This Election Cycle Gives Me Agita!
There are five basic responsibilities of citizens living in a democracy:
- Respect the rights, beliefs and opinions of others
- Stay informed of issues that affect your community
- Serve on a jury when called upon
- Participate in the democratic process
- Defend the country if need should arise
I could go on about how I interpret each of these, but that hardly makes for a good rant. Today, my focus is simply on number four. As a matter of good citizenship, I recognize that it is my RESPONSIBILITY to participate in the democratic process. That certainly includes learning more about candidates for the highest office in the land – President of the United States of America (POTUS) – and voting for the candidate that I think will do the best job to lead our nation over the next four to eight years. And therein lies the problem. There are four main contenders running for president, and I loathe the idea of picking from the supposed “best” of the worst our nation seemingly has to offer.
Our Current Contenders On the Left
First there is Bernie Sanders. His ideas sound great if you like “free” stuff. Well, free for yourself anyway. Of course, SOMEONE has to pay for all of that free stuff, and bet that at the end of the day, after someone like Sanders chases all of the wealthy elitists right out of the country (a la the mass exodus of wealthy people from France once that nation imposed a 75% tax rate on wealth – a mere pittance in comparison to what Sanders is proposing) the bill will fall sorely on the shoulders of the middle class. You know – that shrinking group of people too wealthy to benefit from any of the freebies, but too poor to really do anything about it that would protect their own interests. Yup, that’s where my family resides, so I’m always really skeptical when it comes to free stuff. I’ve tried (all be it moderately), but I just cannot feel the Bern!
Then we have Hillary Clinton. She has been on the national political stage ever since the days when her husband served as president. She is dying to become the first female president of the United States (there’s an aspiration I actually share with her, but I don’t do as good a job of promoting myself as she does). If you believe everything Hillary Clinton says, you must be drunk or high. She is a cliché! It is a fairly well established fact that the woman lies like a cheap rug. I’ve heard some people say Hillary is great, but at what? Why is she “great”? Is it because she is willing to alter her political opinions to fit the popular culture of the day? Is it because she says all the right things in front of the camera? Is it because she “looks” presidential? I cannot for the life of me figure out what is so great about this woman.
One idea I’ve heard is that she can be tough – and she knows how make friends on “both sides of the aisle” so to speak. I have to admit, having a president who could overcome the constant gridlock we’ve experienced these past eight year would feel like a step forward, but no one wants to step forward right over a cliff. I mean, if Clinton is about anything really, she is about fundraising, self promotion, and popular culture. She is beholden to big business, special interest groups, and (if she’s anything like her husband) wealthy overseas donors. At the end of the day, I simply do not trust Hillary. If she was the only one running, I’d have a difficult time meeting my civic duty to vote.
Oh, and what about all the evil conspiracies we’ve heard about the Clintons over the years? The body count! Benghazi! Bill’s Womanizing! The private e-mail server! Will the conspiracies never cease? I think a Ms. Clinton presidency would have a tough time overcoming the number of scandals in her family’s background. The rest of the world may like to see a Hillary Clinton presidency, but who cares what they think?
Our Current Contenders On the Right
We have the religious candidate in Ted Cruz. He’s a strong Christian. Full disclosure – as a Texas senator, he already represents me in government, and I did vote for him as senator AND in the presidential primary last month. As a senator, I believe he well represents the conservative cultural values of our state here in the Bible Belt. But Texas is not the world. Would he so easily represent a country that is becoming more secular at every turn? Would a Cruz presidency keep our country focused on social issues rather than economic issues? I think he scares people who are Atheist and non-religious. They think he wants to baptize them all and force schools to teach about Jesus during science lessons in public school. Of course, all of that is nonsense. A president doesn’t make the laws, he upholds them. And furthermore, we are living in a time where we need a president who can stimulate the economy not just on Wall Street, or Main Street, but on Every Street across the nation. Will Cruz’s flat tax accomplish this? NO! In fact, I have come to believe that a flat tax will further burden the lowest income earners in the nation, so I’m against it. The only way I’m in support of anything like this is if it exempts the majority of Americans who are presently struggling – so at best we’d be looking at a marginal flat tax, with a generous margin of tax exempt status for American individuals earning less than $75,000 and families earning less then $150,000. Any margin lower than that is a NO GO for me.
I have two main problems with Cruz. First, in talking with people who’ve met him. I heard he can be a bona fide jerk. I’ve heard he is scary smart (as in IQ points). I’ve heard that he seems “slick.” So maybe he is not the type of guy that I might want to be friends with, but I don’t think that’s a requirement for my vote. Second, his dedication to failed conservative economic policies that will not benefit the middle class is a huge red flag for me. Cruz would more likely get my vote if he came up with some homogenized economic policy that was both business friendly (say a flat 25% corporate tax rate) and constituent friendly (say dropping that corporate tax rate to 20% for companies that maintain a certain ratio of full-time employees that earn benefits AND have an executive to average wage cap of 300% – so if the boss gets a big raise, so does everyone else. Try that for a trickle down!).
And last, but not least, we have Donald Trump, the voice of angry voters everywhere. I have to admit, I don’t fear a Trump presidency, but some moments I think perhaps I should. It’s tiresome having to justify in my mind every stupid thing this man says aloud. I know what it’s like to live without a filter, and boy, it’s not pretty from the outside perspective. There are some issues though that would be completely suppressed by the political establishment and the media because they are at odd with the “social agenda” of those groups. Namely, Trump is the only one railing about the travesty of US trade deficits foisted upon our citizenry as a result of these massive trade deals that lately are exporting good-paying, middle America jobs in exchange for cheaply made crap most of us don’t need, and foreign made goods that are not really less expensive than their formerly American made counterparts – despite the hefty labor savings (seriously – are appliances, cars, or electronics imported from foreign nations really so much cheaper today? Even as prices on new tech drops, the overall price of “things” is far more today than it was when those “things” were all made in America it seems).
Illegal Immigration – Trump is again the only one acknowledging that there are costs (higher crime rates, higher incidence of public assistance) to allowing each individual foreigner decide if he gets to come to America rather than the United States government. I am a descendent of immigrants. I am NOT anti-immigrant, and I am NOT racist. But I do believe in American sovereignty, and I DO believe that our president should work in the best interests of LEGAL American citizens, and not those of the world. America is NOT simply an ideal. It is a country – with borders. Why is it considered racist today to simply start enforcing laws already on the books? It’s not. That’s just a bunch of PC clap-trap designed to squash the issue so that we can have a constant supply of cheap labor to undercut American workers and their supposedly outrageous salary demands.
Of course the biggest draw about Donald Trump for most of his supporters is that he is NOT beholden to political donations and special interests like all of the other politicians. If one good thing comes out of this Trump run for president, I hope it’s a ray of sun shedding light on how corrupt the “Big Money” politics of our modern times are. Wealthy elites from BOTH parties feel entitled to dictate to the citizenry a short list of who will be allowed to run for president each cycle, and it ain’t Donald Trump this year.
Yes, the man is crass, loud, controversial, and opinionated. Ever meet a billionaire who wasn’t? Seriously, voters do not want another politician who will kiss their collective behinds for a vote. They want someone will address the very REAL problems they are experiencing (lack of well-paying full-time jobs for average people; rising costs of food, home ownership, and transportation; H1B Visa abuses; the failure to even COUNT the 100,000,000 Americans who are unemployed/underemployed in the labor statistics). There is a sense among Trump supporters I know – maybe he will be able to fix our economy for the working class, maybe he won’t, but he IS the only candidate running for office who seems willing to take a run at it. Everyone else just seems content with some form of the status quo, or some pie in the sky free for all (Sanders).
What Am I Looking For In A Candidate?
That’s a good questions. I am looking for someone who holds traditional conservative values, but doesn’t plan to make a conservative social agenda the feature of his/her presidency. For example, I am pro-Life and pro-traditional marriage in my personal life and beliefs. But I also respect that much of secular society does not share in those beliefs, so I don’t want a candidate who’s going to rail on and on about these issues.
A candidate who desires policies that would in turn reduce the number of abortions greatly, while allowing the procedure itself to remain legal, would be great. Let’s face it – abortions will happen if they are legal or illegal. Wouldn’t it be better to reduce the number of legal abortions through education, adoption assistance, sonogram requirements, and cooling off periods rather than risk lives with untold numbers of illegal abortions? I tend to think so. And a candidate who affirms that the Supreme Court has made same-sex marriages legal in all 50 states, while also affirming the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution that should prohibit the coercion of secular law to alter what is taught in church pulpits around the nation, (after all, does not the separation of church and state work both ways?) would also be welcome.
Primarily, I’m looking for a candidate that has a common sense approach to economic policy. As I said before, someone who wants business to post record profits AND help maintain a middle-class workforce. That would be lovely! In fact, anyone who will acknowledge that the current economic and trade policies of BOTH political parties are harmful to the average citizens of our nation overall would be appreciated. Someone who believes that corporations can be incentivized to bring decent full-time jobs back to America, or create new ones that will benefit the masses of society because it’s the RESPONSIBLE thing to do – that would be a good candidate too. And while I’m wishing, someone who will take on the “Wall Street First” mentality, where everyone can go to hell or the unemployment line if it will raise the stock price. Seriously, companies that lay off US workers for NO REASON other than to manipulate their stock prices should be named and shamed. What if we all stopped buying Carrier air conditioners? Or GE appliances? Or any of the other myriad products now manufactured elsewhere and imported back to us? What if we had a candidate who promised that government contracts would be awarded based upon corporate stewardship regarding employment practices that benefit American citizens? Is that really so out of the realm of possibility?
What Am I Getting In A Candidate?
What I’m getting currently are bad vibes from all four candidates. There isn’t one among them that suits my thinking on economic policy. Sanders may come closest when I think about the concerns I have for boosting stagnant wages in America, but his ideas are so punitive to businesses and wealthy people that he will only really serve to help workers right out of their jobs. A vote for Sanders is surely a vote for automation from sea to shining sea! (not that it wouldn’t happen any way, but he’d likely usher in the automation of jobs faster than any other candidate). Trump speaks most to the issues that concern me, but I have not heard much from him by way of practical ways to achieve his goals – it’s more like, “Vote for me and then I’ll tell you how we’re gonna get there.” He makes me feel like I’m buying a used car! Right now, all I’m getting in exchange for my vote is agita. Someone, please pass the antacids!