Get out there and vote!
I’ve struggled at times to not let my posts become political diatribes - and I’ll do my best not to let this one fall into that category. I’m certain that any of you who know me likely know where my hopes, sentiments and beliefs fall in the political spectrum. I also know that little I say or post somewhere is likely to change your mind about issues or candidates. No - this is a post just to urge you to vote - get out there and get ‘er done. Every four years we hear the familiar platitude that “this is the most important election of your life” - I actually believe it this time around, so please - get out there and vote!
There are those who claim that none of the “main stream media” can be trusted - that all of it is at best fake news but more likely yet another carefully coordinated conspiracy. Although I struggle at times to understand what the term “main stream media” really means - I surmise that it is the traditional television networks of the pre-cable days (NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS) and the truly national newspapers (NY Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Christian Science Monitor). There are several “lower tier” newspapers that I would likely add to the list but many of them no longer exist and/or they are no longer an independent voice - that’s a loss for all of us. The third leg of the main stream media for me were the news magazines - Newsweek, US News & World Report, Time, etc. None of these sources can be believed anymore (so some say) - and yet we are somehow supposed to blindly believe what we read on the web regardless of how dubious the source may be? We are expected to rely on tweets and retweets for the truth we seek? What a sad state of affairs. Broaden your search and do your own homework. Don't leave it up to keyboard commandos with no attribution to their claims.
At a very young age I gained a respect for the news media - even if if was just a youthful impatience for the news to get over so something better could come on the TV. I often think of my grandfather who was one of the wisest people I ever knew and how he consumed the news. He took two daily newspapers - one arrived in the morning and one in the afternoon and he read every word of the news and editorial sections of both. He watched the nightly news every night, first with Douglas Edwards and then with Walter Cronkite and was delighted when the schedules changed so that he could also watch the Huntley-Brinkley Report. He took at least two weekly news magazines - I distinctly remember U.S. News and World Report along with Newsweek. All of this was followed with lengthly conversations at the hardware store or the gas station, where the old men had pulled a few bench seats from abandoned vehicles out front in order to have a comfortable place to solve the world problems. My point is that he took his responsibility to be an informed citizen and voter seriously and while there were many who did not agree with his politics I never heard one who opposed them accuse him of being ignorant or misguided or somehow evil - he just had a different point of view and that was allowed and even encouraged. Sadly, we have become conditioned to castigate anyone who has an opinion or supports a candidate different from ourselves - that is not how a healthy republic works. I’ve always thought that the best decisions come from an atmosphere where you’ve got all the ideas at the table and can rationally discuss them without turning to name-calling or character assassination.
The issues are no more complex today than they were in my grandpa’s lifetime - it’s just that we have collectively become lazy when it comes to educating ourselves. Reading a meme on Facebook or watching a YouTube video is just not the same as reading position papers or good editorial analysis. We are bombarded with media - coming at us from all directions and we’ve collectively done a poor job of filtering the sound bites. Add to that the claims that the media is the enemy of the people and they must be stopped from their reporting anytime it disagrees with what I have decided to believe. The 24/7 news cycle has not helped a bit - I remember when Ted Turner first launched CNN by Ted Turner in 1980 - most predicted that it would be an expensive failure and likely wouldn’t last six months. Talk radio was primarily people chattering about the weather, the baseball scores and a bit of local news or it was the garden shows or some such on Saturday mornings - it was not the pit of vitriol it has become today.
Don’t believe that a free and independent press is important? There are candidates for you. Don’t care that the “who-what-when-where- and how” tenets of journalism only count for journalists and not those who label them as fake? There are candidates for you. Don’t care if claims are repeatedly made without a red of supporting evidence? No problem - that are candidates for you. Just get out there and vote.
I’m not a huge fan of how the two-party system has evolved in the United States - and I’m not sure how we’ll ever change it. The Founding Fathers certainly did not envision the party politics that we have today - in fact for the most part they did not envision partisan politics at all. The Constitution is silent on the issue - but it did allow Congress to organize themselves as they saw fit. We the People have allowed this to happen but like all semi-rational humans we will do our damnedest to find someone else to blame. Many of you will scream for term limits - go for it - there are candidates out there that share you view.
I’ve never been a huge fan of term limits - in my opinion we already have them - we call them voting booths. To ask for legislated term limits, which likely will never happen since you would need a majority of those in office to vote for them, seems like we are admitting our own failure. We scream about state’s rights and get the feds the hell out of our lives and then we seem to say “oh gee - we can’t seem to do anything but reelect our Congress by a margin of over 96% - can you fix this for us?” I just don’t get it. Talk about handing over control of one of our greatest rights under the Constitution - I just don’t like it much. Don’t like Congress? Change it.
I also think that we have allowed Congress to hand over far too much power to the Executive Branch and then we go ballistic when the Executive Branch begins to exert that power - anyone else feel like a hamster in a wheel? Our biggest mistake (again - just my opinion, twisted as it may be) is the unbridled gerrymandering that has rendered Congressional districts almost impossible for an opposing party to win - this is not how a democratic republic is supposed to work but we have allowed these processes to carry on. I believe we need to fix it - maybe you think it’s just dandy - that’s okay - there are candidates out there for both of us - just be sure to vote!
Next to gerrymandering I believe the worst threat to our nation is the unlimited amount of relatively unknown dark money in politics today. I can think of few Supreme Court decisions in my lifetime that I disagree with more than I do with Citizen’s United - not that the decision itself was flawed or incorrect but that the solution lies with a legislative branch that has absolutely no reason to seek a solution. We seem to collapse when we get a Supreme Court ruling as if that is the end-all decision on a matter - it is not. It should be seen as a starting point - that what we were doing/trying to so was not the right way to do it under the Constitution - is does not necessarily mean that there is no way to achieve much the same thing in a manner that is constitutional. We have allowed Congress to hide behind court decisions and then scream about activist jurists legislating from the bench - but hey - if these are your preferred approaches there are candidates out there that will represent you just fine - so please vote.
At about the same time that the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United that corporations and PACs were individuals and could not be held accountable for campaign donations or operations - Congress in theory did away with “pork-barrel spending”. Oh boy - is this ever going to fix everything - we now have more than 12,000 registered lobbyists - that’s over 23 for every member of Congress. The PACS have checkbooks that are anonymous and they are virtually accountable to nobody - no red flags there huh? And then we do away with that nasty pork barrel spending - it always came up in every election cycle and was met with disgust and much ridicule. You know - the kind of side deals in Congress that were like “hey - if you’ll support my bridge to nowhere I’ll support your study of cow farts”. Pork barrel never represented a significant part of the Federal budget, less than 3%, and yet it was enough to get members of Congress to actually work across the aisle to make things happen. It was enough to foster friendships and respect. I would welcome pork barrel back in a second if we could get the dark money out of politics - besides - cow farts might be a fascinating subject. Whatever your thoughts on campaign spending - there are candidates out there for you - so go vote!
I’ve heard some people claim that they use the “who would I rather have a beer with” as their decision for President and I like almost any test that includes beer - for me that’s an easy one - one major candidate seems like someone I could actually have a conversation with - the other seems like the drunk at the bar who you just wish would shut up - but hey - there are a bunch of choices - 15 different choices for President in Utah - likely more in other states - but for me at least this is not a year for some “protest” vote past the dominant parties - as much as I might like to vote for Kanye West (NOT). But for you? No mater what state you are in I guarantee you’ve got a wide selection - maybe not a good selection - but it is a wide one. There is a candidate for you so get out there and vote.
While all the buzz is on the presidential election - don’t ignore those down ballot races and issues. Every single member of the House of Representatives is up for election - 35 Senate seats and 11 states and two territories will elect Governors. There are countless other statewide offices - county offices and local offices - and these are the folks who have a very direct effect on your lives. Educate yourself on the candidates and get out there and vote - all the way down the ballot.
Don’t believe in science or that there is value to career military, diplomatic and governmental officials? There are candidates for you. Think that perhaps our long-time allies are just not that important and that we should be building our alliances with communist leaders? There are candidates for you - get out there and vote.
Are you sick and tired of having all this damn public land that is managed by the Federal government? Do you believe that at a minimum it should be ceded to the states if not just transferred into private ownership? Are you tired of fishing or hunting or hiking or camping or whatever your outdoor pursuits once were? Maybe you think this crap about how important it is to protect water sheds is vastly overrated after all we can buy drinking water at the grocery store, right? There are candidates for you - get out there and vote.
If having an Attorney General that serves the Chief Executive rather than serving the Constitution and the body of law that has been passed pursuant to the Constitution is important to you - there are candidates that will fit the bill - go vote.
There is perhaps one group that I won’t urge to vote - those of you who have bought into QAnon need to seek mental health treatment while it is still covered under health plans. If you truly believe that some kind of cabal of Satan-worshipping, cannibalistic pedophiles - made up mostly of “Hollywood liberals” and Democrats are running a global child sex-trafficking ring - please seek help - you need it. For the rest of you - get out there and vote.
Come on America - we’re better than this and no matter how screwed up things seem to be right now, no matter how divided and angry we are - we are still the best country on Earth. For over two Centuries we have been that beacon of personal freedom that is the envy of the world. Our ability to peacefully transition from one administration to another has been held up as a hallmark around the globe. Our right to vote has been fought for - and died for by thousands. It is not only a right, it is a responsibility - it’s how a federal republic works. We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our communities and we owe it especially to our children - just do it! Vote!
peace be with you - Hendo