Category Archives: 2012 Election Season

Stand Up!

Once again, we’ve had an election, and the results of various races remained in doubt for weeks. There were also squabbles in several states over the question of voter ID laws.

After watching a year and a half of campaigning, I’m tired of stupidity. I’m tired of lazy eligible voters who can’t decide for whom to vote and can’t get the required documents. I’m tired of technological solutions that create more problems than they solve. Here are my answers:

1. Election Day will be a national holiday. Polls will be open the full twenty-four hours of that day. Only essential services such as hospitals and power generation stations may operate.

2. Anyone who wishes to vote will be allowed to do so anywhere the person chooses. If I care enough to vote for mayor of Seaford, Delaware, so be it. Upon voting, the voter’s thumb will be marked with dye as was done in Afghanistan.

3. In the polling place, there will be a wall with slots to represent each candidate in every race in that district. The slot open on a tube that leads to a container of standard weight. The voter will be given enough ten gram metal disks to cast a vote in each race. Voters will be made to change into plain robes without pockets and asked to pass through a metal detector. The slots will be covered and will open one at a time, closed when the voter chooses. Each container will be weighed at the end of Election Day, and the weight will be divided by ten, giving the number of votes.

This is my Luddite, contrary, take-responsibility-for-your-own-society solution to voting. We’ll have to count the chad and check the Diebold programming when the ballot initiative for the change shows up in the next election.

I’m Right, No, I’m Right, No, I’m Right…

Last night (16 October 2012), I wasted time by watching the second presidential debate. Such events are worse than worthless. With that in mind, here’s a proposal for improvements:

1. Any candidate who fails to answer the question asked will be immediately ejected from the stage and not allowed back on during that election cycle.

2. Candidates will wear no-bark collars that the moderator can use to shut them up when the time is gone or when a clarification (fact-checking, in other words) is required.

3. Invitations will no longer be made based on scores in the latest polls, but on the qualities of the ideas that each candidate has offered. This means that the Greens and Libertarians will have guaranteed spots for now, while the Democans and Republicrats will need to work harder.

4. Mere squabbling will result in an immediate time-out period for the offenders. Children must be given consistent rules with no chance of arguing their way out of punishments.

5. No undecideds will get to ask questions. If you come in announcing that you don’t know anything, you’re probably running for office.

6. A committee of smart people will each be given a button that when pressed will make cries of “Bullshit!” blare from speakers around the room. Better yet, until we can get rid of the two major corrupt parties, it would be best to turn that on and leave it running the whole debate.

7. The debate will begin with a series of quotations about politicians, including the line about how anyone who wants to be elected is by definition not qualified for the job. Much of the evening should be taken up with readings from Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken.

8. Passages from the Constitution and relevant laws about the powers and limitations of the office in question will also be read before the debate begins. In addition, remarks on how the person holding the office works for us, not the other way around.

9. Prayers to all gods will be made afterward, along with sacrifices of at least two fatted oxen, in hopes that we will be shown mercy for tolerating such fools.

And most importantly,

10. Bats will be issued to audience members. They will line up in two rows after the debate is over, and the candidates will be required to walk in between. The audience will be given blanket immunity for anything that happens during that promenade.

There’s ten for you. Carve them on marble tablets, and plant them inside every hall of power in this nation.

Presidential Endorsements

This election season, we have an embarrassment of riches. There is a candidate on the right, and there is a candidate on the left, and both of them offer a clear statement of their respective sides.

And yes, the Democans are also running candidates.

Confused? Don’t be. Have a look at these two:

Gary Johnson

Jill Stein

Johnson is the Libertarian nominee for president, while Stein is running as the Green Party candidate.

O.K., I know the argument against voting for a third party. That’s said to be a throw-away vote. Uh huh. Unlike the vote that too many of us throw away to the Democrats and the Republicans? I hear a great deal of yammering about how money influences politics, about how the Citzens United decision will destroy America, about how the sky is falling and it’s all their fault, whoever they may be. The fact is, though, that no matter how much money candidates spend, they still have to get votes to get into office. Who then has the responsibility for that?

We do.

If you really believe that giving tax breaks to multinational corporations makes sense, that government intrusion into our private lives makes sense, that a foreign policy based on knee jerks rather than leadership makes sense, that handing more and more control of our healthcare to insurance companies makes sense, that a lot of talk about the environment without any action makes sense, that handwringing over immigration makes sense, that spending money that we haven’t earned makes sense, and on and on, by all means, vote for the Republicrat Party. Pick your candidate based on whose wife is prettier.

Or you can educate yourself and make a good choice. Here’s a place to start: OnTheIssues.org. If you’re looking at the election and feeling that you’ll have to hold your nose when you vote, why aren’t you demanding someone better?

Regular readers have seen me go on about this topic before. I’m going to do so until people wake up. You should, too. A democracy is a form of government in which citizens have to be active participants. If you want your government handed to you, North Korea is available. Otherwise, you have to speak out. You have to attend meetings and make comments. You have to talk to those around you.

Or you can just vote for America’s next Idol. Like this fellow.

My Fellow Americans. . .

We have heard and are going to hear a lot about money in elections. The Citizens United decision declared that a corporation has the same free speech rights as an individual, a really rich individual. So be it. Money has flooded the political system for a long time. But all the proposals to restrain the influence of wealth on government come from an old view of the world. In the past, a candidate needed money to gain support. Campaign staff had to be paid. Air time had to be bought. Ballots for stuffing boxes had be purchased, and some people had to be bribed.

But no more. These days, anyone who can afford an Internet connection or who is near a public library can be an informed voter, and any candidate with the same access can be effective. The names of candidates can be written on ballots at the day of the election. The campaign can be done entirely on-line.

It’s time for voters to take control of their democracy. With that in mind, I propose a new party, provisionally to be named the Union Party with the motto, E Pluribus Unam. I’ll entertain better names, though.

The guiding principle of this party will be liberty in the small and cooperation in the large. With that in mind, let’s go through the typical list of political matters in this country today, as given by OnTheIssues.org:

Abortion:

Abortions in the first two trimesters will be solely the choice of the pregnant woman without irrelevant tests or burdens. During the third trimester, abortions will only be allowed if the health of the woman is in jeopardy. That determination will be made between her and her doctor. The government health program (see below) will pay for abortions. Other plans may choose to do so or not at their discretion.

Budget and the Economy:

1. Debt is dangerous. Getting out of debt must be a goal of every administration until the debt is gone.

2. Tax rates will be 30% on the highest bracket, 20% on the upper middle, 10% on the lower middle, and 0% on the poor, income levels to be added later as needed. Some variation will be permitted in the upper brackets to achieve debt reduction or other goals.

3. The tax code must be written in English, not Ligature Rouge. Deductions must be eliminated.

Civil Rights:

1. Race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other such categories are part of a person’s nature and are not legitimate for consideration in hiring, in acceptance into schools, in legal matters, or in other similar areas of public concern. That goes both ways, of course.

2. Marriage is a matter for religious institutions to decide. Governments should issue civil unions only that will cover taxes, insurance, finances, and similar.

3. Voting districts should be based on geography and population, not on race or political party affiliation.

Corporations:

1. Corporations will be free to operate, provided that they are honest about the products that they sell and that they can show that their effect on the environment is acceptable.

2. Unions have the right to organize if the workers agree to join and to bargain with employers.

3. Any corporation that gets a bailout from the government will be required to operate according to the best interests of the workers and the community.

Crime and Drugs:

1. Usage of drugs will be legalized, and dealers will be required to label their products honestly.

2. Financial criminals will have to spend their sentences paying back their victims, rather than enjoying a state-funded vacation.

3. Violent criminals will be put away for a long time.

Education:

See my previous articles on this subject. To summarize, class sizes will be reduced, total school size will as well. Add to that a rational funding system–in other words, not property taxes. In addition, children will be required to attend only half a day in public schools. They will be taught civics, mathematics, reading, and critical thinking. Their parents may then choose to educate them for the rest of the day at home, at private schools, or in public schools.

State colleges and universities will provide quality education at a price that everyone can afford. Private schools and for-profit schools may do as they wish, so long as all terms are made clear from the beginning.

This will require funding. That’s life.

Energy and the Environment:

America has large reserves of natural gas, and we grow a lot of corn that can be made into fuel. Those two will be temporary sources until wind, solar, and other types of clean energy are in place. Getting from the former to the latter will be a constant goal and action.

Foreign Policy and Free Trade:

1. Europe must learn to defend itself. America will maintain only such bases as are needed to conduct surveillance of the region.

2. There must be a solution to the Israel-Palestine question–likely a three-state solution. If any party in this dispute is unwilling to negotiate, the United States will withdraw support.

3. Iran and China are primary threats to our security for various reasons. Our policy will be one of containment and reduction.

4. North Korea is a pissant little adolescent state. Anything that they throw at us will be paid for twentyfold. No more aid will go to them unless they promise total obedience.

5. Worker rights and the enviroment will be a part of all trade deals, but free trade is the ultimate goal.

Gun Control:

I’ve also written about this, but in principle, in small arms, it’s not the device that matters; it’s the action. The only restrictions will be on those deemed a danger to others after due process of the courts. Cities may also require that weapons remain concealed within their borders and may restrict discharges to self defense shootings. Property owners may do as they wish on their own land, but businesses are public accomodations, as are colleges. Children may use firearms under the supervision of an adult.

Healthcare:

The government will create a national system for anyone who wants to participate–call it Medicare, since we already have that in place. Medicare will be able to negotiate payments the way that any other health company can. Fees will be determined on the basis of a person’s income. Private companies may continue to operate, and people may choose them as desired.

Immigration:

Anyone who wishes to become an American and who will adopt our values of responsibility and freedom is welcome.

Social Security:

Social Security taxes will be assessed on all income, not capped as they currently are.

Technology:

One valid use of public funds is to promote the development of new technologies. This applies particularly to energy and to space. We must have active programs of research, development, and exploration. Corporations, schools, and private individuals may also do their own work, since competition is healthy in this field.

Welfare:

The goal of welfare must be to make the recipient self sufficent. Programs that create dependency will be eliminated. We must be willing to help, but we must also require growth on the part of those who are helped.

That’s the list, more or less. I’ll gladly consider any other items that my readers wish to offer. Of course, one elected official alone won’t be able to accomplish all of this, but much can be done even so. A president, for example, could get cooperation from Democrats for some of this and Republicans for other parts. A president could speak to the people regularly, creating a lot of pressure on Congress. So can anyone else elected on this platform.

With all of this in mind, if nominated, I will run. If elected, I will serve. I will continue to write in any case. Who’s with me?

Licensing Rights

There is a shocking right that goes largely unregulated in this country. This right has been growing in America, as it has in some other countries around the world. Exercising this right requires only minimal documentation of your place of residence. Hardly anyone ever goes through a background check in the process, and few have to prove that they are who they say they are.

The exercise of this right has huge consequences. Over the course of the last decade, thousands have died as a result. Some estimates put that number in the hundreds of thousands. But there is no training requirement for exercising this right. In fact, interest groups raise a hue and cry whenever any limitations are proposed on this right.

What am I talking about? This sounds like the right to own or carry a firearm, doesn’t it. Except that it isn’t. The right that I have in mind is the right to vote.

So how does voting kill people? Consider the 2000 presidential election. Five hundred or so voters in Florida, five hundred mostly unregulated, untrained, and minimally documented voters made the difference. Several thousand voters proved themselves incapable of voting for the candidate that they meant to choose. Then there’s the government’s screwups.

Think of how the last decade would have been different had Gore won the election. Two Supreme Court justices would be different. We likely wouldn’t have gone into Iraq–thus thousands to many thousands of lives wouldn’t have been lost. While 9/11 probably would have happened, our response to it would have been something else.

Given the consequences of voting, it’s astonishing that we require little proof of identity. We require no training and no proof of competency. You don’t even have to be able to read to vote. We fail to hold voters responsible for their choices.

And I wouldn’t make any changes to our system.

Think about that for a moment. We get the government that we deserve, and that’s just as it should be. When we go to the voting booth, we should go with a lot of preparation, but our choices have consequences for good and for ill, and no amount of regulation or control will make things better.

But since I mentioned firearms, observe that they have a lot of similarities to voting. Yes, their actions have more immediate consequences, but in the long term, the two look a lot alike. There is a strong feeling on the part of some in this country that we can eliminate consequences by removing choice. The odd thing is that these people aren’t consistent in their demands for safety. They tolerate, if not love, willy-nilly voting, but other things terrify them.

We Americans are a stronger and more adventurous lot, or we’re supposed to be. It’s time for us to live up to that.

I Want to Believe

Dear readers, do you recall the poster of the UFO on Fox Muldar’s wall, the one that had the caption, “I Want to Believe”? If we could substitute an image of representative democracy, I’d put up that picture. This year being a multiple of four, we must endure the latest iteration of the election cycle. Given the results of Iowa and New Hampshire, the contest looks to be one between Twit Romney and the Obamination. Of course, there are third parties, and I’m likely to vote for one of their candidates, but my fellow Americans generally don’t join me in that. I’ve observed before that Republicans want to control me at home, while Democrats want to control my public life, and too many of us just go along.

Let’s remember what this is supposed to be about. The ideal of our country is that individuals have the right to govern their own lives and the responsibility to work together to build a great society. The flaw of our major parties is that they each forget one part of that bargain.

Our country has done extraordinary things. We built the Panama Canal; we ended two world wars that others had started; we went to the Moon. We declared in our Constitution that everyone has the right to basic freedoms, and while it’s taken us some time to work out what that means, we’re getting there. We need a rational healthcare system. We need a way to allow corporations to operate without dominating the discussion. We need a rational policy regarding drugs and immigration.

I realize that this is mainly a plea to inspiration, but as I said, I want to believe. I want to believe that the ideal that I named can guide us in making decisions. I want to believe that it can offer a solution to the constant and unproductive bickering that is much of politics throughout our history. It seems that most politicians have forgotten the job that they’re supposed to do, and we’re at fault for not reminding them. This is the part of believing that has to be active. The alternative to our ideal isn’t hell, but it is something different from America.

So what do we do? Write letters to candidates and write blogs. Comment on discussion boards. Above all, don’t vote for a Democrat or a Republican merely because that looks to be the only viable choice. Those are small steps. The next ones will come to us with time.