I’m still absorbed (Actively appalled, shocked, massively disappointed, etc.) with our recent election. Because, after all, it’s really all about me. Just kidding. And I promise, no more political bullshit on the blog for a while after this.
And while I am imperfectly pleased with the results, Mr. Trump won it fair and square, by the rules in place at the time. And I still hope he somehow becomes a fine President. Or at least an adequate one. Which I doubt. But I wish him well.
And now, to make things even more strange, I find myself agreeing with Trump on what I feel is a very important political idea.
I don’t know yet, from any reliable source, who won the most votes. Last I heard, Hillary led the popular vote by over two million. Doesn’t matter. But Trump and I agree on this: Get rid of the Electoral College. He says he would win in either case, Electoral College or not. I doubt that strongly. But to me, it isn’t important. The election is now in our rearview mirrors.
The issue should be “How do we conduct our elections from here on out?”
It should be clear by now that the Electoral College (Hereafter referred to as EC, to save wear and tear on my Backspace key.) doesn’t work especially well. Even if Hillary won the popular and/or EC vote, I’d still want to get rid of the EC. It is, when you get down to the business end of it, anti-democratic. It gives more weight and importance to some voters and less to others and that is unfair. It may have served a purpose way back when but we don’t need it anymore. Mr. Trump says, and I agree, that it is undemocratic. And that alone should be enough reason to scrap the EC.
But I think there is a more important reason to determine our President by popular vote instead of the EC.
I think it would compel, or at least encourage, candidates to go out among the electorate, to visit places they otherwise wouldn’t, to give less attention to large campaign contributors and Wall Street and more time and attention to everyday people. As a quick-and-dirty-example, due to the EC, Hillary didn’t campaign in West Virginia because she knew, correctly, that she wouldn’t win the state. If we used the popular vote to determine who wins, she might have gone there and spent some time among the working people and the unemployed people. The West Virginians might or might not have voted for her. But she would have had to confront, up close and personal, some of the problems that our government has failed, over many years, to address. Same for Trump. I didn’t see him in the inner cities, asking young mothers who’ve already had a child killed over some stupid gang bullshit how we can make our cities livable. Or asking why a Republican governor poisoned the water of an entire city and isn’t on Death Row.
Our Presidential (And other) candidates, spend way too much time in the company of wealthy campaign donors and lobbyists and way too little time seeing and speaking with (Not at.) people who live paycheck to paycheck or welfare check to welfare check. They’d know, or at least learn, that most welfare recipients are white people. That our inner cities and rural valleys have similar problems- too few jobs, nothing except low-paying jobs, no union protection, no job security, nothing for graduating kids who need a job that isn’t at Walmart. That there are many understandable reasons for the nationwide drug epidemic and it ain’t because poor people are lazy. It’s because there aren’t enough good jobs. It’s because the few jobs that exist pay shit wages and offer no benefits, other than having to work two or three jobs to support a family. It’s because the Mom and Pop stores that used to be the heart of downtown are now boarded up because of a Walmart outside of town on the highway. And Walmart (Or Bass Pro Shops, or Cabella’s or Home Depot), in all likelihood, was granted tax breaks by the town council to keep them from locating their minimum-wage businesses elsewhere but that dumped more of the tax burden on the remaining residents and businesses. Killing the EC might just encourage our “leaders” to get out among the rest of us and discover what they are doing to our country.
No professional politician knows the indignity of living on welfare or Food Stamps. None of them know what it’s like to have strangers examine what you’re buying at the supermarket and, sometimes, comment on what you’re buying in a manner that suggests that you are a moocher undeserving of government help. It might be an idea to have anyone running for high political office try to live on nothing but government assistance for a few months. Hell, it might be a good idea to have that as a requirement for high public office. To go hungry because the welfare check doesn’t last a whole month because you had to pay the electric bill or your old piece-of-shit car broke down. To live for months on end with a toothache that can’t be treated. To see a loved one die from cancer that could have been cured but, due to government cutbacks, there’s no money for health insurance or free medical care so your loved one isn’t really killed by cancer but by indifference. Or by the Governor of your state who refused to take Federal money for health insurance because that might make Obama look good and we certainly can’t have that.
If our politicians went to rural areas and spoke to family farmers, they might understand how damn hard it is to be a farmer and how much more difficult it has become since the government decided that factory farming is the way to go. And how there are no lobbyists for a family farmer but hordes of them for huge factory-farm corporations. I find it ironically sad that former Senator Bob Dole was known as “the Senator from ADM” because he was in the pocket of Archer Daniels Midland, a giant in the factory farming industry. One of the Bozos currently in the Senate, Mike Pompeo, is known as “The Senator from Koch Brothers”. You’ll be hearing a lot about him soon.
It probably wouldn’t hurt but might induce nausea in our Exalted Leaders if they actually spent time on the floor of the chamber where Bozo the Congress meets. A few years back they might have been treated to the sight of Tom Delay (Republican. TX. Surprise!) handing out checks from the Oil Industry ON THE FLOOR OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ten minutes before a vote on, wait for it- the Oil Industry.
In short (Or maybe not), the people who want to run the country ought to actually SEE the country, listen to the people, see and admit the outright bribery and corruption, the purchasing of votes that constitutes the normal process of governance. The Democratic Party was once the party of working folks and poor folks. The Republicans, who have always, at least for the past fifty years, been the party of Big Business, just got a sizable majority of the votes of poor and working class people. How did that happen? Why did these people vote against their own economic interests? Yeah, Fox “News” and the rest of the right-wing noise machine didn’t help but it happened because the people have, in large part, stopped believing what the Democrats say. The Democratic Party needs new leaders, new candidates, people who aren’t corrupted or co-opted by the sewer that is politics in Washington. People who will stand with farmers, poor people, ordinary Americans. New leaders who will stand shoulder to shoulder with Union organizers, vote for card-check, over and over and over no matter what the Republicans say or do until it becomes law. The Republicans made “union” a dirty word. It’s well past time for the Democrats to reclaim it. The Republicans and conservatives made the word “liberal” an epithet. It’s a word to be proud of. The other party made it a word about enabling welfare moochers. A lot of people bought into the fiction the “Liberals” wanted to tax America right out of existence. The Democrats need to get out there and explain and prove how they are the party of job growth and fiscal responsibility. I’ll wait here while you look up the numbers.
The new Democratic candidates have to persuade voters everywhere, in every corner of the country, that the Democratic Party is the party that really does care about ordinary people. Since 1980, without exception, unemployment has risen under Republicans and lessened under Democrats. Budget deficits have been smaller under Democrats than under Republicans. People who voted for Trump seem to have forgotten exactly how pathetic Dubya’s administration was. When Obama took office, we were losing 800,000 jobs per month. Unemployment is now down to 4.5 per cent and the markets are at an all time high and gas is two bucks a gallon. Dubya exploded the National Debt. Obama brought it down but listen to Fox “News” and the rest of the right-wing noise machine and you’d think that Obama caused all of our problems. Democratic candidates and organizers have to get out where the voters are and show them the numbers.
They need to see, firsthand, the privation, hopelessness, weariness and desperation so common all over America. They need to see how what’s left of our middle class is hanging on by their fingernails so that they don’t fall on their brethren below. They’ll get a better picture of America if they have to leave their little enclaves and retinues and go out and listen. America doesn’t need any more speeches or fancy commercials where the candidates stand around in shirtsleeves pretending they give half a shit about you. Our political class needs to listen to America. Getting rid of the EC can only help to get our people listened to.
And if the politicians can see all this and not want to take a torch and set fire to Washington D.C. and Wall Street, we, the people will know them by their friends and actions and we will vote. We’ll know whether they encouraged or allowed Wall Street to break our economy again. If they bail out the bankers but not the people, we’ll know. If they privatize the profit but socialize the risks, we will know. We will vote. And we will act. When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose.