Category Archives: Social Networking

Election 2016 — But How Do We Fix This Year’s Mess?

The short answer is, we can’t.  Barring a federal indictment, or someone being crushed to death in the tragic collapse of an enormous ego, or other unforeseen and unlikely circumstance, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are this year’s disastrous nominees.  Get used to the idea.  We can’t fix it . . . but we might, just might be able to mitigate the damage regardless of the outcome.

Why we can’t fix things this year:  Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump were right about one thing — the system is rigged, just not in the way they think it is.  It’s already too late to put a credible third-party candidate on the ballot in some states and impossible in many others; and, no, I don’t consider the Libertarian Party’s ticket a credible alternative (but that ticket just might be useful in mitigation, which we’ll get to shortly).

Why is it too late?

The Big Two get their nominees on the November ballot pretty much automatically.  The Big Two have seen to that.  But that’s not all they’ve managed to rig in their favor.  They’ve also made it pretty much impossible for an alternative to get on the ballot to spoil their monopoly.  An “independent” candidate (meaning not affiliated with either the Republican, Democrat, or other “state-recognized” parties) has to jump through innumerable obstacles to get on state ballots.  In order to accomplish that an independent would need to gather an estimated 900,000+ petition signatures in order to make the ballots in all fifty states.  Suppose our independent managed to meet that insurmountable hurdle?  Well, then the next hurdle is arbitrary “deadlines” set at the state level.  For instance, the deadline to submit for inclusion on the November ballot has already passed in several states, including here in Texas.  I find that interesting, considering that technically neither party has yet fielded an official candidate, and won’t until their respective conventions, yet the names Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be on the ballot of all fifty states despite these “deadlines” having passed.  Finally, the last hurdle is that several states want you to pay for the privilege of putting your name on their November ballot.  It may be easy for a state party to fork over a couple hundred to a thousand bucks to just one state for ballot access for the eventual nominee, but it’s unrealistic for anyone but the extremely wealthy to pay tribute to all the states that charge such a fee.  Outraged yet?  Read on.

What about write-in candidates?  Again, the system is rigged in favor of the Big Two.  Forty-three states allow for write-ins.  Of those, thirty-five of them require advance submission of the write-in, otherwise those votes will not even be tallied regardless of how many votes are cast for that individual.  That’s leads to the ludicrous possibility that a write-in candidate could conceivably garner 51% of the votes in one of those states, yet one of the other two “Big Two” party candidates would “win” all the electoral votes for that state.  Seven states flat-out deny you the basic right to write in the name of someone other than those who appear on those states’ ballots, which usually means you’re limited to two, perhaps three choices as arbitrarily decided by the state (i.e., “The Big Two”).  The states on that wall of shame are Arkansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.  Only eight states in the entire country honor their law-abiding, taxpaying citizens enough to allow them true freedom of choice in a presidential election —Alabama, Delaware, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Wyoming.

Well, if we can’t fix it, how the hell are we going to mitigate it?  With the only tool left to us, and that is to effectively delegitimize the ultimate “winner” in such a way that the he or she becomes a powerless figurehead “leader” until the next election cycle.  In other words, you vote.  You vote for third party candidates, write in someone even if your ballot will not be tallied, you do anything in your very limited power to ensure that the “winner”, be it Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, has far less than anything even remotely smacking of 50% of the vote.  Ideally one would want to see neither of the two front runners get even one third of the popular vote, meaning that a solid two-thirds of the country voted against either individual, but that’s not going to happen.  We all know that going into this, because as I’ve already noted the system is rigged by the Big Two.

No president with a significant and solid majority of the electorate having voted against them can claim any sort of mandate to do anything, whether it be negotiating treaties, attempt to bully sovereign nations into paying for walls we all know are never going to be built, submitting for consideration proposals to the now-cowering legislative branch of government, or attempting to seed ideologues into the federal judiciary and the Supreme Court.  Moderation wins by default.  Extremism loses and begins an inevitable downward spiral into oblivion.

Tomorrow I wrap up with this minor treatise with a call to arms.  It’s time the true patriots take back this country away from the special interests and the Big Two that have become indistinguishable from those special interests.

Monday:  Election 2016 — How the Hell Did We Get Here?

Tuesday:  Election 2016 — Why the Hell Did We Get Here?

Wednesday:  Election 2016 — Fixing This System Long Term

Today:  Election 2016 — But How Do We Fix This Year’s Mess?

Friday:  Friday:  Election — A Call to Arms



Filed under Opinion Piece, R. Doug Wicker, Social Networking

Election 2016 — Why the Hell Did We Get Here?

Election 2016 — Why the Hell Did We Get Here?

So, this election year the U.S. electorate has reached a fork in the road.  Unfortunately, both forks lead directly off a very tall cliff with large granite boulders at the end of the long ride down.  And regardless of which fork you — the individual voter — choose this year, we’re all forked.  On Monday I described how we got to this Hobson’s Choice of deeply flawed candidates.  Today I’ll touch upon why we got to this point.

Through 1968 candidates were chosen by party leaders in the clichéd “smoke-filled back room”.  Primaries and caucuses were conducted, but they held only marginal sway on the ultimate choice of either party.  Following the Chicago Riot during the 1968 Democrat Convention that began to change, with primaries and caucuses eventually taking over primary control of nominee selection in both parties.  But there’s a problem with that selection concept.  Party leaders are big-picture people who choose candidates moderate enough to swing independent voters to their cause, while caucus and primary voters more often tend to favor ideology over electability and, unfortunately in many cases, party allegiance over what is best for the country.  This has led to increasing polarization in politics at every level over the past 40+ years.  Elected officials are unwilling to compromise or offer up solutions that may run counter to the wishes of their party’s most extreme wing for fear that contributions and volunteers will dry up during reelection; or potentially worse for elected representatives, as demonstrated by the Tea Party, candidates may find themselves facing a interparty primary challenge that leads to their immediate defeat, or so weakens them that they simply cannot prevail against an opposition party candidate during the election.

Add in a devastating recession, a less-than-optimum economic recovery, growing pressures on the middle class, an ever increasing disparity in income and wealth not seen since the robber baron days of the late 19th Century, an unregulated and unaccountable financial sector that routinely and repeatedly steals from the middle class (both directly and through government bailouts) with absolute impunity, a campaign finance structure that is merely legalized bribery, and a never-ending multi-front war spanning whole swathes of the globe, and you have a recipe for scapegoating, populism, political pandering, and fear-based campaigning not seen since Germany in the 1920s and ’30s.  In other words, the primary-and-caucus system of selection has removed all safeguards against ideologues and political polarization.  The inevitable results?  Donald Trump!  Hillary Clinton!

Would these two be our upcoming choices in November if we did away with caucuses and if taxpayer-funded primaries were required to allow participation of independents and cross-voting?  Highly doubtful.  So, how do we fix this broken system long term?  Find out Wednesday.

Monday:  Election 2016 — How the Hell Did We Get Here?

Today:  Election 2016 — Why the Hell Did We Get Here?

Wednesday:  Election 2016 — Fixing This System Long Term

Thursday:  Election 2016 — But How Do We Fix This Year’s Mess?

Friday:  Friday:  Election — A Call to Arms


Filed under Opinion Piece, R. Doug Wicker, Social Networking

Election 2016 — How the Hell Did We Get Here?

Election 2016 — How the Hell Did We Get Here?

Readers of my blog probably realize by now that I assiduously try to avoid political discussions.  That’s ironic, because my third most read blog is the one in which I renounced my lifetime affiliation with one of the Big Two U.S. political parties.  That post way back from October 14, 2013, received 11,790 views, and it averaged 649 hits a day over the course of the final eighteen days of the month in which it was published.

 With that amount of success into my one and only foray into politics, why do I avoid a repeat?

Because too many people today, quite frankly, are either too ill-informed or far too immature to handle an adult conversation on this vitally important area.  Want proof?  Just look at the comments section attached to almost any online news story.  Even if the story has absolutely nothing to do with any elected representative, you probably won’t be able to get past three or four comments before some mental midget discovers a nonexistent “connection” that allows him or her the opening to start attacking a high-profile politician — president, presidential candidate, senator, congressman, etc.

If you’re one of these people, then please feel free to forego this week’s blog posts.  You’re not going to enjoy the bursting of your bubble, the subsequent eye-opening education into what’s going on, the thoughtful conclusions, or Friday’s call to arms.  But my readers are as a whole a very intelligent lot, so I doubt I’ll suffer too great a loss in readership for the week.

Still with me?  Good.  Here goes:

The two major party presumptive nominees for president of our nation are in my view the two worst choices during my lifetime.  And most people with whom I’ve discussed this are in ready agreement.  I’m not going into what I consider each candidates’ most telling flaws, because what is important to me may not be what you perceive to be each candidate’s most glaring flaw.  What’s important is that poll after poll shows that as a whole the electorate are not happy with the choices being forced upon them during this election cycle.

But, how can that be?  Don’t we get to select the candidates for which we’ll be voting in November?  No, we do not.  That’s the biggest lie of our current selection system.  Our candidates are selected by a very narrow segment of an even narrower-minded group of individuals, even though you, the taxpayer, gets to foot the bill for their party.  That’s right.  You read correctly.  Your state pays for each party’s primary (we’ll get to caucuses in a moment) using funds supplied by you through taxes and other revenue streams.  But did you actually get to vote in both the Republican and Democrat primaries, even though you footed the bill?  No, you did not.

Depending upon the rules of the party in your state you may have had to “declare” as a Republican or Democrat to vote in that party’s primary, which automatically denied you the ability to voice your opinion on the other choice.   What if you consider yourself an independent?  In some states you might be allowed to vote in one primary or the other, but probably not both.  In other states you get no voice in either selection.  That flaw in the system has produced a situation in which Donald Trump is one of your choices despite only garnering 6.1% of the vote (both primary and caucus) of all eligible voters in the country, and 9.1% of the vote of all registered voters in the country.  And the other candidate?  Hillary Clinton is only marginally more “representative” of the electorate’s true desires.  She garnered 7.2% of eligible voters, and 10.8% of all registered voters.

So, come November, your choices come down to two highly flawed candidates who were thrust upon you by only 13.3% of all eligible voters, and 19.9% of all registered voters, even though you footed the bill for the primaries in which you were denied a voice in one, the other, or both depending upon state party rules.

You may be asking, well aren’t those numbers representative of the general population, sort of like polling a small sample of people to get a sense of the population as a whole?

No, they are not, and for this reason:  By the very act of limiting participation to party loyalists, or making an independent choose participation in one party’s primary over the other’s, you have just ensured that the overall majority of the people given a voice are the most radical elements of that party.  There is no voice being given in this system to the vast majority of Americans.  Those “independents” as a whole are much more centrist and balanced in their views, understand the concept of compromise, and don’t treat elections as blood sports.  Rather, the vast majority of voters’ primary consideration is country over party rather than the other way around.

What about states with caucuses?  Caucuses are a dying breed because they’re funded by the state party rather than the state taxpayers.  Nevertheless, now you have an even narrower group of even more rabid individuals making the selection of candidates with which you’ll be saddled come November.  That’s just the nature of the caucus beast, in which only the most partisan get any voice at all.  Everyone else is left outside the doors.

Today:  Election 2016 — How the Hell Did We Get Here?

Tuesday:  Election 2016 — Why the Hell Did We Get Here?

Wednesday:  Election 2016 — Fixing This System Long Term

Thursday:  Election 2016 — But How Do We Fix This Year’s Mess?

Friday:  Election — A Call to Arms

A note on how I arrived at the percentages listed above:

There are about 218,959,000 eligible voters in the U.S.  Of that number about 146,311,000 are actually registered to vote.  In Republican primaries and caucuses as of there were 28,587,461 votes cast, of which 13,300,863 went to Donald Trump.  Thus, Mr. Trump clinched the Republican nomination with 46.5%.  On the other side 27,834,830 people voted in Democrat primaries and caucuses.  Hillary Clinton received 15,805,136 of those votes.  That means Ms. Clinton secured the Democrat nomination with 56.8% of the votes cast.


Filed under Opinion Piece, R. Doug Wicker, Social Networking