Posts Tagged ‘Elections’

“What Price Glory?”

By Bob Litton

¶Returning to my keyboard for this brief post is very difficult for me: the lingering post-election depression is too heavy. I am here primarily to assure whatever regular readers remain that I am still alive and going through the daily motions. There are several topics I could write about, but I’m going to concentrate on just one and leave the others for another day…hopefully.
¶For the second time in sixteen years we Americans have desecrated the temple of democracy by falsely employing that antiquated device called “the Electoral College”. For those unaware of it, the Electoral College is a system for indirect voting, for choosing not the president but representatives who will presumably vote for the president at a later date; it is what makes our country a republic rather than a pure democracy.
¶Al Gore lost to George W. Bush in 2000 because of the “college”: Gore actually received the larger number of popular votes. This year, Hillary Clinton has apparently lost to Donald Trump in the same way. The popular votes are still being counted, believe it or not; as of today (November 17), four million votes remain to be counted in Michigan, Utah and the state of Washington. According to “International Business Times”, citing the independent “Cook Political Report”, Clinton leads Trump by more than a million votes and, judging by the trend in California, her margin of victory could eventually reach more than two million. Here are the current numbers: Clinton = 62,829, 832 / Trump = 61,488,190. Other than the snail’s pace in counting votes, the only problem is the Electoral College, for not all the electors are absolutely bound to vote for the candidate their constituencies have indicated. Democracy as a system of government has been tainted by these absurd results: Recall that Russia’s Vladimir Putin pointed to the 2000 election fiasco and declared democracy a nonsensical system if that was an example of how it works.
¶Yes, I hold the Electoral College system primarily responsible for Trump’s so-called “victory”, but there are other contributing causes. Clinton blames FBI director James Comey because he announced finding a new batch of emails belonging to Clinton’s campaign manager, some of which were to—or referred to—Clinton, a few weeks before Election Day. Other people blamed the pollsters, who kept publishing numbers indicating Clinton was in the lead (although slightly) up to the last minute; and they were all wrong; yet that supposed lead might have kept some Democrats away from the voting booths because of a false sense of certainty, and they might have spurred on some last-minute voting by sluggard Republicans and Independents. And lately, even Facebook has received some blame because it allowed false news reports to be disseminated across the nation and beyond. But let’s not forget the least forgivable contributor of all: a large body of stupid Trump followers who reportedly “took Trump seriously but not literally”. Yes, all of those other sources probably contributed, but I still maintain that the primary culprit is the Electoral College.
¶So, what are we left with?
¶Donald J. Trump as President-Elect.
¶All the negatives about Trump (I hate to even write his name)—his narcissism, his misogyny, his racism, his xenophobia, his bigotry, and his lying—have been reported ad nauseam, so I won’t delve into that. No, I consider his most dangerous feature is his belief in his exceptionalism, his sense of entitlement. The people and many in the press let him get by without the usual medical exam report and any release of his federal tax returns. Now he remains ensconced in his New York City hotel suite rather than taking up residence in Washington, D.C.—even though he recently cut the ribbon on a new hotel only blocks away from the White House—and has caused traffic snarls on Fifth Avenue because of security measures. (I can’t prove it, but I believe that Trump is roosting in NYC, his hometown, because he sees that as a way to punish the voters there who did not vote for him; more than 80 percent of them reportedly voted for Clinton).
¶And now he wants to have some of his progeny employed as his personal staff in D.C., a new craving that brings up the question of nepotism. He wants them all to be given security clearances. As of yet, very few in Congress or in the media have become alarmed by these extraordinary, self-centered moves of his. I personally think the fellow wants to establish a dynasty in the White House like the Kim family in North Korea or the Bush family here. He might even eventually seek to have himself crowned as our first monarch. Admittedly, Hillary in the White House would have constituted a quasi-dynasty also (a screwball lateral rather than a vertical one).
¶Trump has joined the club of the “Bully Boys” or the “New Strongmen” that has developed in Russia, China, North Korea, Turkey, and the Philippines. His slogan has been “Make America Great Again”, and the fools have lapped it up. But…What price glory?
¶I cannot stand to watch or listen to the man on TV. Even his demeanor (his Mussolini-like facial expressions and pinching fingers) are annoying. And how can anyone not discern the insincerity in his eyes and intonations? Despite Clinton’s and Obama’s urgings to accept the braggart as our “leader” and to give him a chance to prove himself worthy, I refuse to do so. Like all those other Americans marching in the streets of big cities across the country, I declare: He is not my President!

Freedom’s Limitations

© 1979, 2011, 2015 By Bob Litton. All Rights Reserved.

NOTE TO READERS: Okay, this is your lucky day, folks!!! The editorial below is the last old-timey piece I plan to transport into this blog. Oh, I do have three others left; but they are truly the dregs, and I don’t plan to publish them unless I get into a really bad spot.

This opinion piece on our right and obligation to vote of course concerns a subject which we have read and heard preached about over and over ad nauseam. Yet, many of us Americans have a strangely hard time taking  the sermons to heart. It really bothers me that such large percentages of Middle Eastern populations brave threats of violent death in getting to the polls yet turn out in large numbers anyway, while our own percentage level is, election after election, pitifully low.

Yes, I know the excuses we can make: it’s too much a case of Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee; they promise too much and then deliver so little; we mutter, “My preferred candidate hasn’t got a chance, so why should I go vote?”

Well, this editorial is slightly more than an answer to those issues. It at least offers one solution. Give it a try.

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The Ward County commissioners Monday estimated it cost the county taxpayers about $4.25 per vote to hold the recent state constitutional election.

There are two ways to look at that figure: (1) if more people had voted, the cost per vote would have declined proportionately; or (2) if there had been no election, then there would have been no cost at all.

As nondescript as it was, the election was made necessary by our state’s arthritic constitution, so that eliminates the second subjunctive clause above.

We are therefore left with the first possibility: the more who participate, the less expensive is democracy.  Were it not for the fact that those who voted were as much penalized by the expense as those who did not vote, I would sit back and chuckle, albeit slightly ruefully, that the ostriches were being tormented at least a little by the sand in their eyes.

The situation reminded me of an article in Life magazine, part of a series on ancient Greece, that I had read as a boy.  Specifically, a certain illustration in one of the articles has remained vividly etched in my mind.  The water color scene represented two Scythian archers, whom the Athenians used for policemen, walking down the street with a rope dipped in red paint stretched between them.  In front of them scurried some Athenian men, glancing over their shoulders with worried visages at the red rope and clutching their garments about them.

The caption explained that the citizens were late to a meeting in the agora where community business was carried on.  Should they arrive with red paint on their persons, they were liable to be fined.

Now, ancient Athens is the place we ordinarily associate with “the cradle of democracy”.  And “democracy” for most of us connotes “freedom”.  Moreover, freedom has grown to be so extensive an idea in the United States that we also mean for it to include the right to not participate in elections and other activities by which that very freedom is supported.

The Athenians obviously had no use for a slug-a-bed’s notion of democracy.  The existence of their city-state was too precarious to be subjected to indifference.

Frankly, I wish we would fine ourselves a good deal more heavily than $4.25 for our sluggardly voting habits.

You might retort that some of us who are legally entitled to vote are intellectually not capable of voting rationally and that such persons should not be forced to introduce their ignorance and emotions into the general consensus.

I offer two responses to that argument.  First, there are already a lot of ignorant and emotional people who feel quite at ease offering their two cents worth of clamor to the “general consensus”, which is why our national conventions usually appear more like rock-n-roll shows.  What democracy relies on, in fact, is that the more idiots there are trying to think, the greater the likelihood of some sensible idea arising like a bit of articulate smoke out of the combustion of their interchange.

The second response is that if a person can be held responsible enough to drive an automobile or possess a charge account, then he or she should be considered rational enough to vote sensibly.  These would, in fact, be quite simple ways of determining both who is enjoying the most free aspects of American life and who should be held most responsible for seeing that it is maintained: holders of credit cards and driver’s licenses.

I would propose that all of us with either a credit card or a driver’s license be fined, and heavily, if we did not vote in an election, unless we could prove our inability to reach the polls at the proper time.

Our cornucopia of freedoms should not include indifference.

— Monahans News, November 29, 1979

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