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Tag Archives: 2016 Presidential Election

My Final Word

Over on the right-wing blog I read far too much of, there is much crowing and celebrating.  There is a post that suggests that the Republican Party is the American Party now because it not only controls the Presidency and both houses of Congress, but the majority of Statehouses and State Legislatures across the country.

I pointed out the Republican Presidential candidate has received more votes than the Democrat candidate exactly one time since 1988 and that there is no American Party.  And that believing the Republican Party is the American Party is the kind of arrogant thinking that leads the American people to switch gears every few years.  This happens each and every time the Presidency changes parties.

And it is that arrogance that helped defeat the Dems this year.

I think back eight years to when Obama was elected.  He was described as a cautious man.  He would not seek a revolution or dramatic, instant change.  Instead, he believed in incremental change and the long game.  Small steps won gradually would lead to more systemic changes over the long run.  Large leaps forward ran the risk of a revolt against liberal and progressive ideals.

It’s hard to imagine this now but candidate Obama and newly elected President Obama was not publicly in support of same sex marriage.  He did not immediately seek the passage of universal health care and when he did, he ultimately put his weight behind a plan that was Republican before it was his.  There are plenty of other examples of his incremental approach to policy and it was something I appreciated about him.  He was the only adult in the room, recognizing that, for the most part, the American people are not as liberal as us liberals want to believe and neither are they as conservative as the right would like to believe.  Long-term success at making changes that are long-lasting and real rather than flash-in-the-pan tinkering that is turned back with the next election required long-term thinking, and building the foundation.

Only something happened in Obama’s second term.  I thought he saw the end of his Presidency and realized all of that long-term thinking was nice and all but where was the guarantee that any of this would continue beyond his term.  I think he sped things up and got a little arrogant about the idea that the American electorate had changed in some fundamental way.

On foreign policy, he took a softer approach and tried to get other countries to lead some of these efforts.  Not a bad thing, from my perspective, but anathema to the right and some portions of the middle.

On domestic affairs, we went from a very real battle over same sex marriage to suddenly allowing transgender soldiers to openly serve, to forcing transgender bathroom policies on the States from the federal government, and progressives began squawking about free college education for all, and presenting a list of other things that were necessary and right.  I’m not here saying any of this is bad.  I support just about all of on some level but they are anathema to the right and some portions of the middle.

But we liberals and progressives lost sight of some fundamental truths of the American people.  The fundamental truths that haven’t changed in my adult life time.  There are a whole lot of people in this country who don’t want moral behavior pushed on them by the federal government.  Regardless of the “rightness” of the issue, these things need to percolate for a time to achieve permanence.  Think about how long same sex marriage took to achieve.  And it was an effort that really began at the state level — yes, primarily in the more liberal states, but still … at the state level.

Compare that to the whole transgender issue.  Something I don’t recall hearing a lot about until after same sex marriage success was achieved and then all of a sudden, bam, transgender this and transgender that and within a very short time, the federal government was trying to force rules on the States.  This may not be a big deal in your blue bubble, but it is a huge deal in the red swaths of America that absolutely cannot stand that kind of federal supremacy and arrogance.

I really think that liberals and progressives began to believe in the inevitability of “progress” towards their agenda, their version of America.  That America had become a liberal nation, that the Democrat Party had become the American Party.  That a new day had dawned and this tide was going to keep coming in.

Well, we were all wrong.  All completely wrong.  We are still a very, deeply divided nation.  We lost sight of that in the progress made during Obama and thought it inevitable that it could continue for another four or eight years and maybe even more.  Deeply divided.  There is no American Party.  There are only red states and blue states.  The parties are regional and demographic in nature, but neither one of them is national in scope or followers.

The good news?  Republicans are already taking the crown of arrogance for themselves.  Whether it is two or four years from now, if they continue to act with the arrogance they are showing so far, the tide will turn again.  My only hope is that when the inevitable happens, we on the left remember this lesson and accept the long-term view and don’t push for radical change.

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And More News

I agreed wholeheartedly with Colin Kaepernick’s stance on whether he should have to stand during the National Anthem.  I thought he handled it very well.  He didn’t draw attention to himself — he actually sat during the national anthem for three games before anybody noticed.  Once he got attention, he spoke with a couple of veterans about how he could continue his protest while demonstrating his support for the military, our soldiers, and our veterans.  As his effort has gone on, he has shown growth and got better at expressing himself.  And he has put his money behind his effort.

But he’s lost me here.  Only about 50% of eligible Americans voted in this year’s Presidential election.  I get it on some level.  I didn’t like any of my choices and I didn’t vote for any of the listed candidates.  I wrote in a name.  And some day I may reveal who I wrote in as an explanation for my absolute disgust at what the main parties gave me.  But I voted for every office and every measure on the ballot, as I have in every election since I turned 18.

I consider there to be three main pillars of good citizenship — voting, serving on a jury, and raising good kids.  (For those of you who don’t have kids, substitute in “being a part of the village that raises good kids.”)  There are probably more pillars, but you get my point, voting is key.

If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.  Imagine if those other 50% had voted.  I’m virtually certain that a significant majority of them are likely people who would vote for a Democrat if they were to actually vote.  Or not.  It doesn’t matter.  But if those 50% had voted we would know a lot more about what and how this nation actually thinks.

Look at it this way … 25% of America chose our President this week.  While 50% has nothing to say about it.

And Colin Kaepernick and every other American who chose not to vote can shut up and live with it.  They have no right to protest America if they can’t bother themselves with the most basic and fundamental act of citizenship we have in this country.

So Much To Say

I wrote a little bit ago about how both sides of the political divide live in their own echo chambers.  Let me add to that.  They also live in their own bubbles and liberals have just experienced the consequence of forgetting that there is a whole different world outside their bubble.

Many of us were lulled into a false sense that America had changed over the last eight years.  That somehow the election of Barack Obama and his promised hope and change heralded the dawn of a new and better America.  A post-racial America.  An America where finally people of color and of different religions and different genders and different orientations would no longer experience the horrors of hate and discrimination.

We believed that our liberal views had finally reached that point where there was no turning back.  This was America and the forces of conservatism were on the run.

If only …

What far too many of us forgot was the fundamental nature of our country and our history.  We are a divided nation and there are many, many Republicans and others out there who believe and think fundamentally differently from us.  You don’t think so?  Well, let’s go back in the way-back machine and look at our political history.  Since FDR’s death, with the exception of Carter’s four year term and the combined twelve years of Reagan/Bush I, the party that holds the Presidency has changed every eight years.  Like clockwork.  Like a perfectly tuned Swiss time machine.

It is, to repeat myself, the fundamental nature of modern day America’s politics.  The vast middle can’t decide what it wants to be and it is the vast mushy middle that holds the cards in national elections.  Give ’em eight years of a Democrat and they’re ready for a Republican.  Give ’em eight years of that and they’re ready for a Democrat again.

Which leads to thought number two …

This is what I blame the Democrat Party apparatus and the Clintons for.  A failure to recognize that Hillary Clinton was simply the wrong candidate for this year.  Much like Mitt Romney, who in so many ways represented the very thing that inspired America’s anger at the Great Recession, was the wrong candidate for the Republicans in 2012, Hillary represented just about everything the vast mushy middle didn’t want this year.  She personifies Democratic establishment politics and has been in that mold for decades.  She represented no change, no difference, nothing other than the same old, same old.

See above, rightly or wrongly, every eight years American voters want change.

The Democrats had to offer somebody who could promise the American people an evolution from Obama and they didn’t do it.  Or if it had to be Hillary she had to come up with a message, a theme, anything that could reach American voters who are fatigued by the last eight years. Instead, Hillary and her advisors basically ran on the idea that she would offer another four years of Obama.  (I don’t object to that notion, but I’m not representative of the vast mushy middle you need to win a Presidential election.)

All the while, the Clintons and their team completely refused to recognize the role her weaknesses and her fundamental flaws would play in turning the mushy middle against her.  How decisions she has made and conduct she has engaged in would turn the electorate against her.  Or at least enough of the electorate would turn to any other option that she would lose the election.

It has been suggested that the point of yesterday is how many Americans voted for hate and misogyny, intolerance and ignorance.  I agree that this is a point worth discussing and examining.  However, suggesting that is the only point while ignoring the role the Democrat Party and the Clintons played in making such a vote not only possible but also seem to be reasonable to more than 60,000,000 Americans means that we will never learn the lesson, learn from the mistake that was made this year, and ignores the responsibility the party and the Clintons have for foisting this horrible choice on the American people.

Which leads to my third point …

It has been suggested in a number of places over the course of this election that Hillary will lose, or actually lost, because she is a woman.  Again, this is an effort to avoid responsibility.  To blame this loss on the same old tired identity politics of gender, race, religion, or orientation.  And it is completely wrong.  The very same people who voted for Trump voted for Nikki Haley, the female governor of South Carolina, Jan Brewer, the female former governor of Arizona, Sarah Palin, the female former governor of Alaska and VP candidate with McCain in 2008, Judy Martz, the female former governor of Montana, Mary Fallin, the current female governor of Oklahoma, Susana Martinez, the current female governor of New Mexico.  There are also currently a handful of Republican female U.S. Senators.  To suggest that the people who voted for Trump, or the people who opposed Hillary Clinton, did so because she is a woman is simply to ignore the evidence before us.

Anyway …

Last night I was very unsettled about the election results.  Although I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, I did want her to win given the only other alternative.  I agree that having over 60 million Americans vote for the man says something very ugly about our country.  But that ugliness isn’t new.  It never actually went away.  Barack Obama never snapped his fingers and made it disappear.  It is as basic to our Americanism as it is, unfortunately, basic to the human existence.  There are those who hate.  There will always be.  The way to combat that is to continue to love and to spread our message and to nominate our best.  We didn’t do that this year — we nominated the one person who couldn’t beat an orange clown — and we will suffer the consequences for the next four years.

 

 

Echo Chambers

In which I may just piss off all of my readers … but why have a blog if I can’t say what I think.

According to Wikipedia, the modern day equivalent of Encyclopedia Brittanica, an echo chamber is “a metaphorical description of a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission and repetition inside an ‘enclosed’ system, where different or competing views are censored, disallowed, or otherwise underrepresented.”

I always wonder if I might be guilty of romanticizing the past when I think about today, but it seems to me that years ago, there was a generally accepted and common narrative that people around which people formed their opinions and political views.  While cities had competing newspapers which may have been written from the “right” and the “left,” the reality is that people still had somewhat of a common set of “facts” and information upon which they relied.  Similarly, with the nightly news there was generally a common narrative.

While there were occasional breaks from that common narrative — Father Coughlin, for instance — the commonality generally dominated how information and news was presented to the masses.  I think the reason is that the old ways of communicating things were difficult to maintain, difficult to reach large masses of people regularly and consistently.  And because the of the time involved in communicating information, people were patient in their opinions.

I don’t want to make this sound like the olden days (don’t you just love that phrase) were something akin to paradise.  People like Father Coughlin were occasionally able to break through the common narrative.  The Red Scare and McCarthyism.  There were times when the common narrative broke down and forces of intolerance and ignorance threatened order and stability.  And most importantly, the constitutional principles this country was founded on.

The internet of all things has changed the dynamic.  We now live in a world where there isn’t a common narrative.  Instead, we have become a world, a nation, of echo chambers.  The internet, which could have been such a powerful force for education and advancement, has instead become a tool for the propagandists among us.  On both sides.  The political discussion has become a dueling battle from silos walled off from each other.

The only variable in that definition of echo chamber that doesn’t exist on the internet is “enclosed.”  Nothing on the internet is enclosed.  It is a free for all.  And everybody has a voice.

The problem is that everybody is gravitating towards the echo chamber that fits what they already think they think.  The right has theirs — National Review, PowerLine, RedState.com, Weekly Standard, Newsmaxx, Fox, and many others.  The left has theirs — Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, Mother Jones, and many others.  The right would suggest that CNN and the rest of the “mainstream media” are a part of the echo chamber on the left.  I’ll leave that particular issue for others to decide.

If you read these websites, in particular the comments, you will see that there is no common narrative.  Instead, there are two different narratives, two different sets of facts that are driving people’s perspectives these days.  And what bothers me about the dynamic is that neither side is willing to give the other any credit, any consideration, any opening to begin a dialogue that can bridge the vast chasm that exists between the echo chambers.  Neither side has any willingness to consider the validity of the other side.  Neither side.

Which brings us to this year’s Presidential election, now just ten days away.  I’m in a somewhat unusual situation.  A lifelong Democrat.  I won’t be voting for my party’s nominee.  I did this once before in 2000.  I couldn’t stand Al Gore.  During the primary he engaged in what I thought was nasty campaigning against Bill Bradley, a man who seemed to be a rare breed — a good and honorable politician.  I’ll never forgive Gore for his actions during that primary season.  I didn’t vote for him.  I didn’t vote for anybody that year.

Once George W. Bush was elected and he did what he did, I swore I would never make that mistake again.  And here I am.  I will not be voting for Donald Trump and I will not be voting for Hillary Clinton.

Here’s what I would like to say to both sides of this discussion.  On the right, I see that you simply cannot understand how anybody could vote for Hillary Clinton.  I get it.  You think she and her husband are part of a criminal syndicate designed to do nothing other than fill their bank accounts.  I get that you think she has late stage Parkinson’s (although you apparently have never bothered to explore the symptoms of late stage Parkinson’s).  I get that you believe Bill is a serial rapist/misogynist, and that Hillary has not only turned a blind eye to that aspect of her husband’s character but also may have helped damage some of his victims.  I get that you believe that the Clintons represent the truest form of political corruption in this country.

To my friends on the left, I hear you.  Donald Trump is the most unqualified candidate in the history of this country.  He assaults women.  He denigrates pretty much everybody.  His business successes are far from it.  He is a charlatan.  A fascist.  A no-nothing blowhard.  Electing Trump would be a catastrophe of epic proportions.  I am right there with you.

But here’s the deal.

The people who occupy the right-wing echo chamber have some valid points.  Not that Trump is the better candidate, and not that Hillary and her husband are the root of all that is evil in the world.  I don’t buy into most of the allegations made about the Clintons over the years, but there is some truth to the overall sense that they are trying to have their cake and eat it too.  No matter the quality of Hillary’s resume, there are other things that matter when electing a President.  Honesty, integrity, character.  I’ve never been convinced since Bill left office that Hillary passes those tests.  The $150 million they personally made giving speeches to special interest, along with the interplay between their Foundation and foreign countries and others that wanted their influence … well, it just stinks, as far as I’m concerned.

My point is this … the idea that Hillary Clinton should not be elected President, just as you believe Trump should not be elected, is actually a real and valid concern.  The complete disregard for the right-wing perspective … is … essentially comparable to their complete disregard for your views on Trump and his unelectability.  Where does this all end?  In complete division and a never-ending cycle of crap thrown by each side at the other.

Get out of your damn echo chamber and listen to the other side.  Consider that the other side may have some valid points.  Find a way to get back to a common narrative, a common set of facts.  Hillary doesn’t have late stage Parkinson’s.  Donald Trump is not the devil incarnate.

 

Sometimes It’s Just Kind of a Gobsmack

According to Business Insider, the losses Donald Trump claimed in 1995 constituted 2% of the entire amount of net operating losses claimed in individual tax returns for that year.  Yes, that’s right.  In the entire country for that year, one man claimed 2% of all net operating losses claimed on all tax returns filed that year.  And he’s a successful business.

As a result of campaign disclosure requirements he has disclosed that he has at least five loans in excess of $50 million each.  But he does not have to disclose who those loans are with.  There is a significant amount of reporting that U.S. banks simply will not lend the man money anymore.  One wonders why if he is such a successful business man.  So, if American banks will no longer lend money to him, who is it that has lent him these large sums of money?  He doesn’t have to tell us.  But shouldn’t we know if he wants to be President?

Apparently, we know that at least two of those loans are with Deutsche Bank — an entity that is involved in a nasty fight with U.S. regulators.  One wonders if those regulators would be so interested in going after the bank if the President had over $100 million in loans with said bank?

The interesting thing is, whatever you think about Hillary’s activities with the speeches and the Clinton Foundation and the donations — all of that is public and is known.  What isn’t known is who Donald Trump owes money to.  What isn’t known is who has an interest in his businesses.

Shouldn’t you know those things before you vote for him.

 

 

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