Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Post I Never Thought I'd Make

If you don't want to read about politics and the U.S. Presidential election, you should probably just skip this one. If you plan to plug your nose and pull the lever for the Republican candidate because you think the Democratic candidate is so much worse, then I urge you to stick around after the jump.

I grew up in a Republican household. My parents, despite my father being in a labor union, were both Republican. Maybe unions weren't so polarized back then. The earliest memory I have of politics was during the Reagan Era. We were honest, church-going folk, with all that implies. My values were shaped by my faith and my family. Despite not-infrequent accusations of patriarchy and even misogyny leveled at all churches, I was raised with doctrines that included tremendous respect for women. As a teenager, I didn't always follow those teachings when chatting with other guys. But I matured, grew up and got married, and happily avoided the frat parties and bars frequented by so many men—both young and old—instead heading home to my wife and daughters at the end of the workday.

As I've gotten older, my values have not changed, though I may express them differently than I did in my youth. Meanwhile, the Republican Party drifted away from the messages of my youth. Though I did not suspect, it had already started that drift before I was even born. Somehow, in the name of small government conservatism, the Party of Lincoln advocated racial discrimination. Then, in a bid for votes and power, the GOP welcomed racist bigots. Perhaps without realizing it, the GOP leadership, ever in pursuit of more power, fostered within their own ranks the development of the repugnant undercurrent that has culminated with a grass-roots revolt personified by their Presidential nominee.

A further attempt to garner votes among Evangelicals also hinged on racial bigotry, but added sexual bigotry to the mix. The so-called moral majority hijacked the party from traditional Edmund Burke conservatives, replacing the small government platform of the GOP with advocacy of ever more government intrusion into the private lives of the citizenry, culminating today in the Vice Presidential candidate. Time Kaine, Democrat VP candidate, stated in the VP debate, "I don't believe in this nation, a First Amendment nation, where we don't raise any religion over the other, and we allow people to worship as they please, that the doctrines of any one religion should be mandated for everyone." Instead, using his faith as a cover for bigotry, the GOP VP pick promotes unconstitutional policies that directly result in poor health outcomes and financial setbacks for his state.

Which brings me to the heart of my concern about the GOP ticket in 2016. Donald Trump has repeatedly made statements that indicate he is woefully ignorant of basic American Political Systems (what they called my high school civics course). His acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention had all the hallmarks of speeches given by the Father of Fascism. And I'm not the only one who's made that connection between Trump's ideas and Mussolini. He thinks that as President, he will be able to rule by fiat. He promises policies that are blatantly unconstitutional. He thinks the minority party junior senator from New York has control over U.S. tax law. He thinks he will be able to throw his political opponent in jail for things the top law enforcement officer of the country (a Republican) has stated are not chargeable offenses.

Trump's racist, religionist, misogynist proposals are well documented. His inability to handle mild ribbing and genuine criticism are legendary. His actual treatment of women is—dare I say it—deplorable. But as disturbing as these things are individually and collectively, it is Trump's complete lack of understanding as to how the American political system functions that poses the greatest problem with his candidacy.

The conservatism I thought I was buying into as a young man is not represented by the modern Republican Party. The classic Conservatism and Liberalism that shaped our Founding Fathers seem to have no place in the political parties we have in the modern United States. John Scalzi has a couple of posts up that—far more eloquently than I can—illustrate what the GOP strategy of the past several decades has cost the party and the nation, and why Hillary Clinton is the best choice we have for President in this election cycle.

Her long resume of public service as a lawyer, a law professor, First Lady of Arkansas (where she also served on several state agency committees), executive board member of several corporations, First Lady of the United States, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State places her among the most qualified candidates for president in our history. While serving in many of these positions, Clinton has repeatedly advocated for children, women's rights, education reform, and healthcare issues. She was instrumental in ensuring that the first responders affected by 9/11 received the medical care they needed to deal with continuing health issues resulting from their rescue efforts. In tougher times, my own family has benefited from programs proposed and advocated by Hillary, like the Children's health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Is Hillary the perfect candidate? No, but no candidate ever has been. Much has been made of how unpopular she is, but out of 57 Presidential elections we've had, in 18 (almost 32%) more than half the people voted against the president-elect, and in four of those, someone else actually won the popular vote. Even the most popular presidential candidate ever, Lyndon Johnson in 1964, had almost 49% of voters wishing someone else had won. To say nothing of folks who chose not to exercise their rights.

"But the emails," you say. You're right, that was a gross error. But—while mishandled—there is no evidence that the emails ever fell into the hands of our enemies. On the contrary, the leaks and breaches currently making headlines have nothing to do with Hillary's servers. And despite the surety some have that a lesser being would end up in jail for similar mishandling, I know for a fact that in at least one case of gross mishandling of classified material, the person simply lost access to that type of material and eventually their job, for which they were rehired in a different, less sensitive, position only a few months later.

"But Benghazi," you say. Numerous Federal and Congressional inquiries have turned up nothing other than Republican spin on Benghazi, or any other controversy Republicans have tried to hang around Clinton's neck since she came onto the national scene a quarter century ago. "Where there's smoke there's fire." But almost everything bad thing you have ever heard about Hillary Clinton originated with or was encouraged by her political opponents, rather than law enforcement or prosecutorial action.

The party of "family values" would rather have a thrice-married, adulterous, admitted sexual predator than a competent woman who has stood by her husband despite his many infidelities, and who has continually advocated for children and families throughout her career.

I won't be holding my nose when I vote for Hillary this year. I think she's competent. I agree with most, but not all, of her policy positions. She's a policy wonk who understands the devil is in the details. Obviously, many of those policies she proposes will depend on a Congress interested in doing the same things, rather than a recalcitrant Congress that obstructs every proposal—whether it is good or bad for the citizenry—simply because President Clinton supports it.

Now, I believe that the winner-take-all electoral system we have in this country inevitably leads to having only two parties. But if you really like some third-party or independent candidate, please, feel free to vote your conscience. However, if you still intend to vote "your conscience" for Donald Trump because Hillary seems so bad, I will remind you that even if you are not racist or misogynist or religionist, your preferred candidate either espouses all those beliefs or panders to people who do. I'm not sure which is more deplorable, someone who actually believes that the folks going through life on the lowest difficulty setting are being oppressed, or someone who just says they believe that in order to be "popular." And whatever good might come of a Trump presidency would be tremendously overshadowed by the damage the rhetoric of intolerance will cause.

I was raised with the understanding that the United States is a great melting pot of diverse people coming together to bring out the best in all of us. We haven't always lived up to that ideal, but I'd like to think we're continually making progress in that direction. Out of our two major political candidates, and the parties they represent, only one espouses that melting pot ideal and wants to move forward to it. That's why I'm with her.
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1 comment:

  1. I'm not allowing comments on this post. I don't really see the point in a having a debate here. If you disagree, there are a number of places you can express that. If you feel strongly enough about it, feel free to unfollow, block, etc.