I hope we haven’t met our next American President
Part 1 – Who do you want? Who wants to be President?


I have high hopes that we… meaning the vast majority of us, and not those few that will claim to have told us so later on… haven’t met the next President of the United States yet.

The trouble is… and I am so sorry for this unfortunate likelihood… we probably have.

The last time I truly felt any candidate was qualified for my vote was during the 2000 election. And, strangely enough, at that time there were two that I liked. Even more strangely, neither became the candidate for their party, and neither was on the ballot during the official election.

Those candidates were Bill Bradley and John McCain. (And yes, I recognize John McCain ran as his party’s nominee in 2008 and lost. For a vast number of reasons that this essay is not intended to explore, the John McCain of the 2008 election was not the same man as the John McCain of 2000. Heck… let’s get really strange and funny… the John McCain that has followed that 2008 election, soon after he lost and continuing today, is more qualified than the John McCain of the 2008 election run. Weird situation… weird impression. And again… different essay possibility.)

The thing is, that was the last time I really felt that we had people that were incredibly intelligent… incredibly passionate… incredibly caring about the country… and incredibly qualified and worthy of election. That was the last time that people ran for the office and… while differing in political parties, philosophies and credentials, Bradley and McCain… were individuals I respected.

Unfortunately, as brilliant as he is, Bill Bradley the politician does not stir the emotions of voters. Putting it kindly… his personality and charisma when on a stage, at a rally, and on TV, does not connect all that well with the undecided.

And John McCain… well… politics can be a dirty, dirty game.

(Dirty game? Of course… in so many ways. Here’s a fun political discussion topic -- What person in our country’s history will never be president, and yet was likely more qualified, more willing, and more caring about the possibility than any other? (I’ll go with Henry Kissinger. Discuss.))

Something I have always insisted is that I am not a Republican or a Democrat. There are ideas from both parties that I can fully support… ideas from both parties that I simply think are ignorant and, frankly, dumb… ideas from both parties that I think sound really good as concepts or intentions, but when acted upon are delivered in ways both foolish and misguided.

Generally… and I do mean so very generally… if pushed I would guess I usually prefer Republican ideas and Democrat individuals.

Now that’s vague and raw and impossible to really define for me. I don’t agree with a significant percentage of Republican ideas, and I have my troubles with several Democrat candidates.

During the 2008 election, I remember Obama the candidate in a debate, telling me how McCain the President would tax my medical benefits. And them, I recall McCain getting hammered… and hammered… and hammered in the weeks leading up to the election about his responses to Obama’s health ideas. In short, McCain was attacked for saying things like:

  • Small businesses would have to cut jobs in response to the new health care ideas
  • Wages might be reduced in response to the new health care ideas
  • Families and individuals would be forced to follow a government run system that placed regulations and such in between the doctor and the patient

McCain was branded a liar and a fraud and… well… help me out. With the understanding that we can argue about the definitions of small businesses and exemptions to the plan as it existed on day one and as we understand it today -- does anyone see where the Affordable Care Act that was put in place has basically rammed home each and every one of McCain’s warnings? Because I sure can.

Heck -- You know that old “don’t point your finger, or you will have three pointing back at you” saying? Anyone in the Obama group want to revisit those taxing of medical benefits accusations right now? (Hold on… hold on… put your hands down. Anyone want to revisit those taxing of medical benefits accusations with a fair, rational definition of taxation and not a legal, courtroom setting definition? (Thought so.))

The problem here… and what has me writing this essay, and has my shoulders slumping, is a combination of things. See… not only am I depressed that the same old candidates are running… I’m actually most depressed because it’s the same old candidates for the same old politics.

People want to argue about the fine print and definitions of words instead of looking at the real world results and implications. Right now, there are quite possibly several people reading this same essay, and they are all mad at me for completely different reasons. Some may be disappointed in my description of McCain the 2008 candidate, including the comparison to McCain before and after… some will be opening other browser windows and working search engines to find out if Obama really said that about McCain would be taxing medical benefits… some will be using those search engines instead to find statistics and data that support their beliefs that small businesses aren’t impacted in the slightest by the new medical laws and everything is both hunky and dory for Americans under Affordable Care… and so on.


That’s not my point. Not at all. (Well… not primarily.)

Instead we need to recognize that numbers lie… and politicians seem to be really fond of numbers. (And yeah… by default I am saying… numbers lie, politicians use numbers, therefor…)

Gas is $2.50 a gallon… cell phone plans run $100 a month to get a smartphone running (and if yours doesn’t, it’s because you’re paying well over $100 a month for your phone and the wifi you have in your home)… people paying $75-$100 a week to get their employer’s coverage for a family medical plan… and add it up just as a starting point to find we’re all already in the hole some $500 or significantly more each month before we’ve paid our mortgage, turned on the electricity, and brought some groceries into the kitchen.

So... yeah… things are just lovely.

Friend of mine went to a job fair a couple of weeks ago. New complex of retail stores in development… hundreds of jobs created by this construction that was approaching a grand opening. Here’s her description of what she found at the fair:

“…what a joke that was, at least for me. None of the stores were hiring full time sale associates. They were only for part time at 10-20 hours a week and no benefits. The only full time (if you want to call it that) they were hiring for was managers and supervisors jobs, and then they were only for 32-38 hours…”

Small business… big business… the reality is, the employment opportunities out there have changed. Significantly. Very significantly.

Not for everyone. Some people are still getting hired for 40 hours a week (and some are getting plenty of overtime). Some people are still receiving job offers that include all sorts of benefits, from medical plans to retirement contributions.

But when we hear those numbers every month… about unemployment rates… and jobs created… you have to understand, numbers lie.

The job data of 2015 is not apples-to-apples comparable to the job data of 2008. It’s just not. Most companies that I have checked out are hiring for entry-level positions while offering casual or part-time hours. People are them picking little bits of the data to present as complete pictures that support their particular interests.

The thing is, it has essentially always been that way. We get told the pieces of the story that fit the storyline, and not the full context of the data.

And now, once again following elections that promised change to the same old establishment -- because, we voters just love hope and change -- we get treated to a 2016 with names such as Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney and… hold on… Mitt Romney? (And before you tell me whether or not you’ve heard Mitt express interest or decline interest, let’s just understand that even John Kerry’s name has been raised in some discussions. Ok?)

Frankly, none of the names sound all that appealing. None of them sound… here we go… different. None of them sound like they really understand what is happening across the country to the vast majority of people. None of them provide hope and change and comfort and joy for me.

In most presidential election years, roughly 40% of the people eligible to vote don’t. They just don’t. Depending on your source, that figure moves slightly. I’ve seen numbers that say just over 60% voted in 2012, and numbers that say just under 60% voted in 2012. Depends on little technical things to move that figure ever so slightly in one direction or the other. But the main concept of the fact remains…

About four people out of ten that could vote can’t be bothered to head to a polling place to cast their ballot for a presidential candidate. And that is an incredible fact.

History, of course, isn’t kind to those numbers. Just twenty years ago (roughly), we had elections were about half of those eligible didn’t vote. I believe the numbers in 1988, 1996 and 2000 were all around that alarming 50-50 idea. But again, history.

In this country with such amazing highs and disgraceful lows when it comes to politics, for a wide variety of reasons that may qualify as exciting, disgusting, embarrassing and plenty of other adjectives, according to every source I have been able to find it has been more than a century since 70% of eligible voters actually voted for a president.

Over one hundred years.

So… you know… 60% voting is just about the same old… just about routine… the norm… and the multiple applications possible in politics for the phrase same old is what’s upsetting me.

It’s been a long time since an election was actually about issues and ideas and best candidates. Now, it’s a game.

It’s a game involving 538 potential points, and finding a way to secure half of those points plus one… or, more precisely, the magic number of 270 votes from the United States Electoral College.

We don’t get presented with people that actually represent us. We don’t get presented with actual beliefs or intentions. Instead, we get people that represent a party’s attempt to reach the number 270. How to lock down the votes already solidly in place… how to attract those votes up for grabs… and, most importantly, how to get to that magic number… 270.

Supposedly, in the end we elect the person that is best for the country as a whole. Not based solely on popular vote… not based solely on where people live… not based solely on the interests of one particular group. Hopefully, since nothing goes perfectly for everyone in every situation, we get the person that will deliver more good than bad for us all.

But as I’ve said… numbers lie.

We don’t seem to get the candidates we want. And it’s a job where the most qualified to hold it likely don’t want to pursue it. They have better ways to earn more money, have more power and responsibility with less public scrutiny… the result bringing us a lot of stylized fluff running for office, and then we all seem shocked shortly after the swearing in ceremonies when absolutely nothing changes.

Should we really be shocked that the 2008 promise for change has brought more of the same, just from a slightly different angle? Will we really be shocked when, in four years or so, we still have a headache?

There is a solution though. At least, a possible solution.


I know… I know… sounds too simple. And, it is. There will still be headaches for many, even if you do vote. But I can guarantee you that if 70% of those eligible show up on Election Day, politicians will be wondering what the hell happened. Because none of them are expecting that many of us to invest the time in our country’s future. That would bring about some interesting conversations, and possibly even some changes.

So do your research. Find out which candidate really will be the best for you. You have some time… and maybe, over the next year or so, some really interesting people to consider. And then, vote. That’s the most important part. Not the actual person you vote for… but to cast an actual vote for the one you want.

If you want to avoid the same old game, you need to change the game.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com