If the President Can Do It, So Can I Right?

To every hacker in the world,

Will someone please do us all a favor and hack Mitch F**king McConnell? Seriously. Dude has to be the most corrupt person in Washington. Please, for the sake of everyone, just hack his corrupt, racist ass and dump that shit on a public server.


A grateful citizen

P.s. I apologize for the profanity.


Let’s Lay out Some Facts

I don’t know about you, but I am facebook friends with lots of classmates from high school.  Recently someone I graduated with, posted something that struck me as something that could be taken as racist.  It seemed like the comments to her post were going in that direction.  This prompted me to eventually respond.  I wasn’t suggesting she was being racist, but rather her post could be taken that way.  Of course this devolved and one of her friends piled on. Both she and I tried to turn things around, add levity, and then things went off the rails, and we wound up turning to discussing Trump.  After I saw the last response from my classmate, I just felt I needed more space than a facebook comment. I needed to lay out facts with sources, so we can be clear about what is an impression someone has of someone, an unfounded conspiracy theory, vs publicly available evidence and facts.

I grabbed screenshots of the post and responses, redacting all names and profile pics, to preserve anonymity. S1 is my classmate, and the original poster.  S2 is me. S3 is a facebook friend of my classmate, and someone I have never met.  Click an image to go to a larger view and read them.

I fully acknowledge that I did not always get the best form of the argument, and I always wish I could respond to this stuff better. Nevertheless, I have to try, because silence just is not good enough.  Regardless, I need to respond to the last comment, as I haven’t yet. That’s because I cannot just ignore the willingness of people, including my fellow classmate, to dismiss all that is publicly known about Trump. It’s beyond absurd to me that people excuse everything horrible about him, when they would never give 1/10th of the same pass to Schumer, Pelosi, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, or anyone with a D next to their name.

I know there are lots of people out there, who could respond to this better than I can, but I will do my best. The first point we should lay out the facts on, are business execs in NYC think Trump is a bad businessman.  This isn’t just “people talk”. This is a common consensus, that he is really bad at business. His base will say, “then why is he so successful?”  My question back is, how do you know he is? He has towers and businesses, but he refuses to disclose his tax returns to this day, and without those, you have no idea how much money, or rather how much debt he has.  Most legitimate economic experts agree that he is likely up to his eyeballs in debt. Either way, without them, you can’t arguably say he is a good businessman, because you don’t have the proof.  This is a good primer, of his business history, and it was printed in 2016. Why Donald Trump isn’t the successful businessman he claims to be

To my classmate, and I hope friend, you are right. Actions do speak louder than words.  These are Trump’s business actions:

I could give more examples, but we only have so much time. I will say, that the idea that there is no teamwork in government is absolutely false. If you are so sure of that, I would challenge you to prove it.  In the last 20 years, Congress has become increasingly partisan and gridlocked, but there can be bipartisanship and things can get done. This is also true at the state and local level.  It’s an excuse to just write off all government as bad.  If we aren’t voting and paying attention, the ones there don’t have much incentive to make sure it works. That being said, I’ve worked at the county level of government, and people who work in military service, civil service, public service, or any type of government service, absolutely participate in team work. If they didn’t, nothing at all would get done.  People take for granted all that our government does just “keeping the lights on”.

Moving on to the next points of that last comment, I have no idea why Bloomberg is being brought up.  I am a life-long Democrat and I can’t stand him. I was never more happy, than when Senator Warren tore him to shreds.  He’s not a real Democrat. He has spent a long time attacking Democrats.  He registered as one, so he could try to buy the nomination. That wasn’t my idea, and I’m not responsible for his actions.  I don’t know why we are bringing him into this though, other than he’s another example of a greedy businessman, who thinks he can run for President to get some good press for his legacy. He has no bearing on this, as he’s not someone I’ve ever supported or ever would.

I also find it ridiculous that Biden was brought up, but no elaboration. A topic for another time? Nah, let’s discuss it now.  He was not my first, second, or third choice for the Democratic nominee, and he’s still 1,000 times better than Trump. He was instrumental in passing the Violence Against Women Act. (The Violence Against Women Act Was Signed 25 Years Ago. Here’s How the Law Changed American Culture) Since that article mentions marital rape, it’s significant to note that Ivana Trump said in sworn deposition, that Trump raped her.  There are many allegations against him, and they have a pattern that indicates these are not false allegations. (When Has Trump Been Accused of Rape or Attempted Rape? Allegations Include a Child, His Wife and a Business Associate)

Biden has worked hard in the Senate, and as VP, raising awareness on campus sexual assault.  He understands and respects the constitution. I guarantee you Trump doesn’t even know the articles, let alone the amendments. They are not on the same level. Trump is wholly uneducated on running a government and has been trying to flout laws and regulations, since becoming President.  He doesn’t respect our democratic institutions.  Putting Trump on the same level as Biden, is the same as putting him on the same level as Hillary Clinton.  Before I’m willing to go into depth on Secretary Clinton, I’ll need you to accept a challenge. Watch the four-part “Hillary” documentary on Hulu.  Really watch it, and see if you knew everything that is in it. Consider how much you’ve been told about her and how much it doesn’t actually match up with reality. Spoiler: She’s not the evil mastermind you think she is.  She is a life-long activist, and a brilliant legal and political mind. Is she perfect? Of course not. But there is not any human being who is perfect. It’s just that it seems people on the right are never willing to acknowledge criticism of their own candidates and reps. They also refuse to see anything good in anyone who is a Democrat.

Nancy Pelosi is not washed up and it’s pretty crappy to suggest someone has dementia, as a way to lob an insult.  She was the first female member of any party to lead a chamber of Congress. For more of her accomplishment, you can peruse this: Nancy Pelosi’s List Of Accomplishments As Speaker Proves She’s The Champion We Still Need.

Please don’t get me started on stocks. Pelosi’s husband exercised an option he had on stocks that were set to expire the next day. (Nancy Pelosi discloses her husband spent $5.52 million on Amazon, Facebook stock) Considering the stock dumping done by the GOP, and the fact that Trump won’t release his tax returns at all, and Jared and Ivanka have repeatedly had to amend their financial disclosures, I don’t think you really want to go down this rabbit hole. (Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner made up to $135 million while working for free)

All eyes remain on Trump, because he chose to run for President. No one forced him to do this. It is the highest position, not just of leadership but of public service, that a person can run for.  Public service is something people aspire to. It is a public trust, and that trust is made by public servants being transparent and accountable to the people. Those are two things Trump has never been. If you want to talk about people trying to profit off the pandemic, you can’t dismiss Trump. (Germany confirms that Trump tried to buy firm working on coronavirus vaccine)

I don’t know why it’s seen as a positive, the idea that he “kisses no ass” and “he tells it like it is”. I’m sure you’d like it to be that way, but that’s not the reality. The reality is that he is rude, and has no respect for other world leaders or public servants. He denigrates other elected officials and lacks all dignity in the way he speaks. He belittles the office of the Presidency.

He doesn’t tell it like it is, either. He lies constantly, and it is well documented.  These are just his lies during the pandemic: All the President’s Lies About the Coronavirus. You are welcome to google the rest. Many have laid out thousands of lies he has told. It is unprecedented, compared to other Presidents, Democratic or Republican. The way that he talks and behaves legitimately fits into the markers for narcissistic personality disorder: Narcissistic personality disorder (Mayo Clinic.

My bottom line is this. Trump is not a good guy. He’s not being attacked for nonsense. He’s being criticized for being unfit to do the job he chose to run for. He doesn’t understand or respect our democracy. He’s actively tearing it down and echoes the calls of tyrants and dictators.  If you can honestly read every article I linked to, challenge yourself to watch the Hillary documentary, and say that Trump is still a good guy, well I guess I did my best to challenge your beliefs.  I simply ask that you look at what you are using to base your beliefs on.  Are you going based on proven facts, from reputable sources, or are you listening to Fox News propaganda?

I didn’t get a chance to comment on all of the responses in that thread, but mimicking a Chinese or AAPI accent is racist. Suggesting that you like salons, sushi, and sake, but you don’t like materialism, is racist.  Chinese people, and all AAPI people, are more than just the jobs that some AAPI have, or the food and drink some of their cultures make and sell.

I got into this, because I didn’t want to let even casual racism go unchallenged.  Somehow that turned into a conversation on Trump.  While we work to correct assumptions and ensure we are agreeing on what is fact and what is not founded, let’s please consider that an entire race or culture cannot be stereotyped into a few random traits from the handful of AAPI people you have ever met.

As a Jewish person, I sat next to you in social studies in high school. I don’t know if you were aware or remember the swastikas that would be drawn on my desk and locker. I don’t know if you remember people raising their arms in a heil Hitler salute, saying “The occult’s coming out tonight, boys.” I don’t know if you recall Miss P. responding to my asking if she was going to do anything with “What do you expect me to do?”.  I don’t know if you were aware that I would get crank calls at night, from classmates telling me they were going to come kill me.

Talking about cultures and races and religions, like they are all the same people is dangerous and it is racist. We are almost 8 billion people in this world. Our materialism, our morality, and our lives are varied. They transcend our races, cultures, and religions.  I am taking this time to write this out, because I do care about you and I don’t want to just ignore what you are saying.  I know you can be better, and reject these inclinations to back a bombastic unqualified person who has never done anything but enrich himself. The movement on the right is extremely prejudice.  To support any candidate who is openly racist, is to condone and be complicit in their racism.

As I said in one of my comments, it is not enough to just not be racist. We must be actively anti-racist, which means calling it out even when it seems “casual”.  Not all white people believe one thing or act one way. The same is true for every other race on earth.  Please take some time to learn about racism more.  I recommend the documentary “I am Not Your Negro”. It appears to be on Amazon Prime, and if you have a library card, you can get it on Hoopla.

I also recommend “13th”, on Netflix, and the Netflix mini-series “When They See Us”.  Racism is a much bigger issue, than white people want to believe it is.  That is because they don’t experience it constantly.  Speaking in racist tones may not seem like it should matter, but it absolutely does. It normalizes racism and leads to violence.  This is not something I say lightly, or without proof that it is happening. (New Site Collects Reports Of Racism Against Asian Americans Amid Coronavirus Pandemic) I know that there are way better journalists and scholars who can recommend better sources to learn about this.  Maybe if any of them read this, they’ll be kind enough to add those in the comments.

I know that this was much more than a simple facebook comment, but I didn’t want to just throw back a flippant response. I wanted to respect my former classmate and friend enough to give a full response.  I know that I jumped around a bit, but I tried to hit on some points that I thought were important.  Thank you for your time, and to my former classmate and friend I wish you the best. Just as you said to me and your friend, we need people like you in the world.  We just also need to get racism out of our world too.

A Little Time for a lot of Freedom

There is a local election on Tuesday, November 5th. I’m not hopeful that turnout will be anything impressive, because it never is in local election years. View my post on that here: Who is Going to Fix the Potholes?

Because I follow news and elections closely, I can afford to be lax about looking up info to prepare myself for the election.  I didn’t sit down to do it until this weekend.  I needed to look up my registration, view my ballot, and look up info on the candidates.  This way, I will be an informed member of the electorate.  It sounds fancy, but it just means I won’t go into a voting booth blind.  I will do my research and know who is running, and who I want representing me.

First, I looked up my registration.  It took 4 minutes and 14 seconds.  I went to the Monroe County Board of Elections website.  I did that, because it’s my local county’s Board of Elections. They have my ballot, and they will tally my vote.  That way, I’m getting my information right from the source.

Now I’ve got my polling place and what number districts I’m in, for county legislature, state legislature, Congressional districts. What’s more, they have the option for me to view my ballot.  This lets me see what it will look like, when I vote on Tuesday. It shows me all the races, what candidates are on what party lines, and any propositions on the ballot.

I then grabbed all that info and put it in a spreadsheet.  That looks like this:

I’m not expecting everyone to do this, but if you do, it can help to really consider your options.  The ballot gave me the first 3 columns of info.  It took me about 19 minutes to do it. The reason I did this, is for the 4th column. I wanted to look up each candidate’s website or social media page, so I could learn a bit about their platform.  To do that, I went to the Monroe County Democratic Committee website and the Monroe County Republican Committee website.  They will have links to any candidate that they have endorsed. Any on a 3rd party line, and not endorse by either of those two parties, I googled.

Doing that took me 16 minutes.  So, from start to finish, I spent 40 minutes. That leaves me 20 minutes to look at each candidate’s site for a minute or so and see if they are for me.

Come Tuesday, people will be elected to those offices. If turnout is typical of a local election year, about 30% of registered voters will decide those races.  That means about 15%-20% of the population will show up to decide who represents 100% of us. That’s just not enough.  Elected officials will not have any incentive to work in the people’s interest, if the people aren’t even paying attention.

I don’t expect everyone to make spreadsheets, but we owe it to ourselves to know who wants to represent us. Take the 5 minutes to look up your registration, and grab your ballot.  Then you can look up the candidates, and know who the best choice is.  Abstaining means allowing your last choice to end up in power.

We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.
~ Elie Wiesel

As a country, we need to all make sure we don’t take our vote for granted. It is most certainly under attack.


The NY Governor’s Democratic Primary

I wrote this piece, in April, shortly after Cynthia Nixon announced she was running for the office.

One Upstate New York Democrat’s View on Cythia Nixon and the Governor’s Race

Last night, I watched the debate.  What did I learn? Not much. Cuomo is pretty smug and likes being seen as a tough New Yorker. It’s a really bad look, and I wish he’d see it doesn’t really endear himself to voters. His dad seemed to know this. I was much younger, but I remember Mario Cuomo having more grace and humility to his ways.

Andrew Cuomo would have been way better focusing on her lack of experience, instead of taking cheap shots at her incorporating or sending a letter to the Governor’s office.  Citizens are supposed to ask our elected officials and government offices to help with our complaints. He didn’t make her look bad, as much as he made it look like he was using his office to find any dirt he could find on her. I get that he doesn’t want her to just look all progressive and squeaky clean, but she does. It’s not a fight he’s going to win. Instead he should have focused on his experience at doing the real work of being Governor. We need people with expertise.

I see people going after Senator Schumer and Rep Nancy Pelosi, calling them establishment. People like to demonize expertise as a bad thing, but in the face of a corrupt administration in the White House, we need people who already know where the proverbial lights are. We need people who know the rules and how to resist this administration every time they do something horrible to citizens and refugees.

I think Cynthia Nixon has some fantastic ideas. I think she sounds like an excellent progressive. She still has absolutely no experience in public service, and I think it’s dangerous to elect her as Governor of our state, without first having her run for a lower office. Her name and celebrity status shouldn’t preclude her from making that kind of commitment, if that’s what she really wants to do. Run for Mayor or State Legislature, and then run for Governor, after you get some experience. If you apply to a company, do you apply for CEO, without ever even being a Manager at any company? Or do you apply for the position of Manager and work your way up? We shouldn’t shortcut that hard work. The experience gained is invaluable. It cannot be bought.

I do think it was a bogus question, to ask her if she would donate her salary.  Public servants should get a salary, because we don’t want wealthy autocrats running our government for no pay. If we have that, they will be lining their pockets in other ways. That salary is a drop in the bucket of our state budget, and I would have so much preferred a question on the state’s agricultural concerns, what she even knows about upstate needs, and how we don’t really give much of a crap about the MTA. There is no MTA in Albany, Syracuse, Binghamton, Rochester, Buffalo, or Niagara Falls (yes there is a US Niagara Falls; not just one in Canada).

So here is where I am at. I will vote for him in the primary, but I walked away from the debate finding him smug and quite possibly a sexist guy. I hate to say that, but I really want him to answer for that donation from the Weinstein lawyer, right as he suspended the investigation. Why did he suspend the investigation? I want a good reason, and I can’t imagine one.

I think it’s dangerous to vote for someone with 0 experience, for Governor of an entire state, so I’m going with our incumbent Governor, who has been on the ground helping Puerto Rico, offering legal assistance to detained immigrants, and who has done a lot of good for this state. If a more progressive candidate comes along, with experience, he better watch out, but for now his experience trumps her progressive desires.

Without the experience of how being governor and fighting a state legislature actually works, that’s all it is. It’s what she would love to do. I have a lot I’d love to see done. Getting it done is the hard part. If it was easy, everyone would do it.  I will say this. If Cynthia Nixon wins the primary, she will get my vote in November. No way will I allow this state, that I love, turn to red.

Neither of them is perfect, and neither is a bad candidate. We aren’t picking between the lesser of two evils or two bad candidates. We are choosing between two decent candidates. This isn’t a purity test. This is a representative democracy, by the people and for the people. We are all human, and we must keep that in mind, when we look to our elected officials and candidates to pass our litmus tests.

Either way, I hope Democrats and Independents and people who don’t register with a party, all show up to vote. I hope Republicans vote. I hope everyone votes for the party that wants to ensure there is accountability and transparency. We need a blue Congress, not just to stop Trump, but to stop McConnell. He is a poison pill in the Senate, and he must be stopped. We need Democratic Governors, to ensure that states protect their people’s rights, if the federal government tries to not protect them. We must be united, in the face of a faction of people relentlessly trying to divide us.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to your thoughts.

My Apology to Hillary Clinton and Robin Wilt

I owe an apology to Hillary Clinton and to Robin Wilt.  Hillary Clinton ran for President, in 2016, and despite winning the popular vote, lost the electoral college by about 40,000 votes. It cost her the Presidency, and despite all the talking heads, it was not as simple as they may like to pretend it was.

Robin Wilt just ran in the Democratic primary, for the 25th Congressional district, in New York. This is the seat that has been represented, for decades, by a giant. Louise Slaughter was the real deal. She was brilliant, competent, compassionate, and she had no ego. I got to meet her, and even work with her, on county level politics, about 20 years ago. She never needed the fanfare, and just wanted to get the job done, whatever the job was. She was happy taking a back seat, to give up a more prime seat, if there was bickering. She really had no hubris. Filling her shoes is not something that can ever be done, but this seat in Congress, must nevertheless be filled. We need our representation.

I compared the 4 candidates, on the ballot in the Democratic primary, for this seat.. They included Joe Morelle, a longtime Assemblyman, and what many label the establishment Democrat. That seems to be a smear lately, and I think that’s bad for the entire resistance, that progressives in the party are using it against people on our own side of the aisle, but we’ll get to that.

Rachel Barnhart, was a local reporter, who has repeatedly attempted to enter elected office, but has yet to be successful.  I give her credit, for standing up and running for any office. It’s not easy, and it take a lot of commitment.  That’s about all I give her, because I don’t respect her campaign tactics, and I have concerns that she keeps running for different offices, hoping to get a good gig.  I also think she keeps running, so she can fund-raise to pay off past campaign debt, but that’s just my experience with the motivations people have to run for any office available.

Adam McFadden is a member of the Rochester City Counsel. He is a good local politician, but also a hothead, and I did not have confidence in his ability to be effective in Congress. I like him at the city level, even if that is selfish of me. I think he’s good for Rochester.

Robin Wilt is a professional, who has served on the Brighton, NY town board, and who has been a long time grassroots activist. She is the real deal. She didn’t just get into politics, for the limelight. She got into the political sphere, because she was attempting to affect change. What happened? She did. She got change to happen, again and again.  Once you compare all 4 of the candidates, it’s not hard to see why I chose to vote for Robin Wilt. She may not have been the “obvious” choice, but I had absolute confidence that she was the best choice.

Morelle won the primary. He’s really a good guy, and I know he will be receptive to his constituents. I’m excited to vote for him to be my next rep in the house, this November. I’m still bummed it won’t be Wilt on the ballot, but I will move on. We have too much to fight for, too much to resist, to dwell on what is done.

To that end, I won’t lament over the 2016 election either. i.e. How I saw the candidates and such. I already wrote on that, here (I May Be a Relucant Clinton Supporter, But I’m Getting There) . Instead, I want to explain why I owe Ms. Clinton and Ms. Wilt an apology.

See, I kind of stumbled into my engagement with both the 2016 Presidential election, and this 2018 Democratic primary for the 2018 midterm elections.  It’s not like I tripped and fell. It’s more like I was lazy. I rolled out of bed, and dragged myself to the voting booth, with tepid zeal, and it had little to do with the candidates. Despite the mass of incivility people fling at candidates and elected officials, my indifference was more emblematic of the tenor of standard American voter apathy. Spare me the character assassinations, you might all choke my apathy out to really being about. I’m talking about something more important.

My friends consider me an exception to the rule, because I am an informed citizen, and they are not wrong.  America is a paradox. People wave the flag and cry patriotism. People also roll their eyes at campaigns and complain when people bring up politics. “I just can’t. I could care less. They all suck. Blah, blah, blah.” Well put, don’t you think?  The point is, we have a bigger problem than corrupt, racist, and/or lazy elected officials. We have a lazy, apathetic citizenry, and I am part of the problem. For that, I need to apologize to the candidates who stood up to serve, and who were let down by the citizens who they would have represented with their whole heart and soul.

I know, I sound like a naive simpleton, musing romantic notions about the ideals of our democracy.  To that I say, sit down won’t you please?  This country is a democratic republic. Yes, it’s a republic, because we elected a President, but it is still a representative democracy, in that we vote for our leaders, and the executive branch is a co-equal branch, that has no more power than the legislative body of representatives.

I am starting to really see that our problems and our solutions are intertwined. The more people engage in the process, by being informed and by voting, the more representative our democracy can be. The less people engage, the less it is representative. If you were elected to office, and your constituents never called or contacted you, to ask you to vote a certain way on a bill, but a contact from a lobbying group did contact you, that is the only voice you hear.

It’s easy to blame the politicians, but it’s harder to take responsibility, for our part in this. If we aren’t telling our elected officials how we want them to represent us, how do we expect them to know?  If we keep re-electing the people, who never vote in our interests, how do we expect to get any better results? (I’m looking at you, Kentucky. Mitch McConnell is a cancer in the Senate. He has perverted the Senate rules and our country’s laws, for greedy personal agenda, and has never once served the actual needs of the people of Kentucky.)

I supported Sanders, in 2016, vowing to ultimately support the nominee, as the Presidential election was too important. He disappointed me more than I can say, after the nomination, but I also disappointed myself. I should have volunteered more, in Clinton’s campaign. I could have phone banked (in hindsight, focusing on Wisconsin and Michigan would have been really helpful).

I did support Clinton online, pushing for people to give her a chance. I did do some canvassing (knocking on doors and getting people to consider voting for her). I took off of work on Election day, so I could volunteer with the local Democratic Committee. They coordinate driving people to the polls to vote, if they don’t have a way to get there. Republicans spin this as us desperate to get out our vote. Not only is that crass, cynical, and jaded, it’s inaccurate. I have been a life-long democrat. I won’t speak for the whole party, but including when I was the Director of Operations at the Monroe County Democratic Committee and on that election day, my primary goal was to ensure citizens had their voices heard. Even if you were planning to register or vote for a Republican, I still wanted to get you registered and get you to the polls. That is the only way all of our voices are heard.

On that election day, I answered phones, looked up peoples’ registration, polling places, coordinated rides, helped around the office, and did whatever I could to help.  I should have been doing that for weeks. My “lazy” excuse is that I have lupus and fibromyalgia, so even though I sit at a desk all day, I’m exhausted by the time I’m done with work, and can’t fathom going to volunteer anywhere. I am working to push past that, because I know so many accomplish so much more, with so much less than I have.

When it came to the primary for the 25th Congressional district, I would say I did the least amount possible, for a citizen to do, while still being involved at all.  I looked up who the candidates were, I picked one, and I voted.  Because I like to encourage the voter turnout, I put together the info I found, into a tweet:

I wasn’t able to watch the debate, because I was attending a preview screening of the Mr. Rogers documentary that night, Won’t You Be My Neighbor. It was a very special story, that I’m glad I got to see. I figured I would look for the debate online. I also found the Democrat and Chronicle’s summary of it. To be fair to all candidates, I included a 2nd thread to the tweet, listing all their twitter handles and websites, so voters could decide for themselves. I didn’t inject my opinion, because my first goal was to encourage people to show up.

After work, I went to my therapy session, and then went home to pick up my partner, so we could go vote together.  It took us less than 15 minutes. There was 1 guy ahead of us. I checked online later, and saw a local news outlet had reported about 16% turnout, for the election.  It is considered that there should be at least 20% of a body, to achieve a quorum (the minimum number of members of an assembly or society that must be present at any of its meetings to make the proceedings of that meeting valid. ~ google dictionary definition ). We didn’t even achieve that.

It gave me hope to see how well NY14 did in showing the country that a newcomer can oust a decades long incumbent, if that incumbent gets complacent and doesn’t engage with their constituents. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also showed that the Democratic party is a huge tent. While pundits wax nostalgic, for the Democratic party to be progressive and not “establishment”, I would again like to ask them to take a damn seat. Nancy Pelosi has worked hard to do good, despite the many character assassinations against her. Same with Chuck Schumer. That doesn’t mean they aren’t flawed, and don’t make any bad decisions.

I have disagreed with both of them many times. Most recently, their condemning of Maxine Waters. Representative Waters wasn’t advocating harassment, but she was encouraging people to speak truth to power. She was saying, that if you support a fascist, expect to have people protesting you. What’s more, they knew this, but spoke against her, instead of backing her up. Meanwhile none of them thought to condemn Steve King for retweeting a nazi.  Does that mean we should dump them? No. It really doesn’t, and the mob mentality to pile on, when we find a crack in the walls, drives me nuts. No elected official is perfect, but we have to balance the good with the bad.

The thing is, the Democratic party needs only one message. We want every citizen to vote. Be informed, and be engaged. Vote. Republicans are pushing against voting rights, for gerrymandering, and for closing polling places, shortening early voting windows, and making voting harder. It’s pretty easy to see which party wants our democracy to be truly representative, and which party just wants to wield power, with no one to stop them, and no one paying attention. Beyond that one succinct message, the party needs to drown out the talking heads and just get to the real work of grassroots campaigning, for every candidate on the ballot. Divide resources equally, stop playing favorites, and put the egos aside.

I truly do believe that how representative a democracy can be, directly correlates to how engaged it’s citizenry is in the process. Right now, I think our federal government is so far from being representative, we are close to losing that representation; that democracy. The thing is, it can truly change over night.  Not by polls, or noise. Not by a big October surprise, or some bombshell occurrence, even though those things can affect outcomes. No. It can happen in 1 day. The one day, that the elected officials stop representing us, and we can choose who we want speaking for us all over again. Every elected official is fired, on that day, and asking to be re-hired. Every citizen is their boss.

Election day is a sacred day, when we get to choose who represents us and how we are represented.  It will never matter what the polls say. “She doesn’t have a chance”, “He’s got it in the bag”, “It’s a tight race, but demographics and turn out averages suggest, blah, blah, blah.” It’s all speculation. Sure there is some analysis to it, but every year, there is a new pool of eligible voters. American citizens turn 18, and get to cast a vote. Any year they choose to yield that power, they can swing the whole ball game.

Does this all sound naive? Maybe, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. It’s the very core of what this country is supposed to be about. The experiment of a free democracy seems to live on America’s shoulders. It’s time us citizens take our part in holding up that burden. It’s time we show up.

Hillary Clinton, I’m sorry I didn’t volunteer more, and sooner.

Robin Wilt, I’m sorry I researched too late, and didn’t volunteer at all. I showed up to vote, but that is not always enough. It’s especially not enough when the authentic candidate is an underdog. When 2 of the 4 candidates have massive name recognition, grassroots campaigning is imperative, and it takes people being willing to volunteer their free time to help get the word out. Really believe in someone? You might have to get your hands dirty, and get out in the streets.

I promise to do better. To phone bank, canvass, volunteer, engage and to show up. It’s my patriotic duty, as a citizen of this country, and not doing so is abdicating my responsibility to this country that I owe so much.


The Elected Official Accountability Act

I feel like we are seeing the need for our elected officials to be accountable. How do we make that happen?

They swear an oath, but I have yet to see elected officials be held accountable to the oath they swear.  I get that Nixon was held accountable, but that is how rare it is, to see that happen. Nixon is notorious, not because he was President, but because he was a President who was held accountable.

If elected officials were consistently held accountable, I would think Senator McConnell would no longer be in office.  He publicly stated that his top priority was to make President Obama a one term President. He publicly stated that his agenda was to make sure the President was not successful in anything, good bad or otherwise.  That is not what he was elected to do.  We don’t elect people to just obstruct progress, just because it comes from the other side of the aisle (or because you’re racist).  He has perverted the laws of Congress, to be spiteful, and prevent our country from moving forward.

I say no more. I say, people should run for office, and there should be better requirements for those who choose to run.  I say, if you are an elected official, you should be held to a standard.  We have previously held elected officials to a higher standard, and they self-policed. They held themselves to that standard.  In the past 10-15 years, this has eroded, as despots have learned they can funnel money and influence through campaign contributions. They can propose and stall legislation, not for the benefit of the people they serve, but the lobbying firms they will eventually retire to.  It’s fraught with conflict and impropriety, and it is on us citizens to demand it be corrected.

I am certain that political scholars can come up with a better, and more comprehensive list, but I want to get something down on “paper”. I want us to look at what should be passed, as laws, for those running and elected to public office. If you choose to serve in our government, you should be held to legal accountability, not just an intangible “should”. Breaking those laws should involve a thorough investigation, and if found guilty, jail and/or fines. Fines must include cost to taxpayers, including the investigation costs. There must be tangible repercussions, or our government will be filled with kleptocrats.

Candidates’ Requirements

  • All candidates are required to disclose the previous 10 years of tax returns
    • This includes all personal, business and charitable organizations
  • Complete a government competency exam
    • A basic application, with questions to the level of government office they are seeking
    • Nothing too hard, maybe 50 questions
    • Competency and basic knowledge should be a requirement for seeking public office
  • Clean record
    • Any criminal record should be reviewed by a bipartisan elected body, who decides whether the crimes deem them unfit for public office
      • DWI’s?
      • Domestic Abuse?
      • Fraud?
  • It must be illegal to accept campaign contributions from any entity that a representative may favor or disfavor by laws and regulations (end Citizens United)

Elected Officials (All)

  • Expand the oath to include (to the effect) “I will not knowingly lie or mislead the American public; my constituents”
  • Legislative representatives are prohibited from approving raises or setting their own salaries
    • It should be a co-equal branch of government
    • It should never be more than 2x the average salary in America
    • If the legislative body does not submit a timely budget or adds to deficit, this should preclude them from getting a raise
  • Legislative representatives are to be compensated during elected term, not after
    • Life-long pensions create an incentive to abuse public office
    • In no private employment, do spouses get life-long benefits of an employee. It’s insane that our government would use precious tax dollars to give unearned pensions to the spouses of elected officials. That money could go to veterans and the homeless population
  • No law may be passed that excludes representatives from following the laws of ordinary citizens
    • This includes actions like passing health care laws, with provisions that exclude representatives from being bound to it
  • Must disclose all tax payer expenses for office costs (remodels, furniture)
    • Any expenses not deemed necessary, or deemed lavish must be paid back personally
  • Must disclose all tax payer expenses for travel
    • Any expenses not deemed necessary, or deemed lavish must be paid back personally
  • It must be illegal to accept campaign contributions from any entity that a representative may influence by laws and regulations (end Citizens United)
  • Upon leaving public office, representatives may not seek employment with lobbying firms or any entity that contributed to their elected office, for 5 years (non-compete)

I would love a legislator to propose an actual bill to this effect. I want elected officials to be what our founding fathers envisioned they be.  I always thought they wanted elected officials to be us.  It was meant to be one of our patriotic duties.  Represent the people, and then return to private life.  It was never meant to be a career, although I don’t have a problem with that. If you want to spend your life representing people, I don’t think that is a problem, but I do think we need accountability, transparency and an assurance that our representatives aren’t conflicted with kickbacks and quid pro quo improprieties.

One of the critical aspects to ensuring our democracy can thrive and survive, must be that our elected representatives be legally bound to the service they are elected to hold. This is not a private job, at a private company, where they can set their own standard.  Our government must have a standard, and it should be one that the public can know and trust in. It should be one of transparency and one of a responsibility to the people, as opposed to their own benefit from holding office.

How Do We Climb Out of This Mess Together?

Friday February 5, 2018

I’m talking about the divisiveness. I’m talking about the crappy way our political parties are divided.  There is the perceived containers, between Democrat and Republicans.  For social programs vs for fiscal conservatism. Then there is the reality. This is the latest, that I am looking at:

I really want to know what it would look like, if we got rid of ideological politics, i.e. political parties. What do we gain by them anyway? There are conservative democrats, there are pro-choice republicans, there are aisle crossovers, left, right, and mostly moderate/centers.  What would happen to our political process, if we didn’t have parties, and we just had candidates? Each one, not shoved into a political-party style box, but just who they are, and what they stand for. What would that do to our government’s task of over-seeing elections? Would we still have a need for primaries?

I have some thoughts. Will write more later.
Monday February 8, 2018

So, here is what I’m thinking.  Maybe without political parties, we can have primaries to just narrow the field to a top 3 contenders.  Our elections have rarely, if ever, had more than 3 candidates with a viable chance to win. What’s more important, is that without having to run on a political party line, the candidates won’t be tagged with a political party’s entire agenda.  Most candidates and elected officials don’t have an agenda that is 100% aligned with a political party.  Where they differ, often times leads people to say, well they aren’t 100% aligned, so they are flawed in some way.

I think we should also look at the kind of requirements we should have, for anyone running for elected office.  We have never had any requirements, but why? Because it is representation by the people, for the people.  Well, that is nice in theory, but it has resulted in a lot of unqualified people in positions of power.  What’s more, it’s led to an abuse of power.

So what kind of requirements should we be talking about?  Well first, I think we need a requirement of transparency.  Regardless of the level of government you are running to represent, you are signing up to represent the interests of the citizens.  When two people start dating, it’s important to both get tested, for STDs.  You get trust, by earning trust.

  • Anyone running for and/or elected to public office, must release their tax returns, for the previous 10 years. This needs to be a requirement, not just a norm. It should come with financial disclosures. All tax returns:
    • Personal
    • Business
    • Non-profit foundations
    • Any other income or debts
    • Any non-disclosed information identified will be grounds for expulsion/impeachment from office

Anyone appointed to serve on staff, at the federal level, should be required to submit the same.

I also think that anyone running for office, should have to prove their competency at understanding and applying our laws. We like to believe that anyone should be able to step up and run for office. I love that ideal, but if you are making the commitment to represent the people, under the framework of our constitution and laws, you must also make the commitment to knowing them and upholding them.

  •  Every candidate for office should be required to take and pass the citizenship exam

Most campaigns fight over debates.  The candidate stronger at debating, or strategically in a position of needing more air time, will want more debates.  The weaker debater or already strong in the polls, may not want debates.  This shouldn’t be up to the candidates.  There should be a set number and unbiased format for all debates.  They should have an amount, schedule, format and content based on the office the campaign is for.

  • Local office
  • State office
  • Federal office

Finally, the office of the President, is arguably the highest in the land.  They do not just represent all citizens domestically, they also represent our country, on the world stage.  It is the right of the citizens, to know if the person running for President, is mentally and physically fit. This elected office, is the only elected position, who has nuclear codes, and that isn’t something to mess with.

  •  Every candidate for President and Vice-President, should be required to take a physical and psychological exam, by an independent doctor.
    • They should not be allowed to choose the doctor, but one should be independently appointed, nominated by either Congress, the FEC or the AMA.  It should be a check and balance on whoever may hold that office.

I’m sure there are issues, people can find, for all of this. I just think that the 2016 elections show how naive it is to just suggest that anyone can be President.  Clearly we do need to protect our elected offices more than we have been. We need to require a commitment, transparency, and fitness from any candidate seeking public office. It won’t prevent every abuse of office, but I believe it will be an improvement on the status quo.

How to Find Winning in Today’s Democracy

People are fighting on the left, between the Democratic party members and the progressive supporters behind Senator Sanders.  They are fighting, because Sanders doesn’t identify as a Democrat.  This is driving the Democrats nuts, because they are scrambling to get everyone together, so we can resist the GOP stronghold on our elected offices.

Meanwhile, the GOP are losing their moral platform.  The foundation of their party’s policies have been stripped, in the interest of focusing solely on the bottom line.  That bottom line is win election and re-election. Grab all the power, and keep fundraising. Fill a war chest, and make a very nice career out of a revolving door with the lobbying industry.  Sit on boards, do the bidding for those boards while in office, and return to those executive positions, ensuring a wonderful golden parachute and a wealthy living and retirement.

Amidst all of this, average citizens fight each other on the issues.  They fight on which party they align themselves with, ignoring the good, bad and ugly on both sides. What choice do we have?  We may have a democracy, but it is largely controlled by the two parties with the strongest infrastructure.  The conversation is generally about the establishment, as if that is some vague thing.  It’s really not.  We are talking about the people who know the rules.  They know the laws and by-laws.  Whether in the districts, or in their own party committees.  That knowledge is a tremendous power, in the game of politics.

Everyone is saying it.  This last Presidential election woke up some Americans. So many were so sure Hillary Clinton was going to win, people didn’t notice the alt-right flank that Trump had also woken up during the election.  This right-wing group quietly got their people registered and ready to vote. They didn’t need to make a lot of noise.

Trump kept saying that, solely because of him, we would be winning. So much winning. We would get tired of winning.  That has become a favorite for people trolling his oddball comments like this one.  We know he is full of hot air, has no plan, and knows practically nothing about running a government.  He doesn’t understand the different between articles and amendments in the constitution.  Most of us on the left reacted to his promise of so much winning, with “yeah, right”.

So how do we know what winning looks like anymore?

I can’t tell you what it would look like for the GOP. Probably no voting rights, less voting places, voter ID (aka suppression) laws, less turnout, and bigger campaign war chests.  Less regulation, less government programs for the lower and middle class people to rely on.  And of course tax cuts.  Tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts, but only for the wealthiest of the country, which will conveniently include the congress voting for it.

I can’t tell you what it would look like for the Democrats.  Probably getting Senator Sanders to stop attacking their “establishment” big ad ways.

I can’t tell you what it would look like for the progressive left. Probably getting Senator Sanders to take over the Democratic party, as chair, and re-invent the party into a true grass roots love fest.

I can tell you what it would look like for me.

100% voter turnout.  I know, that’s not realistic, so i’ll say above 90%.  In every district.  In every election.  There is a lot of focus around the 2018 midterm elections.  Real power does seriously and literally get built at the local level.  We have elections EVERY year.  Not every 4 or every 2 years, every single damn year.  Sometimes there is more than just one.  Depending on a state’s party primary rules, and whether they have open or closed primaries, there is the potential for primary elections.  There can also be special elections.  If a seat is vacated, for a myriad of reasons, an election can be set up to fill that seat, so it doesn’t remain empty until the next regular election.

In a country where we are all about the pride of being leaders of the free world, we seem to realize how lucky we are.  We don’t seem to take that pride to the bank, and show up when we should, to preserve that freedom.  We act like we could care less.  We are so free, we are free to no care, and not pay attention.  I agree and disagree with Bill Maher on various topics, but I’ve never seen anyone put this concept more plainly or precisely:

The buzz is that people started waking up, during and after this last Presidential election.  Have we?  Will we stay awake?  If so, we’ve got some work to do.  This is my rough list of what we really need to start doing now. Lobbying our state reps, for state level changes, and turn that power into a push for national laws:

  1. First and foremost, repeal and reverse racist and elitist voter ID laws.  They only seek to suppress the vote from lower income and minority citizens.  There is no case or cause for imposing a voter ID law.
  2. We need a national law, ensuring that every citizen must have equal voting rights and privileges.  The weight and influence must be the same. No citizen should have less voting rights, because of the state they live in.
  3. Automatic voter registration at the age of 18.
  4. Open primaries, across all states.  Presidential primaries, across all states, happen on same day. None of this racing back and forth, making polling and projections more important than the voting.
  5. Every year’s November general election becomes a national holiday.
    1. This could work with students in Jr and Sr years volunteering at polls, to learn and see the process happen.
  6. End the electoral college, as outdated, racist, and unconstitutionally giving some citizens’ votes more weight than the votes of others.

Once all that is done, we need to get people engaged in the process.  Not just showing up to vote, but being ready ahead of that vote.  Who are the candidates? Who is in office now?  What is their voting record? Who do they stand up for, and who do they fail to represent? What legislation is being proposed, and how do I want my reps voting on that bill?  Calling them directly to tell them how they need to vote.  Keep track of whether they vote the way you want or not.

It is also important to contact the county level party, and find out who they are supporting, before they have their designation convention, where they name nominees.  People complain about both parties picking their nominees like a cherry off a private tree.  They do it that way, because people don’t pay enough attention to the process.  You can join that party’s county level committee, and become an election district rep in the committee. Then you get a direct vote as to who the nominee will be.  Don’t tell me it’s in the hands of the establishment.  If it is, it’s because you let them keep holding onto that power.

That brings me back to the in-fighting I’m seeing on the left, right now.  It’s starting to really piss me off.  There is the progressive flank supporting Senator Sanders, and then there are the die hard Democrats.  The former is a group looking in at a the other group and shouting at them about everything they are doing wrong.  The irony is, that those people doing the shouting don’t have the infrastructure or foundation to run a party as powerful as the Democratic party.  That’s why Senator Sanders sought their nomination, even though he doesn’t identify as a Democrat.  I don’t blame him, but I think he really needs to look at how attacking the Democratic party, is really just shooting his whole agenda in the foot.  We have enough of a battle in trying to resist the GOP, the last thing we need to be doing is fighting each other.

It’s not that their criticisms aren’t valid. Many of them are.  I am a life-long Democrat, and proud of it, but I totally get that the “establishment” politics has gotten out of hand in the party.  I think the fact that Keith Ellison didn’t win chair, shows that.  But like I said, the establishment is not as bad and evil as people like to claim it is.  The establishment includes lifetime  activists, public servants, volunteers, and people who literally know the rules and laws that affect what they want to get done. That kind of knowledge is power you can’t just throw away. It would be like throwing the baby out with the bath water.

That’s why Senator Sanders didn’t just team up with the Independent party or start his own party.  It takes decades to really make it, and through the history of this country, we have generally been politically ruled by a 2 party system.  We have the freedom for more, but organically we never have had more than 2 legitimate parties electing people to most offices.  There have been some exceptions, but not many.

The other side of this is that the Democratic party needs to learn from their past mistakes, and they are risking not doing that right now.  They need to clean house at the DCCC, and stop serving as an arm just for incumbents.  It needs to be what it should to be.  An arm of the DNC, with the specific goal of supporting candidates for election and re-election to congress.  Splitting up funds to those candidates, and helping any way they can.

Edit: I was just educated on the reality of this.  I thought the DCCC was part of the DNC.  It’s not. How is the Democratic party supposed to be able to have a cohesive, unified front, when they have different groups acting completely independently of each other. The left hand not only doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.  They end up working against each other.  One faction is supporting a candidate in a red district, and the other is either sabotaging that effort or at the very least, not helping to support the effort.

The DNC also needs to do a much better job at seizing the energy around grassroots campaigning.  It’s more than just low-grade campaign strategies.  It’s really about directly engaging with voters on the streets, and that will be more powerful than any ridiculously expensive tv ad.

They also need to stop attacking Senator Sanders.  He has a right not to identify as a Democrat, and still speak up for the same issues that Democrats speak out on.  It doesn’t help Democrats to be against Senator Sanders, and it doesn’t help Senator Sanders to be against the Democrats.  There is no way we can beat the GOP, and end their stranglehold on our elected offices, if we keep fighting each other. Period.  Both the party, and the progressive crowd must decide – do you want to fight each other or the GOP? You can’t do both. It’s like going to a school yard fight, bringing an ally, and then fighting the ally instead of the one you came to fight.

The GOP is counting on us continuing this, and I guarantee, there are trolls online trying to fan these flames to make it look worse and be worse.  The only way we can squash that, is for Perez and Sanders to get together quietly.  Come to terms they can agree on, and call a truce in the name of helping each other to reach the same goals.

People can blame Senator Sanders for Clinton’s loss, but it was never his fault. He had every right to run, and keep running, as long as it was legal for him to stay in the race.  He was respectful of the process, and bowed out at the convention.  The rest is in the past, and we need to move forward. We need to look at the landscape now, and if we are still bitter about the past, we need to ask how we can make things better going forward. How can we improve the process, so the next time we don’t end up with the same mistakes we had last time?

If we can do all that, we might get to see what winning looks like.

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.

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.