SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

April 22, 2016

Voters forced to pick lesser evil

How relevant are voter’s choices ?

This article by Frank Bruni hits the nail on the head of an issue important to most of us.  Since it has the power to affect our lives, future and or plans – – indeed it IS important.  What seems clear in my head — that our greatest  potential for success of those issues of major  importance to our rights and  freedoms, opportunity, equality. choice in every direction, health and economic potential lies in the direction of Bernie Sanders. He has been busy doing the people’s business obscurely, pretty much without fanfare for many decades.  Who and what he is speaks clearly to those who have heard him, because his ethic, integrity, judgement and clearly stated vision has resonated.  It isn’t complicated or difficult, it rings true.   Bernie is a simple family man with a clear mind and a pretty darned good one at that.  I like his message and trust him, and believe that others feel the same way — we are willing to pitch in, participate more,. . . take responsibility, replace political-establishment ‘takers’ who aren’t giving us anything for our money – – with forward-thinking progressives who have great ideas, energy and ethical standards.  Because it will work!  

But Hillary takes every opportunity to try to demonstrate how much better she is at everything; describing clever, intricate, highly detailed and well laid out plans she has as compared to Bernie’s  ‘pie-in-the-sky’ ramblings.  It is offensive that she must belittle Bernie to elevate herself. That so many see her as more capable with her multitudinous accomplishments as the better choice to get things done is flabbergasting. I very much question that kind of judgement . . . . and who are these people?  It seems that these are mostly political cohorts, long known to Hillary, playing most of the same games well known in Washington and the ‘Power-Brokers’.  Let’s not rock the boat!   My vision of Hillary is so different.  She knows everybody,  is well-connected – sure.  But I see that as a guarantee to keep the status quo (which is what has us so mired down and mucked up).    She’s unpleasant to listen to for it can never be clear if there is any truth in what she says.  She has been known to be deceitful – telling only that which she wishes to reveal. (remembering her days in the Whitehouse).  She has no claim to ethics and integrity.  And as to her accomplishments. . .   .    .   what are they, pray tell?  Nothing sparkling as a Senator.  And in service to Obama, she travelled a lot,  but where was the accomplishment?  There were certainly a number of negatives.  

But why does Hillary continue to maintain such high negatives with the voters?. . right behind Trump.  This is a constant – it wasn’t ever any better.  She isn’t forthcoming,  is devious in her claims,  people respond to that harsh, egocentric inner core;  she screams too much and it isn’t a good effect when she sounds that brittle and demanding.  Everything about her is off-putting.    Almost everything about Bernie is appealing.

But look at the numbers;   Hillary had this thing on lockdown as she started.  Bernie has been treated as some ‘ASIDE’ without a chance.  No one thought Bernie was going anywhere.  Boy were they wrong!  Maybe its a similar thing with all those Trump voters – – Americans are just fed up with the status quo and can’t take it anymore.  I do see the frustration in both camps with complaints of a lost way of life.   I became so frustrated with the Democratic Party and the lack of fairness that has been relevant in their actions.  Bernie was abused – unabashedly!  Useless in Ohio in the same way.  Wouldn’t make room for P.G. Sittenfeld for Senator and boldly backed our former Governor instead.  Sittenfeld was creative, had unique ideas and reminded me of a 29 year old Bernie – very progressive.  PG made inroads, worked hard, but couldn’t overcome the Democratic political snubbing — wouldn’t even let him debate!  To me, that’s rotten political machinery. The stuff we want to get rid of.  

So anyway, here we are pretty far down the road and all the smart money says this is Hillary’s.  How is this possible?  Did you see the turnout gatherings for Bernie in NY?  People are loving this man – they get him!  Different rules in different states! 40% of the New Yorkers are independents and were denied the right to vote. . so Hillary walks  off with the win.  One person, one vote ain’t workin’!  I don’t want to bemoan the delegate thing again.  But how do I accept that this is alright?  A man everybody loves can’t get there?  And a woman no body likes or wants (for many reasons) has it all wrapped up?  Maybe you can see whats bugging me and got me riled up.  But I’m sticking with Bernie!  Jan

 

Frank Bruni commentary: Voters are put in position of picking the lesser of 2 evils

American voters are displeased with the candidates they’ve been given. They’re disengaged from the process that winnows the field.And that process disregards the political center, erodes common ground and leaves us with a government that can’t build the necessary consensus for, let alone implement, sensible action in regard to taxes, to infrastructure, to immigration, to guns, to just about anything.Make America great again? We need to start by making it functional.

A poll released by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal on Sunday showed that 68 percent of American voters couldn’t imagine themselves casting a vote in the general election for Trump, while 61 percent said the same about Ted Cruz and 58 percent about Clinton.

A much, much higher percentage of voters viewed each of these three unfavorably than favorably. ‘‘Unpopularity Contest’’ was the headline on the story on the NBC News website, which rightly asked how well any president of such polarizing effect would be able to govern.

We’ve had such presidents (and candidates) before. And pessimism isn’t new.

But there have been developments and differences in 2016 that may well be making the situation worse.

The media, for one. When you treat a campaign as if it were an athletic competition, you turn it into more of a blood sport than it already is. And when you breathlessly promote it the way you would a hit TV show’s season finale, it becomes just another piece of theater. Neither approach encourages sober-minded engagement.

Nor does the manner in which so many voters use the Internet in general and social media in particular, to curate and wallow in echo chambers that amplify their prejudices, exacerbate their tribalism and widen the fault lines between us.

  • To prevail, a candidate doesn’t even have to persuade an especially large share of the electorate, given how splintered and detached voters are. In an important commentary published in The Hill on Monday, the Democratic pollster and strategist Mark Penn extrapolated from Trump’s and Clinton’s vote tallies to note that, in his estimation, ‘‘We now have a system in which it takes just 10 million votes out of 321 million people to seize one of the two coveted nominations.’’

‘‘The result,’’ he wrote, ‘‘is a democracy that is veering off course, increasingly reflecting the will of powerful activist groups and the political extremes.’’ Would-be nominees needn’t worry much about the roughly 40 percent of Americans who at least technically consider themselves independents — a group that’s grown over the last decade — or the 60 percent who say that a third political party is needed.

No, these candidates ‘‘can just double down on elements of their base,’’ Penn observed. ‘‘Rather than bring the country together, they demonize their opponents to hype turnout among select groups, targeted by race, religion or ethnicity.’’

  • Penn suggested several smart reforms to increase voters’ participation and sense of investment, including the abolition of caucuses and a rotation of the order in which states vote, so that Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina don’t always get such outsize sway.

I wish we could also find a way to shorten these presidential campaigns significantly, so that they’re not such a soul-draining, throat-ravaging turnoff to almost anyone who’s not an epic narcissist or mired in politics to the point of no return.

Then maybe we’d look up one of these years and be choosing among the greater of goods, not the lesser of evils, and the victor would be left, physically and ideologically, with a voice that still carries.

Frank Bruni writes for The New York Times.

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