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.
trouble is… and I am so sorry for this unfortunate likelihood…
we probably have.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
John McCain… well… politics can be a dirty, dirty game.
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.
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.
and I do mean so very generally… if pushed I would guess I usually
prefer Republican ideas and Democrat individuals.
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.
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:
businesses would have to cut jobs in response to the new health
might be reduced in response to the new health care ideas
and individuals would be forced to follow a government run
system that placed regulations and such in between the doctor
and the patient
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.
-- 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?
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.
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.
not my point. Not at all. (Well… not primarily.)
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…)
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.
yeah… things are just lovely.
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:
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…”
business… big business… the reality is, the employment opportunities
out there have changed. Significantly. Very significantly.
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.
when we hear those numbers every month… about unemployment rates…
and jobs created… you have to understand, numbers lie.
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
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.
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?)
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
one hundred years.
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.
been a long time since an election was actually about issues and
ideas and best candidates. Now, it’s a game.
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.
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.
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.
as I’ve said… numbers lie.
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
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?
is a solution though. At least, a possible solution.
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.
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.
you want to avoid the same old game, you need to change the game.