Browsing Tag: politics

    Miscellany

    Politics Then. Politics Now.

    November 2, 2020

    It’s the eve of what’s commonly being called “the most important election of our lives.” In addition to the non-stop encouragements to vote, the last couple months have also been filled with reminders for all of us to take care of ourselves, protect our mental health, to stay calm and control our emotions no matter the outcome.

    In short, there’s a lot at stake tomorrow. This presidential election matters. A lot.

    It didn’t used to be this way.

    Oh, I know presidential elections always matter. But not like this one. Has there been a presidential election where the fear of domestic violence led to scenes like this?

    I was born in 1968 and grew up in a politically mixed home. My dad leaned conservative, while mom leaned liberal. They never argued about politics. In fact, they rarely spoke about politics — especially presidential politics.

    Much more important back then were state and local politics. I didn’t know much about Jimmy Carter other than what I heard about him during the Iran hostage crisis. I only knew a little more about Ronald Reagan when he became president, but I was pretty familiar with Milton Shapp and Dick Thornburgh. They were our governors in Pennsylvania through most of the 70s and 80s — my childhood, basically. We didn’t live in the city of Philadelphia, but from watching local news I was well aware of mayors Rizzo, Green, and Goode.

    During election years and seasons, dinner conversations in our house were much more likely to be about who was running for the Middletown Township Board of Supervisors or the Bucks County Board of Commissioners. My dad spent his life in real estate, so I also remember conversations about who was running the local housing authority and organizations like that.

    Back then, the federal government wasn’t nearly as big a part of the daily fabric of our lives as it is today. Decisions made (or not made) at the federal level just didn’t have a huge, direct impact on the daily lives of a lot of Americans* — and certainly not on our family.

    (It’s not because we were wealthy and super privileged, either. I had a comfortable, middle-class childhood. For a time in the 70s, we owned a second home at the Jersey shore. That was pretty unusual. But at the same time, there were at least 3-4 periods of my childhood where my mom needed to work a 9-5 job to help pay the bills. In the 1970s/80s, that wasn’t nearly as common as it is today. Most of my friends had a mom waiting at home when they got home from school.)

    State, county, and city politics back then? That’s the stuff that mattered.

    Things are totally different today.

    Government is much bigger. It spends 4-5 times more than it did in the 1980s. As a society, we rely on the federal government to do more than we used to. (see graph below) We have higher expectations of the federal government. We somehow expect it to right (almost) all wrongs and solve (almost) all our problems.

    I think we ask and expect far too much of the federal government. Congressional approval ratings seem to hover in the 20-30% range, yet we keep wanting to let them keep more of our money to do more things that they usually do very poorly.

    In this year’s election, some of the biggest topics involve the idea of the federal government providing health care to all Americans, providing a salary to all American adults, providing education to all students, and so forth. We are asking too much of the federal government.

    Because of how media (traditional and social) functions today, many of us have allowed our identities and self-worth to become embroiled in who’s sitting in the Oval Office. I don’t need to go into much depth about how divided we are, and how tribal life is today in this country. For too many of us, letters like GOP and DEM are more important than USA.

    Because of all this, federal elections matter more than they ever have. As long as we keep pushing for bigger government, for government to play a deeper role in our daily lives, this is going to continue. Not just continue, but it’ll get worse.

    I liked it the old way.

    *Note that I’m not saying federal laws and decisions never had any impact on anyone. That’s clearly not true and I’d never suggest such a thing.

    (stopwatch image by anncapictures from Pixabay)

    Miscellany

    2020 General Election Voting Record

    October 17, 2020

    Don’t think I’ve ever voted so quickly in my life! Our ballots arrived in the mail on Thursday (I think), and as soon as I wrapped up my work day, I grabbed the WA state voter’s guide and started going through the ballot to cast my votes. About 30-45 minutes later, I was finished!

    Normally I like to hold on to my ballot before mailing it back, in case there’s anything that happens in the last couple weeks before election day that might influence how I vote. But this year, with me being decided early on how I planned to vote in many races, and with the rumors of many more people voting by mail, I figured it’s best to get it done earlier rather than later. (To be clear, though, WA state has been 100% vote by mail for like 15 years now, so I don’t expect any issues here.)

    As I’ve been doing for many years, when I finished I tallied up how I voted. I’m usually really moderate and tend to vote about 60-40 on the conservative side. But in the primary a couple months ago, I flipped and voted for more liberal candidates/issues.

    In this general election? Here’s how it played out:

    • Republican/conservative candidates or issues: 8
    • Democratic/liberal candidates or issues: 13
    • Independent/other candidates or issues: 0

    So again, I basically flipped how I historically vote. I’m still very much in the middle, but 13 out of 21 is 62% on the liberal/Democratic side.

    I also tallied up gender votes — 17 votes were for male candidates, 10 for female candidates. In the six races where it was male vs. female, I voted for the female five times.

    One more thing, and this speaks to how moderate I am politically. A streak has ended this year. I haven’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 2004, and I haven’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1996. One of those streaks is over. You’ll have to guess which one. 🙂

    So now we sit and wait. In a vote-by-mail stats like ours, it’s often the case that some races aren’t decided for several days or even a week or two. I sure hope we get some clarity on November 3, but I’m ready to be patient.

    Miscellany

    2020 Primary Election Voting Record

    August 2, 2020

    I’ve been tracking my own voting record (and publishing it here) for years as a way to make sure I’m not blindly following one party or one person. While I really dislike the existing two-party-dominated system, I generally think there are good ideas on both the conservative and liberal sides of the aisle. (And bad ideas on both, too.)

    Primary ballots in Washington are always interesting because it seems pretty easy to get on the ballot. As I look at my choices for governor today, there are ~36 names listed, some declaring their allegiance to political parties I’ve never heard of. (New-Liberty? Cascadia Labour? American Patriot?)

    Anyhoo, here’s how I voted this year in the primary in the races where party/ideology is stated:

    • Republican/conservative candidates: 3
    • Democrat/liberal candidates: 7
    • Independent/other candidates: 2

    Not sure, but I think this might be the first time I voted for more Democrat/liberal candidates than any other affiliation. I usually tend to vote around 60-40 on the conservative side.

    I don’t like to talk about individual races or candidates, but I’ll say this: I just voted for a certain Democrat in state government that I’ve never voted for before, mainly because I think this candidate has done about as good a job with the pandemic as anyone could’ve done.

    Miscellany

    2018 General Election Voting Record

    October 21, 2018

    I’ve been tracking my voting record for many years, mainly as a self-check tool to make sure I’m not blindly supporting one party’s issues and candidates too heavily. I really believe that there are good (and bad) ideas and people in both major parties, and strongly support the growth and development of third-party options (and beyond). We need more choices.

    The 2018 election is a couple weeks away and I just finished filling out my mail-in ballot. Most of the “choices” weren’t really choices at all — it was just one candidate running unopposed. I don’t bother counting those when I track this stuff. But by my count, there were 8 choices on the ballot with legitimate choices. My voting record:

    • Republican candidate/issue: 5
    • Democratic candidate/issue: 3

    That’s pretty consistent with my past voting; I tend to be about 60% conservative and 40% liberal.

    This time, I also counted gender just out of curiosity: In races where there was a gender choice, I voted for the female candidate three out of five times. That said, I would never base my vote on someone’s gender, race, nationality, etc. Identity politics is a Bad Thing and I believe we should all vote for the best candidate regardless of gender, age, skin color, nationality, etc.

    Miscellany

    Hypocrites everywhere

    January 22, 2017

    That’s very representative of the kind of things I’ve seen for the past 24 hours all over my Facebook and Twitter feeds. You probably heard the news that President Trump’s press secretary claimed that Friday’s inauguration was the most-attended ever, or something like that. It’s a total lie, and there’s plenty of visual evidence that it’s a lie.

    The left is OUTRAGED!!!!!!!!!!!

    The right, as best I can tell, is silent.

    All of them are hypocrites.

    To my liberal friends, explain to me why you’re so outraged that a government official lied to you this weekend about inauguration attendance, but when Hillary lied repeatedly about using a private server to send classified information, you were all, “It’s just email! I’m with her!” Why are you so outraged now, but you weren’t outraged when Hillary and Obama lied about Benghazi, saying that a terrorist attack was just a protest over a YouTube video?

    To my Republican friends, the opposite applies: Explain to me why you were so outraged by Hillary’s and Obama’s lies, but now you’re hush-hush about the complete fabrications that the Trump administration is already telling?

    (I’ll stop there; surely we could all think of innumerable examples of both parties lying to the American public.)

    We should all be outraged when our government lies to us. But it’s hypocritical to be outraged only when the other party is doing the lying. If you’re okay with your party lying, then you’re okay with lying. We’ll never get past our partisan problems if we refuse to hold our own party to the same standards we hold the opposition.

    Miscellany

    WTF is with these Fidel Castro reactions?

    November 27, 2016

    I absolutely can’t believe that I’m writing a blog post about Fidel Castro. But I also can’t believe what I saw when I fired up the Twitter machine today and saw tweets from several world leaders and statesmen — all liberals, mind you — offering borderline praise for Castro after his death.

    Consider this from former President Jimmy Carter:

    carter

    Or this from current President Barack Obama:

    obama

    Or this tweet from Green Party candidate Jill Stein:

    stein

    Or this from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

    trudeau

    WTF is up with all that?

    Look, someone’s death is generally not something you celebrate. But Fidel Castro was generally not like almost anyone else who ever lived. His death is not something to be mourned. To be clear, he’s one of the most evil men who ever lived — a “monster,” as Human Rights Chairman Garry Kasparov called him.

    Let’s see what a few well-known people of Cuban descent had to say about him, starting with Florida Senator Marco Rubio:

    rubio

    But you don’t have to be a politician/statesman to understand what Castro was and what he did to his people. Here’s Cuban-American actor Andy Garcia, quoted on Billboard.com:

    garcia

    How about Cuban jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval:

    sandoval

    How about Cuban pop singer Gloria Estefan:

    estefan

    It’s astonishing that it takes people like this to speak the truth about Castro, while several (liberal) leaders offer platitudes and borderline praise, and express sorrow over the man’s death.

    #SMH