On an Electoral Reflection

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This idea has festered in my mind long enough, so it’s time to get these thoughts of this true independent’s chest.

For about 5 weeks following the November 2016 election, a good thing happened. We heard a lot about the Electoral College – a system we learned about in school – a system we hear about every 4 years – a system many people know little about – let alone Federalist Paper No. 68 (and I say that with confidence).

Election 2016 was interesting in many ways. It was not only the third time in US history the candidate who won the presidency lost the popular vote, but 2016 marked the highest vote differential of the three (0.8%, 0.5%, 2.8%). What if Mr. Trump won the popular vote by 2.8% but Mrs. Clinton won the Electoral College? Surely the messages would be predictably reversed.

Since the election, we heard some voices declaring that it’s time to amend the Constitution to disband the Electoral College in favor of a popular vote. The losers were the complainers while the winners boosted about the wisdom of the Founding Fathers.

Framing the US Constitution was not a meeting of wise men stroking their beards while contemplating decisions for a document to serve as the foundation of a new country. Discussions were fierce. Egos were bruised. Not every person got their way but, in the end, a collective wisdom prevailed – a wisdom guided by those seeking what would serve the common good for all and for a nation.

Although small states and slave states had issues with the popular vote, the Founding Fathers were skeptical about the voters especially if the popular vote yielded an unwise decision. So, the Founding Fathers wanted a system to act as a check-and-balance on the voters. After all, the Constitution provided of system of checks and balances within the government. The Electoral College was a way to do so other than using state legislatures or the House of Representatives.

In Federalist Paper No. 68, Alexander Hamilton explained the Electoral College was to, “ensure that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” The best analogy I heard was the Electoral College being akin to a judge reviewing a jury’s decision (which they can do).

Was 2016 the time Alexander Hamilton had in mind? Maybe.

Is the Electoral College’s role as a check-and-balance against the people’s vote necessary in the 21st Century? Absolutely, so I unquestionably stand with the wisdom of the Founding Fathers supporting the existence of the Electoral College.

The Founding Fathers envisioned the Electoral College to be composed of people “selected by their fellow citizens from the general masses, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.”

The Founding Fathers also envisioned the members of the Electoral College to do the right thing. To be of independent mind in the face of adversity. To represent a nation, and then fulfill their Constitutional responsibility by doing what is right for the nation.

If it’s not the voters, not the Constitution, not the concept of the Electoral College, is there a problem? If so, where?

The problem obviously lies is the implementation because the Constitution left the selection process to the states, which would be state legislatures that are elected by the people. Although practical on paper, the adopted methods by the states are not the way to implement the desires stated Federalist Paper No. 68. States developed processes based on the political parties – therefore the political parties hijacked the check and balance to have a system that favors them.

Who picks the electors? The political parties.

Who do the political parties select? Loyalists, local party leaders, local officials, donors,etc.

If each party in a state has electors, who has the final vote? In most states, the party of the presidential candidate who won the popular vote in that state become the electors.

Can electors change their mind, thus go against the state’s result? In some states, yes – but in most states, No! Electors who do not follow their prescribed vote may face fines, legal charges, dismissal, and/or replacement.

Are these electors the ones “most likely to possess the information and requisite for such a complicated investigation” and “free from any sinister bias”?

Absolutely not! The electors are party hacks put in place by the party hooligans to follow the party’s self interest – NOT for the people and NOT for a nation as the Federalist Paper clearly explains. The electors are present for the party under the ruse of acting for the nation. The Electoral College is not even remotely close to what the Founding Fathers envisioned for the nation and its people.

The parties are interested in themselves. The parties are interested in adopting their preferences upon the people. The parties only see the world through a biased lens with the settings they prefer. In other words, the parties are not the unbiased, high-minded people who will look out after the best interest of a nation if and when the people make a mistake!

In the farewell address of this nation’s first president, George Washington was correct.

[Political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

George Washington
Saturday, September 17, 1796

Abolition of the Electoral College is not the answer. Giving power the popular vote is not the answer. Reforming the Electoral College process is the answer, but there is a problem because that requires those with power would have to relinquish the power – and we know that’s not going to happen.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 319

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Ohio lost a native son who was a statesman an American hero at age 95. John Glenn is one of the original Mercury astronauts who became the first American to orbit our planet, then went on to be a respected US Senator representing my state for 4 terms, a presidential candidate, the oldest person in space, a fighter pilot, and all around good guy. In the famous words spoken by fellow astronaut Scott Carpenter just before Glenn’s historic launch, “Godspeed, John Glenn.”

The Kennedy Center Honors event was recently held, so mark your calendars for the televised event – Tuesday, December 27th, 9-11 pm (Eastern US) on CBS. To me, it’s one of the best entertainment shows of the year.

The demands on the handbell choir during the holiday season continues this weekend. Veni (by Jason Krug) is an interesting twist on a popular carol … just click to listen.

Despite President Obama’s effort, I overcame his obstacles and found my Spumoni ice cream.

Some of you may remember the use of wine corks in our home. Meanwhile, this 1+ minute video offers some clever uses for wine corks.

Even though we didn’t know any of the songs from the musical, we watched Hairspray Live. We were surprised by the quality of Dancing With the Stars’ Derek Hough’s voice. Jennifer Hudson and Kristen Chenoweth delivered impressive performances.

I’m still getting some hours at the golf course; therefore causing me to wonder about the ones playing on cold days.

I worry about the Bengals playing the winless Browns this weekend.

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President-Elect Trump talks about unifying a divided America, yet several of his Cabinet nominees promote division.

Early in the week I heard only bits of an interview that I imagine I would have greatly enjoyed hearing it in its entirety. I found the author’s 3 categories of voters quite amusing: Hobbits, Hooligans, and Vulcans. Here’s a book review.

The fake news story and the subsequent event about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of a popular Washington pizza restaurant was too weird on multiple levels.

A tip of the cap to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) 7-minute tribute from the Senate floor to Vice-President Joe Biden (D-DE). See it here.

President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
President-elect Trump’s cabinet nominations
Ridership of Cincinnati’s new streetcar being less than projected
Tiger Woods not winning his return tournament
Republicans being divided on what to do with the Affordable Care Act
Possibility of Kim and Kanye divorcing

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, here’s an actual headline from The New Yorker that is very Onion-esque: Ben Carson warns that the Bible makes no mention of housing or urban development … that is just too good because President-elect Trump selected Dr. Carson to be in his cabinet as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Banana still most popular fruit for pretending to make a phone call
Broken ornament relegated to lonely existence on side of tree facing wall
Divorced friend burning through hobbies at unsustainable rate
Man had no idea cough was going to be a wet one
Oprah purists prefer original British version

Interesting Reads
Pearl Harbor myths?
Magic mushrooms
A look back at the first Rocky movie
Life under the ice
(Video) Black hole eating a galaxy
(Photos) Images capturing beauty across Great Britain

Here’s a 2-fer to lead you into the weekend: hits from two recent Kennedy Center Honors recipients. Hope all is well with you, and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On the Day of the Last

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The last Trump-Clinton debate is later today. As a matter of fact, many are readying themselves to watch … especially the partisans. To my non-U.S. audience, excuse this lengthy post about US politics, so I understand if you switch to my previous post about Walktober, which you will probably find more interesting and satisfying.

I’ve enjoyed following politics for a long time. I liked conventions because of the good speeches. I watched debates out of curiosity and being informed to make a judgment. I started this blog in August 2008 around politics and sports. I’ve morphed since then, but politics is still in my gut – although I’ve been more silent this year than in the past.

The 2016 election is (unfortunately) different. I didn’t watch either convention. I didn’t watch any of the debates during the primaries of either party, nor any of the debates in the past few weeks. The list of why not was always longer than the list of why. Tonight isn’t any different because I’m going for the shutout.

One reason to not watch is simply because the chances of a candidate answering the question is (at best) remote. The moderator will ask a question, then the candidate figures out a way to segue from the question to the prepared talking point. (In my debate rules, the microphone would be turned off and the candidate would enter the Cones of Silence.

Candidates have been doing this for years, but that doesn’t mean we the people don’t deserve better. Because I’m tired of it, watching would be a waste of time – so, instead, I’ll probably spend my time writing a future post about my recent trip.

2016 is also interesting in other ways. It seems that Hillary Clinton was proclaimed the nominee-in-waiting many years ago. I wonder what the Democrats would have done if she didn’t seek the nomination? After all, I never got the impression they were grooming anyone.

Nonetheless, she is the nominee – she’s also smart and experienced. On the other hand, besides being a polarizing figure to many, I don’t trust her. Although the email issue is mainly an issue for her partisan opponents, it’s a non-issue for me … but, it is an example of why I don’t trust her. Deep down I sense that she means well, but the Clintons are who they are. (Note: Overall, I think Bill Clinton was a good president.)

Donald Trump is the Republican nominee. When he announced his candidacy way back when, I stated (and repeatedly stated) that he wouldn’t be the nominee. I admit missing that one, but I’m still amazed he did so, thus wonder, why have Americans lowered themselves to that standard?

Regardless of “knowing more about ISIS than the generals”, Donald Trump’s candidacy has never been about issues and never been about substance. The man lacks intellectual depth that a U.S. President requires. Several times he promised to be more presidential and talk issues. Each time he failed as he reverted back to his ways. That’s simply him being him.

His candidacy is based on fear and shallow promises. His based his candidacy on making fun of people as low-energy Jeb – let alone other unnecessary personal attacks on individuals and groups. His candidacy is based on false information, misconceptions, and misleading statements. His candidacy is based on saying anything – even contradictions of his own words – all in the name of exciting his base that gives him a free pass on most things he says simply because he isn’t Hillary Clinton.

Interestingly, Hillary Clinton’s candidacy really wasn’t a secret or a surprise – and she was very beatable. The Republicans countered by nominating:

  • A candidate who is finding it difficult to beat a beatable candidate.
  • A candidate who stoops low.
  • A candidate with pathetic moral fiber, yet flying under the banner of the party of family values.
  • A candidate who used his personality to effectively use the media to get the nomination, but one who now blames the media for his current troubles that he brought on himself.
  • A candidate who claiming the election is rigged. (For the record, states run the election … and most states have Republican governors, officials, and legislatures.)

Elections shouldn’t be about likability because the major question in 2016 (now more than ever) is who is most fit and capable of leading this country? Election 2016 much less about ideology. Likability aside,and given the choices, the answer is more than obvious. Whether one supported Mitt Romney in 2012 or not (and I didn’t), there was no question in my mind he was fit to serve.

Fortunately for me (and others), two alternatives exist in Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. The latter had no chance of my vote, but I listened to Johnson as I looked for an alternative. To me, he lacked substance during a time when I was looking for substance.

I’m having a difficult time understanding how so many people can support Donald Trump. The two main reasons (in my opinion) must be blind partisanship and a total disdain for her. The sheer numbers raises my concerns about my country much more than the concerns I have about each candidate.

The Arizona Republic (Phoenix newspaper) have never endorsed a Democratic presidential candidate in its 126 year history. This year their endorsement headline was the following: Endorsement: Hillary Clinton is the only choice to move America forward.

Because of their stance, the newspaper received many threats. So many that it wrote a second op-ed responding to the threats. This column is worth reading (and the endorsement is linked within it).

Under normal circumstances, I would leave my presidential spot on the ballot blank. I’ve done it before and am willing to do it again – but in 2016, the stakes seem too high for me. On Election Day 2016, Hillary Clinton will get my vote – but it is more of a vote against Donald Trump than it is for her. She is unquestionably better than the alternative.

Back to me watching the final debate. No, no, no … I’m still not watching because the odds of something changing my mind are between slim and none. Besides, I would rather watch this clip from Ellen.

On the Court

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The news of the sudden passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia shocked everyone. He’s 79, but it was still unexpected. One of the benefits of the news is that we learn more about the person – and in this case, the one who is more than a justice.

I admit that at one time I wasn’t a supporter of Justice Scalia on the court. I imagine that me disagreeing with many of his opinions was a prime reason – but in retrospect, it also had to do with no understanding his viewpoint.

A phone conversation with a friend changed my view, but not in the way you may think. It’s important to understand that I consider (and call) my friend a partisan hack, and there is no way his belief system regarding his comment is the same as mine – or even changed my opinion of Justice Scalia’s written opinions.

Although I cannot recall the context of the phone conversation we were having, I probably made a negative comment about Justice Scalia’s presence on the court. My friend explained that he was happy Justice Scalia is on the high court because Scalia is a leading spokesperson for a judicial perspective, and it is important for that voice to be heard.

That statement resonated with me then, it still does today, and will continue to be in my mind tomorrow. If one believes (like I do) that the Supreme Court is a court for all the people, it is imperative that the court have a diversity of thought. There is no question that Justice Scalia was smart and had a defined philosophy, but he also wanted smart justices in the other chairs to discuss the issues from varying views. No wonder he had good personal relationships with Justices Kagan and Ginsberg who are philosophically opposite of him.

Justice Scalia was a lightning rod as people either adored or loathed him on the court. Although I haven’t emphasized it on these pages, but for some time I have felt that the worst recent nomination to the bench wasn’t President Reagan’s appointment of Justice Scalia, but President Bush’s (GW/43) appointment of Samuel Alito.

NOTE: For those who forget, President Bush initially nominated John Roberts to replace moderate Justice Sandra Day O’Conner (retiring). Then Chief Justice William Renquist (conservative) died, and then President Bush changed the Roberts nomination to Chief Justice, which lead to Alito replacing O’Conner. 

Justice Alito is (now and then) unquestionably qualified, but if one believes (as I do) that the Supreme Court is for all the people, Alito’s appointment was a severe shift to one judicial view. Four justices of like mind did not fit my view of the highest court in the land … thus leaving one swing vote.

Probably sooner than later, President Obama will nominate justice for the current vacant position. Sure, there is a lot of political bluster about the vacancy – a topic in itself and not the purpose of this post. President Obama’s nominees currently occupy two of the nine chairs – and there is no doubt that Justices Kagan and Sotomayor are qualified and occupy the same niche on the judicial spectrum – and a space similar to longer-term Justices Ginsberg and Breyer.

I hope President Obama doesn’t make the same mistake as his predecessor made with Justice Alito. Now is the time for President Obama to nominate a moderate to the court … a centrist … A jurist who can swing to the left and to the right to help the court deliver meaningful decision … A jurist who listens to the different views in order to make a decision … A jurist who does not hold a predictable judicial view. After all, the US Supreme Court is for all people, thus apart from one philosophy. Then again, I’m probably asking for too much because the partisans will continue to look after their own selfish priorities, which is not a Supreme Court for all Americans.

Flashbacks: On Politics

Sports and politics are the main topics when I started this blog. As the sidebar shows, I broadened my posting interest since the early days – however, politics as maintained a presence. Enjoy, visit as many as you want, and I hope you comment on the post you visited.