state’s popular vote is cast.  It gives the power of the popular vote to the level of the state, which in turn gives a “state” level vote to the casting of a federal vote for President.  That being said, the whole purpose of the electoral college, must be that they can be faithless, or defect, when needed.  It is to ensure a tyrant doesn’t sway the states, in contradiction to the popular vote.  I pulled this from HistoryCentral.com, siting the Federalist papers; the origin of the electoral college: Why the Electoral College Exists

This is the part that is most striking to me:
“It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations. It was also peculiarly desirable to afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder. This evil was not least to be dreaded in the election of a magistrate, who was to have so important an agency in the administration of the government as the President of the United States. But the precautions which have been so happily concerted in the system under consideration, promise an effectual security against this mischief.

Hamilton and the other founders believed that the electors would be able to insure that only a qualified person becomes President.”

If the electors can honestly say that they believe Trump is qualified for the office of the Presidency, I would like to understand the facts they base this on.  Not a feeling, not “faith”, but evidence and proof.  Resume.  Tax returns. Transparency. Diplomatic temperament.  He has none of these, and offers none.

As hard is it may be for some electors, if you are going to do your job as it was meant to be done, you only have two choices.  Vote for one of the two candidates who had the most votes in the general election. Vote for the candidate who won your state, or vote for the candidate who won the popular.  That is what the electoral college is supposed to do.  That is their function, and this is how they put faith into the electoral college.

That is being faithful to the electoral college.  As the above is described, if the default vote for the state chosen candidate, is for a candidate who is unfit, the vote should be cast for the other candidate.  Not because you like the other candidate.  You don’t have to like Hillary Clinton.  You just need to acknowledge that she is fit for the office of the Presidency, and Trump is not.

The Electoral College Does Not Honor Democracy

The other argument, is that the electoral college is out of date.  It does not honor the popular vote of all citizens in this country.  You can read about that in many articles online.  I pulled this one The Difference The Electoral College Makes, which outlines how smaller states get a higher weight to their vote, than larger ones.  This alone, I would think, could be adjusted to give proper weight, but then that would make them superfluous anyway.  If you take the amount of voters in a large state, and divide them by the amount of electors, and compare that to the ratio in a small state, the small states’ electoral votes end up counting for more.  It is disproportionate and does not give each citizen’s vote an equal voice.  It punishes people for living in large states, and that does not honor Democracy.

If the electors agree that the electoral college is out date, and unfair, they should honor the popular vote.  Listen to the people, who overwhelmingly voted for Clinton over Trump.  Her lead has passed 2.5 million.

Don’t Vote For A Cartoon

If the electors want to be faithless, I beg them to reconsider voting for Kasich or some other person.  I have heard of people voting for Donald Duck or a fictitious character, as a protest.  What good is that?  If your vote will have no chance of changing the status quo, you are essentially giving yourself a pass, and allowing an unfit person to run our country.  You will be failing us all.  I would ask you to be faithful.  Have faith in the popular vote.  Have faith in the people.  Have faith in Hillary Clinton.  In her disclosing of tax returns.  In her stellar resume in public service.  In her hard work to reach across the aisle and get work done.  In her diplomatic expertise.  She has done all of this as First Lady, in the US Senate, and as Secretary of State.  People always think they can do better, but she has been graded on a misogynistic curve, her entire career.  If her name wasn’t Clinton, and she was a man, people would be fawning over his resume, experience and candidacy.  He would have won in a landslide.

People are starting to wake up, it seems.  At least I hope they are.  They are starting to realize that when all citizens are paying attention to elections and elected officials, we can actually have an impact on the results.  We need to keep that fire alive.  We need to send a message to the citizens of this country that their vote mattered, and that’s why the popular vote should be honored.

Thank you.

Should We Create A Database?

I work in database application development, which is my non-sequitur way of saying we should talk about the Trump transition team plans to create a database of immigrants from Muslim majority nations.  Honestly, I have a hard time trying to figure out where to start with this.  I thought I might as well start with NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s response to this:

He’s by far, not the first mayor to respond in this kind. It’s not a shock that mayors of large cities are standing up to say they want their cities to be a refuge and safe place for immigrants, in defiance to this announcement.  What is infuriating and terrifying, is that all of Congress isn’t rejecting this.  It’s lunacy to me that our government isn’t disqualifying him or making it known he will be impeached on day one of his trying to implement anything close to this.

I don’t wear a gold star on my clothes, and either did my grandparents.  That’s because brave soldiers from USA and around the world stood up and stopped that from happening to the millions of Jewish, Polish, Russian etc masses who were being registered into “databases”, and eventually rounded up. Yeah, I know, they didn’t have databases.  They had paper. And we see what the result was.  Families were torn apart. Communities were decimated.  Many were deported.  Many were killed.  Of course that didn’t happen over night.

It started with the idea of a “database”. Registering people from one culture, race, religion.  It started as “We need to get a handle on this.  Some of them are criminals.”  Well, there are some white American criminals too.  Some of them wear hoods.  Should we make a database of them, until we get a “handle” on it?  No, we shouldn’t.  We don’t register people according to their nationality, race or religion.  Our country is as diverse as the entire world, because we welcome people from the world to come here, from here to travel there, and for all to find opportunity TOGETHER.

We are better than this.  We have to be, or our country will not be as great as the idea we claim it to be.  I want to stop terrorism, and I have not seen any facts or reputable research ever finding that registering immigrants will help stop domestic terrorism.  In fact, while I’m not a full fledged journalist, who will find the best research, I believe the majority of our domestic “terrorist” attacks have been with guns, and done by non-Muslim American citizens. Many of them white.  We can’t make our biggest cities places of fear.  We can’t create an atmosphere where people are afraid that they, their friends or family will be rounded up and deported.  Where kids worry that they will be separated from their parents, because of what they see on the news or because they are being harassed by other kids in school.

That last part has already been happening.  So this is where we need to start.  I have a readership of like 12 people, and I think 6 of those are my parents re-clicking on the same post because they kept getting bored.  We need the media, with actual readership and viewership, to call out President-elect Trump now.  Every press conference and every question has to report on an incident of hate.  Make him respond to every damn incident.

Then make him respond to the pressure from Congress, to his appointment plans for Steve Bannon.  He is the wrong person to have anywhere near the White House, or near any strategy work for the President of the United States.  We need serious people with experience and knowledge of the jobs being filled in his Administration.  They need respect for the job, and equal respect for all Americans. Appointing someone with a record of promoting white nationalist goals, is the opposite of the resume any President of this country should be looking for in a candidate in his administration.

He may have to look outside the well of sycophants he clung to, during his disrespectful and boastful campaign of vanity and ego.  If he really wants to make good on his promises to help this country, he needs to work on making this country great, like he and his supporters say they want it to be.  If he can’t find an AG, who believes in the vital importance of the 3 branches of government, then he may just need to cross the aisle.  Real leaders can swallow their pride and do that. Can he?  The head of the EPA should believe in climate change.  Our Secretary of State shouldn’t have any conflicts of interest in their previous businesses or work, that could even potentially hurt our standing in the global community.

Good Republicans must stand up to this onslaught of unqualified candidates, who have conflicts of interest or ideology.  If their candidacy would not be in the best interest of this country, then Trump should be disqualifying them from the list.  If he is going to prop up these candidates, then the Republican led Congress and Republican party should. Everyone who voted for him, and the party he is now the head of, should care about how he staffs this Administration.  It can’t just be up to Democrats, to stand in opposition.  We need Republicans who care about not just the welfare of their party, but this country, to insist that the Trump administration be run 1) the way he promised it would be and 2) the way a good Republican administration should be run.

I mean besides, I really don’t want him impeached.  Then we would have a President Pence.  Not really wanting a database of the LGBT community, so gay conversion therapy camps can be started and HIV/AIDS can spread like wildfire across this country.

No, we’ve got to stay the course.  So does Trump.  So does the Republican party.  So does the media.  So do the citizens of this country.  It’s on all of us.


Rage Against the Dying of the Light, But Where to Focus?

Since the election, I am seeing the threats against minorities.  You can see my post here, (We All Have Work To Do) , for my thoughts on that.  I’m also seeing a lot of celebrities recommending good charities to support, like ACLU and Planned Parenthood, which I applaud.  I’m also seeing a lot of protests, which I think are amazing, unless there is violence or damaging of property.  Any of that will silence your argument and reduce you to a nuisance and a criminal.

I have also seen this petition to encourage the Electoral College to vote for Hillary Clinton on December 19th Electoral College Petition.  I have to unpack this, because it is no simple thing, that is being suggested here.  First off, we need to understand what this means.  When we all voted, that was the popular vote.  The projection of states to one candidate or another, made by news media, was done on the speculation of how the electoral college would vote.  This is historically done in line with each states majority vote, giving that state’s electoral votes to the majority winner of that state.  I tried to check and see if the electoral college has ever pulled off the “faithless elector”, essentially voting against the will of their state.  I couldn’t find a precedent.

Now, to make things fun and interesting, Trump tweeted that the electoral college should be abolished, in 2012.  This was in response to President Obama winning re-election. I thought Trump tweeted this , because Obama didn’t win popular vote. I was wrong. So was Trump.  President Obama won the popular and electoral, in his re-election win.  It is a not mirror of what is going on today. But if it were, how would we respond?  It would be hypocritical to suggest we should deny Trump this win, if we would have wanted Obama to have his re-election win stand.  This is, of course, suggesting a what-if scenario, so let’s not give that too much thought.  We need to stop over-analyzing the past.

I also think we must face the reality that racial tensions will not go away, if Trump is all the sudden denied the win his supporters believe he justifiably has accomplished.  I really do think we could end up with a violent modern-day civil war.  Upper and middle class may be able to stay relatively clean in such a war, but lower class minorities will be targeted and will get hurt.  We need to not just be sensitive to that danger, but we need to ensure that our fights and what we choose to push for, will include protecting those who cannot protect themselves.

Then we see that Trump is putting an Anti-Semitic white nationalist in the White House.  Steve Bannon is a terrifying person to have in the White House, and that won’t be the end of the racist, sexist, and bigoted over-reach that will be all over Washington, as the Trump team takes form.

I have been reading up on the Electoral College.  Is it to make things more fair? Does it disenfranchise minorities? Does it make sense to abolish it?  I really don’t know.  I can’t tell which way it should go, but I feel like it might be time.  Why should it matter if more people in towns vote 1 way, vs another in cities?  Why should an entire state go red or blue, when people in that state voted both ways?

My gut tells me we should get rid of it, but I was elated when President Obama won re-election.  I wouldn’t have wanted that to go any other way.  Now I’m terrified of what will happen to all the progress of the last 30-40 years, in terms of civil rights, environmental awareness and clean up, and furthering a goal for America to lead the fight in human rights.

I signed that petition, but I am pretty sure it won’t come to any good.  First, we would need an overwhelming amount of signatures. So huge that people smarter than myself can encourage the Electoral college (and the public) as to why this is a good move.  Also, I am sure that too many will sign the petition, but then won’t verify their email, which will effectively result in way less signatures than we need, in order to make the desired impact.

I know it is hypocritical to want the Electoral College to flip on this, but glad they didn’t when Obama won. I will say, that I have seen numerous sources reflect this sentiment of Hamilton’s, about the Electoral College’s purpose: “Hamilton and the other founders believed that the electors would be able to insure that only a qualified person becomes President.” (Why The Electoral College)  I have never seen someone win the office of the Presidency, who was wholly unqualified.  Donald Trump doesn’t even know the articles of the constitution. He doesn’t understand freedom of the press, and he doesn’t seek to protect it, in his rhetoric.  How can we respect a President-elect, who doesn’t have any education or understanding of what our democracy is? of what our freedom is?

If we want to work on changing our election system, and I hope we do, we will have to do that with whoever is sworn in on January 20th.  But for now, let’s focus on the fights that we should be fighting.  Either this fight to encourage the Electoral College, or a fight to ensure the Republican Party and the White House, don’t get filled with bigots by Trump’s transition team.

We must protect minorities, regardless of the fights we pick and choose.  We must be mindful of who will be most likely to get hurt, and ensure we protect them first, not cry after.

Even If You Voted for Trump – You Have Work to Do. We All Do

After Trump won, these following incidents have been reported.  I am sure there are more:

  1.  Gun pulled on girl, by 4 guys calling her a n****r, and saying if there weren’t witnesses, they would kill her (https://twitter.com/ShaunKing/status/796752150827298821)
  2.  …Man Tries to Pull off Woman’s Hijab…(http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/She-is-Scared-Man-Tries-to-Pull-off-Womans-Hijab-at-San-Jose-State-University-400702341.html) Edit* – I have learned this was a fabricated story. Obviously, that is unfortunate, and I will do my best to ensure articles have time to be vetted (I am not a journalist, so I don’t have great resources for vetting articles)
  3. This was in Queens, NY. She was asked to go to the back of the bus. (https://twitter.com/ShaunKing/status/796696197134172161)
  4. Students yelling ‘cotton picker,’ heiling Hitler at this local school (http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/education/index.ssf/2016/11/students_yelling_cotton_picker_heiling_hitler_at_this_local_school.html#incart_most-read_warren-county_article)
  5. Swastika graffiti in NY (https://twitter.com/ShaunKing/status/796729403338321920)
  6. White dudes saw a woman alone and yelled “grab her by the pussy” then tried to do so. (https://twitter.com/ShaunKing/status/796551437467664384)
  7. Vandals Set Fire to LGBT Flag (http://wxxinews.org/post/vandals-set-fire-lgbt-flag-north-winton-village-area)

There was a report of a guy flying a nazi flag over his home, near San Fransisco, but learned that it was meant to protest Trump’s win.  I have seen swastikas spray painted (5 above) and in Philly, but I wonder if those are the same.  From people who rejected the hate and bigotry of many who supported Trump, and were furious that such a force of hate managed to win the seat of leading this country.

I get that not all people who voted for Trump agree with bigotry and hate.  But what the rest of us need you all to acknowledge, is that you can’t ignore it either.  Not now, and not ever.  You may claim to not be bigoted or prejudiced, but that doesn’t absolve you of responsibility.  Whether you voted for the candidate espousing such hate, or not.  The one that I put as #1 above is the reason why.  No one should be threatened on the street, because of the color of their skin.

For those of you who don’t think #2 is that bad, I want you to question your own prejudices. Imagine you have a cross necklace, you may well have one.  Imagine your mom or grandma gave it to you. Now imagine someone tried to rip it off your neck.  If that had happened to you, or any other American citizen, who worshiped the cross, would you find that inexcusable? Then you must also defend those who wear a hijab, their right to be protected in their own religious beliefs, traditions, and paraphernalia.

I am seeing a lot of people saying we need to come together, and heal.  That we need to find common ground.  I agree that we need to do this, but before we can sit at a table, we must all agree we are equal.  Why?  Because when we attempt to do that, we will root out those who don’t believe we are all equal.  If you are ruled by hate, by 1 sect of supremacy for 1 race, 1 religion or 1 nationality, then you cannot have a seat at a table for American citizens.  We are diverse, and we are best when we have diversity of background, diversity of opinion, and diversity of tradition.

We have seen the stats that whites gave this election to trump.  I really don’t get white supremacy.  And I’m white! Here is what I don’t get.  Some people think one nationality is better than another.  Some think one religion is better than another.  But where did anyone get the idea that pasty white skin is somehow an indicator of superiority? It seems so unbelievable random and just convenient for those who are white, to try to keep the privilege they’ve been accustomed to having.

In America, we have some groups that are under attack, and one thing I am learning is that white men in this country feel marginalized. They don’t want to lose the power they’ve had, to people who have never had any power.  What I think is missing from this conversation, is that if we can make us all equal, we can all have equal power.  You don’t need power over another person or group of people, in order to protect your own power.  You just don’t.

So we have groups that feel they are losing their power:

  1. straight white men

Groups that are struggling to have equality, which means having their own power:

  1. Blacks
  2. Latinos
  3. Jews
  4. Muslims
  5. Native Americans
  6. LGBT
  7. Women

We must start the conversation by making a framework about the power we have vs the power we should be entitled to.  True freedom means you have a freedom to any opportunity you wish to pursue, so long as that pursuit does not infringe on the freedom of another.

The first list I posted above, is the price we pay for not paying attention.  I don’t care who you voted for.  If you are white in this country, you have more power than those who are not. It is time for us to acknowledge that, and not suggest that we are absolved of responsibility for the crimes against minorities.  Just because we aren’t committing the crime, our silence is allowing it to perpetuate.  If we do not condemn violence against minorities, we are saying it’s not really that big of a deal, if the civil rights and basic safety of American citizens are attacked.

This is on every American.  Even if you don’t understand the race, nationality, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, that really means nothing.  You can work on understand those who are different than you, on your own time. This isn’t understanding each others’ differences.  This is about protecting all American citizens as having an equal right to an equal amount of freedom and civil liberties. From walking down the street without being attacked (verbally or physically), to having the police provide an equal level of protection, to every group listed above. straight white men, and all the groups listed after them, and all those I did not list.

I think the misconception is that giving equal rights, providing rights to another group, means you have to give up your own rights.  It doesn’t.  What it may do, is take away your power to control that group.  I have been watching the Amazon Original series “Good Girls Revolt” recently.  Besides being a fantastic show, it highlights the struggle women have faced in this country, culminating in the protests and fights that took place in the 60’s and 70’s.  These women stood up and said that they didn’t need or want men speaking for them.  They wanted and equal opportunity at the same jobs, for the same pay.  We still aren’t there yet, because the fight for equality is a fight for your own power, against those who have the power over you.  It takes all of us standing together, and it takes some of those with the power, acknowledging that it is not their right to wield it in the first place.

We can and must do this work, regardless of who is our President, and which party controls Congress.  If you want to wake up, I recommend you follow Shaun King, on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ShaunKing).  He finds the cases that don’t get the attention of ones like Treyvon Martin’s did.  That kid’s tragic story is just one story out of thousands.  He has worked on articles (he is a journalist) for ways we can repair our communities with police, and fix the institutional racism that is indoctrinated in many police forces.

We all get that blue lives matter. No one disputes that police face an incredibly dangerous job, and that most of them do it to honestly protect and serve.  But many don’t seem to understand the reason behind black lives matter.  There is a long history of violent white supremacists infiltrating police forces.  We must hold the good cops to calling out the bad cops, and that is no small order.  These guys work together under incredible pressure, and tight budgets, with limited resources.  They are family and operate under an oath of having each other’s backs.

But what happens when having the other guy’s back, means you are no longer doing your duty to protect and serve an American citizen?  That is the first oath, and must be upheld.  If a police officer abuses their authority, the system of protection for all citizens fails us.  If another police officer tries to call out the first police officer, they are protecting the citizens equally, but betraying their friend, their colleague, their fellow officer.  I can’t imagine how hard it must be in that situation.  But that’s the incredibly difficult job of a police officer.  To look past what is easy, and do what is hard.  I know I am just scratching the surface, but we all must try.

People are being lost to hate and bigotry, which has a long history of manifesting into violence.  We must identify the attackers, and condemn them.  Lock them up, and figure out how to rehabilitate them. But they cannot be free to roam the streets, while they seek to attack citizens of this country.  If you can agree with that necessary rule of our law, then we can start to sit at a table and understand our differences.  Then maybe, we can try to heal.

Picking Up the Pieces: Where to Go From Here

I want to blame so many people.

The media, for giving Trump so much coverage, because he boosted their ratings.  Journalists are supposed to report with integrity, not with selling out for clicks. But they did the latter.

The people who backed Bernie Sanders, and then turned their back on the Democratic Party, when he didn’t win the nomination. So many of them voted 3rd party, voted Trump, or didn’t vote at all.

The people who didn’t vote, and don’t vote.  Bill Maher said it best. You are a derelict of your duty as a citizen. You are not clean. You did not absolve yourself. You allowed the rest of the country to be your voice. Hope you like how it sounds.

The Democrats, who got complacent and arrogant.

The racists and white supremacists, who think the country is better white, than diverse.

Myself. I took the day off work, to volunteer with the Democratic party.  I helped answer phones and assist people trying to vote. I should have campaigned more, earlier on.  But I live in a blue state, and didn’t think I needed to work that hard.  I figured the campaign for Hillary Clinton had so much money, that they would be fine. Everyone said, despite my concerns leading up to Election Day, that she had it in the bag.  They were wrong, and I was wrong.

I have no one to blame, but myself.

I’m devastated. I cried this morning. I am scared for the safety and freedom, of my family and my friends. I’m scared for the safety of the protestors/protectors in North Dakota. I’m scared for Muslims, Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, immigrants, and LGBT.  My concern now, is that we are so divided. So many who were supporting Hillary, or at least were not wanting Trump, will be angry. They will be depressed.  How do we pick ourselves up? How do we move forward?

My Love told me to smile this morning, as we were leaving for work. She kept saying to me, as we were getting ready, that it would be ok. I felt like she was just trying to make me feel better, but I know she meant it.  We do have a constitution, and we do have laws governing us.  So here is what we have. 4 years.  4 years for us to break down our issues, and deal with them.  Our democracy worked last night, but not as well as it should.  We can work on that, but it will take all of us rolling up our sleeves and waking up to our responsibility.  It was proven last night, that you can’t improve the system, by simply trying to control the top of the pile. We must start from the foundation.  This means getting involved in local elections.

For the next 4 years, if we improve voter registration and turn out, we can reshape our democracy for the better, so that we are ready for the next Presidential election. Or we can all turn our backs on this democracy, and watch it falter. I hope we don’t do that.  I hope we stand up and come together. We must find common ground, so that all Americans are treated equally, respected equally, and given equal opportunity to succeed.

That is the American dream, and I hope America doesn’t give up on that.

Non-Voters – Please Hear Me Out

I’ve made a pitch to 3rd party supporters (and the candidates) A Safe Vote Third Party Candidates and Supporters, and to voters, in general, providing my honest criticisms of Hillary Clinton If You Want Democracy, You Must Earn It . Now, I want to make one last ditch effort plea to the non-voters.

This is for the people who fall into one of the following categories of non-voters, by reason:

  1. Really don’t care
  2. Don’t think your vote counts
  3. Don’t think voting matters
  4. Don’t like any of the candidates
  5. Have other plans (working all day, just don’t have time, going shopping, watching reality tv)
  6. Any other reason

My plea is this.  Please vote anyway.  I’d rather you try to prove me wrong, by voting, then prove me right by not voting.  We have an epidemic in this country, and that is low voter participation.  If every eligible voter was registered and voting, we’d have less corruption in our government.  You think Mitch McConnell is still in office, because of high voter turnout?  No, it’s because they have low turnout in KY, like most places.  Members in congress don’t want high turnout, because the more the voters are watching what they do, the bigger the risk that the elected official might be voted out.

I worked at the Board of Elections, and I can tell you that your vote does count.  Every one.  On election night, results are transferred from each polling place, to the county Board of Elections.  Those are posted, and news outlets report them.  But those are only “un-official” results.  They become official, after an audit.  The audit compares what was received on election night, to visually checking every machine, from every polling place.  Then the results are validated, and become official. The initial tally is generally found to always match the audit, which is why most don’t worry about the audit.  But rest assured, your vote does count.

Even if you are in a state that is notoriously blue or red, (democrat or republican), please don’t sit out.  This election will have a ton of unlikely voters (people who don’t vote often) and new voters.  The polls you see online are all skewed and it’s best to just ignore them.  Pretend it is a dead heat.  45/45/5/5.  I’m giving 5% each to top 3rd party candidates, because they can effect the margins that easily.  They won’t win, but they can screw up the race for the 2 candidates who do have a conceivable chance to win.

If the race really is that close, do you want someone else to decide who leads this country?  Even if you hate politics, please think about this – it is your country.  It is mine and ours.  It is on us to take care of this country, and that means voting.

Do me this favor.  Vote tomorrow.  And then vote for the next 3 years.  If we get the turnout over 90% for 4 years, which will include local elections, I bet we can start to fix things in this country.

Prove me wrong, and vote.  Just don’t prove me right by sitting out.  Our democracy can’t afford for anyone to sit out of the election process.

If You Want Democracy You Must Earn It

I wrote this post A Safe Vote Third Party Candidates and Supporters, and one of the criticisms I received, was that I didn’t really expand on my thoughts about Hillary Clinton.  If you weed through my twitter history, and past the adorable cat pics that make me smile, you will see I haven’t been her biggest fan. I used to be in the 90’s, but she slowly became more conservative, and I let the media’s spin effect my view of her.  She was making paid speeches and aligning herself with Wall Street. At least that’s how it looked.

When I heard President Obama speak in an interview, after his surprising Senate win, I was so impressed.  He was articulate and relatable. He was saying what we should be doing as a nation, and I agreed so much.  Then he spoke at the convention and I was floored.  I had planned to support Clinton’s run for President, until I heard him.  I was pretty excited to have a woman President.  When I was a kid, my family was taking a trip to my grandparents.  You know the car ride.  Kids in the back, parents in the front, and eventually we are singing 12 Days of Christmas, all off key.  I was 10 years old and thinking about what I wanted to be, when I grew up.  I had gone through the phase of wanting to be a ballerina.  Then, wanting to be a veterinarian, but realized I could never put an animal down.  I would be balling my eyes out, and that wouldn’t help the parent of that pet.

Then it hit me.  I wanted to help people, and the best way to do that would be President.  I knew that you had to be 35 to run for President.  So I decided that I wanted to be the 2nd female President.  I knew it would be a while, before we would progress enough as a nation to elect a female leader. At the same time, I really thought it shouldn’t take that long (until I was 35) for USA to have a female President. Now I’m 38, about to turn 39.  This country did not hit my deadline, and as I grow older and more educated, I’m not surprised. It surprised me a lot, when I made the decision to support President Obama, instead of Hillary Clinton.  He was more liberal, than she had become, and I am still happy with my decision.  She became Secretary of State and her resume just became more impressive. I have never been more proud, than getting to vote for President Obama both times. He’s been a fantastic leader, and a role model for our country. His whole family has led by example with grace and dignity.

So here we are, in 2016.  Again, we ended up with a candidate, who was more liberal than her.  I supported Bernie Sanders.  He had this appearance of being squeaky clean, and his entire platform was what the DNC platform should have been; at least in my mind.  Once it became clear that all 16 nominees in the Republican party were so bad, I knew we had to support the Democratic nominee.  Look through those candidates.  Their history in elected office, or lack of resume in public service.  Those that had been in office, had a record of cutting funding for the poorest Americans.  They had rhetoric and history of being anti-LGBT, anti women’s rights (health, pay, etc), anti-climate change, and anti-middle class.  They all want tax cuts, which means we cut funding for those in the greatest need.

Then Trump started rallying the racists and the bigots.  The anti-woman, sexist, misogynistic, hateful rhetoric, that you wouldn’t want kids hearing.  That’s significant.  Growing up, my parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle (small family) all encouraged my brother and cousins to be informed.  We watched debates, listened to speeches and paid attention to candidates for elected office.  These are the people who are going to represent us.  This is the core of our democracy.  Candidates run for office, and We The People are supposed to pay attention, question how they will represent us, and hold them to that.  We are supposed to vote and participate in our government. That is the only way we make it better.  But how are we supposed to pass that on to our kids, when we have to shield them from one of the candidates, because he is so rude, crass, gross and has no respect for the office of the Presidency, or for anyone but himself?  It falls apart, when you have someone like that on a stage with a microphone and media endlessly covering him.

I think of our democracy like dieting.  Cue the onslaught of trolls telling me I’m fat.  Got the memo, and trust me, I’m working on it.  Anyway, our democracy has a parallel to the concept of dieting.  A common problem with dieting, is the mental and emotional approach to a diet.  It focuses on reaching a goal.  That implies that there is an end to the work that has to be done.  Then it starts to feel like you will never be done, with the framework centered around being able to be done at some point.  Health and nutrition, just like democracy, is an organic living thing.  It must be, if it will work.  I got to hear Chelsea Clinton speak once.  She said the same thing I deal with in database application development.  You get out, what you put in to our democracy.  The less we participate, the less our government will represent us and work for us.  Same with applications.  Data in, data out.  If we are lazy with how we participate in our government, our government will be lazy in representing all our interests.  We can blame them all we want, but the onus is on us.

Back to this year’s big race, I had supported Bernie Sanders in the primary.  Eventually, it became clear, that despite the fire Bernie Sanders lit under people to wake up and get involved, he was not going to win the nomination.  I had to come to terms with that, because Trump had locked up the Republican nomination and he was so under-qualified, had such hateful rhetoric, and just seemed to be an over-inflated bigot with nothing more than crappy things to say about anyone but him.  He could not be President, and I had to support the Democratic nominee.  It seemed obvious to me, that either Democratic candidate was miles better than Trump.  But the critics say that we are drinking the kool-aid, if we don’t look at Hillary Clinton and her full resume.

I honestly feel that she has endured criticism that is hypocritical at least, and lacking facts at best.  That’s not to say that I don’t have my concerns.  So let me honestly acknowledge those, and address where I am with them.  I am not a fan of Monsanto, and don’t like how much she has done to endorse them over the years.  I get the difference between GMO’s in creating food vs GMO pesticides.  I’m not a big fan of either, but more of the latter.  I just don’t think there are enough studies of the effects on our nutrition or the planet.  They should be independent studies, and would have to stretch like a decade, to see long term effects. I want required labeling of GMOs.  I know Bernie Sanders would (and will) push for that.  I don’t have the same confidence that she will.

I didn’t like the paid Wall Street speeches, but it occurred to me that I was holding her to a standard that all her opponents aren’t being tagged with.  These guys cozy up to Wall Street, and they are tagging her with that alignment, while doing the same.  I get having qualms, but we should have an even playing field and it is a huge oversight to attack her for the very things Republicans have been doing for years.  That includes how she handled her emails and the deleted emails.  It’s been reported that 33,000 emails were deleted.  The Bush administration deleted 22 million. Trump has been cited for destroying emails and documents that were supposed to be held and turned over in lawsuits he has been the subject of.

So what else are my criticisms, that aren’t a double standard in comparison to her opponents? Minimum wage – I think the minimum wage should be a livable wage, and that congress should be paid the same.  They should only be allowed cola increases, when they give that same increase to the minimum wage.  May seem naive and idealistic, but if everyone voted, and kept voting, we could make that a reality in a few election cycles.  To me, it makes perfect sense.  Bernie Sanders is for $15 an hour, and Hillary wasn’t for that.

I also think that we need to be way more progressive in investing in renewable resources.  Hand in hand with this, we need to stop what is happening in the #DAPL situation.  We must be protecting our natural resources, not bowing to oil corporations and special interest.  We have already seen extreme weather and the effects of climate change.  As the country that is seen as a leader of the free world, I consider it our responsibility to lead on this issue.  We must address our landfills, how we recycle and how we treat our planet.  Endangered animals are on us.  The bleaching of coral reef and the toxic dumping is on us.  Bernie Sanders has always championed this responsibility, and I haven’t seen the same from Hillary Clinton.

Related to that issue, is the rights of Native Americans.  People are crying out, in the Trump campaign, about how we need to stop people from coming into this country.  It’s such an oxymoron to me, as we were not the first here.  We must honor the treaties with the Native American people and they should have a front row seat at the table.  What is happening in North Dakota is atrocious, and it speaks volumes about our humanity and respect for their culture.  We shouldn’t be encroaching on their land, and we shouldn’t be desecrating their sacred burial sites.  It is horrifically sad that we could treat anyone like this, and I really hope we fix this, before it’s too late.  Bernie Sanders is with them, but I haven’t heard Hillary Clinton speak on their behalf.

Education is another area of importance.  I have had this discussion with different people.  I get the frustration that we talk about the idea that college should be free, when people have already had to pay for it.  We want to send people to college for free? I had to sit in on required classes about signing financial aid papers and promissory notes to pay the many student loans I would have, when I graduated.  I had to take a private loan, to get to study abroad.  I worked full time, while earning my undergraduate degree.  I’m still paying my student loans off, and I was relatively lucky.  I had $25,000 in debt, when I graduated.  Why should someone else have it free? Bernie sold me on that pretty quickly, not that it was hard to convince me.  I want equal opportunity for people to get an education.  It shouldn’t depend on your ability to shell out 10’s of thousands of dollars, whether you can get a college education or not.  If our system is built that way, people who come from or already have a lot of money get an advantage over those who don’t, regardless of who will work harder or who is more deserving of that college acceptance slot.

That isn’t wholly popular, but I hope it will be some day.  It is how we can become the country that turns out the best talent, instead of lagging behind India, China, and Japan.  We can choose to educate our population, or focus on letting the money do the talking.  If we do the latter, we will all be morons watching the rich guy spewing hate and not really getting it.  wait….

So I can’t go through every detail of Clinton’s past.  (This post is long enough).  The thing is, that despite the criticisms I laid out above, she is still an incredible candidate.  More newspapers have endorsed her, than any candidate in history.  That isn’t just because Trump is that bad, although he is.  She is that qualified.  She was involved in activism in college.  She was born and raised, wanting to get involved and help.  She’s been doing that despite the obscene level and nature of attacks that she has been subjected to.  She has shattered glass ceilings for girls and women.  The Clinton Foundation has helped millions in need, and has the highest rating from charity watch dogs.  I lifted this from Fortune.com, in case you aren’t aware of the tangible work this organization has done (http://fortune.com/2016/08/27/clinton-foundation-health-work/):

  • Raised $313 million for R&D into new vaccines and medicines;
  • Helped provide better maternal and child survival care to more than 110 million people, and;
  • Provided treatment for more than 36 million people with tropical diseases.
  • Private firms are also in the mix. Biotech giant Gilead GILD 1.25% and the NAACP joined forces to recruit religious leaders in the African American community to help fight HIV/AIDS, which disproportionately affects blacks in the U.S. Medical tech company Becton Dickinson bd , which ranked among the 50 companies in Fortune‘s Change the World list this year, has committed to dramatically cutting the price of CD4 immune cell tests for HIV-positive people across 55 countries.

That’s just a small list of some of what they have done.  The foundation has a global impact.  She has also donated significant amounts of her own money to charities, which includes that money she gets from big Wall Street speeches. You can see that evidence/proof/facts, because she released her tax returns. When people attack her for transparency, I would suggest they look at that difference in the top 2 candidates.

The issues I raised above are concerns, but those concerns are vanishing, as Bernie Sander’s real success has shown. He pushed the entire DNC platform and Hillary’s campaign.  Bernie’s revolution has a seat at the table in her administration.  He made sure of that, when he had the decency and foresight to endorse her at the convention.  He knew we would be stronger together.  Her faults or weaknesses are there, but they aren’t insurmountable at all.  They are workable.  And she is a reasonable person.  No one else can get it done.  No one else will try, as hard and as tirelessly as she will.

You may not be head over heels in love with her candidacy.  I have gone back and forth over the past few decades.  But it is hard to deny that she has an impressive resume.  I said it before, in the previous blog post that I mentioned at the beginning.  I’ll say it again here.  If we take away her name, and call her Joe Conservative Republican, he would have been the darling of the Republican party. Fiscal conservative, deficit hawk, tough, and doesn’t back down.  Wildly successful attorney, US Senator and Secretary of State.  It’s not just a line in a speech. No party has ever had such a qualified candidate for President.

Go ahead and have your issues, but I think she will do an incredible job as President, and to think there is any other option even close to her, is delusional.  Sitting out of this election, or any election, is the most unpatriotic thing an American can do.  People risk their lives to vote in other countries.  Women did, in America, before they forced the door open for women to be able to vote.  The same fight was fought and won for African Americans. That same fight will always be on the table, for our right to vote, and our right to be heard.  If we don’t use it with gusto, we might lose it.

If you have enough time to get a latte, you have enough time to vote.  If you have enough time to tweet on twitter, snap on snapchat, post on facebook, and gossip about reality television, you have time to vote.  This isn’t some boring exercise, where your actions don’t really make a difference.  You can’t control what other people do, and you shouldn’t try to. Every person can lead by example.  Vote and continue to pay attention.  I hope you will consider supporting Hillary Clinton, even if you aren’t all in.  She has the education, skill, aptitude, temperament, and conceptual intellect to handle the job.  She has all of that to hear out opposition, and find a compromise that will best serve the country.

Now as Vice-President Biden said, make a plan and vote!

P.S. if you’re not convinced by my amateur blog post, to vote, please listen to Katie Couric:
Why Every Vote Counts

A Safe Vote: Third Party Candidates and Supporters

It’s the worst argument I have ever heard, for why someone would vote for a candidate. I’m sure people more intelligent than myself can come up with worse ones.  But I’ve heard this argument on social media, during this election season.  There are Clinton supporters.  There are Trump supporters.  Then there is this faction of people who fall into one of the following categories:

  1. Won’t vote
    • Their vote doesn’t count
    • Don’t like any of the candidates
  2. Will vote 3rd party candidate because they believe in that candidate
  3. Will vote for 3rd party candidate as a protest vote
  4. Will vote 3rd party candidate because it is a “safe vote”

It’s that last one that really irks me.  For one, traditionally blue or red states are not staying true to their traditions this year.  We have had a slew of newly motivated voters this year.  These are people who have never voted or are just unlikely voters.  They aren’t going to show up in all the polls we see, but if they show up to vote, it will turn everything upside down.  You can count on this happening, although no one knows exactly what it will look like at the end of the day.  Anyone who claims to know, is pulling your leg.

But the biggest reason that this doesn’t make sense to me, is why would you want your vote to be “safe”?  This is suggesting that is is good to vote for someone, who you know can’t win, and it will be safe because it won’t affect the outcome. What the hell is the point of voting, if you are trying to make your vote NOT count? NOT have an effect?  Sure it raises the profile of the 3rd party, and can hope to raise the legitimacy of their party, but not if they aren’t going to get a significant vote at the end of the day. None of the 3rd party candidates today have that chance.

So let’s look at this objectively.  Hoping that you would want your vote to not be thrown away, but to be for a good, qualified candidate.  No 3rd party candidate running for President is qualified for the office, in the realest sense.  They don’t have the international experience to be a leader of the free world.  They just don’t.  I’m sorry that it seems unfair, but let’s get real about the Presidential election.  Not just this one.  All Presidential elections.  People seem to come out of the wood work, crying that we don’t have better options.  We need better candidates, than the 2 party system produces.  It’s easy to blame Democrats and Republicans for producing the candidates that they do, but the blame is on all of us.  Those of us in the respective parties, and those sitting around waiting for a legitimate 3rd party.

A lot of people started to pay attention this year, but when things didn’t go their way, or they didn’t get all they wanted, they all cried foul.  This process has been going on for 240 years.  We can always improve, but it will never happen en masse in one political season.  We have the candidates that we have earned, by how well we have all paid attention to our government and the candidates vying for office.  We have earned the process we have by our commitment to being registered to vote, being informed, and voting.

It will take us many elections to make a better system, and many more to keep it that way.  Democracy is a living concept. It is not a fix it and forget it ideal.  We must keep working it at and tending to it. To quote (who knows, Truman, Woody Allen, Aaron Sorkin?) “Decisions are made by those who show up

In the mean time, you should be insistent on making your vote one that matters.  I went to school for political science, but I am no Political Scientist.  There are many out there, and they will all tell you this: A vote for Trump is a vote for Trump.  A vote for a 3rd party candidate, will help Trump. Not voting, will help Trump.  Only a vote for Clinton is a vote for Clinton and the only thing that will prevent Trump from ending up President.

A lot of people hate Hillary Clinton, and will never vote for her.  I get it and I don’t, at the same time.  I get that some people have this blind hate, and others have their beef.  I would challenge those who don’t like her, based on anything that’s been proven.  The GOP has been working to smear her for something in the neighborhood of 30 years. There is a lot of supposed dirt on her, but none of it has really ever been substantiated.  That’s what gets me.

  1. 33,000 emails – you might want to look into all the emails the George W. Bush administration deleted.  I think it was something like 20 million. She is far from the first person to have deleted emails, and there isn’t even any proof that they were deleted in any intent more than the normal course of business (when you don’t need an email any more, you delete it, or run out of space eventually)
  2. Benghazi – Not only did the hearings find no wrong doing, but there are some important facts to note
    • As far as I’m aware, there has always been at least 1 embassy attack during an administration, at least in the last 30 years. That’s not an excuse.  It was a horrible tragedy, but it’s the only one people seem to know about. Maybe that’s because the GOP has shamelessly used this tragedy to go after Clinton
    • During the W. Bush administration, there were many embassy attacks, with many more fatalities, and 0 investigations
    • Clinton had warned congress that the embassies needed more funding for security, and they slashed it anyway. It’s almost like they didn’t want her to be successful in her role
  3. Anything else, you will have to ask her campaign.  I can’t respond to every allegation.  But consider this, is it a sexist claim? Is it saying she is “weak”, even though she likely works an 18 hr day, a lot? Ask who is saying it? Do they have something to gain by attacking her?

Hillary Clinton started her career as an attorney fighting to represent the poor.  Not special interest.  It seems there is a double standard though.  She became a successful business person, over her career, and she has been lambasted in a way that none of her opponents are.  If they make deals, give speeches for money, have a private email server, like Trey Gowdy did (led investigation against her use of private email server), this is all ok.  Why? For they are men.  I can’t find any other reason.  It is ok for men to be shrewd, successful businessmen, but don’t dare think a should woman try it.  Well, she has done it, and despite their attacks. You want a businessman leading our country? She is it! She is good enough at business, that she doesn’t have to hide behind an audit (which doesn’t legally work as cover) as a reason not to release tax returns.  She does release them, and they show that she gives A LOT to charity.

On the other hand, it is truly terrifying to imagine Trump leading this country, which is why so many people are making the call to ensure people who plan to vote 3rd party or not to vote, understand what their vote will do.  How it will affect the landscape.  Every person can decide for themselves, the effect they want their vote to have, but ignoring the reality and saying “well I want it to have another effect” isn’t enough. You have to work within reality, in order to get from A – B, or you won’t be able to find Aleppo on a map.

While I have your attention, yes you two people who stumbled on to my blog, I have one more plea to make.  This is for the third party candidates.  I’m sure they are all just anxious to read my blog, but nevertheless, I want to try.

Being a citizen in a free country, like the United States, is a great privilege.  So, I’m sure, is running for President.  But both duties are more than what we want for ourselves.  It seems counter-intuitive.  It’s my vote, not yours.  I’ll vote for selfish reasons, and what I want.  You can feel free to do the same.  But our democracy can’t function that way. We have seen how being selfish and divided creates a volatile atmosphere in our society. It is not what is in the best interest of the country as a whole.  To truly do our duty as citizens, we must think beyond what we want for ourselves, for our own selfish interest.  We must also care about what is best for our fellow citizens.  I can’t just want my rights and freedoms secured, if I want to also secure our democracy.  I must want the rights and freedoms of my fellow citizens secured, even if I can’t stand their opinions.

The same is true for the candidates running for President.  I feel confident that Clinton gets the self-sacrifice required to run for President.  I am confident that Trump never will.  He has spent the majority of his campaign bragging about himself. Notice that Clinton brags about the country.  She makes the conversation about us, not her.  He makes it about himself.

So here is my pitch to the 3rd party candidates.  You know you can’t win.  I’m sorry. It sucks that it can’t be “easier”, to push the needle.  But this is the reality. We have less than 2 weeks out, and the best you can hope for, is that you hand Trump the Presidency, by fracturing a vote that will never be anywhere close enough to allow any of you to win.

If you ran, because you genuinely and truly want to help this country, then do that now.  Do the unselfish thing and drop out.  Endorse Hillary Clinton as the only candidate who can win, and should win.  Who is qualified and the best person for the job. It seems outrageous to ask, I’m sure. I’m also sure you’ve been asked countless times to drop out.  But I have to try.  There are many reasons to be scared, during this election season.

  1. We will have a lot of unlikely voters this year
    • No, not enough for you to win
    • They won’t be in the polls, so they will turn the polls inside out
      • no, not significantly in your favor
  2. We will have, as always, people who won’t vote, because they want to be lazy and say “my vote doesn’t count” – that always helps the GOP
  3. Trump is dangerous to our Democracy, in a way that has never occurred, in the history of this nation
    • He wants to limit the freedom of the press
    • He wants to sue or jail anyone who doesn’t support him or lift him up (the exact rhetoric of a tyrant)
    • He doesn’t know or understand the constitution
    • He has had (at last count 11) numerous allegations of sexual assault, coupled with audio/video of him bragging about how his power let’s him commit sexual assault
    •  He wants to use nuclear weapons, while he has no education on the matter or understanding of the implications
      • Numerous generals and watch commanders have disavowed him on this point
    • He doesn’t understand the budget process, or the laws that govern our country
      • He has vowed to defund or do away with agencies and/or regulations meant to protect citizens, while telling us it will help us. It won’t.  It will help his businesses (not that much will, since I understand it’s all a bankrupt illusion)

I could go on, but as I said earlier, there are much more seasoned political scientists than me.  They can give you more insight, if the above is not enough.  My point is, that this is more than your moment of fame.  You are a part of this, and what you choose to do, is not just about you.  It doesn’t just affect you. It affects us all.  If you are really running for the good of the people, than one thing should be clear to you now.  In the interest of the people, it is time to bow out gracefully.  You will be remembered in far greater light, by dropping out now. You will be unifying the country behind a message of togetherness, over a division of hate and anger.

I would love for the 3rd party candidates to see that political reality. They aren’t really serving the interest of the country by staying in the race.  I would love for 3rd party voters to see that political reality, as well.  If you want a legitimate 3rd party option, then work for it.  You can’t do it by a protest vote in a Presidential election.  The only way it will be done is by getting good local candidates, building up state parties and creating a national charter.  Make a legitimate party that can actually compete on the national level.  That isn’t done by just propping up a candidate with no shot and not a lot of qualifications for the job.

For now, and for this election, I implore you. Consider not just what effect you want your vote to have on your moral and ethical claims. Consider not just what your candidacy will do for yourself.  Consider what your vote and/or candidacy will do, to or for the country.  It will have an effect, but maybe not the one you mean for it to have.  Regardless of what you want, there is a reality, and I think it is only fair that we be as informed as possible.  Our vote is not a selfish act.  It is one for the good of all people.  Democracy is more than just one person.  It is all of us, and we must work together.

Thank you.

Patriotism and Democracy in Our Time

I have been seeing a lot lately about patriotism in America.  I have always found it ironic, what people see as being patriotic.  It seems that waving a flag is patriotic.  Sharing certain facebook posts are patriotic (others, not so much).  In parallel to this, many Americans despise our election season.  We love America, but hate the very idea of having to pay attention to those running the show. I wanted to get some real numbers, so I visited the Census Bureau, to get some. (Census 2014 Voting and Registration)  Here is the short of what I see on that site.  From what I can tell, with my novice eyes, about 65% of our population is registered to vote.  It also shows that roughly 19% are not registered. Why does that not add up? I believe because our total population are not all eligible.  Whether under 18, a felone, or not a citizen, I believe that should make up the rest.

What’s more, about 65% of the registered population voted, in the year taken for those statistics.  If we look at that based on the Total Citizen Population, it’s closer to 42% voter turn out.  How can we claim to be the greatest democracy in the world, when our citizens can’t be bothered to register, let alone show up and vote? I’m not just talking about Presidential elections, which get more media attention, as they are national news.  I’m talking even in local election years, where I believe turn out is even worse.  In this country, where it can take (at most) a couple of minutes to fill out a registration form, and about the same to cast a ballot, we have little excuse.  That’s not to say that we couldn’t improve on our democracy.  It should improve. That’s what makes our democracy great.  The room for improvement.

We can push for election day to be a national holiday, automatic voter registration (to no party affiliation) at 18, and open primaries. In the mean time, I just hope people really look at the records and resumes of all the candidates, and vote based on what is best for all people.  Being a patriotic citizen is about more than what helps yourself, but what will help us all.

Now we have people claiming that if Trump loses, it will be because the election is rigged.  To get this off the table, let’s all agree that SNL is not attempting to undermine the election.  SNL is a comedy show, which has a long history of satirizing those who think to make themselves the center of attention in our political system.  They don’t care what party you are with, just the great sound bites you offer up. Blaming others for repeating and even mocking things you say, is just poor sportsmanship. you know what they say, if you can’t take the heat…

But this is a serious allegation. It is serious to encourage people to sign up to be poll observers on election day, to make sure there is no election rigging.  It’s fine if they are there to ensure people get to vote, and that it does not matter who they vote for. If they are there to truly support every person’s private vote, then I am all for it.  If they are there to intimidate minority voters, or pressure people to vote for their candidate, I hope they are arrested for voter intimidation, which is against the law.

There is no basis for this claim, that there is any election “riggig”, other than the online and media-run polls.  They are showing Trump’s numbers going down.  I googled voter fraud stats and found this from Wapo: (Wapo 31 Cases of Voter Fraud).  They found 31 cases out of 1 Billion votes cast.  To put that into percentage, that is a 0.0000031% of voter fraud found. I’m not trying to make light of the threat of voter fraud, but I just don’t see it as some looming issue.  What I do see, is a candidate for President, who is not the least bit Presidential. He has never held office, even at the local level. He has not care nor concern for our Democracy, nor the consequences of slinging conspiracy theories at a crowd of uneducated and scared supporters.

It has always been respected by all Presidential candidates, that win or lose, Democracy will win, and we must respect that.  That is until now, when a person driven by ego became a major party candidate for President. His concern is not for the people, or our democracy.  It is for his own ego and his brand. It is beyond irresponsible to claim that if you lose, it means the election was rigged.  This is not a high school election. This is the democratic election in a country that is watched by the world as either the leader of an ideal of freedom, or a country that is reverting back to some sort of torches and pitchforks crowd, with a xenophobic view on the horizon.  It scares me that those seem to be our only options right now, because there is no litmus test for voting.  I’m not suggesting there should be, but it seems like a basic understanding of the difference between facts and beliefs or opinions should be at the heart of what we accept from our politicians.  It should be the basis for political debate, among candidates and voters.  An informed electorate, is what I am asking for.  Is that too much to ask?

Like it or not, we have a democracy (or more accurately a democratic republic), and with that will always come politicians and election cycles. Every year.  I really wish we would embrace it, so I could stop seeing all the cliche “can’t wait for the election to be over, so I can stop having to hear about it.” Sorry that living in a country with a lot of civil liberties is so inconvenient for you.

Personally, election night is my super bowl.  I will pop popcorn (organic, non-gmo of course).  I look up my registration months ahead of time, just to make sure my representatives haven’t changed because of re-redistricting.  It has happened before and can again.   I check who is running for re-election and who any candidates are running in opposition to them.  It can take at most 1 hour, since we have so much at our fingertips online.  If I can’t find enough info, I contact county level party committees.  eg. Xyz County [party] Committee. I then ask them to help me with any info on candidates running in my districts, and tell them which districts.  For this Presidential cycle, that will be US Senate in our state, and Congressional district, in our state, which I have ready for them.  In gubernatorial years (state/governor) you generally also have state senate and state assembly. Local years you have town/city councils, school boards.  In all years, you have the chance of ballot measures.

None of it is always going to be thrilling and exciting, but it is incredibly important to our Democracy, that we pay attention and participate. We have the elected officials and candidates that we have earned by the amount of attention we have (and have not) paid to this point. It will always be that way.

It’s a cop-out to say your vote doesn’t count. I worked at the Board of Elections. We oversee an election and report the votes. It is not in our interest to see anyone win, just the will of the voters. When results come out on election night, those are unofficial. They are unofficial, until after the election, when all votes are counted again in an audit. This is how we do the math twice, to verify the results. Then the results become official.  This is when absentee ballots are also counted, as in some races, the total count of those will not affect the results, even if they went 100% for any candidate in the race. That doesn’t mean absentee ballot voting doesn’t count. My first election, I voted by absentee ballot.  If a race is tight, your vote could decide the winner.  Whether by absentee or in person vote.  It always matters.  If every person stayed home, it would matter.  If every person voted it would matter.  It will always matters. Every vote cast, and every voter who omits their voice from the process, by not voting.

I never thought I would see the day that a candidate for US President would ever tell their supporters that if they don’t win, it’s because the election was rigged. Beyond having no basis in facts, it is having the exact direct result of encouraging those supporters to take matters into their own hands.  This is so dangerous that it has already netted an FBI arrest of people planning to attack a Muslim community, and others saying we need a coup or to cause civil unrest.  People will be hurt, and the sore loser doesn’t seem to care, since it won’t be him.  It’s the height of hubris and selfish complaining about losing at something he wasn’t qualified for in the first place.

We should demand better of a candidate for office, whether at the local or national level. We should demand better of ourselves and each other, when it comes to the attention we pay to our Democracy.

Believe Me, Believer Her

I was hoping to be more active in writing posts during this election season, but being busy with my life got in the way.  I wanted to post more about my thoughts in response to the news that comes out of the Presidential campaign and the rhetoric that I am seeing on Twitter.  I have to respond to what I am seeing today, because its making me so disheartened.

Last night, two women, and then a 3rd (reporter), came out to the media. They disclosed their personal stories of being sexually assaulted by Donald Trump.  It was no shock to me that he immediately threatened to sue the New York Times, and even less of a shock that he’s telling people to “just look at her”. Of course he is going to threaten the press for publishing an account of someone standing up to him for his attacks against their person.  Of course he is going to shame the women he assaulted and claim that he wouldn’t do what they are saying, because they aren’t attractive enough.  I say of course, because his behavior is exactly what our Vice President, Joe Biden labeled it.  It is the definition of sexual assault and that of a sexual predator.

This hits home for me, because I have been raped and I’ve been assaulted more than once in my life.  Donald Trump would probably laugh at me saying this publicly.  He’d probably say “Just look at her”.  It’s his m/o. I’m over-weight. I’m unattractive. I’ve got nothing to offer.  Reduce me to rubble, and maybe I’ll stop having the confidence to speak up.  That’s what he wants to do to these incredibly brave women who are speaking up. He claims that if these incidents really happened, they would have spoken up at the time.

I’m writing this to tell you that’s bullshit.  When a woman (or a man) is sexually assaulted, it is a violation of power.  Asserting power over someone else.  That’s why it is predatory.  After that, victims are often threatened if they speak out.  In my case, it was a family member, a shrink, a “roommate”, a college hook-up (separate incidents of different degrees of assault).  I can’t imagine it being a boss.  I can’t imagine it being someone who is richer and more powerful, who can strong arm people and can just get what they want.  Talk about intimidation.  He is using his power to intimate women and it looks like he has a long history of doing this.

As for his own remarks about owning beauty pageants, so that he can “do whatever he wants”, this kind of thinking is not original or unique.  From everything I have seen, from my woman eyes, there are men who behave in ways that are sexually predatory. When frat parties are planned to separate girls from their friends and push alcohol and/or drugs on girls so they are more “pliable”.  When men corner women, making moves to get them alone, where they will have power and privacy to assault them. When men use their power to insist that “beautiful” women surround them and fawn over them.

All of this feels like it is a distraction from this election, but it is a huge part of it.  I know the graphics that came out this week, about if only women voted vs if only men voted.  It was literally a she wins vs he wins scenario.  Of course those graphics resulted in Trump supporters trending a hashtag for a call to repeal the 19th amendment. Can you imagine anything more horrendous to our democracy than repealing a woman’s right to vote? I feel pretty confident that will never happen, but something tells me a lot of Germans didn’t think Hitler would really kill millions of people.

I keep seeing polls going up and down, for Hillary and then for Trump, although less going up for him these days.  What worries me, is that the polls can be skewed.  They, for one, generally poll likely voters.  This election is definitely going to have a lot of unlikely voters, and they will make the polls look like lunacy, by the end of the day.  My hope is that people actually show up to the polls to vote for Hillary Clinton.  These polls also focus a lot on undecideds who then decide. I don’t get the rationale of having to think hard between the choice of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but c’est la vie.

Just as many of the endorsements for her have said, it’s not just because her opponent is so abhorrent. I was originally a Bernie Sanders supporter.  I also vowed to support the nominee, and I clung to my Sanders campaign support til the nomination happened.  Once it did, I gladly welcomed Hillary Clinton as the nominee.

The reality of any election is that you will likely never find a candidate that has everything you want your representative to have.  They will never agree with you on every issue.  But at the same time, we have the candidates in each election cycle, that we have earned.  In most election years, turnout is around 50%, even less in local election years.  That is of registered voters.  Many people who are eligible to be registered, don’t even bother to register.  I worked at the Board of Elections, and we did an experiment (unofficial) to time how long it took to fill out the registration form.  We must have done the test at least 10 times, filling out all information and taking our time.  It was an average of 1:30 minutes to fill it out, yet people can’t be bothered to do that, or show up 1 day (2 if there is a primary) to vote.  Talk about patriotism.  If you really looked at how many eligible citizens voted in local elections, you probably wouldn’t have 20%, which is considered a quorum.

With Hillary Clinton, she is more conservative, than what I look for in a candidate.  I am a left wing liberal.  I want to rescue the Chibok girls and help Haiti recover from the Hurricane.  I want to kneel with Kaepernick and stand side by side with #BlackLivesMatter.  I also recognize that there are many different issues that we face as a country.  These are complex issues, which sometimes intersect and sometimes don’t.  From international affairs (a big over-simplified bucket), education, infrastructure, security, health care, national debt, etc.

What really strikes me is the blind hate for Hillary Clinton.  I feel like it started when Bill Clinton ran for President in 1992.  I was only 14 at the time, so excuse me not fully recalling that time in my youth.  But I do remember that she wasn’t a demure wife. She was her own woman.  She was a lawyer, educated, and had her own opinion.  She was Bill Clinton’s equal, not his wife in the wings.  She broke a glass ceiling when she became the first lady, but didn’t act like a lady who’s job it was to just stand behind her husband and agree with his every word.  She had her own ambitions.  Yikes.  Ambitions.  How dare she!

I really think you could do an exercise in hypocrisy for everyone who is bent on never giving her a chance.  Take her resume.  Her work before being elected to Senate (leave out first lady, as that will be a dead give away).  Her votes in Senate. Not just on Iraq, but all the others.  Her work as Secretary of State.  If you take away her gender and her name, conservative Republicans would love that guy.  They’d be rallying around their golden child and Trump would have never been given this misguided spotlight.

I’d like to say I’m glad he’s been thrust into the spotlight, because it has shined a light on sexual predators and sexual assault.  I have to wait until November 9th to say that.  I have to wait until I have double confirmation, that Hillary Clinton is our next President.

I am excited to vote for her.  I’m thrilled to finally have a female President.  We have taken forever getting here. I’m giving her this term to see what she can do with this opportunity.  Can she help make $15 minimum wage a reality for all of those trying to live on minimum wage?  Can she really get our educational system to make college affordable to everyone, and not something that only happens if you have enough money, or take out enough loans?  Can she move our country towards renewable energy, in the speed that we need to, to combat climate change?  Can she stop DAPL?  Can she and will she ban fracking?  Can she and will she support organic farming and demand that products with GMO pesticides be labeled?  These are things I want, but believe me, I wouldn’t think for a minute not voting for her.

Even if she can’t get that stuff done, she is incredibly qualified to be our President, and none of the other candidates are remotely qualified for the office.  Hillary Clinton has had more mud slung at her in the last 30 years, than a pig at a trough.  Ok, that was bad.  Tried to come up with a new one, but my wit failed me.

I think she will preserve our Democracy, nominate good qualified candidates for SCOTUS, and keep us going in the direction of lowering unemployment, boosting the economy and strengthening our middle class.  I do believe she does champion the issues facing the lower/poorest class in our country.  Those who are not able to make it even pay check to pay check.  They rely on government assistance and social programs.  They deal with attacks that they are free loading, even though they literally have no other options. She has a history of working to represent the interests of the poorest of our citizens, and to look for solutions meant to empower and support all of our citizens.

So there it is.  My ramblings on what has been going on in the news this week, this Presidential election, and how I feel about it all.