It goes with the territory…

I had every intention to write tonight about the history of controversial White House staff appointments in the last few administrations, but largely due to not wanting to do the research to validate my memory, I’ve decided against it. The truth is, almost as soon as your party finds itself out of power the memory of anything they did that stirred the least bit of controversy flees from memory. Except in a few rare circumstances, we tend to remember presidential administrations for all of their virtues and none of their vices. For the time being just take my word for it that every incoming president appoints staffers that the opposition believes is the devil incarnate. It goes with the territory.

During these transitions of power we all tend to forget that the presidency is bigger than any one man. It’s bigger than any single administration. Given our seemingly insurmountable differences we rarely stop to marvel at the unbroken succession of peaceful transfers of power stretching back to George Washington. Given the number of young democracies that fall into chaos when a chief executive departs, it really is something quite remarkable that we manage to get it done with little more than yelling at each other.

That’s not to say that the process is pretty or that it’s in any way satisfying for anyone involved. No matter the results of a presidential election, no one ever gets the whole loaf. Even with one party ascendant over the executive and legislative branches, there are plenty of opportunities for policy goals to be held immobile. One of the wonders of the American system is just how difficult the Founding Fathers made it to get anything done. That wasn’t done by accident.

Anyway, everyone take a breath. In 1933 Republicans screamed that FDR was going to turn us all into socialists. He didn’t. In 2016 Democrats are screaming that Trump will turn us all into Nazis. He won’t. Relax and remember that campaigning for the next presidential primary is only about two years away.

Just an idealist…

The push is on by all the parties to get out the vote. In the swing states it’s wall too wall advertising, phone calls, and door knocking. It’s one of the very few moments when living in a deeply blue state is a blessing. My vote for president may be worthless, but at least I’m not being bludgeoned by adds like the poor bastards in Ohio or Pennsylvania.

Getting out the vote is a fine thing in theory. or it is until I remember that the people these efforts are designed to bring to the polls aren’t the ones who have spent months studying the candidates and issues. The last minute crush is designed to bring on the ones who haven’t made a lick of effort to education themselves. In all likelihood they’re the ones who stand in front of the menu board at your local fast food shop and look completely perplexed by their options. They’re the ones who get distracted by their radio and drive on the interstate exit ramp. If they’re not making up their minds until 36 hours before the polls open, they’re likely not the kind of informed electorate we want to believe we have here in our American republic.

In the last couple of decades we’ve made massive efforts to chase something close to universal voter registration. It’s probably a fine idea in concept. We’ve made such an effort to register everyone who can vote that we’ve never paused to consider if we should really want them to. It won’t make me the most popular kid in class to say so, but I’d rather see us spend some time making sure those eligible to vote have a little education first, maybe a few critical thinking skills, and then send them off to the voting booth. Personally, I’d be curious to see what kind of results we’d have if the electorate was educated, had a vested interests in ensuring the government was effective and efficient, and didn’t have a large percentage of participants whose only expectation was getting more free stuff while other people pay the bills. I’m just an idealist like that.

Shit sandwich, or The election of 2016…

By this time next week the presidential election of 2016 will theoretically be over. The polls will be closed, anyway. Getting to the final results of the election may well drag out for weeks after that. But at least the coverage will shift from the electoral horserace to an dirty hot mess in the judicial system. Then we can crank the nastiness on both sides all the way up to eleven. Sigh.

Until today I was all set to cast my vote for the Libertarian candidate. I say was because this morning I saw that the Libertarian vice presidential candidate offered up an interview that turned into more than a passing attempt at defending the actions of the Democratic candidate for president for failing to protect sensitive and classified electronic information, going so far as calling her a “person of good moral character.” That leaves me with a very large question mark when it comes to Bill Weld’s judgment and suitability to serve as Vice President. If he really does think mishandling this type of information is no big deal, I can’t in good conscience give him my vote any more than I could give it to Hillary Clinton herself.

My philosophies generally tend to run libertarian. If a man wants to get his jollies with another man, it doesn’t hurt me. If a person wants to snort cocaine on their bathroom floor until their nose falls off, again, it’s no harm to me. This country use to be about maximizing the liberty of the individual and should be again, since we have seen time after time that the solution of adding more government so regularly causes more harm than good.

Although I strongly supported John McCain’s candidacy, his selection of Sarah Palin as his running made cost him my vote in 2008. I simply couldn’t abide her religio-right wing views. If I’m to maintain my intellectual consistency, how can I not then deny Gary Johnson my vote when his running mate proves similarly unsuited to the office in my estimation?

The Johnson-Weld ticket was my refuge of last resort in an election season of discontent. I will not cast my vote for Hillary Clinton. Weld’s commentary has made my assumed vote for Gary Johnson nearly untenable. So I’m left with the Republican candidate who I find profoundly objectionable for any number of other reasons.

So does anyone want to remind me how you go about eating a shit sandwich?

What I believe…

The scope and power of all levels of government should be limited and the burden of maintaining that government should be a cost borne by all Americans, from the poorest to the wealthiest. The rights guaranteed by the Constitution are not simple recommendations, but the absolute and highest law of the land and must be aggressively defended against those who seek to deny them. Protecting the territorial integrity of the United States is the single most important obligation of the federal government. The only JW16.pngappropriate legitimate “path to citizenship” involves respecting the following the laws and regulations governing immigration. Government should have no voice in defining love – or even lust – between two consenting adults. Locking people up for smoking marijuana is stupid. A woman’s right to access a relatively safe abortion has been the law of the land for over 40 years and it’s time we accept that. Our head of state is the president, not Jesus Christ, so let’s not pretend we want to live in that world unless we’re also willing to give Odin, Zeus, Mithras, Satan, and Buddha equal billing. The guy next door, or the one in the next county over, doesn’t owe you a damned thing. The only thing you as an individual are owed is the opportunity to be happy and successful, but that depends largely on how hard you’re willing to work and what you’re ready to sacrifice to reach your goals.

As it turns out, there isn’t a candidate in the 2016 presidential election who hits all those check boxes. I won’t vote for Hillary Clinton because I’ll never be convinced by equivocating investigators that she’s not an unindicted felon. I fundamentally disagree with her positions on so many issues of importance to me and deep down I just don’t trust her. Plaudits from the current administration that labeled her “the best qualified candidate in the history of the republic ever,” surprisingly did nothing to assuage my distrust. Representing the party I find myself most often aligned with, I have Donald Trump… the candidate who started off as an interesting outsider who seems to become more unhinged with every passing afternoon. Despite agreeing that we need to build one big ass wall on the southern border, I can’t seem to find a way in good conscience to vote for a man who condemns prisoners of war and gold star families.

With all that said, I believe one more thing. I believe that the best candidate for the Presidency of the United States in 2016 doesn’t come cloaked as a Democrat or a Republican. Like the others, he doesn’t hit all of my sweet spots. In fact his draconian proposals for defense spending are directly opposed to my own self interest in continuing to be paid out of that big pot of money. This election can’t be about my paycheck. It has to be a matter of principle… and even though we disagree on a few issues I believe Gary Johnson is far more qualified to sit behind the Resolute desk than either huckster the major parties have presented to us.

On Tuesday, November 8th I’ll cast my vote for Gary Johnson for President and Bill Weld for Vice President. I hope you’ll consider doing the same. I believe it’s the only reasonable and responsible option left to us.

Strange new world…

This presidential election can’t seem to help itself from turning into a shitshow on the global stage. As if to add an exclamation point to the idea that neither of our two major parties has their act together, the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee is being forced to resign due to emails pillaged from a not-nearly-secure-enough server and published online. If I were the candidate of that party, knowing that my own emails are susceptible to the same treatment, my pucker factor would be ratcheting up pretty significantly right now.

I can’t be alone in seeing the grand irony of leaked email being the thing that so bedevils the Democratic Party, can I? Like others, I assumed emails would be the undoing of the candidate instead of the party boss. That may or may not still be true, of course, especially now with rumors rampant that a foreign power was involved in making these specific emails public in an effort to influence an American election.

Each day the world becomes a less certain place. The old rules continue to hold less of a grip. All I know for sure is that it’s a long way to November. I won’t even try to guess what real and fictitious information may come to light between now and then. It’s a strange new world.

Stranger things…

I’ve wandered through Facebook pages, websites, news articles, and even random campaign literature praising the qualification of nearly all of the fourteen or so Republican candidates for US Senate in Maryland. It struck me, perhaps too late to be much of a time saver, that what I was doing was really the working definition of madness since Maryland hasn’t elected a Republican to the Senate since 1980. For all practical purposes I could cast a write-in vote for myself and have just as much influence on the eventual winner of the electoral process in November. In this state, a Democratic win is just a foregone conclusion.

Of course this reliable bright blue state of ours currently has a surprisingly popular Republican governor who has somehow maintained his bipartisan appeal according to most polls. A Republican senator from the great State of Maryland would be a coup – an improbable, pipe dream of a coup. Still stranger things have happened on election days so I’ll do my best to go out tomorrow and pick us a winner.

Falling all over it…

I was about to write a post about how the Democratic Party’s use of super delegates seems to have a tendency to subvert the democratic process, but putting the real power to determine winners and losers into the hands of faithful party hacks. That’s the post I was going to write tonight. It’s such a nonsensical proposition that the story almost writes itself. It was supposed to be the low hanging fruit.

It was the low hanging fruit until the uproar caused when the general public found out that Colorado (along with several other jurisdictions) allocate delegates to the Republican National Convention by holding a state party convention rather than by having a caucus or voting in a primary election. There’s nothing technically wrong with that approach. It’s perfectly legal, but the optics of banner headlines screaming “no vote for Colorado GOP” just sucks up all the oxygen that would have been available for making fun of the Democrats “democratic” process.

The DNC responded to its misbegotten presidential candidates in the late 1960s and early 1970s (I’m looking at you Humphrey and McGovern) by creating super delegates to protect the vested interests of the party. Republicans have clearly devised their own methodology for ensuring their candidates pass whatever party purity test they want to concoct. Neither the super delegate nor the “no vote” option look appealing in the harsh light of extended scrutiny.

If it were up to me, primaries would be conducted across the country on the same day approximately six months before the general election… and the first candidate to begin their campaign more than 1 year from the date of the general would be summarily drawn and quartered, their head surmounted on pike at the foot of Capitol Hill, and the four quarters of his or her body sent off to the four corners of the country as a warning to others. Alas, such a mandate would undoubtedly be written off as a federal overreach into territory best left for the states and individual parties to deal with. Even if effectively and efficiently determining the will of the state party members isn’t really what we’re trying to accomplish, it feels like there must surely be a better way than the way we’re all falling over it this election year.