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.

Just a Reflection of My Perception

When I was young, we used to visit my grandparents, aunt, and cousin, on my dad’s side.  I would sometimes stay longer, particularly in the summers.  My aunt was a teacher, so she did academic things with my cousin and I.  We would go to the “back room” of my grandparents, and do geography lessons with the map that was on the back of the door to the room.  We had to watch the news and pick stories to write papers on.  Yep.  That was my summer vacation.  I’ll never forget when she had my cousin and I write the instructions for making a peanut butter sandwich.  We went into it, thinking “this will be easy”, and then realized what happens when someone takes your written instructions literally.

Years later, it wasn’t too surprising that I chose to study political science in college.  My dream was to be like Christiane Amanpour.  Originally, I wanted to do a dual major with journalism, but quickly found out that the journalism track at my school was more for regional news reporting, and my focus was definitely on political and social issues world-wide.  One professor told me my paper read like something out of New Republic. I was so flattered, until I realized that’s not what he wanted.  I graduated with a BS in Political Science, a second major in English Literature, and a minor in Philosophy.  This is really just a summary for those who stumble onto my blog.  This is my background, and even though I found a paycheck in IT as an application developer, my heart is still in being an aware citizen, helping not just participate in discussions of social issues, but to help frame the discussion.

I started this blog, because this election year is such an important year.  It is critically important for US citizens to wake up, start paying attention to our elected officials, and to those vying to be elected to represent us.  We have a lot going on in this country and the world. A lot of complex issues, concerning equality, the environment, and international relations with leaders of countries where we either have allies, enemies, and sometimes both.

I’m going to start writing articles (blog posts for someone who has interest in journalism, but isn’t being paid to do it), in the fashion of what my aunt taught me as a kid.  Pay attention to the news and write about what is important and why.  Hopefully my writing skills have improved some, since those days.  I don’t expect my blog to gain any huge following, but I have strong feelings about the candidates, the issues affecting our citizens, and how we as a species are treating each other globally.

To get it out of the way now, yes #ImWithHer.  I support Hillary Clinton and am so excited to vote for her in the general election.  It is past due for us to have a female President, and I hope we can flip congress to blue in November as well.  I want to see Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnel voted out.  I want to see Pence, Cruz, and Rubio shut down for good.  I want to see the rhetoric of #BlackLivesMatter get the traction it needs to affect real change in our policing and ensuring that all citizens have absolute equality.  I want LGBT rights to be secured in all states and to protect trans people from the hate of fear and ignorance.

I want people who make millions and billions to pay their fair share, and for those living in poverty to have real support, including mental health, so we can help them to heal and be provided real opportunity. I want our military budget to include real veterans support, because the first thing we should be doing, is ensuring that when they come home, there is NO red tape between them and the benefits they rightly deserve.

I am a bleeding heart liberal, who wants all Syrians to be able to go to school and not have a war in their schools, living rooms, and their hospitals.  I want to see people condemn Trump for the selfish narcissist he is, who only cares about his own gain, and not the interest of American citizens.  I want to see him defeated in November.  I want people to vote.

If there is one thing I would hope my blog will do, it would be to convince people they should pay attention to all candidates running for office in any district that they live in.  It would be to convince people that true patriotism is not waving a flag.  Its voting.  I want people to use logic and critical thinking in their debates of the issues.  I want people to hold candidates and elected officials to what they say, how they vote and what they stand for.  I want 100% voter registration and turnout, because we have no excuse for low voter turn out.  We live in a country that prides itself on our democracy, while not taking part it in.  I want that to change.  I want to help discuss the facts, so that we can shape the discussion around the truth, and engage our citizens in our democracy.

Thank you.

I May Be a Relucant Clinton Supporter, But I’m Getting There

If you see my previous post, you will notice two things.  One, I am a huge Sanders supporter. The other, I am a reluctant Clinton supporter.   I’m a fan of Bernie Sanders, and love his dedication to representing every day citizens in this country.  It’s unfortunate that he will not be the Democratic nominee, because the middle and lower classes would have greatly benefited from his principled values.

But alas, he did not pull off a moon shot victory.  Now we face the reality of the presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton.  I said all along that I would support the nominee, despite my favoring one candidate over the other.  I said this before Trump was the nominee.  He is a terrifying candidate, for a 1/2 Jewish lesbian woman, who supports equality; economic and social.  He is a terrifying candidate for any US citizen who cares about a presidential candidate having any experience in public office, or at least a descent grasp on the complexities of international relations, domestic issues, education, civil liberties, womens’ issues, etc.

I will be honest.  I have my disagreements with Clinton.  I won’t give up those disagreements.  I will keep pushing her and her campaign on those issues.  I will also support her and vote for her in November.  I will celebrate us finally electing a female president.  It is long overdue.

I was a huge fan of Bill Clinton, and literally jumped up and down when I got to vote for him in ’96.  I was a freshman in college, had just turned 18 and was voting for the first time.  I voted absentee ballot and felt so incredibly lucky and patriotic, getting to vote for our President.  I was so proud of Hillary Clinton, when she went out on a limb to try to push universal health care in the ’90s.  She fell on the sword, and knew it was unlikely to succeed, but she also had the foresight to know it would push the needle in the right direction.

I voted for Hillary, when she ran for US Senate in NY state.  She immediately made advances for our state.  She visited upstate and helped in the establishment of the wine trail, as well as putting it “on the map”, which has been great for tourism, local businesses and our economy.  When she ran for president in ’08, I planned to support her, until I heard then Senator Obama speak.  He was a Jr. Senator and had no ties (that I could see) to lobbyists or special interests.  He was in a unique position to go into the White House without a bunch of promises he would need to keep.  I had to support him, and I selfishly hoped Clinton would stay in the US Senate for NY, and keep doing good in my home state.

Once Obama was elected, and Clinton was appointed Secretary of State, I was again proud of her.  She keeps breaking glass ceilings and she had done it again.  She has fostered relationships, not just in the domestic political landscape, but internationally as well.  Her qualifications are impressive and not to be underestimated.  Just as President Obama said in his endorsement of her, we have likely never had a candidate so qualified to lead this country.

In stark contrast, Trump has absolutely no experience, makes statements that have international implications, and is supported by xenophobes, racists, anti-Semites and misogynists.  He has made statements that align with such supporters.  It’s absolutely horrifying that we are in a position where this guy could end up as our President.

Of course I am supporting Clinton.  She has fought for decades to represent the middle class.  This is where Bernie or Bust fans and Trump supporters will jump up and down.  Yes she has a lot of relationships with Wall St executives. So do many politicians, who run for President.  That doesn’t make her corrupt or uninterested in the issues facing the lower and middle classes.  It does put her in a position to see the full landscape, and to be able to garner the ear of those we need, in order to truly affect change.

Many may say that is a load of BS, but many of those supporting Trump, point to his Wall St “savvy” as why they believe he will make a good leader.  FYI, for those who believe that, Trump has a few bankrupt companies you can get for a good price (he might even throw in a bridge).

I was still hoping Sanders might pull out an 11th hour win in California, to push the proverbial needle in the direction of fighting inequality, economically and socially.  I really hope Clinton strongly considers choosing him as VP.  It is the best way to bring his movement in full force, to the future of this country.  Sanders tweeted that “Change happens from the bottom up.” and I think it’s the best message he could send to the millions of supporters behind his movement.

I graduated college with a BS in Political Science, a 2nd major in English literature and a minor in philosophy.  I got to work in politics, which is pretty rare, even for someone with poli sci degree.  I worked on local campaigns and I can tell you, Bernie Sanders knows what he is talking about with that statement.  He knew it was a long shot to win the presidential nomination by the Democratic party against what many assumed was a presumptive nominee, and there is a reason for that.  It’s not just that she was so favored, or any of the other conspiracy theories as to the “establishment” push for Clinton to win.  Sanders knows intrinsically, that if we really want to affect change in this country, it will most likely be done bottom to top, not top to bottom.

People who are all mad as hell, that Sanders didn’t get the nomination, are missing the point.  Just because you decided to show up one day, doesn’t mean the tide will just swing in your favor.  It is incredibly hard to change the status quo, in any aspect of life, just as in American politics.  According to the US Census Bureau, as of November 2014, 59% of eligible citizens are registered to vote.  Less than 60% of citizens who can vote, are registered.  Over 40% of this country is not even registered.  Of those who are registered, 38.5% actually voted.  So, not to do really crappy math, but if we round a bit, we can see about 23% of eligible voters showed up to vote, in that instance.  In a country where people would sooner fly a flag than vote, as a symbol of their patriotism, and we wonder why Washington is corrupt. No one is paying attention.  And people get mad when change doesn’t happen, the moment they decide to show up.

I hate to say it, but we have a much bigger battle than getting 1 candidate in as President. It is naive to think that one massive upset on the presidential stage would not only so handily be able to be pulled off, but would force the rest of the dominoes to fall in place for us.  It’s going to be a bit harder than that.  Most people weren’t paying attention when Clinton started her campaign last fall.  And that’s not even close to her fault.  She was ready and has been.  It’s the masses who are the late comers.  Don’t get me wrong, welcome to the party. Please stay.  We need you. Just please open your eyes to political reality.  Many people have been at this a long time.  If you shout and attack them, your antagonism will only shut you out.  We can’t hear your argument clearly, if you are shouting and participating in violent protests.

If people really support the movement that Sander’s campaign has inspired, then they will organize and get effective at supporting the best progressive candidates at the local election and on up the list.  Every office that has an election needs a good candidate to speak to our issues.  If we don’t see one on the ballot, we need to find a candidate and support them.  This won’t happen in a single election cycle, it will happen over time, and we will need to keep showing up.  As long as we have local election turnout out abysmally under 30% in local election years, it will be hard to make the argument that we are paying attention.  That we care who represents us, and how they represent us.

Now that it is looking abundantly clear that Clinton is the nominee, I have been focusing my tweets on thanking Sanders for motivating voters and eligible voters.  His campaign has been seen, even by big media, to be the direct catalyst for a surge in new voter registrations across the country.  He has motivated people to get involved and find like minded candidates running for local office, state level, and federal (congress).  He’s right.  It’s not just about him.  It’s about all of us, and we need representatives who will represent our interests.

I truly do believe that Clinton will represent my interests. At the very least, she will be at the opposite end of the spectrum as Trump would be, and that is good enough for me.  But she will do more than that.  She has fought for the middle class, whether you are willing to acknowledge that or not.  She will continue to fight for us, and through an incredibly complex political landscape.  Like it or not, there is a lot of corruption and special interest in Washington.  Clinton is not naive, and she can navigate it.  We do need someone who can navigate it.

I disagree with her on fracking.  I want it to stay in the ground.  I want us to focus on renewable energy sources, and I will not stop disagreeing with her on this point, just because I support her for President.  I disagree with her on GMOs. I get that there is a difference between GMO corn and GMO pesticides.  I don’t like it.  I don’t like the patenting of our food supply.  I don’t like family farms being put out of business because patented feed ended up in their feed and they were sued out of their family’s legacy of farming the crops this country consumes.  I want organic food on my table and readily available to all people, regardless of where they live or how much they make.  I want GMO products labeled, and I want it easier to grow organic, than it is to grow and sell GMO crops.

Other than that, her platform is pretty in line with what I want in our Democratic candidate for President.  Whether the bernie or bust berners like it or not, the huge reality is that no candidate is likely to ever have everything you want them to have.  They aren’t you, such as it is.  We pick the best candidate we can find, we stick to our principles and call them out on the things we disagree with, but we support them, because their opponent would do much worse for the issues we care about.  In this instance, I truly believe it would be disastrous for Trump to end up as President of the United States.  On the other hand, it would be and will be excellent for this country to have Clinton leading us forward.  She will build on the successes of President Obama.  I also believe that if she includes Sanders, as VP or in her cabinet, she will bring a great progressive brand to what her administration will do for the people.

Finally, to wrap up this long-winded summation of where I stand with this year’s Presidential election, I wanted to explain the “why I’m getting there”.  Since I have been toning down my tweets in support of Sanders as nominee, I have been seeing Sanders supporters tweets against Clinton being the presumptive nominee.  I have seen them even attack Senator Warren and call Clinton a whore.  It’s disgusting and it puts my esteem for these people at the level of Trump.

To attack Warren for endorsing Clinton is absurd.  You were a fan of hers, until she came to that personal decision.  Are people not allowed to disagree with you and support the other candidate on the same side of the aisle?  Warren has fought incredibly hard for consumers’ rights, even establishing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  She really is on our side, and even though many of you are new to the scene, she is not.  She is looking at the big and small picture and knows that Clinton will lead us, and we need her to beat Trump.  Even if you disagree with that assessment, Senator Warren should still have your respect.  Anonymous tweets aside, can we all agree that everyone has a right to make their own choice as to who they support, and shouldn’t be attacked for it?  The hardest part about freedom is supporting the freedom of the rights of a person you disagree with.

The same goes for Hillary Clinton.  You may not agree with everything about her, but please attempt to have some common decency in debating her campaign and their supporters.  The more you disrespect her, and those who endorse her, the more you make me want to support her.  If for no other reason, it will be to make it clear that I don’t support your disrespectful rhetoric.  You call her a whore and you legitimize Trump’s misogynistic discourse.  You demean all women, and that includes me.  I’d rather be standing next to Clinton, instead of you, if you are going to attack her like that.  You can disagree with her, but your arguments will only be as effective as they are able to remain respectful,  She is in this fight with us, whether you want to believe it or not.  And trust me, Trump is not.  He is in it for the glory.  The press.  The narcissistic attention he so craves.  She is in it to affect change, even if she is a bit more realistic, rather than the idealism that I would prefer.  I know at the end of the day that she is with us, so moving forward #ImWithHer.  You can take your time, but I hope you will come around.  We need all the help we can get, to be absolutely sure that Trump doesn’t end up in the White House, and maybe we can even win back congress. ok, I’m there.

I’m a Bernie Supporter, So Why Haven’t I Given Up?

The primaries that took place last night resulted in more delegates being added to the banks for Clinton and Sanders.  If you put Super Delegates aside, not much changed.  The delegate count is 1,331/1,640 Sanders/Clinton, respectively. That translates to 45% / 55%, respectively.  This pervasive idea in the media that Sanders is a fringe candidate, an almost 3rd party candidate, who doesn’t have a chance.  I just don’t get it.  There are 851 delegates left in the remaining state primaries, before the convention.  One of those is California, which has 546 delegates to be applied.  The California primary has historically been one that can sway a nomination.

If the rest of the delegates are split 50/50, then we will have just about the current % of delegates each.  Sanders has 45% of the primary delegates, and I think that should be talked about more. There is a huge base of support for his candidacy and I think the Super Delegates should be pressured more by the media.  Why are they not hammering them for pledging to support a candidate in opposition to how their district/state voted?

I am in the Berniecrat minority, in that I will support Hillary Clinton if she wins the nomination.  I don’t believe she is evil or all bad.  I think she will make a good president.  But the primary election is not over, and I want Bernie.  I will support him for as long as he as asked for support, which is through the nominating convention.  But we do have to be realists at the end of the day.  There is no way I will not vote  There is no way I will allow my vote be a 3rd party vote, that will only serve to splinter the vote.  Either way, such actions would ensure that Trump or any other GOP candidate ends up in the White House.  This is just too important.  Our rights, our civil liberties, our environment.  All are on the line.

For now, I will not stop championing Sanders.  The convention has yet to happen, and I will support him as long as I can.  As much as I am a supporter, what has really stoked my backing of Sanders is how the media is influencing this primary.  Time and time again, the delegate count is reported with the super delegates in the total.  But why would they do that? The old adage “don’t count your chickens, before they hatch.” comes to mind.  They haven’t cast their vote, and any political journalist worth their salt, knows that if the delegate counts are close, the supers may well be up for grabs.  We could easily end up going to a 2nd ballot.  Supers can publicly announce their intent to support one candidate or another, but I would argue that doing so is an attempt to sway the state primaries and the votes of the people.  I don’t like it, and I find it a bit underhanded.

In any event, when the media reports the Super Delegates, as if those votes have already been cast, they are painting a picture that the primary is really over.  Clinton has this sewn up and she is going to win the nomination.  That has been the rhetoric in the media throughout this primary, and it seems like it should be illegal.  To report on a primary and suggesting that one candidate has the nomination in the bag, before all the states have even had their votes.  It’s like how states are called the minute polling places close, even when people are still standing in line.  There is a direct correlation to people believe a race is over or has been called, to them not voting.  If the people think there is still a race, they are more likely to think that their vote may make a difference.  They are more likely to vote.

Can’t we slow down just long enough to let people vote? Would that really upset the balance to such an extent that our society would fall apart?  I think not.  But it might encourage the voters not to give up on the process. And that seems worthwhile.