Category Archives: Politics

Let’s End the Electoral College

No state uses the electoral college to elect a governor. Ever wonder why? States go strictly on the popular vote. Electoral college lovers will argue that that just gives certain counties more power (in my state, that would be Marion, Allen, and Hamilton counties). I argue that it makes every citizen count equally. Equality is kind of an American value, isn’t it?

Every four years, we hear tortured explanations of why the electoral college is a good thing. Why the all-wise Founding Fathers decided to use it back in the 1700s. I realize it’s never going to go away. But I’d like to see the popular vote prevail. The winner is the person who gets the most votes. THAT is democracy. The electoral college is NOT democracy.

Majority vote prevails at every other level–city, county, state, US Representatives, Senators–but we use a whole different method for selecting a president. Doesn’t that seem odd? It’s like playing a full basketball game, and if it’s tied at the end, you switch and play Rock-Paper-Scissors.

This electoral college thing treats states on a winner-take-all basis. Most states are already considered in the bag for one candidate or the other. Trump wrote off California, Illinois, and New York–some token campaigning, but voters in those states didn’t really matter TO HIM. Hillary wrote off Texas, Wyoming, Indiana, and most of the deep South. Voters in those states did not matter TO HER. When I vote for a Democrat for president, it’s totally irrelevant, because Indiana is going with the Republican.

In the general election, each candidate focuses on just a handful of “battleground” states. I’m tired of Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and Wisconsin being the only states whose citizens really matter. The states where candidates devote their time and resources. I matter, too. So do citizens in Idaho, Montana, and Massachusetts, whether they live in cities or in the country.

There are 4.1 million people in California who voted for Trump. But they might as well have stayed home. Likewise for the 3.8 Texans who voted for Hillary. Consider that in Wisconsin, the TOTAL number of votes cast was under 3 million. But every one of those votes counted A WHOLE LOT. That’s not American.

Over the years, hundreds of proposals have been introduced to reform or end the electoral college (a term which doesn’t appear in the Constitution). Polls consistently show that a wide majority of people favor abolishing the electoral college (75% clear back in 1981). It’s an archaic system, which may have fit the world of the late 1700s, but it’s time to go. Plus, the electoral college is death to third parties. Ross Perot won 19% of the votes in 1992, but received NO electoral votes because he wasn’t strong enough in any single state. I’d love to see a third party candidate who actually stands a snowball’s chance.

Brazil, France, Finland, and Argentina are among the countries which once used an electoral college kind of system, but replaced it with a direct, popular-vote election. In the US, state legislatures appointed US senators until the 1900s, when we switched to a popular vote. So it CAN be done.

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No Matter Who Wins the Presidency….

A couple weeks ago I began musing about things that would be true, regardless of who became president.

Steve Predicts #1: No Matter Who Wins on Nov 8:

A majority of Americans will be disgusted, saying stuff like this: “What’s wrong with America? How could we have elected a person like this?” And it’ll be, at most, a one-term presidency.

Steve Predicts #2: No Matter Who Wins on Nov 8:

Evangelicals will do some soul-searching about their decades-long allegiance to the Republican Party. It’s already happening. In consecutive elections, evangelicals supported a Mormon (who has worked to direct people away from an eternity with God), and then a man who values almost nothing that Jesus values.

A lot of evangelical voices are raising concerns about how the quest for worldly power harms the Gospel of Christ, Christian witness, people’s perceptions of the church, and our credibility as Christ-bearers within society. There will be much hand-wringing–articles, books, forums, and more. However, as 2020 approaches, the Republican candidate will shout “Abortion! Supreme Court!”, and once again evangelicals will flock around him. Little will have changed.

Steve Predicts #3: No Matter Who Wins on Nov 8:

Christians will say, “God is still in control,” without really knowing what that means, theologically. It’s kind of become the spiritual thing to say, a righteous cliche. But in what way, exactly, is God in control of the government? How does that apply to the governments of Russia and China and North Korea? Is it merely a statement about God’s sovereignty? Regardless, people will say this without thinking about it, and it will sound very spiritual.

Steve Predicts #4: No Matter Who Wins on Nov 8:

There will be several years of investigations, either by official government inquiries or by the press (which could lead to official inquiries).

If Hillary wins, there will be four years of re-investigations into emails and Benghazi, and new (and justified) investigations into the Clinton Foundation and perhaps other matters.

If Trump wins, the press will continue investigating many issues which haven’t been explored in any depth–business ties to Russia, fraudulent use of the Trump Foundation, Trump University (the jury trial starts Nov 28), continued allegations of sexual assault, illegal campaign contributions, and as-yet-unknown business dealings. Plus, he has promised to sue his sexual accusers and to have Hillary Clinton jailed, so we’ll have those investigations.

It’ll be a messy four years. We could easily see a president be forced out for the first time since Nixon.

Steve Predicts #5: No Matter Who Wins on Nov 8:

Young evangelicals will increasingly drift away from the Republican Party as they are drawn to issues more likely to be supported by Democrats and Independents–the poor, social justice, prison reform, immigration reform, economic disparity, gender equality, climate change, and peace. They have little tolerance for any kind of racism and discrimination.
Their numbers will continue to increase, while older evangelicals–my generation and older–will continue to decrease. In will take another, say, 12 years to make a deep difference in elections, but the shift will eventually become apparent. The alarming growth of atheism and agnosticism will further diminish the ranks of Bible-waving Republicans.

Steve Predicts #6: No Matter Who Wins on Nov 8:

The person elected will be MY president, duly elected by We the People. I will no doubt criticize many of that person’s policies, actions, and judgments, and may even come to favor the person being ousted from office. But I will not seek to delegitimize that person, as so many people shamelessly did to President Bush (because of the Supreme Court ruling) and President Obama (birtherism). Nor will I claim the system is rigged. Whoever emerges on top will be MY president.

Steve Predicts #7: No Matter Who Wins on Nov 8:

Barack Obama will have a stellar post-presidency. And as people become disgusted with the chaos of either a Clinton or Trump presidency, Obama will be viewed much more favorably–not as the evil caricature popularized 24/7 by FoxNews, Rush, and others, but as a president who, as a general statement, was measured, thoughtful, articulate, gracious, funny, personable, and faithful to his role as a husband and father. His popularity will only increase (as usually happens with ex-presidents).

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The Missed Opportunity in John Kasich

I stumbled across a list of newspaper endorsements from the primaries. Nobody pays muh attention to newspaper endorsements. However, I found it interesting that John Kasich–the guy I voted for–had 52 endorsements, more than any other Republican. Marco Rubio was second with 22. Trump had just four, including the National Enquirer and the paper owned by Ivanka’s husband.

I sure wish Kasich had won the primary. I’m quite certain he would have sailed to the Presidency. From a political resume standpoint, Kasich and Clinton had the two best resumes. It would have been great watching them square off in truly substantive debates about policy. But, Republicans chose Donald Trump, the only candidate more flawed and damaged than Clinton, and it will cost them the election.

I realize (now) that the Republican Party has changed in fundamental ways, becoming an electorate motivated too much by fear and anger. I’m guessing, sadly, that this mindset will become even more entrenched by 2020. Kasich, like me, doesn’t fit in that party anymore.

Several newspapers which have been conservative bastions have endorsed Clinton this year. The Dallas Morning News and Arizona Republic had NEVER endorsed a Democrat for president, and the Cincinnati Enquirer hadn’t endorsed a Democrat in nearly 100 years. During the primaries, all three of those newspapers endorsed John Kasich. For the general election, they very surprisingly chose to endorse Clinton.

Most recently, the Arizona Republic sided with Clinton, or at least against Trump. Their article was excellent.

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I Always Wanted One of These

I always wanted to be on my high school football team. However, I never liked the idea of experiencing pain, of getting hurt. I preferred playing on the tennis team. So four times, I had the chance to go out for the football team, but four times I consciously chose not to. But I was thinking. Wouldn’t it be great if one of my high school classmate who DID serve on the football team just GAVE me his football letter jacket? I always wanted a football letter jacket, but that would be much easier.

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Republican Convention, Night One

I thought the first night of the Republican convention went well. It was a good collection of speakers, and they (from what I could tell) stayed on message and didn’t say anything stupid. I’ll never vote for Trump, because my criteria emphasize biblical values, and Trump doesn’t embody or stand for anything that Jesus values. But for those who like Trump, I’m sure they feel pumped up after tonight, and rightfully so.

It was even upbeat. I’ve gotten used to Republicans continuously dissing America–that we’ve become a broken, second-class, non-great country with a decrepit military and where nothing works. I beg to disagree, as does the rest of the world; we are the Gold Standard. But the Republican honchos decided to refrain from hammering those negative themes tonight, and I thank them.

I watched CSpan, instead of a cable news channel, so I could hear all of the speakers without pundits breaking in with their spin. The two guys who talked about Benghazi were riveting. Flynn and Joni Ernst–especially Ernst–were perfect for this base. Melania: she did commendably. I didn’t learn anything new about her husband–no great, insight-filled stories, like I was expecting (and which Anne Romney delivered). But it was fine. She rose way out of her comfort zone, so kudos.

I was totally astonished that Trump kept brief his introduction of Melania. I thought he’d ramble on for a while, unable to avoid the spotlight, and that tomorrow the pundits would only talk about him. By giving only a cursory introduction, he will allow the spotlight to focus on all of these other speakers (at least for tomorrow).

In 2012, I got tired of delegates repeatedly breaking into the “USA! USA!” chant. I still feel that way. “Oh, here we go again.”

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No Do Overs


Many Brits are wanting a do over of their vote to withdraw from the European Union. But in addition to letting off some nationalistic steam, they are now stuck with their decision. No do overs.

Elizabeth Warren greatly wanted to become head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2011, the agency she designed, but her name was withdrawn because of Republican Senate opposition. Had she been confirmed, she would have disappeared into an obscure government agency, perhaps never to be heard from again. Instead, she became a US Senator and is now continually crawling under Donald Trump’s notoriously thin skin. I’m guessing the Republicans would like a do over.

Republicans also passed on a relatively moderate, and relatively old, Supreme Court nominee in Merrick Garland–somebody Republicans were once somewhat enthusiastic about. In Garland’s place, Hillary Clinton will probably nominate a 40-something liberal firebrand to the Supreme Court. Once again, they’ll wish for a do over.

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The Silliness Over Saying “Radical Islam”

I am SO tired of the phony fuss over saying “radical Islam.” It’s petty and silly.

Newflash: it’s a form of political correctness. Donald Trump brags about not being politically correct, and then insists that everyone say the words “radical Islam.” He’s blind to the hypocrisy.

So was every candidate during the Republican primary. Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, and others said we’ll never defeat ISIS as long as the President won’t “name the enemy.” Really? Suppose President Obama DID use the term “radical Islam.” Would that make ISIS shrivel up and go away? What difference would it make?

As far as I can tell, the term was invented deep in the bowels of FoxNews. Producers decided, “Let’s insist that President Obama say ‘radical Islam,’ and if he doesn’t, we’ll puff out our chests and act very very outraged.” Of course, it’s been going on for years. Every conservative pundit promotes the term.

President Obama has explained that he doesn’t want to give ISIS the legitimacy of representing Islam–which is what they want. Instead, he calls them terrorists, thugs, killers, violent extremists, and such. And he kills a whole lot of them.

It’s like saying the KKK is “radical Christianity.” To me, the Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan has nothing to do with Christianity. The vast majority of the world’s Muslims feel the same way about identifying ISIS as part of Islam. ISIS, after all, has been slaughtering Sunni Muslims, who make up 90% of the world’s Muslims.

President Bush said, “Americans understand we fight not a religion. Ours is not a campaign against the Muslim faith. Ours is a campaign against evil.”

That’s almost identical to President Obama’s approach. “We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”

Another time: “The terrorists do not speak for over a billion Muslims who reject their hateful ideology.”

And another time: “They try to portray themselves as religious leaders — holy warriors in defense of Islam. That’s why ISIL presumes to declare itself the ‘Islamic State.’ And they propagate the notion that America — and the West, generally — is at war with Islam.” Donald Trump and other Republicans also want to propagate that notion. Don’t go along with it.

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The Republican Party You Once Cherished is Gone

I think of the numerous Republican statesmen I admired in my earlier years: Howard Baker, Mark Hatfield, John Danforth, Bob Dole, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp, Richard Lugar, Alan Simpson, George HW Bush, Caspar Weinberger, George Schultz, James Baker, Henry Kissinger, Jeane Kirkpatrick, George Romney, James Schlessinger, Elizabeth Dole, William Cohen, Brent Scowcroft.

Remember those folks? Quite a list, huh? Those were persons with class and dignity. Some were people of faith, some not.

I grew up Republican, and proudly wore that label. I even canvassed for Dan Quayle when he first ran for Congress in 1976. But I stopped calling myself a Republican about 15 years ago, when I saw the party veering in directions which, as a Christian, I couldn’t endorse (the embrace of torture was the final straw). And now the Republican Party–the “Christian” party according to so many people–has chosen a man whose character is antithetical to every Christlike characteristic. Is there anything Trump values that Jesus would value?

It’s a different Republican Party. Yet a great many Christians I know (since I’ve spent my life among conservative evangelicals) remain committed to Republican politics, refusing to accept that the party they grew up with no longer exists.

I don’t write this as an endorsement of any Democratic candidate. By no means. But I do wish people of faith would disentangle themselves from allegiance to political parties. None of them represent Christianity. We need to be a separate, called-apart people within a secular society. We are explicitly told to not conform to the patterns of this world, and political parties are one such pattern, in no way created by God.

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President Obama at Hiroshima

Tonight, conservative pundits will criticize President Obama’s speech at Hiroshima. They will say, as they always say, that he is “apologizing for America.” They will isolate specific words, phrases, and sentences as proof of something unAmerican.

So before you tune in to the 24/7 naysayers–Hannity, the Five, Rush, et al–read the full text of his speech. You can find it many places. This link is from the New York Times.

The speech isn’t so much about Hiroshima as it is about war itself, and WW2 in particular. He makes no apologies for America dropping the bomb; doesn’t even raise questions about it. The overwhelming consensus of history is that, despite the incredible devastation at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, those bombs undoubtedly spared far more destruction and death.

I find it amazing that, 71 years later, with many other countries now in possession of nuclear weapons, no other nuclear weapons have been used in anger. Pretty incredible, when you think about it. And it’s also incredible that, all things considered, we have such a close friendship with both Japan and Germany. That our peoples moved beyond the horrors of WW2.

The President concluded, “The world was forever changed here, but today the children of this city will go through their day in peace. What a precious thing that is. It is worth protecting, and then extending to every child.”

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Creating Donald Trump

There has been much hand-wringing among conservatives about Donald Trump possibly getting the nomination. I’m a communications guy, a media watcher, so I probably tend to give media influence too much credit. However, it seems to me that FoxNews and conservative radio (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and the mini-Limbaugh radio hosts inhabiting nearly every media market) deserve some credit. They didn’t create Donald Trump. But they did create his fan base. And much of Ted Cruz’s fan base, for that matter.

For 20 years, conservative media has been drilling in the same messages:

  • Government is bad.
  • Politicians can’t be trusted.
  • America is going downhill.
  • We need to take our country back.

Of the people I know who listen almost entirely to conservative media, most echo these same themes–government is bad, politicians are untrustworthy, America is collapsing, we need to retake our country. Since Donald Trump and Ted Cruz both vigorously proclaim these messages, is it any wonder that so many people are flocking around them?

FoxNews is coming to terms with Trump, but for a while seemed almost in panic mode. But I’d tell them, “Congratulations on your success. This is what you’ve been teaching people to believe for 20 years.”

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