Trump, Sanders and the Vote Count

February 11, 2016

While political pundits, party leaders and of course the candidates seeking the highest office in the land are divining the tea leafs of the New Hampshire primary, one tidbit from the first in the nation vote on the road to the White House is what color ballot the citizens of New Hampshire chose – blue for the Democrats, Pink for the Republicans.

Using my handy-dandy smartphone calculator I came up with approximately a 38,000 lead for the Republicans in voter turnout. Certainly Trump’s first victory makes him more than a loudmouth billionaire with no clue on how to run a country and Sander’s utter slaying of out of touch Hillary Clinton proves that he is no flash in the pan socialist. But when New Hampshire voters, both Republicans and Independents grab the pink ballot nearly 40,000 more times than the Democrats that should strike fear in the hearts of both Sanders and Clinton.

New Hampshire is one of those so-called purple states that could go either way depending on the candidates and the political environment. New Hampshire has a Democrat governor and one of each party in the Senate. But if the Republican heavy turnout means anything down the road, it shows that perhaps the Democrats have more of a problem than just Sander’s idealistic socialism and Clinton’s pragmatic “establishmentalism”.

The GOP may be headed to a brokered convention and the Democrats may be engaged in a delegate bloodbath, but an alliance of Republicans and Independents in the future primaries and the general election could coalesce into a victory that would doom the Democrats. Recent polling data and research points out that there are now more red states ( Republican leaning) than blue states (Democrat leaning) on the electoral map. A purple state ( no clear leaning tendencies) like New Hampshire that pushes the turnout to the Republican side may be a sign of trends to come.


Is Trump the Fox or the Hedgehog?

January 28, 2016

The Greek thinker Archilochus and later the distinguished British philosopher Isaiah Berlin wrote about the Fox and the Hedgehog as they tried to bring some clarity to how best to define and separate the way humans think and act.

The fox is someone who sees the world as complex and lacking a simple truth. In order to survive the fox is cunning, using tricks and adapting to changing circumstances. The hedgehog has a single vision; the world is simple and can be defined with one clear and unchanging truth. The hedgehog does not maneuver but h0lds steady.

In an update to the fox and the hedgehog one wonders if Donald Trump is indeed the fox as he changes the political and electoral landscape and survives through cunning adaptation, while the so-called establishment – mainline Republicans, deep-pocket donors and the mainstream media- trudge along with outdated visions of how elections are to be run and won.

Or is The Donald really the hedgehog, overwhelmed with his gigantic ego thinking that he knows how to win the hearts, minds and votes of the disillusioned American electorate with a simple vision- trusting him to Make America Great Again? There is no political nuance with Trump as the hedgehog  pushing forcefully toward the goal, the establishment be damned.

There is no immediate answer to this ancient fable as it applies to Trump, at least not yet. But those who have examined this human dichotomy often point out that the fox usually has a better chance of success because he/she shifts with the prevailing winds and with cunning and grit survives to fight another day. The hedgehog, with his/her single vision, can indeed succeed and destroy the opposition, that is if the vision is spot on and all the complex factors fall into place.

Is Trump the fox or the hedgehog? This is for the the American voters to decide. And by the way this fable can be applied to Bernie and Hillary, and Ted and Mario as well. Stay tuned as the fox and hedgehog fight it out for supremacy and the presidency.

 

 


Are They All Unelectable?

January 25, 2016

As the caucus/primary season approaches and the pollsters and pundits are in full-blown analysis mode, one of the campaign ingredients for success is electability- who amidst this gaggle of presidential hopefuls has the ability to win the White House? At this stage in the process it is not an exaggeration to state that none of these guys/gals has gained the confidence of the voters or has a distinct edge over the others.

On the Democratic side Bernie Powers, the socialist from Vermont, is quite simply a socialist, which means his chances of grabbing the golden ring will be difficult, if not impossible. Can you imagine what the conservative donors who fund the Political Action Committees will say about him in the television ads? Being a socialist in a capitalist country is akin to having an atheist running for the highest office in the land.

Then there is Hillary, who has so much baggage from her philandering husband to those high security emails on her personal server to her cozy relationship to Wall Street that her nomination and her victory in November are in serious doubt. If she is not indicted for the email issue, she certainly will be pilloried as untrustworthy, conniving  and arrogant. Her negative ratings are way too high to secure victory.

Then there are the Republicans – Trump is an over the top reality television star who has few policy plans, and those he does have are non-starters, if not cuckoo ( the Mexicans are not going to pay for the border wall and banning Muslims from coming to the US breaks just about every international compact that we adhere to). Cruz, despite the fact that he may be ineligible for the presidency, is a smooth talking wingnut who is popular with the fringe but hated by those he will have to work with. Gridlock would only get worse and the mainstream voters know that. Marco Rubio was supposed to be the answer but he is stuck in third place and the more he talks the more he scares people. Chris Christie runs a state that is a basket case, Ben Carson has fallen off the face of the earth, John Kasich is Ohio bland and Jeb Bush, after running through $ 100 million in ads, is in nowhere’s land- when you stoop to having your mother in your commercials it is time to give up.

So there you have it, the cast of presidential unelectables. God Bless the United States of America.

 


Traditional Values

December 31, 2015

You hear a lot these days about restoring American traditional values in order to make America great again. In most cases the term traditional values has come to mean marriage between a man and a woman, protection of the unborn, reining in Hollywood’s preoccupation with sex and alternative lifestyles, requiring immigrants to embrace our culture and the English language and ending the growing embrace of political correctness.

Now I am not going to end 2015 by engaging in a long-winded analysis of the above, but I do want to stress that the current definition of American traditional is rather narrow and short-sighted. Somehow too many of us have bought into the above definitions of what we stand for and forgotten what this nation has stood for since the early days of its inception.

American traditional values are grounded in the principles and practices of personal freedom, racial and gender equality, tolerance of differences, separation of church and state, the benefits of welcoming foreigners, the importance of generosity for those in need, opportunity for all, fair treatment,  just resolution of disputes,and perhaps most importantly, respecting and honoring the voice of the people.

As we enter 2016 and what is certain to be an election that is in large part based on who we are as a nation and how we want to move forward as a people, it is essential that the conversation of candidates and voters be based on the real American traditional values and not concentrate on values and issues that while worthy of debate are not the core of what America is about and hopes to be.

 


Not That Great of a Year

December 28, 2015

In the waning days of 2015 there will be much written about the 365 days that made up this latest year of the 21st century. It is safe to say that 2015 had more downs than ups and the glass can best be described  as being half empty.

There were some encouraging economic signs in terms of job expansion and modest but consistent growth. The stock market had its moments of  excitement, but in the end the year was mostly flat. The national debt marched forward now approaching 19 trillion dollars, although the deficit began to recede a bit in large part due to budget cuts and more taxes paid by those returning to work.

Violence and personal safety took a big hit as terrorist attacks tested the resolve of the American people, mass killings became commonplace and the relationship between the police and the black community imploded. Race relations deteriorated as blacks marched in the streets to protest the killings of young men, too many unarmed or with severe mental illness.

Politics and electoral campaigning became the big story as Donald Trump tapped into the anger of white America with his no holds barred rhetoric and his authoritarian bluster, and Bernie Sanders tested the popularity and inevitability of Hillary Clinton, despite his socialist agenda. Both the Republican and Democratic establishment paid the price of do nothing government and its failure to address the economic plight of those whites at the low end of the economic ladder. President Obama did little to help the turn to the right by his annoying penchant for remaining”too cool” and failing to keep his promises.

Needless to say the mood of America is depression-filled. A huge majority say the country is on the wrong path, support for Congress is at an all time low and Obama’s popularity hasn’t been above 50% in ages. Clearly the American people want someone different at the helm, but who? Trump has no answers just outrageous statements, Hillary is viewed with extreme suspicion, Congress is likely to remain dysfunctional and Obama is playing out the string. 2016 looks like another bad year marked by tension, disappointment, division, death and a whole lot of craziness. Hope your year will be better.

 

 


Always Vigilant

December 15, 2015

There’s a lot of talk these days about how to defeat ISIS and keep America safe. I for one am not one of those people who buys into the argument that what we need to do is send thousands of our soldiers to Syria and Iraq in a modern day crusade to destroy radical Islam at is core. Whether politicians like to admit it, everyday ISIS is losing territory and seeing its top leadership killed off. Sure ISIS remains a major international terrorist threat with the capability to recruit new suicide bombers, but this is going to be a long war won incrementally, not with one major attack on the capital city of the caliphate, Raqqa.

What I am more concerned about is the growing level of fear within American society and the fear-mongering of our leaders. Rather than educate the citizens of this country on how to develop their skills at spotting a threat or alerting the authorities to suspicious behavior, what is happening is the beginning of a bunker mentality mixed with old-fashioned bigotry and stockpiling guns. You don’t defeat ISIS by destroying their capital, buying your kids Kevlar backpacks, attacking innocent Muslims, or staying at home rather than enjoying life in a free country.

ISIS will be defeated when we show resolve as a nation to protect the homeland; when we don’t stand idly by when we see something that just doesn’t seem right; when we fail to understand that just because someone dresses differently or prays differently they somehow become the enemy; and when we forget that as citizens we have the responsibility to always remain vigilant.

There is not a sane person who doesn’t know fear; in fact fear is a good thing as it keeps us from falling prey to danger. But fear that overcomes one’s daily life, fear that generates hatred, fear that follows blindly those with easy answers, this is the fear that is frankly un-American. True American patriots are not flag wavers or bombastic blowhards. True American patriots become involved in protecting their community, taking reasonable precautionary measures, and never falling prey to those who promise a solution without any answers. In short American patriots always remain vigilant.


The Big Mo

November 28, 2015

Donald Trump has still a little over two months to make outlandish and false statements before the Iowa caucuses on February 1st. He also has about two months to hold onto his lead in the polls in Iowa, although Ted Cruz is catching up and Ben Carson is still in the mix but fading a bit.

Although the Republican party establishment is pulling out its hair over the staying power of Trump, they now know that the real estate mogul has some Teflon powers that allow him to appeal to the politically incorrect crowd and still remain the front runner. But what the establishment is most afraid of is what has often termed “the Big Mo” – the electoral condition in which the candidate strings together a series of primary wins and builds such great momentum that stopping him or her is difficult if not impossible.

Should Trump maintain his lead in Iowa and squeak by in New Hampshire, he then heads south to the so-called SEC primaries where anger toward government reigns supreme and conservative politics is in the DNA. Anywhere along the line he could falter as Republican voters come to their senses and see Trump as a reality show charlatan and quasi-fascist unfit as the leader of their party. But cobbling together primary victories early on will cement his standing as the potential nominee.

If this scenario of a Big Mo push to the convention in Cleveland holds true don’t expect the establishment to give up as they will use every procedural and rules tactic, backroom deals with delegates, and of course smear campaigns to build a case for an alternative candidate, i.e. Marco Rubio. If you think the run-up to the convention through the primaries was entertaining, just wait for Cleveland.

Of course this is the holiday season and no one except CNN. Fox and the right-wing of the GOP care about the presidential election, so  settle down with your egg nog by the fire and enjoy the hustle and bustle of real America. But come the first of the year the race for the White House will get really interesting, especially if the Big MO takes hold and the Republican establishment wages war against Donald Trump.

 

 


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