Saturday, December 31, 2016

A quick look back over five years of thinking about America and the world

I just finished assembling and reading all of my posts on this blog over the last five years.  I am thinking of self-publishing them.  It has been an interesting experience for me.  It is a way for me to track my thinking over the last five years, and I notice a few things. 

I seem to be relentlessly optimistic.  I expected the Arab Awakening to be much more positive, but so far it has only disrupted old tyrannies and established either new tyrannies along religious lines, or initiated terrible destructive chaos, again along religious lines.  Oddly, I remain hopeful that long term the Middle East will find new boundaries that people will be able to live with each other peacefully.  I'm afraid that a lot of blood and terror will happen first, but I still hope.

My biggest message seems to have been periodic decrying of the deep polarization in the country and the the demonization of one cultural and political tribe of the other.  It dismays me to see to what extent the Trump campaign and victory has pushed me in the direction of polarization and demonization.  

Decades ago I was a liberal Democrat, then a conservative Republican, and then independent.  Over these five years I have again become a liberal Democrat.  I don't believe I have been demonizing the majority of conservative voters, most of whom are normal Republicans voting for the "Republican", but I certainly have been demonizing Donald Trump.  It is very hard for me to see him as other than an unprincipled opportunistic overgrown child.  So, I want to pull back a bit from such a partisan view and be willing to evaluate him based upon policies and programs that he actually is responsible for in his upcoming administration. I don't know what to make of his tweets and rhetoric, I am just going to have to dismiss it as a smokescreen of bullshit/negotiating strategy and not get sucked into his headlining and diversion tactics - to refuse to take him literally on what he says, just wait until I see real policies and programs and react only to them, and not react to the relentless attention grabbing bloviations.

So, the year of 2016 is almost over.  Indeed, the five years of my writing from 2011 through 2016 is concluding.  I enjoy thinking aloud about America and the world.  When I review my thinking it is humbling to see what I wrote without the benefit of hindsight, and it is interesting to see how my thinking has been changing over time.  

What about 2017?  It seems to be more unknown than any time I can think of except perhaps 1968 when America and the world were in a terrible and violent chaos.  I hope the upcoming changes are not violent and are for the better.

The times, they are a changing...

Friday, December 30, 2016

Ambiguity of America - Obama and Trump

British historian Paul Johnson wrote "A History of the American People", and one of his first observations was that there are two strands that run through American history consistently - idealism and opportunism.  We have no better example of that than our current president, Obama the idealist, and our president elect, Trump the opportunist.

Somehow, America has managed to find a very powerful path forward between these two boundaries and still be a beacon of freedom and opportunity, as well as a beacon of justice and equality, to the world.

Right now I am very disturbed by the opportunistic nature of Trump, but I understand that my conservative friends probably were equally disturbed by what they saw as the "naivete and "weakness" of the idealistic Obama.  

The new year of 2017 awaits to reveal to us Trump's impact.  I choose hope over pessimism, and fully expect America to be a force for good in the world, not so much because of Trump or his administration (most of whom appall me) but because of what and who Americans are - overall we are forces of good.

And, I am willing to be pleasantly surprised by the actual policies and decisions of Trump and his administration. I have a bias toward hope in the future, and I am not letting a government rob me of that.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Trump – hopes and fears

I find it pretty hard to find any enthusiasm to write about the forming of Trump’s administration.  Mostly, I find it pretty depressing.  But I will spell out some of my hopes, and fears.


I think the biggest problem in America for decades has been the terrible polarization in the country – right vs left.  As I have written before, I have been a lefty and a righty and back to a lefty now throughout my life.  I was a good man in each of those iterations and I know that very good people are on each side.  I reject the notion that someone who disagrees with my political views and solutions does so because they are somehow bad.

But, something I know from experience is that once you are inside an ideological bubble you can’t see outside of that bubble.  Ideology explains everything, whether you are in a right wing or left wing bubble.  The bubble is made up of beliefs, ardently held.  And everything you see is a reflection back to you in the center of your belief bubble that validates your beliefs.  You are trapped.

So, a huge majority of people in America are trapped inside the ideological bubble of either the right or the left – trapped in dogma.

 These bubbles, these dogmas, are very comforting because you are convinced that you have all the answers.  You think you are thinking about the world, but actually you  are only validating and confirming the beliefs and biases of your ideological bubble, your dogma.

So, I have hopes that the wrecking ball that is Donald Trump might be able to shatter the dogmatic belief bubbles on both the right and the left.  For example, social conservatives and social liberals might just discover that their obsessions aren’t really the central issues of the day, and they may both need to look beyond these ancient and tiresome culture wars to find out what is being called for in today’s world rather than endlessly fight the Boomer Culture Wars.  Certainly, liberals found out that they had been seen as having forgotten about the terrible problems facing the white middle and lower classes.  And, for goodness sakes, are abortion and gun rights actually at the heart of what the country and the world must deal  with?  Etc.  Etc.  Etc.  Ideology ad nausem.

Trump’s electoral victory has shown me that many if not most of the conservative sacred cows were pretty much ignored by the actual voters.  And Hillary’s loss showed me that most of the liberal sacred cows were also seen as incidental to the issues facing the people.

So, my biggest hope is that the ideological bubbles of dogma become shattered, or at least just seen as obsolete and essentially beside the point.

Another hope is in looking at the Trump selections.  Some of them are pretty frightening, but most of the frightening ones are scary because they represent views that I don’t share.  Basically, Trump is going for Real Men – Wall Street and military men.  However, from generals to CEOs I have to acknowledge that they are intelligent, accomplished, and successful men.  So, we don’t have Sarah Palin type incompetents in most of the picks – well there is Ben Carson who proclaimed himself to be unqualified to lead a government agency, but I guess he will do so anyway.  So, my hope is that this collection of men, with a lifetime of responsibility behind them, will rise to the occasion of the awesome responsibilities placed on their shoulders.


Ideologically, I am very upset with the selection of Ayn Rand Libertarian acolytes who pride themselves in holding to the principles of selfishness and fierce independence.  I hate that we have people in government who see the world in the black and white uncaring notion that the country is filled with the Makers and the Takers.  Ayn Randism is something I was entranced by in my late teens and early twenties but grew out of.  The world, and its people, are much more complicated that the Randian notion of what it is to be good, strong, pure being burdened by the weak, helpless, and despised.  It is a adolescent fantasy of what life is like and what Real Men are like. It is a philosophy devoid of humanity and caring.  So, I fear the ideologies that drive these men.

And of course there is the compulsive, childish, hypersensitive, ignorant narcissism of Trump himself.  He knows next to nothing about government or the world, doesn’t want to learn anything, and is likely, if unchecked, to make decisions that could be really disastrous – not because he adheres to an ideology that I disagree with, but because of his ignorance and ridiculous grandiose idea about how Amazing he is.

It is a work in process, and I refuse not to be hopeful.  The thing for me to remember is that Donald Trump does not create my reality, I do, and I will do just fine. 

He will have his splash, his moment, and I hope and pray that he does much better than I fear he might, and that he does even better than I hope.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Rooting for some miracles

I am slowly coming to accept that Trump is going to be our new president.  Still quite a shock, but there it is.  A few thoughts.

It seems to me that my liberal friends and I are now feeling the way my conservative friends felt for the last eight years.  I believe they were just as shocked and appalled by Obama as I am by Trump.  It had always seemed to me that their fears and dismay were unfounded, and indeed Obama was not a socialist, not a Muslim, not in cahoots with the Islamic Jihad, not a foreign policy wimp, not out to disarm the populace and install a left wing dictatorship, not... whatever else was in the basket of fears on the right.  But, it is clear that the right wing did everything they could to oppose everything Obama and his administration tried to do.  Fortunately, they failed in blocking everything, but try their mightiest they did.

So, I can finally say, I know how you felt, I feel the same today.

But, I actually have some hope going forward.  There will be plenty of time to be upset and opposed to what our new president actually does, I see no need to continue a kind of fearful frenzy now before he even does anything.  

What I am hopeful about is Trump himself.  I believe he is in a liminal stage, a very formative stage, and I am very willing to be pleasantly surprised by him and his administration.  

But what about the terrible things he said during the campaign? imprisoning his opponent? Torturing prisoners? Taking away first amendment rights of the press and his political opponents? Disrespecting women? Mass roundups of immigrants? Trade wars with China? Imposing religious tests on Muslims? etc, etc.  These remain scary, but did he mean any of it?  What makes anyone think so?

I believe he only said things that got him attention and enthusiastic support on the campaign trail.  I think the only thing he paid any attention to was Fox News and right wing radio and media.  All he was interested in was to find the hot buttons on the right and say those handful of things over and over again in the simplest and most expressive sentences and tweets.  

Donald Trump was, far and away, the most uninformed presidential candidate in my lifetime, and I first started paying attention to presidential politics during the 1964 LBJ vs Goldwater campaign.  He never paid any attention to any briefings on the government, the country, or the world.  Such briefings were completely uninteresting to him because all he cared about was appealing to and rousing his conservative base, many, perhaps most, of whom got their information only inside the right wing bubble of right wing media.  The last thing in the world that Trump wanted was more information that could dilute his blunt messaging and appeal to his base.  Any hint of nuance would only dilute the passions of his followers.

But, much to all of our surprise, including his, he won the election.  I don't think for a moment that he regrets anything he said because his only objective was to win, so whatever he did or said to win was good, and he won, so in his mind he did everything right.  He has no sense of the impact of what he said on anyone in the world, he wasn't interested in what either his voters of opponents thought, all he was doing was upping his ratings, his votes, the enthusiasm of his crowds.  

But, now what?  As Zelina Zito said, liberals took him literally but conservatives didn't. I hope that is true, and I think it might be.  

Now that Trump is going to be president, what is his motivation?  Indeed, what is the only thing that is important to Donald Trump?  Isn't it the same thing that has been the only thing that has ever been important to Donald Trump?  That he be successful? be seen as a winner?  Doesn't he want to be a good president?  indeed, a great president? the greatest president of all time?  I think so.

So, as he finds himself in the office of the presidency he will actually start to learn something about the government, the country, and the world.  Won't he discover that the sound bites of conservative dogma don't even come close to reality?  Won't he see that so much of his applause getting lines in his speeches to his rallies would only backfire on him and make him a pariah amongst world leaders?  Won't he find out he can't start a trade war with China without destroying the American economy and destroying his presidency?  And the same for torturing prisoners? or rounding up millions of Latin Americans? or imprisoning his presidential opponent?  Etc. etc...

And if he really wants to destroy himself, the stupidest of all things he could do would be to attack the media.  It is one thing for Brietbart or Rush Limbaugh to try to convince everyone that the media is in the tank for liberals - after all, all they are doing is attacking the competition and trying to get their followers to pay attention only to them - but it is suicidally stupid for a president to wage war on the mainstream media of America and the world.  He would create a counter-attack that no president could withstand.

So, I have reason to hope that during this liminal time, in this time between his election victory and his inauguration, he is much more fluid and formable than his campaign rhetoric suggested.

I am ready for some miracles to happen here, some small, maybe some big.

Indeed, as this intentionally ignorant man comes up against what is actually happening in the country and the world he will actually start to learn things.  And maybe, if we are all lucky, he can bring conservatives along  with him in his learning process.  

It is time for the rigid dogmas on the right to die.  On the left too, by the way, and the Dems need to get their heads out of the bubbles of their putrefied dogmas as well.  We all need to see the world as it is rather than as presented to us by ossified dogmas of the past - both right and left.

If he doesn't flex, doesn't learn, doesn't change, there is plenty of time to get upset if and when he does terrible things. It is not unlikely that he would be impeached if he tries to go all Mussolini on us. 

For now, I am rooting for some miracles.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

I know how you feel, I feel the same way…

We had an election, my side lost - I’ll live just fine.

I’m still dealing with the shock - here are some areas I am thinking about:

CHANGE - We are in a time of tremendous, chaotic change.  In the ‘60s Dylan sang “… the times they are a changin’…”  We are going through a massive, worldwide change today.  Clinton represented a continuation, trying to cling to the notion that there is no real change out there, it can all be the same, just keep the correct people in power.  Trump represents undeniable change.  The voters have reflected the earthquakes of change.

EARTHQUAKE – I think the forces that put Trump into office, that voted for Brexit in Britain, that are building in Europe, need earthquakes in order to avoid future bigger earthquake later – we do not want a real civil war in this country, or in the European countries either.

VISION - Each side of the political chasm has its vision of what that change is all about.  On the left the change is supposed to lead us to greater inclusiveness, caring, compassion, community.  On the right the change is supposed to lead us to greater opportunity, freedom, individuality.  Both are wonderful visions, and they seem to be diametrically opposed to each other, but they don’t have to be.  I can imagine a land where each is a powerful and free individual, living in supportive community environments presenting opportunity, educations, and nurturing.

DELEGITIMIZING THE ELECTION - This country is evenly divided and I am not happy with the efforts on the left to see Trump as an illegitimate president.  This has been going on, on both sides of the divide, since at least the year 2000.  Many on the left never accepted that Bush was a legitimate president because of the Florida/Supreme Court debacle.  Many on the right never accepted Obama as legitimate – from the “birther” to “undercover Muslim” accusations.  We have elections, the people decide, we need to live with it and do our best to live our personal lives, to agree or oppose politically as we see fit, and to work within the constitutional framework of the country.  If we lose, we lose.  We have constitutional political remedies, but to refuse to accept the legitimacy is a path to undermining who we are.

INVISIBILITY - What is clear to me is that an entire group of people had felt invisible and they spoke loudly and clearly that they are here – forgotten whites elected Trump.  At the same time, another group of people made it very clear that they felt invisible – inner city minorities – and Black Lives Matter spoke loudly and clearly that they are here too.  Each feels invisible.  Each feels disrespected.  Each feels forgotten and abused.

I can imagine a world where the forgotten whites and the forgotten blacks (and browns and reds and yellows) can look at each other and say “I know how you feel, I feel the same way”.

PARTIES – Each party needs to dramatically change.  The Democrats, amazingly, were defeated by the working class. How on earth did the party of the working class change so dramatically that it ended up sneering at the dirty fingernail folks?  The Republicans probably feel pretty vindicated right now, but I think they have been stuck in the rigid ideologies of Ayn Rand libertarianism, fundamentalist Christianity, and budget cutting absolutists.  I don't think Trump believes in any of that, and they are about to do major battle, it seems to me.

ELECTIONS – I think there are two big problems with our electoral process.  First, the primary system is deeply flawed.  I would like to see the end of caucuses, and a regional primary system that rotates the order of the regional primary elections every four years.  Second, the electoral college is certainly under attack after electing the loser of the popular vote twice in the last five elections.

GERRYMANDERING – I think the most undemocratic thing in America is the gerrymandering of the voting districts by the party in power in each of the states.  This radicalizes the representatives to Congress and is a deliberate and expert and totally effective way for either party in power in each state to keep themselves in power in perpetuity.  It is a scandal, and it is legal.  We need a new federal law or a Supreme Court overthrow of gerrymandering, and that should be a bi-partisan effort, it seems to me.

DEMONIZATION – Please, can we stop demonizing the other side?  I know there are racists, sexists, homophobes, and white supremacists who voted for Trump, and that appalls me, but I believe that vast majority of Trump voters are not any of that.  I know that extremists on the left voted for Obama but that doesn’t mean the Obama voters were communists or socialists, or trying to take people’s guns away, or force people to be gay, or end religion in the country.  The dehumanizing of those we disagree with politically diminishes the humanity of them, and of ourselves.  And forbids compassionate listening and understanding.

This is a wakeup call in many ways, but the one that stays with me the most is the loud shouts of those who felt invisible.  They are here, they are as good as anyone else, they need to be heard, and they have been.

All that being said, I am feeling anxious about how this is all going to play out.  Mr. Trump does not inspire much in the way of confidence in me, but I do wish him and our country well.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Dealing with the shock of the choice of American voters

I mean no offense to my conservative friends who voted for Donald Trump for president, indeed I think they never thought their vote would actually put him in the White House, but for me the country's vote to elect his person is the most vicious assault on the very idea of America since the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001.  Both are attacks on the very goodness of America that are simply incomprehensible to me.  I am dealing with my shock and grief at this election outcome.

I know that most Trump voters are not racist like the KKK and white supremacist groups that supported Trump.  

I know that most Trump voters are not misogynists and sexual predators like Trump himself bragged about being.   

I know that most Trump voters are not incipient war criminals like Trump has promised to be. 

I know that most Trump voters are not authoritarian dictators, or want an authoritarian dictator, like Trump has promised to be by promising to bar and persecute the press who say "nasty" things about him and to persecute his detractors and to commit war crimes.

I know most Trump voters aren't dangerous impulsive, uncontrollable overgrown children like Trump has demonstrated himself to be.

But how did so many of the people that I know and admire align with this person?

I know that many Trump voters somehow think that Trump will end up being, or turning over the government to Reagan type conservatives - or they think Trump is some kind of incipient Goldwater starting out a new brand of conservatism. I can't imagine that either of those ideas is even close to correct.

I know that many Trump voters think liberals are destroying the economy and ignoring the terrorist threats. But how they came to choose Trump instead of more mainstream conservatives is astonishing to me.

The best way I can handle this profoundly depressing outcome is to think that Zalena Zito was correct when she said that liberals took him literally but not seriously, whereas conservatives took him seriously but not literally.  I guess that means that conservatives didn't think he would ever deport millions of Mexicans, put up a huge wall along the border, keep out all Muslims, attack the press, torture prisoners of war or kill terrorists' families, etc.etc.etc. but liberals thought he would do as promised.  Perhaps conservatives just liked the attitude he expressed and figured he would not be a nut case in office.  

Indeed, I have hopes that that is true.  There are already indications that he is backing away from overturning Obamacare and deporting millions from the country.  

It is my deepest hope that Trump's desire to be seen as a Great President will lead him to betray his nut case right wing fanatics, reach across the isle, and show some common sense.  Not because he cares about the people, which I think is beyond his psyche, but because he cares about his reputation - which in the end is all he has ever cared about as far as I can tell (except for money, of course, which is just another way of getting admiration to his mind)

Trump is going to be our President, and I hope and pray that he does not follow through on the hateful rhetoric of the campaign.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Amateur hour in the White House

Republican voters narrowly elected Donald Trump to be president of the United States of America last night. 

Hard to make much of an analysis in a state of shock, but just looking at the electoral maps during election night, it became blindingly obvious that the cities were blue and the countryside was red.  Like England's Brexit, the turnout in the passionately anti-elitist countryside overwhelmed the tepid turnout in the cities.

The party that has to re-think its mission is the Democrats, not the Republicans, as I had expected.  The Democratic Party has become the party of cultural liberalism, seen as sneering elitism by those in the countryside.  I think that is why the angry denunciations of Political Correctness were such a fundamental part of the campaigns of Trump and Republicans.  The Democrats lost the blue collar working class voters.  Those folks went to the Republicans with great numbers and enthusiasm.  They do not identify with city/university/media cultural values of cultural liberalism.  They gave the "elites" the finger.  As crudely as possible.  

But, like the British after Brexit, they are stuck with a man who is a total amateur in the White House, as are we all.  What have they done?  

Another big theme is that America, like much of Europe and the rest of the world, has chosen an Authoritarian to lead us. Why? A response to the terrorist threats from radical Islam, of course.  Terrorists only need to terrorize to win, and a Trump victory as president is a terrorist victory, a sign that there terrorism is terrorizing us.

Another theme is the rise of the Confederacy - more particularly, the Confederate Man - including some pretty dark parts of that genre including bullying, racism, disempowering of women, but mostly John Wayne/Clint Eastwood hyper-masculinity that sees problems as needing to be dominated and subjugated.  Law and Order in the U.S., military assault abroad, remorseless punishment of those who refuse to tow the line that they insist upon.  Bubba triumphs.

I think the country just went into a kind of mid-life crisis where the middle aged, pot bellied man (the country) buys a red sports car (or private 757), collects sexy models and tries to create a life of an idealized past (Make America Great Again) that exists only in the fantasy of the man who is losing his virility and is terrified of that.

But, but, but... we have a new president, and we don't know what he will do, and I am pretty sure he doesn't know either.  I certainly hope that the awesome responsibility that he is now carrying will have a sobering effect on him, and he will actually try to govern responsibly.  Sending him, and America, prayers...

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Trump is McCarthy, not Reagan or Goldwater

To my conservative friends, please do not vote for Donald Trump for president. 

Some seem to think he somehow represents the policies of Reagan and expect him to enact Reagan type policies.  Not a chance.

Some seem to think he represents a new conservative movement like Goldwater that will sweep the nation.  No chance in the world.

I think he represents the worst elements of the conservative universe that was once championed by Joseph McCarthy - demagogic, misogynistic, bigoted, authoritarian, and narcissistic.  I think he is a child with no impulse control.  I think he is an egomaniac that sees only his own self interest.  

I wouldn't trust him with a book of matches, let alone the United States military and the nuclear codes.  He has no impulse control. He is a child. A vote for this man is a vote to end democracy in the United States of America itself.

I hope my conservative friends can come to their senses and see what this man actually represents.  

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Trump promises to be an Amercan dictator

In the final debate, Donald Trump, Republican Party presidential nominee, completed his series of promises to be a dictator.  He refused to promise to accept the results of the election if he loses.  

A summary of his dictatorial promises:

  • He won't accept the election results if he loses
  • He will imprison his political opponent if he wins
  • He urges his "second amendment people" to kill Clinton or her appointed judges if she wins
  • He promises to be a war criminal with torture and killing families of jihadists if he wins

Donald Trump is the most profoundly undemocratic, and profoundly un-American candidate in American history. 

Hillary, once again, showed herself to be informed, prepared, articulate, unflappable, and tough.  She will be a fine president of the United States of America.  

Sunday, October 9, 2016


I just finished watching the second presidential debate and I feel nauseous. Slimed by this toxic man, Donald Trump. He poisons this country. 

We actually had the candidate of one party promise to sic his appointed Attorney General on his opponent and put her in jail. This is ridiculous. It is astonishing. It should be illegal. The entire point of democracy is the peaceful transfer of power. That does not include jailing your opponent of the presidential race. 

One of the first things I wrote about this campaign is that America has never lost its innocence. We have never elected a dictator. This man promises to be a dictator. His very candidacy has deeply wounded this country already. America is losing its innocence. 

A man with no dignity or character is the Republican candidate for 
President of the United States. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The candidates in three words each...

Clinton – knowledgeable, hard-working, tough. 

Trump – ignorant, lazy, childish. 

It’s not about the politics; it’s about the person this year.  

I hope that even my conservative friends are able to see that Trump has lived his entire life in a money protected bubble, and he is still a nine year old trust fund boy who has no connection with responsibility, knowledge, or reality.  When he is denounced by almost every experienced and respected conservative and military and foreign policy notable (radio and Fox News personalities do not count) it is time to realize that he not only is not a conservative, not only is not a Republican, not only is not part of their movement in any way, but indeed is a danger to conservatism, a danger to the Republican Party, a danger to America, a danger to the world, and a danger to the very concept of democracy itself.  

I think Hilary will be a fine president, a flawed person, but not nuts.  The few lies that Clinton tells are understandable in the context of politics. 

Trump doesn’t lie, he bullshits, which means he has no connection to the truth, he doesn’t know the truth, he just makes shit up to get through the moment or to excite the crowds. 

Hilary is tough as nails and has proven that for decades. 

Trump is a weakling who feels he “has no choice” but to attack when criticized, and who will kiss the shoes of anyone who compliments him – Putin is the most dangerous example.   

I know it is almost impossible for a conservative to vote against the officially nominated Republican candidate, but I pray that the glaring unsuitability of this candidate can convince my conservative friends that losing the next four years of the presidency is preferable to the extraordinary dangers that the next four years of this child in the office would mean to all of us.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Republican Party after Trump

I think there are two things that are obvious.  First, Donald Trump will not win the presidency of the United States of America.  And second, Trump is not a Republican.  So the question is - what do the Republicans do after Trump?

I think they need to learn two things. First, that the Republican voters (all voters, actually) no longer believe in Conservative Dogma.  And second, that the primary system that produced such an abomination at the head of their party needs a radical overhaul.

Regarding dogma.  Trump doesn't actually have an ideology.  I think all he did is listen to talk radio, Fox News, and hideous alt right media like Breitbart and Infowars to find out what were the hot issues that would attract votes from those who were locked into those "news" sources.  I don't think he either cared about or knew how extreme some of those sources were, and how extreme some of those followers were.  He got the fringe, and it is a shock to me that the "fringe" was so widespread amongst Republican Primary voters.  Probably surprised him as well.  I don't think he ever wanted to be president, I think he just wanted attention and a burnishing of his Brand, and a way to increase his revenue by getting a really good contract for his TV shows.

When Trump talks to crowds he becomes mesmerized by their reactions to him, and their reactions escalate the more extreme he becomes, so it becomes a sickening downward spiral into the darkest corners of the body politic - racism, hatred, revenge, violence, threats, any and all toxins that enters his brain in the moment that will generate what he really needs most desperately - attention and worship.

So, what can the Republican Party learn from Trump's triumph in the primaries?  That very few conservatives care at all about ossified Conservative Dogmas.  There were very qualified and articulate candidates representing the old hit tunes in the Republican jukebox - evangelical social conservative greatest hits, libertarian shrink the government golden oldies, send-our-children-to-war-military-aggression-to-show-what-majestic-leaders-we-are Great American Standards.  The voters didn't care. 

The old dogmas of the Right are obsolete.  They don't address actual problems of today's realities.  The forgotten aging white middle and lower middle classes know that the old conservative horses are worn out and ready to be put out to pasture.  The idea of lowering taxes, shrinking the government, pushing fundamentalist Christian social obsessions, and scaring the crap out of the world does nothing for them or the country.  They have stopped buying the dogmas that made sense during Reagan's time, but have run their course and need to be put out to pasture today.

So, what I expect the Republican Party to do is to ignore this message and decide that the problem was that Trump wasn't a true Republican, and the Evangelicals and the Shrink-the-Governmentalists, and the Lower the Taxes on the "Makers" and lower the assistance to the "Takers" folks will all fight like crazy to take on the mantle of True Conservatism and they think they will sweep the "Conservative Movement" into its rightful place in charge of the country and the world. 

But they will fail because each of those ideologies has failed, and the Republican voters have already said that loud and clear when they voted for Trump.

What the Republican Party should do is to rethink their ideology.  Let go of their dogmas.  This is a very painful process; I know, I have done it myself.  It hurts to let go of the comforting cocoon of knowing the answers to all problems - to let go of the certainty that dogma provides - and step into the terrors of uncertainty and not knowing.

What doesn't work? Lowering taxes on the wealthy and deregulating business and industry.  That does not unleash the mighty powers of the free market economy. It enriches the wealthy, harms the environment and the workers, lowers the standard of living of the Middle Classes, and drives many in the Middle Classes into the Lower Classes.  

What doesn't work?  Enforcing Evangelical morality on the country. This does not call upon God to favor the United States with His Blessings of prosperity; it violates the first amendment that guarantees not only freedom of Religion but freedom from Religion.

What doesn't work? Shrinking the safety nets of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and the various governmental assistances to the poor.  These programs do not make people dependent, they help people take charge of their lives.

The Trump Primaries voters have said that endless wars in the Middle East, endless shrinking of public assistance and training, endless shrinking of the government only makes sense to wealthy and upper middle class right wing ideologues, not to real people with real problems.

So, will new leadership arise amongst conservatism to address the real world rather than try to resurrect Reaganism, or Fallwellism, or Ayn Randism?  To tell you the truth, I doubt it.  At least not in four years.  Maybe in eight though.

As to how to change the Primaries season to avoid the catastrophic results of future Trumps?  Take power away from the South (and their racism).  Have some kind of rotating schedule of states spread out over half a dozen to a dozen dates.  Don't have the same grouping of states in the same order every four years.  Have Super Delegates that can be a counterweight to populist charlatans.  I expect a lot of very smart people are trying figure out how to change the nominating process to produce sane, qualified candidates that represent all of the country.

Trump is more than a whisper that the system is failing, it is a earthquake announcing that the ground has shifted and old systems have failed.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Trump tries to pretend he wasn't asking second amendment people to shoot Hillary

I am so tired of writing about Donald Trump.  He sickens me.  Yesterday he called for his "second amendment" followers to shoot Hillary Clinton. I know, we're just supposed to write this off as another dumb thing that the out of control bloviator said, just another day of grabbing the headlines. Later he is being forced to say that he was just talking about the second amendment people going to the polls.  We're supposed to pretend that he didn't really mean it.  But I'm not so sure I am wiling to give him a pass.

This man calls his political opponent a criminal.  His convention, and his rallies, repeatedly shout "Lock her up!"  Are we to pretend he doesn't mean it?

This man has promised to be a war criminal by killing the families of terrorists and by torturing prisoners of war. Are we to pretend he didn't really mean it?

This man has promised to change the libel laws to that he can sue media that criticizes him.  Are we to pretend he didn't really mean it?

Promising to violate the first amendment, be a war criminal, lock up or shoot your opponent is what this man has done.  This is beyond sickening.  It is a moral imperative to oppose this un-American "man" as president of the United States of America.  He is no longer just an embarrassment to America.  He is promising and encouraging criminality.

Am I over-reacting? I'm not so sure.

His actual quote is, in his inimitable ungrammatical sentence fragments: 

 "Hillary wants to abolish, to essentially abolish, the second amendment.  By the way if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks, although the second amendment people maybe there is I don't know, but I tell you that would be a horrible day..."

So, it is clear by the last part of that quote - "... that would be a horrible day..." that what he is talking about is assassination of his political opponent, otherwise what would be horrible about that day?  if it were a day where "second amendment people" voted for Trump and Hillary lost, would that be what Trump means by a horrible day?  Of course not.  He is talking about using guns to go after Hillary.  

Is this just another example of Trump saying whatever fractional thought is in his brain?  Or is this something he has planned? I'm not sure which is worse, a candidate advocating the incarceration or assassination of his political opponent, or a candidate whose impulsiveness is so out of control that he has no ability to give a second's thought to what comes out of his mouth.  Which is worse?

I believe it is a moral imperative to oppose this man who has clearly promised to disregard all human decency, all moral restraints, and the constitution itself.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Trump supporters, Trump, and Hillary

Trump is a mess.  As a friend of mine wrote early on, Trump isn’t a political problem, he is a human problem.  My Republican friends are in a tough spot.  Some of them think they have to vote for him because he is a “Republican” and he isn’t Hillary.  But he is not a Republican - he is an unstable child.

Trump voters are in a mess.  The best thing about the Trump vote is the elevation of the of the Trump voters into the national consciousness.  They are the poor whites who have been left behind by the Free Market forces of globalization.  These folks are no longer seduced by the normal Republican theology of cutting taxes for the rich and deregulation as a way of creating jobs for them.  It doesn’t. It creates great wealth for the upper classes but they get very few crumbs.  Trump voters deserve better than Trump.  All he did was listen to talk radio and Fox News to find out which hot buttons to push to get their support, but he is in way over his head and he doesn’t have a clue, and doesn’t even think he needs to learn anything. 

Trump supporters need both parties to pay attention to them, their pain, and their despair.

Since a substantial percentage of them are of the Appalachian honor society mindset – Scotch-Irish honor driven personalities – they don’t want handouts.  They want work and the honor that comes with honest labor and careers. They don’t see the “elite”, educated experts in both parties, as creating jobs for them. 

Welcome to the Great Recession, and its fallout.  FDR and the Democrats responded to the Great Depression by creating jobs for those devastated by the Depression.  They were government programs, make work programs, much of which provided lasting benefit to the country, from bridges to dams to power plants.  It gave people work, not handouts.  The beneficiaries received pride rather than shame. 

We need the modern equivalent of FDR’s jobs programs today.  Government jobs programs aren’t the answer, but what is?

Well, it turns out Hillary has a plan.  Of course she does.  Hillary always has plans.  Unlike Trump, she is not a walking, talking bumper sticker; she has dedicated her life to thinking about, creating, and managing actual government programs and departments.  

Whoa! say my Republican friends, Government programs?  Saint Reagan said Government is not the solution, government is the problem, so how can a government program solve any problem?  Well, by focusing on the goal rather than the process.

The goal is to lift the middle class - the Trump voters - by creating jobs, work, careers, lives.  You don’t have to have Government paid works programs, you can have a public-private partnerships to create jobs.  It is her infrastructure plan that includes creating an infrastructure bank to finance, public goals, public leadership in dealing with regulatory issues, etc. that finances private industry to build infrastructure.  It is detailed.  It is thought through.  It is smart.  It will work.

It is so good that even the guy who thinks about nothing (except how admired he is), the guy who knows nothing (except what the polls say and how much money he has) decided to offer the same thing, without any detail of course, only better, he wants to double the size of the bank.  What a creative guy!!

Underneath it all is a massive economic change in the world. 

Communism collapsed as a total failure 25 years ago.  What the forgotten white Americans may be shouting at us now is that unfettered Free Market capitalism is a failure too.  They are living proof. They are dying proof, as a matter of fact, as terrible drug addiction and suicides become part of their story. 

Both parties need to face up to the plight of the abandoned working classes, and face up to the collapse of obsolete capitalist dogma and create new models of how to grow the economy, how to grow the middle classes, how to once again create America as a Shining Light Upon the Hill.  

The world needs America’s leadership.  Not the stupid brute force of an authoritarian despot, but the brilliant ideas of a creative economy.  It can’t be Communist because Communism is a brutal failure – for the people.  It can’t be Unfettered Free Market Capitalism because it is also a brutal failure – for the people.

It is time for the Reps to give up their dogmas.  So say the Trump voter. It is time for the Dems to reach out to the powers of private enterprise.  Seems to me that is what Hillary is doing.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Donald Trump is a holographic projection of the caricature of the Ugly American

I've finally figured out what Donald Trump is - he's a holographic projection of the caricature of the Ugly American that the rest of the world holds of us. Crude, loud, crass, boorish, insensitive, mean spirited, uncaring, proudly ignorant, greedy, obsessed with money and status, and unknowingly stupid.  He is the manifestation of all that is disgusting about Americans as seen in Europe and the rest of the world.

We aren't like that, really world, we aren't like that. Really.  

Well, maybe a little, but we'll mend our ways, honest we will.  Now that we can see it so graphically.  


Friday, July 29, 2016

Hillary issues a call to our better selves

The Democratic Convention spent three days presenting a positive message of America, of themselves, and of the future.  This was a clear contrast to the dark, paranoid vision presented by Trump's Republican Convention.  The Dems had inspiring speeches by top Democratic politicians, notable civilians, and a former and present president.  The Trump convention was notable for an absence of Republican notables and politicians.  

Hillary capped it off with a determined, workwomanlike, display of competence, knowledge, and caring. It was a sharp contrast to the dystopian harangue of the Reps.  

Hillary's main point is her deep knowledge and a lifelong engagement in the issues both domestic and foreign. She and her party spoke to their commitment to national security, and her primary message was one of caring and compassion.  This is the natural home of the Democratic Party - caring.

Her message is that she, and her party, have a lifelong commitment to making people's lives better.  That people are not on their own in a cruel world, but rather we can all create better lives by working together, by helping each other, by caring about and for each other.  She contrasts that with Mr Trump who offers only tweets and bumper sticker slogans - a man without a clue, and a man without a plan.

Hillary, on the other hand, is full of plans.  She could lay them out for 24 straight hours.  She laid out a bunch of them in her acceptance speech.  That doesn't end up with a big bumper sticker moment to remember her speech by, but the point is still important.  Hillary's message is that it takes more than bumper stickers, it takes hard work, caring, compassion, toughness, determination.  Her message is her life of service and determination.  Her message is that she will work her tail off and get things done to help and protect the American people.  She doesn't have soaring rhetoric, she has a lifetime of service and engagement in all aspects of government.

She promised to be a knowledgeable workhorse. Underneath it all is her main message - I am not a flibberty gibbet, and I am not crazy.  Which is her real distinction from Donald Trump.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Don't brief Donald Trimp on security issues after the conventions!

Donald Trump has shown, repeatedly and in many ways, that he can't be trusted to keep his big mouth shut.  His only motivation is the spotlight.  He will do and say remarkably harmful things with no thought to the consequences.  Today, he stepped into the land of traitorous felony by directly asking Putin and Russia to hack Hillary's 30,000 missing emails.  He is asking a hostile foreign power to hack an American presidential candidate's account. What?  It's hard to be astonished at this childish man's utterances, but this is truly astonishing to me.

His motivation is pretty standard, people weren't paying attention to him.  So, he did what he always does, he created an egregiously shocking and inappropriate headline.  He is no longer acting like a nine year old, he has descended to the level of a "terrible two" having a fit to get attention.

OK. So, isn't that just Donald being Donald?  Yes.  That is THE problem. Donald being Donald is a terrible thing if he is the nominee of the Republican Party.  

The tradition is that each candidate is given a top level security briefing after the conventions.  In this case I urge that Donald Trump not be given that briefing. This child has no impulse control. He will very, very likely spill top secret strategy or info at the spur of the moment with no thought that it is something he shouldn't do.  Spoiled children don't consider consequences, they just do what they want right now for their very self centered reasons.

He has only one motivation - whatever helps Donald Trump, whatever has people notice him. If it gets him a one day headline, he will do it.  If it gives him a way to attack someone who he feels offended him, he will do it.  If he is just bored and wants some attention, he will do it.  He could, and does, say anything. 

Don't tell him real secrets.  He will not be able to keep his big mouth shut.

Friday, July 22, 2016

America is better than Donald Trump

OK, so Donald Trump took advantage of a deeply flawed Primary System that political parties use to nominate their candidates and used his media skills to sweep into the Republican nomination.  So what? America is better than Donald Trump.

This is a land of dreams, of opportunity, of cooperation and community, caring and innovation.  This is a country that stands tall in the world as a beacon of freedom, a land of vision, character, vitality, and dignity (to borrow an idea from a dear friend). 

The United States of America is not a banana republic that elects a thug who promises to imprisons his political opponent upon victory.

I understand that a significant group of people in America feel hopeless and afraid.  This is not a country that elects authoritarian dictators.  This is not a country that elects a child with a limited attention span who calls out the worst in it's people.  This is still a land of hope, a land of dreams.  

We will not be sucked down into the dark vortex of the fears pounded into some of us day after day by the likes of extremist talk radio, right wing television, ridiculous conspiracy mongering, and promises of a violent authoritarian government that is going to come to the rescue of the frightened.

America is better than Donald Trump, and it is time for America to speak against his dystopian blatherings.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Republican Voters Over-rule the Republican Party and Nominate Trump for President

So the amazing inevitable has happened and the Republican voters over-ruled the Republican Party and nominated Donald Trump to be the Republican candidate for president of the United States.  Whew!

First, some good things about this.

2016 has been the year that an overlooked and forgotten minority has raised its voice in a crude shout – what about us?!?.  The theme “Make America Great Again” speaks to the lives of these people.  For many people, America is NOT great.  For many people, the America they believed in is gone and they are scared and angry.  These folks are the aging, white middle and lower middle classes who have lost their jobs and their lives to globalization, de-industrialization, and the Great Recession. Trump blamed immigrants, Bernie blamed Wall Street, and both messages attracted a lot of votes.  Trump’s was more successful than Bernie’s and Trump won his nomination. 

I forgot where I read it, but someone noted that Trump respects his voters.  He “respects” them by paying attention to them, by not criticizing the way they talk or behave, by being overtly “politically incorrect” (largely racist and misogynist),  by speaking as crudely and simply as possible in a language that attracts and arouses the dispossessed.  He speaks for them and they think the will help them.  ??  Why they think he will help them is never illuminated, it is enough just to be a vessel for their outraged voices of protest.

The second good thing to come from the Trump triumph is the shattering of the obsolete, rigid, unworkable conservative ideologies that the purists have enforced upon the Republican Party ever since Reagan had been turned into to a demi-god.  The Republican field has a plethora of true believer dogmatists running and they all got creamed.  The fundamentalist Christian social conservatives, the Libertarians, the budget scolds – all got creamed. The Republican voters are not loyal to the ossified ideologies, they could care less, and  they proved it in 2016.

Now for some bad things about a Trump candidacy.

He is a child.  He has no impulse control.  He continually says “he has no choice” when he attacks someone who he feels has wronged him.  I do not want a Commander in Chief with nukes at his disposal to be someone who thinks “he has no choice” if his manhood is challenged.

ISIS wants the United States to be drawn into their attempt to establish a Middle Eastern Caliphate, and Trump is the most likely to rise to the bait.  ISIS, and al Qaeda, and the rest of the extremists, know that the way to explode recruitment for their fanatical religious cause is to have the West, and especially the U.S. attack them.  Then, real hell breaks out.

He is not only ignorant, but he has no desire to become informed.  He has a delusional ego based notion that he can walk into a situation and intuitively and instantaneously and miraculously find the genius solution to any problem.  This is pathologically delusional, I am afraid.  And unbelievably dangerous for us all.

He is unconstitutional.  One of the things he is remarkably uninformed about is the Constitution and the nature of the Federal Government.  He thinks he can change libel laws so he can imprison media that are critical of him. That is a violation of the First Amendment.  He thinks he can keep Muslims out of the country based upon their religious beliefs.  Another violation of the first amendment.  He has promised to torture prisoners - an actual promise to be a war criminal.  And he has no idea how bad these ideas are, he just sees himself as bravely uttering common sense “politically incorrect” declarations.  Astonishing.

Worst of all, he doesn’t understand democracy.  He promises to imprison his political opponent, Hillary Clinton.  That is not how democracies work.  The heart of democracy is peaceful transfer of power.  His more rabid followers call for her death by firing squad or hanging – and he doesn’t slap them down.  Hard to believe.

Donald Trump  is campaigning as a tough guy, an authoritarian.  It is natural for a country frightened of terrorists to turn to authoritarian rule.  He might be authoritarian, but I am pretty sure he would also be stupid. He has already disavowed our alliance with NATO, and he has supported a nuclear Japan and South Korea.  America First (says Trump, his rabid followers, and the pro-Nazi movement of the 1930s). His lack of knowledge leads him to remarkably bad ideas.  And he thinks this makes him brave rather than tragically wrong.

It would be hard for me to imagine that he would use the power of the military in anything resembling a judicious, thoughtful, way.

Donald Trump is a danger to the United States and to the world.  The voters who are attracted to him, those who have been left behind in a country that no longer has jobs for them, deserve someone much, much better than him to give them the respect and dignity that they need.  

They have chosen a pretender.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Three crimes, three tragedies, maybe one problem - the War on Drugs?

America has had a bad three days after our Independence Day celebration.  

Two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, were killed by police in what appeared to be criminal acts.  This was followed by a sniper killing five police officers  and wounding seven others who were guarding a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas, TX. Terrible bloodshed.  Hate crimes in all likelihood in all cases.  I know we are supposed to wait for the investigations of the killings by police before we "rush to judgement", and indeed they may end up not being charged for the killings, but there is no doubt that the black community sees these as typical examples of what is racially motivated killings of young black men in their communities.

There is no excuse for any of the three killing incidents.  The sniper was the worst by far since it was a premeditated hate crime. The officer shootings were likely fueled by fear and perhaps racism. But what is going on?

My African American friends will say, at least amongst themselves, that the killings by the police is part of a very long history of racist oppression that has not stopped up until this day.

My conservative white friends will say, at least amongst themselves, that the police live in an extraordinarily dangerous world where they put their lives at risk every day.

Both are true, it seems to me.  I think there is one underlying issue, and I'm not just talking about racism.

There are parts of our cities that are war zones.  The people in the war zones are fighting life or death battles every day.  Because of our War On Drugs initiated by the Republican President, Richard Nixon, inner city blacks and browns live in the war zones of that war. Combatants get killed. Mass imprisonment is part of the war.  There is collateral damage of innocents. Maybe it's time to call off the war.

Most people who live in these drug war zones are not part of the war, they are civilians caught in the crossfire.  There are terrifying drug gangs, who are the warriors on one side of the war, and there are the police who are on the other side of this war.

Why not end the Drug War?  Some countries are trying this with some degree success, I believe - the Czech Republic, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal... I don't think there is an easy solution, it needs to be thought out and experimented with and smartly applied.  I don't have a great plan, but the way things continue to go in the inner city war zones is just not sustainable.

I would like to see some political leadership nationwide on this, and that means, to me, calling off the War on Drugs and to start dealing with drug addiction as a disease to be handled as a medical issue with assistance in rehabilitation rather than incarceration.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Did Britain just decide to become England?

Britain just voted to leave the European Union – Brexit passed 52-48.  This is not an issue that I have studied so I don’t really have an informed opinion, but I do want to mark what I think is probably a pretty important event with at least some random thoughts and wonderings.

It appears that Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales now are all talking about breaking from Britain because they don’t want to leave the European Union.  Did Britain just vote to become England?

Leaving the European Union might also unravel the European Union.  It is fine to have a common market, but a common currency, and bureaucratic control from Brussels without a common, united government seems to have stopped working around September 15, 2008 when Lehman Brothers in the United States declared bankruptcy and the entire world economy nearly collapsed, hitting the European Union particularly hard.

This is a big step in the general unravelling of the world, or at least the unravelling of many of the existing structures of the world.  I never really understood the European Union – how did such completely different peoples decide that they had a common identity?  After centuries of disastrous wars?  In order to prevent future disastrous wars, of course, was the objective, but the old WWII folks are mostly dead now, and newer generations might have to learn those old terrible lessons all over again?  I certainly hope not.

On the surface it looks like the biggest cause of the Brexit is saying NO to forced immigration policies onto England by Brussels.  I think there are a number of right wing movements in the rest of Europe pushing back very hard on the acceptance of immigrants from the exploding Middle East.  (thank you Osama bin Laden for leading these attacks, and thank you George W Bush for taking bin Laden’s bait and invading Iraq (that’s a bit of sarcasm just in case I was confusing)).

It’s all reactionary.  I think it starts with WWI, goes to the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, goes to Colonialism and Imperialism of the Middle East, goes to supporting despotic Middle Eastern regimes by the West (just send us the oil and stop Communism), goes to terrorism to drive out the “infidels”, goes to chaotic realignments in the Middle East, goes to massive immigration into the West out of the Middle Eastern slaughters, goes to xenophobic and nationalistic reaction against the immigrants out of fear of terrorism and out of fear of dilution of existing nationalistic boundaries and identities, goes to Brexit…

Where to next? Britain First!  America First? (Trump?  dear Lord please no ) France first? Sweden first? etc etc etc?

I think it is a natural response for people to pull into themselves when things are in chaos and they feel threatened.  But I don’t think it is necessarily wise.  

Sunday, June 12, 2016

ISIS claims responsibility for the Orlando slaugher

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the slaughter of innocents in Orlando last night where 50 were killed and another 52 were injured in a gay night club.  This is an unthinkable level of depravity and carnage.  

How is it possible for anybody to buy a weapon that can mow down over 100 people?  As far as I'm concerned it needs to be illegal to sell any weapon capable of firing more than 10 shots.  

Beyond that, how is it possible that someone who is on an FBI terrorist watch list to buy an assault weapon?  Must the weapons lobby, the NRA, insist on selling anything to anyone just as long as it gets its money?

My heart goes out to the killed and wounded and all those who love them or loved them.  This is just too much pain to have to live with.

Apparently, the fascist wing of Islam, the Islamofascists, think that they are justified by their holy texts to kill gay people.  What a stupid idea.  It's just bigotry and fear of homosexuality dressed up in religious robes.  I am convinced that those who are violently against gays are afraid that they actually have gay tendencies and are violently opposed to gay urges in themselves.  They manifest that fear by acting out dogmatically and violently against gays.  They are manifesting their own fears, and quite frankly revealing their own attractions to same sex people which is something they cannot come to terms with in themselves.

I believe that ISIS wants to have a say in this year's presidential election. They have been trying to bait the U.S. into a massive ground war in the Middle East because they believe it is written in their holy scripts that the Armageddon is coming and is necessary for the establishment of their caliphate where strict Islamic rule is the rule of the land.  They see this as required by their God.  So far, Obama has done a good job of not taking the bait and keeping the U.S. out of the religious civil wars in the Middle East (at least as much as possible)

I have expected atrocious attacks during this election cycle because I believe they want our presidential candidates to take the bait and promise to send massive troops to the Middle East.  It's bait.  It's a trap.  

We should treat this as terrorism, not as an existential war.  So far, Obama is doing that.  Will Trump? How about Hillary?  I think Trump will see this as his ticket to the White House because the only people he pays any attention to are the Right Wing radicals on the radio and Fox News.  And I presume that there will not be any call for thoughtful response in those quarters. 

I would love to be wrong about this.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The problem with gerrymandering and with the primary elections process

Two of the biggest political problems, in my opinion, are gerrymandering and the current primary election system.

Gerrymandering is where the party in power in a state draws the lines of voting districts.  They do this in a way that will most benefit their own party for elections over the next ten years.  As has been said by others, it changes the whole idea of democracy.  Rather than having the voters choose their politicians, the politicians choose their voters.  And we end up with an unrepresentative democracy.  In 2014 Republican House members in total received 51.2% of all the votes cast nationwide, yet they got 56.8% of the House seats on D.C.  That is not what the Founders had in mind.

Solution? Eliminate gerrymandering by having independent, non-partisan committees draw voting lines in each state, legislated by Federal law.  Or better yet, have a mathematical formula based on geography and population applied to each state so there is no human bias possible in the drawing of the voting districts. Probably a complicated math problem but should be solvable.

The second big problem is what we are seeing in these 2016 elections – the primary voting system being used by both parties to choose a nominee for president. 

The biggest distortion is that the voters who turn out in primary elections are more politically committed, and more ideologically extreme than the general voting public.  So, we get extremists nominated who do better in primaries than they would in a nationwide general election. 

Also, there is a set order, established by tradition, that puts some states at the beginning of the cycle and others at the end.  So, Iowa farmers have an outsized influence on who survives the primary gauntlet.  And South Carolina too, with it’s strange effect of having lots of African Americans voting in the Dem primary, and white not so unbiased whites voting in the Rep primary.  And then California ends up at the tail end despite being the largest state by far.

Primary elections were not handed down from the Founders of America.  They have only been around for about fifty years, and the flaws are becoming more and more apparent.  What to replace them with?  There was something to be said about the old smoke filled room party leaders that chose who would represent their party.  They were a vetting system.  They were natural suppressors of extremist nut jobs.  They were a force for stability.  Turning the selection over to the voters opens up the parties to change, and that is good, but it also opens the doors to extremists and populists, and in this year of Trump it opens up the Republican Party to a populist demagogue who threatens to be an authoritarian despot.  Not good.

My suggestion would be to keep the primary system, but moderate its effect in two ways. 

First, have the order of primary states be on a rotation basis based upon random distribution – with a mix of large population states and small population states having their primaries every two or three weeks in groups of about five or ten until the cycle is complete.

Second, have the total number of delegates selected by the primary voters be only half of the delegates who go to the conventions, where the real election to nominate each party’s candidate happens.  The other half would be professional elected politicians, men and women who have already succeeded in winning their positions at the voting booth.  These folks would be the governors, attorney generals, the state legislators, the city mayors, etc.  The math would have to be worked out and guidelines set as to their qualifications to attend the conventions, but that should be doable.

That way, a populist or ideological extremist would have substantial mitigating forces of professional politicians that would either support or not support him or her.  And at the same time, corrupt or intemperate or unethical candidates would have those who knew them behind the scenes there to stop them as well.  Also, a traditional candidate would have these same elected politicians who might be part of a movement or populist sentiment there to push back against them. 

So I think we need some balance in our electoral system.  End the corrupt, undemocratic gerrymandering.  And balance the popular vote which is now overly influenced by extremist ideologically committed voters and those vulnerable to populist frenzies with professional already elected politicians in each state.  Checks and balances.  We need them, I believe.  A Trump nomination is wake up call for both parties and for the nation.