Posts Tagged ‘election’

Midterms 2018

November 6, 2018

This is it. The 2018 midterm elections are today. Today the voters decide which party will have control of Congress for the next two years. At stake, President Trump’s agenda. If the Democrats manage to get a majority in both houses of Congress, Trump’s agenda will be stalled and his administration subjected to endless investigations, and possibly an attempt at impeachment. A democratic victory will be interpreted by the mainstream media as a rejection of Trump and his policies. A Republican victory will be a vindication of Trump and his policies, though I would hardly expect the mainstream media to acknowledge that.

Historically, the opposition party makes gains during the midterms, sometimes very large gains. In 1994, the Republicans gained 54 seats in the House of Representatives and 10 seats in the Senate, giving the Republicans a Congressional majority for the first time in forty years. In 2010 the Republicans won 64 seats in the House and five in the Senate. This doesn’t always happen, though. In 1998, the Democrats gained a few seats even though the Democrat., Bill Clinton was president. This was undoubtedly due to the Republican attempt to impeach Clinton that year. In 2002, the Republicans gained seats due to the aftermath of 9/11.

So, what is going to happen today? I don’t know and neither does anyone else. For whatever it is worth,here are my predictions. It doesn’t look like there is going to be a massive blue wave that is going to sweep the Republicans out of power. It seems likely that the Republicans will maintain their majority in the Senate and may possibly gain a seat or two. The House is less certain. It really could go either way. I think that the Democrats will gain seats in the House, perhaps enough to get a majority. If they do get a majority it will be by the thinnest of margins. We will see how accurate I am. Keep in mind, that I, like nearly everyone else, thought Hilary Clinton would be the president today.

If there is no blue wave, the Democrats have only themselves to blame. They should be confident of a massive victory right now. They had all the advantages going into this election and all they had to do was to be a responsible opposition party and craft a platform that would appeal to the moderates and independents. They could have highlighted Trump’s personality flaws while promoting Trumpian policies on immigration, trade and the economy. Instead, the Democrats decided to go right off the deep end. They decided to cater to their most extreme left wing base and adopt socialist ideas anathema to most Americans in flyover country. They loudly proclaimed the ridiculous meme  Trump was a Hitler clone and we were all in danger of an imminent Fascist dictatorship, while ignoring the simple fact that most Americans are better off than they were two years ago. They have made it clear that they care more about the interests of illegal aliens than American citizens and they have taken the side of millionaire athletes who disrespect the flag. Where Trump says, “Make America Great Again”, they say, “America was never great”.

The Democrats have become the party of the mob, of antifa, of rioting. They have encouraged violence and incivility against their opponents and have tried to censor speech they do not like. Worst of all, they have become the party of the busybodies, the scolds who want to tell the rest of us what size Big Gulps we are allowed to drink, what words we are allowed to use, and generally how we ought to live our lives because we are just ignorant deplorables. Is it any wonder that they are struggling when they should be coasting to victory? Is it at all surprising that groups that have traditionally been strongly democratic are starting to walkaway and exit the Democratic party?

I hope the Republicans win these midterm elections, not just for partisan reasons, but because the Democrats need to be punished for their recent excesses. They need to undergo a period of introspection to understand how and why they have managed to alienate millions of Americans. I don’t think they will, though.  If they do poorly, they will blame it all in Russian collusion or assert the system is rigged and undemocratic, and the old standby, the voters are racists.

 

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The Election of 1836

May 3, 2015

At the end of his second term as president, Andrew Jackson was still popular enough that he could have run for a third term if he wanted. Jackson decided to abide by the two term limit precedent set by the previous presidents and instead promoted the candidacy of his vice-president and hand picked successor, Martin Van Buren. It was curious choice given how very different the two men were. Jackson was a rough and ready frontiersman who had worked his way up from an impoverished youth to become a military hero. Van Buren was a smooth politician from New York who was descended from an old Dutch family. Although they agreed on most of the issues, the two men didn’t really have a lot in common. The thing that actually brought them closer together and convinced President Jackson that Van Buren was just the right man to continue his legacy was the Peggy Eaton, or petticoat affair.

Peggy Eaton was a pretty young woman from Washington D. C. who had developed a certain reputation by her teens. In 1816, at the age of 17, Peggy eloped with a thirty-nine year old Navy Purser named John Timberlake. Timberlake died at sea in 1828 and Peggy married an old friend, Senator John Henry Eaton. This would not normally be considered scandalous, except that there were rumors that John and Peggy had been somewhat more than friends and that Timberlake had committed suicide because he learned of her infidelities.

At the beginning of his first term, in 1829, President Jackson had appointed Martin Van Buren as his Secretary of State and his friend Senator Eaton as Secretary of War, and that was when the scandal broke. Peggy Eaton was accused in Washington society of being an adulteress who had married Eaton indecently quickly after the death of her first husband instead of spending a proper time in mourning. In mean girls fashion, all of the wives of the men in Jackson’s cabinet snubbed John and Peggy Eaton and get their husbands to do likewise. Vice-President John C. Calhoun‘s wife Floride was the ringleader of this clique and this, along with their differences over state’s rights led to Jackson dropping Calhoun from the ticket when he ran for his second term, since Jackson, recalling the vicious gossip about his own marriage to his beloved Rachel, took the side of the Eatons, against his whole cabinet, except for Martin Van Buren, who being a widower did not have a wife to fear.

Because President Jackson became involved the petticoat affair caused a schism in his cabinet that made it impossible to govern. Jackson was unwilling to ask his friend Eaton to resign, so in 1831, he had everyone in his cabinet resign and began again with a new cabinet. Since Martin Van Buren was the only member of the cabinet who had treated the Eatons decently, Jackson made him his vice-president for his second term  selected Van Buren as his political successor.

With Jackson’s support, Van Buren easily won the Democratic nomination for president at the convention that met in Baltimore in May 1836. For his running mate, the convention selected Congressman Richard Mentor Johnson from Kentucky. Although Johnson balanced the ticket, being from the South, and something of a war hero from the War of 1812 and the conflicts against the Indians, he was a controversial choice because he had had a longstanding affair with a slave named Julia Chinn, who he treated as his wife.

The American Second Party System was still developing in 1836. There had been some opposition to Jackson from a variety of factions and these came together to oppose Van Buren. The National Republicans from the previous election joined with state’s rights supporters and the Anti-Masonic Party to form the Whig Party. The Whig Party was only united in their opposition to Andrew Jackson and they never did form a coherent party identity before breaking up over the slavery issue. In 1836, this disparate group could not settle on a site for a national convention or a single candidate, so they nominated three presidential candidates with each man appealing to a different region of the country. First there was Senator Daniel Webster from Massachusetts. He was a supporter of Henry Clay and could win New England and the Anti-Masons. Senator Hugh White from Tennessee could attract voters from the South. Finally, there was William Henry Harrison, a Senator from Ohio and the first governor of the Indiana Territory, he was most famous for leading the military force that defeated Tecumseh’s coalition of Indians at the Battle of Tippecanoe. Harrison, then, was a war hero who could really the West. The Whigs hoped that each candidate would be popular enough to defeat Van Buren in his region and since no candidate could gain a majority. The House of Representatives would select the new president from among the top three, presumably Whig, candidates. It was an unusual strategy that has never been tried again. Perhaps because it didn’t work.


There is not much to say about the actual campaign. There was a great deal of personal invective from both sides. The Whigs assailed Van Buren for being merely a clever politician without character or principles who was evasive on where he stood on the issues. The Whigs in the Senate, over which Van Buren presided as part of his duties as Vice-President, tried to embarrass Van Buren and arranged for tie votes, which would oblige Van Buren to cast a deciding, and possibly controversial, vote. The Democrats portrayed Van Buren as a worthy successor to Jackson and attacked the honor and credentials of the three Whigs.

In the end, the Democrats proved to be far better organized than their opponents and proved to be far better at rallying their supporters. Van Buren won the majority he needed. He won 764,168 or 50.9% of the popular vote.  He won 170 electoral votes from states all around the Union. Of the three Whigs, William Henry Harrison proved to be the most popular with 550,816 or 36.6% of the popular vote. Harrison won the mid western states Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio, as well as Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Vermont for a total of 73 electoral votes. Hugh got 146,109 or 9.7% of the popular vote carrying only Tennessee and Georgia with 26 electoral votes. Daniel Webster won only his home state of Massachusetts and 14 electoral votes. Webster received 41,201 or 2.7% of the popular vote.

The Election of 1836

The Election of 1836

There was one more Whig, Willie Person Magnum who got South Carolina’s 11 electoral votes. South Carolina was the only remaining state in which the electors which selected by the state legislature rather than by popular vote.

Willie Person Magnum

Willie Person Magnum

 

There was one other oddity about the election of 1836. This was the only election in which the Senate selected the Vice President, as provided by the twelfth amendment,

The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

Van Buren’s running mate, Richard Johnson, proved to be very unpopular in the South because of his relationship with Julia Chenn, and 23 of Virginia’s electors who supported Van Buren refused to vote for Johnson. As a result he only received 147 electoral votes, one short of a majority. Johnson easily won the Senate vote which was along party lines 36 for Johnson to 16 for the Whig Francis Granger.

 

The Great Tsunami of 2014

November 5, 2014

I expected the Republicans to make some gains yesterday, the opposing party usually does in midterm elections. In my more optimistic moments, I even considered the possibility that there would be a Republican wave. This didn’t seem too unlikely considering the unpopularity of President Obama at the moment. My optimism was tempered by the knowledge that the GOP has an uncanny knack for screwing up elections at the last moment. Still, a wave seemed possible. I never expected what actually happened, a complete rout of the Democrats. This was not just a wave but a tsunami.

Here are some numbers. The Republicans gained at least seven seats in the Senate gaining the majority. Previously, the Democrats held 55 seats to the Republican’s 45 but now the ratio is 52 Republicans and  45 Democrats. The race in Alaska has not been called yet and there will have to be a runoff in Louisiana. Also, in Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner has apparently won reelection in a close race but his opponent Ed Gillespie has not conceded and there may be a recount. There is then the possibility of the Republicans picking up three more seats in the Senate.  In the House of Representatives the Republicans  gained 12 seats expanding their majority from 233 Republicans to 199 Democrats to 244 Republicans to 180 Democrats. This is the largest majority the Republicans have had in the House of Representatives since 1946.

 

On the state level, the Republicans have increased the number of Republican governors by two. Previously there were 29 Republican governors and 21 Democrats. Now there will be 31 Republicans and 17 Democrats. The Republicans made impressive gains in state legislatures. Of the 98 chambers, two per state (except for Nebraska which has a non-partisan and unicameral legislature), the Republicans controlled 59. Now they will control 67 chambers and in no fewer than 24 states the Republicans will control both the state legislature and the Governor’s mansion. This is the best they have done since the 1920s.Winning control of  state governments is even more significant than the federal government since most of the real “action” in law making still takes place at the state level. The national media, based in New York and Washington tends to over emphasise the importance of Washington D C and does a real disservice by tending to neglect the actions of state governments.

Mere numbers don’t tell the whole story. The Republicans made serious inroads into what should have been safe Democratic territory. There are new Republican governors in Illinois, Massachusetts and Maryland. All of Arkansas’s seats in the House of Representatives are held by  Republicans for the first time in 141 years. There seem to be more Black Republicans this year. Mia Love from Utah was the first Black Republican woman in the House and Tim Scott was the first Black  from South Carolina to be elected to the Senate since the Reconstruction era. Also from South Carolina, the Indian Republican Nicki Haley was reelected. Republicans also made gains with the Hispanic vote. Perhaps the idea that the Republican Party is doomed to irrelevance because of demographics should be reexamined.Need I remind the reader that Alan West, Ben Carson and Ted Cruz are all Republican heroes despite not being White?

Well it was an amazing election, perhaps even a historical one, but I hope the Republicans don’t blow it over the next two years. They should keep in mind that 2016 could be just as bad for them as 2014 was good. In the meantime, while gloating is unseemly and I certainly shouldn’t do it, I hope I can be forgiven for enjoying what is best in life, just a little.

 

There was a lot of lamentation of Democratic women, and men, last night.

2013 Election

November 8, 2013

I ought to have written this earlier this week but I have been busy and more than a little tired. 2013 was an off year election so there wasn’t much to really talk about except for a couple of interesting elections. First there was the New Jersey gubernatorial election. Chris Christie won re-election easily with 60.4% of the vote against his opponent Barbara Buono who had only 38.1%. This was expected. Christie seems to have been an effective governor and has remained popular in New Jersey.The Democrats did not spend much money  in New Jersey, believing her candidacy to be a lost cause.

In Virginia, Democrat Terry McAuliffe barely won the gubernatorial election with 47.7% of the vote verses Republican Ken Cuccinelli with 45.3%. This contest has been seen as a sign that the Tea Party has peaked and that only moderate Republicans have a chance to win in 2014 and 2016. I am not so sure. McAuliffe won, but by only a narrow margin. Obviously a large number of Virginians did not think that Cuccinelli was too conservative or extreme. Mark Levin believes that Cuccinelli could have won the race if he had gotten more support from the Republican Party at the national level. He could be right. It is increasingly obvious that the Republican establishment would prefer a Democrat to win rather than a Tea Party Republican. Conservatives who actually mean what they say about a small, limited government might disturb the cozy relationship they have with the Democrats.

I would also note that the Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis got 6.5% of the vote. If just half of the people who voted Libertarian voted for Cuccinelli, then he would have won. No doubt those Libertarians are congratulating themselves on not compromising by voting for the Republican, but the big government Democrat will be the next governor of Virginia. This is why a vote for the Libertarian Party is not just a wasted vote but is actually a vote for the Democrats. American politics is simply not set up for a third party and any vote for a third party turns out to be a vote for your ideological opponent.

I do not believe that the key to a Republican victory in the next elections is running “moderate” candidates. The problem here is that “moderate” candidates are usually the wishy-washy candidates who either don’t believe in anything, except getting elected, or are too cowardly to stand up for what they believe. Christie is not, in fact, all that moderate, except on social issues. Many conservatives suspect him because he has said nice things about Obama, but on fiscal matters, he seems to be quite conservative. More importantly, he does not shy away from confrontations. A Republican candidate for any office who is honest about his beliefs and willing to stand up for them, regardless of the inevitable hostility from the media, can and will win. Its these candidates who feel they need to apologize for being conservative that lose.

Finally, in New York City, Democrat Bill de Blasio won a landslide 73.3% vote to become the next mayor. This is unfortunate. de Blasio seems to be very liberal, even verging on Marxist judging from his support for the Nicaraguan Sandinistas back in the 1980s. His election may result in the undoing of all the work his two immediate predecessors have done in turning New York into a livable city. At the very least the class warfare rhetoric will encourage business to locate elsewhere and it seems likely that he will hobble the NYPD. Well, the New Yorkers wanted him. They will get what they deserve.

 

The Election of 1792

August 6, 2013

The election of 1792 was, in many ways, a repeat of the election of 1789. There were the same candidates and the same result, Washington winning by a unaminous vote of the electoral college and John Adams being re-elected Vice President. George Washington really didn’t want to run for a second term. Although his first term had been very successful, Washington had not enjoyed it. He wanted nothing more than to retire from politics and go back to his home at Mount Vernon.

One thing that had especially exasperated Washington was the growth of partisan politics in the new republic. None of the founding fathers had anything good to say about political parties and they all warned of the dangers of factions. Despite these warning, the first party system was already forming around Washington’s two chief cabinet officials; Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Both of these men were very intelligent and ambitious. Both of them had grown up without a father, Jefferson’s dying when he was 14 and Hamilton’s abandoning his family. In all other ways, however, the two men were opposites and rivals.

Alexander Hamilton favored a strong federal government. Since he had been born outside the thirteen colonies, he had never developed any intense loyalty to any one state, instead viewing the United States as a whole. He believed that the United States should become an industrial power and wanted a national bank to finance investments and improvements to the infrastructure for that end. Hamilton was also something of an elitist, believing that the people should be guided. Thomas Jefferson was a Virginian. He, like almost everyone at the time, was loyal to his state first and then to the nation. He wanted a weak national government, and believed that state’s rights were paramount. He believed that the United States should have a primarily agricultural economy and distrusted banks. His opinion was that only a republic of sturdy independent farmers could endure. He professed to have great love for the people. Even in personality the two men differed. Hamilton was hyperactive, always making plans and working on projects. Jefferson was more laid back, in some ways even lazy. In foreign policy, Hamilton favored an alliance with the British on the grounds of common culture and trade. Jefferson wanted to support France as a fellow republic after their revolution. The two men caused Washington quite a lot of trouble with their endless bickering, especially when the newspapers they were financing starting to attack each other. Soon the followers of Hamilton were calling themselves Federalists while Jefferson’s supporters were the Democratic-Republicans.

The one thing that Hamilton and Jefferson did agree on was that Washington should run again. The country was still too young and things were still too unsettled to go without Washington’s guidance. Washington reluctantly agreed. All thirteen of the original states were able to participate in this election and Vermont and Kentucky had been added to the Union so there were 132 electoral votes. All 132 electors cast one of their votes for Washington, giving him a unanimous vote for President. With their second vote, they gave John Adams 77 votes, making him Vice-President again. George Clinton received 50 votes.

The Election of 1789

June 14, 2013

The election of 1789 was the first presidential election in the United States and it was unlike any election that followed. There were no debates, no campaigns, no popular vote and only one candidate; George Washington. The constitution had been ratified the year before by nine of the thirteen states. North Carolina didn’t ratify the constitution until later in 1789 and didn’t get a vote in this first election. Rhode Island held out until 1790 and likewise did not get a vote.

The rules for electing the President were slightly different in the first four elections. Each State had as many electors in the Electoral College as the number of Representatives and Senators, just as is the case today. Unlike the procedure today, each elector had two votes and the candidate who had the most votes would be President, while the runner-up would be Vice-President.The seelction of the electors took place between December 15, 1788 to January 10, 1789. As I stated, North Carolina and Rhode Island could nor participate in this election and New York’s legislature was deadlocked and was unable to name any electors. So, only ten states participated. Of these only six had any form of popular vote at all, and the franchise was limited by property requirements. In most states, the legislatures either appointed the electors directly, or divided the state into electoral districts. In Maryland and Pennsylvania the electors were elected at large. In no case did any voter actually vote for the president.

George Washington was the only candidate considered for the post. In fact, much of the debate over the Presidency at the Constitutional Convention had been shaped by the idea that Washington would be the first President. In a way, the job was designed to fit Washington. Washington was the most famous and popular man in America. He had been the indispensible man in the Revolution. He was well known in all parts of the new nation, and although he was from Virginia, he was not thought to be tied to any one section of the country. Of his contemporaries, only Benjamin Franklin could claim a similar national status. Franklin was too old, however, and although he had been a successful businessman, he had little experience as a political executive and none at all in military matters.

Washington, however, did not especially want to be President. He was getting older himself. Although he was only 56 at the time of the Constitutional Convention, he had lived a hard life and he was feeling it. Washington was also aware that the males in his family tended not to be long lived and he felt his time was running out. Washington preferred to spend his final years tending Mount Vernon over the

George Washington

George Washington

difficult job of establishing a new government, especially since unlike all of his successors, he could not blame his problems on his predecessor. Washington was concerned that every action of his would be taken as a precedent and he was not sure he was up to the task  of not just being the President, but of establishing the pattern of behavior for all subsequent presidents. Washington had a strong sense of duty and was somewhat vain about his posthumous reputation so he agreed to be the first president.

There was no suspense when the Electoral College met on February 4, 1789. Each one of the 69 electors cast one of his votes for George Washington, making Washington the only president ever elected by a unanimous vote. John Adams got second place with 34 votes and John Jay was a distant third with 9 votes. There were a number of other men who received a scattering of votes.

 

 

John Adams

John Adams

As the runner up, Adams became the first Vice-President. He was not exactly thrilled with his new job, as he told his wife Abigail,

“My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived”. Everyone else was confident that this election would prove to be a bright beginning to the grand American experiment.

Aftermath

November 8, 2012

I had good reason to be anxious. We didn’t do so well in the election. There is no way around the fact that this has been a major defeat for the cause of freedom. We get to spend another four years under Obama’s incompetent management.

Well, I have spent the required day in mourning, whining about the death of the Republic on Facebook and now it is time to get back to work. I think that it is always better to see the bright side of life, so I will try to make the best of it.


Well, things are not quite as bad as they seem. Obama hardly won by a landslide. In the popular vote, Obama won 60,841,109 votes while Romney got 57,941,258 votes. I guess 50-48% against a sitting President isn’t too bad, although we could have done better. In the Electoral College it is 303 for Obama and 206 for Romney with Florida and its 29 votes still undecided. The final map looks like this.

It could have been better, but it could have been worse, but it wasn’t a landslide. Here is what a landslide looks like.

Election of 1964

or

The election of 1984

In both these cases, and in 1972 and others the opposing party was absolutely routed. This isn’t the case here. In Congress, we did better than one might expect suggesting that Obama’s coattails were short. We only lost two seats in the Senate making it 53-45 with two independents. This is a lot better situation than we had after 2008 when the Democrats had nearly a filibuster proof majority. We also held our own in the House of Representatives. We moved from 242-193 to 233-193 with several seats still being decided. If we didn’t win, at least we didn’t lose and I think we can call Congress a draw.

Things are a little better at the State level. We have 30 Republican governors, up from 21 in 2008 and 20 in 2010. I don’t have solid information about  party control of the state legislatures, but it seems to be a draw there with neither party making any major gains.

Now, the downside. It doesn’t look as if Obamacare is going to be repealed. This is bad since the federal government can hardly afford a new set of entitlements and the population doesn’t need to be even more dependent on the government. Well, if we can’t end it, we must make it palatable. The Republicans ought to find ways of adjusting and tweaking this monstrosity in order to bring it more in line with Conservative principles. I suggest arguing for more control and funding at the state level and, down the road when it is obviously not working, introduce the idea of re-privatizing health care.

Demographics seem to be against us. I do not think that the changing composition of the American population means the end of the Republican party. This is only certain if you think that party affiliation and policy preferences are somehow hardwired into various races and ethnic groups. How racist is that? We need to do more work on this. I do not believe that the Republicans should try to play identity politics the way the Democrats do. This won’t convince anyone and the people most susceptible to this sort of thing will always go for the Democrats. We certainly should not waste our time courting “civil rights” organizations like the NAACP. These groups are under the control of the Left and their sole purpose, these days, is electing Democrats. The concerns of the people they purport to represent are a distant second to them. I am not sure what the answer is, but there must be some way to persuade minorities that Conservative principles benefit them too.

We have to gain control of the media narrative. I know we have Fox News, talk radio, and the Internet, but more needs to be done. The Mainstream Media is weaker than it once was, but too many people still get their news from them. They have to be made irrevelant.I suggest that Republican politicians treat the MSM as it really is, the propaganda arm of the Democratic Party and react accordingly. This means not giving them interviews, giving their reporters accommodations on campaign buses, etc. They shouldn’t complain about media bias, though. When asked, they should state dismissively, “Well, CBS (or the New York Times, etc) is old media and we prefer to spend our campaign resources on more relevant outlets”. Make it clear that they are just no longer important enough to bother with. And, we also need to fight more against the slanders of the Left. Don’t let them get away with calling us racist, bigoted, Nazis, etc. Point out the general nastiness and mendacity of the Left.

Why we are on the subject, can we stop calling them Liberals or Progressives. They are neither. Truth in advertising demands we call them what they are; Socialists, Marxists, Statists, anything but Liberal. Their intellectual forebears are not such great Liberal thinkers as John Locke or John Stuart Mill. They are rather Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin.

Let’s not form circular firing squads or fight each other. There are lessons to be learned from this defeat, but we cannot abandon or throw under the bus any Republican factions. We win by growing the party, not purging it.

Well, those are my thoughts, whatever that may be worth.

As Winston Churchill said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

and

“You ask, What is our aim? I can answer with one word: Victory—victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.”

The Second Debate

October 17, 2012

I was only able to watch the first half hour of the debate last night. I don’t think I missed much since as far as I can tell, that first thirty minutes set the pattern for the rest of the debate. President Obama did a much better job than he did in the first debate, but then, he could scarcely do worse. I don’t think that Romney was quite as good as last time. Still, he was in command of all the details in a way that is simply not in Obama’s nature.

This was a “town-hall” format, in which an audience of undecided voters ask the questions of the candidates. The questions had to be submitted in advance. I do not know who picked the questions that were asked. I have to wonder about anyone who is honestly undecided at this point. Surely anyone who has been paying attention has a preference, either for or against one of these men.

I think that everyone accomplished what the set out to do. In general, Romney would speak eloquently of his plans for the future and criticize Obama’s record. Obama was combative and mostly said variants of, “you are a liar”. He kept repeating the charge that Romney wasn’t telling the truth, while saying little to defend his own record. He took credit for the expanding oil and coal production in the US, which is odd because he has been doing his best to shut down out fossil fuel industries. Romney pounced on Obama for that and for his plans to reduce the deficit. Romney made the very obvious point that Obama had doubled the deficit in the last four years so why should he be suddenly interested in balancing the budget. Obama responded with a reminder that Romney is rich and for the rich. The moderator, Candy Crowley, did her job well. She tried her best to tilt the playing field in Obama’s favor. Romney was really debating two people this evening, Obama and Crowley.

I understand that the debate grew quite bellicose after a time. It would have been quite a treat if they had actually physically attacked one another. I would pay quite a lot to see a fist fight between Romney and Obama.

So, who won? It’s hard to say. I am not sure if winning or losing something like this really means anything. Obama did well enough so the Democrats may think they have a chance in November. Romney held his own so Republicans need not feel despondent. More than that I cannot say.

 

Riots After the Election?

October 14, 2012

The Drudge Report linked to this article on infowars which asks the question whether political tensions in the United States have risen so much that rioting by disappointed followers of either Obama or Romney is likely.

Will the most divisive campaign in modern American history culminate in massive riots in our major cities?  Right now, supporters of Barack Obama and supporters of Mitt Romney are both pinning all of their hopes on a victory on November 6th.  The race for the presidency is extremely tight, and obviously the side that loses is going to be extremely disappointed when the election results are finalized.  But could this actually lead to violence?  Could we actually see rioting in communities all over America?  Well, the conditions are certainly ripe for it.

A whole host of surveys over the past few years have shown that Americans are very angry and very frustrated right now.  In fact, a Pew Research Center poll from late last year found that 86 percent of all Americans are either angry or frustrated with the federal government.  We have seen this frustration manifest in protest movements such as the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, but right now things are fairly calm as liberals and conservatives both look forward to November 6th.  Many Republicans started the countdown to the next election literally the day after John McCain lost back in 2008.

All of their hopes of getting Obama out of the White House are riding on a Romney victory.  For many Democrats, Barack Obama is a “once in a generation” icon.  Just the thought of Mitt Romney replacing Obama in the White House is enough to push many of them to the brink of insanity.  In recent years we have seen horrible rioting erupt in cities after major sports championship games.  How much worse could the rioting potentially be if this bitterly contested election is decided by a very narrow margin – especially if there are allegations that the election is “stolen”?

First of all, this is not the most divisive election in history. However this election turns out, it is not likely that any of the principal candidates will end up in a duel, as in the election of 1800. I am certain that one of the candidates will get a majority in the Electoral College, unlike the election of 1824. I highly doubt any state will secede from the Union, as they did in 1860.  So far, neither side has descended to the depths of character assassination of some previous elections, though there is still time.

I notice that the writer of this piece, Michael Snyder, tries to imply that both Republicans and Democrats are equally angry and frustrated and so are equally prone to violence. That isn’t the case, as the article makes clear a little further on.

The election is nearly four weeks away, and many Obama supporters are already threatening to riot if Obama loses.  The following are some very disturbing messages that were posted on Twitter recently that have been reposted on Twitchy.com….

“If Romney wins I’m Starting a Riot….Who’s WIT ME???”

“I Hope The USA Is Well Aware That If In The Event This Character Romney Wins The Election, The People Will Start A Country Wide Riot! #Power”

“If Romney is elected president, its gon be a riot its gon be a riot.”

“If ROMNEY GETS IN THE WHITE HOUSE …U MIGHT AS WELL KILL ME NOW …..CAUSE ITS GONNA BE A ************ RIOT !!!”

“If Romney became President and took away welfare Downtown Cincinnati would become a riot”

“If Romney takes away food stamps 2 Chainzz in this bit IMMA START A RIOT”

“If Romney wins. (which i highly doubt) THERE WILL BE A RIOT—”

The following are a few more tweets that I found which threaten a potential riot if Obama loses the election….

From @joecools_world….

“Need 2 come up wit a game plan if Romney win…. Riot all thru Newark”

From @killacate….

“I swear on everything I love if Romney wins ima riot. I don’t even care if its just me.

Some of these people seem to be saying, “continue to support us, or we will riot”. That must be the 47%. The most incoherent tweet is the one saying that the “People” will start a country-wide riot if Romney wins. If Romney wins the election by a majority in both the popular and electoral votes, doesn’t that mean that he is the choice of the majority of the people in the country? Are the People going to riot against themselves.

Meanwhile, the best Snyder can come up with on the other side are vague threats to leave the country.

Romney supporters are not really threatening to riot, but many of them are proclaiming that they may leave the country if Obama wins.  Here are some examples….

From @BrentskiTheBoss….

“If Obama gets reelected I may leave the country”

From @AbbieFickes….

“im sorry but if obama were to win again, i might as well leave the country and live in zimbabwe”

I think the author of that second tweet is not so much threatening to move to Zimbabwe as making the point that four more years of Obama’s policies could leave the US becoming indistinguishable from Zimbabwe.

There may be despicable acts being committed by despicable people on both sides, but there is far, far more anger, hatred, and bad behavior on the Left. There are angry and hateful Conservatives, but Conservatives seem to have less tolerance for bad behavior in their ranks. Words and acts that are immediately denounced by the Right seem to be celebrated on the Left. If Paul Ryan had acted as boorishly as Joe Biden had in the last debate, most Conservatives would have immediately distanced themselves from him and there would be calls for Romney to pick a new running mate. So far, the majority of Democrats have seemed to praise his behavior.

Rush Limbaugh and other Right-wing talk radio hosts are supposed to be full of hate and anger, but I have never heard it in all the years that I have been listening to Rush and others on and off. As far as I have seen, none of them have fantasied on-air about the deaths of their political opponents. The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street have been compared to each other, but if the Tea Partiers are angry, it is the righteous anger that causes one to try to improve the community. The Tea Party has gotten involved in politics and taken steps to really make a difference. The anger of the Occupy movement is more the nihilistic hatred that only results in smashed windows. The two sides, Left and Right, are simply not equivalent. The Left is based more on anger and envy and appeals to the worst in human nature.

I don’t really think that there will be massive riots after this election. There may be some violence, if Obama loses, but I have a feeling that most of these tweeters may like to think of themselves as being “bad” and they may able to bully children,  but experience has shown they are no good against people willing to stand up to them.

Doogie Howser Vs. Mr. Wilson

October 12, 2012

I watched the Vice-Presidential debate last night and it was interesting. Paul Ryan turned out to be knowledgeable, well spoken, sincere, and young. For the first time in my life, there is a candidate for the highest office in the land who seems younger than me. I know Ryan can’t be much younger than me and still qualify as a Vice-Presidential candidate and a quick check on Wikipedia shows that he is about a year younger than I am, still he came across as almost boyish. I half expected his voice to crack. Still, for all his youth he carried himself with dignity.

If Paul Ryan was the boy wonder, than Joe Biden was Mr. Wilson, that cantankerous old man who is always yelling at the kids to get off his lawn. He was rude and disrespectful, continually interrupting Ryan and even the moderator. At first, while Ryan was speaking, Biden kept grinning and even laughing, even when the topic was as serious as Iran’s possible acquisition of nuclear weapons. He all but called Ryan a liar several times. As the debate went on Biden became less jolly and more angry, shouting all of his answers and generally behaving like a jackass. Strangely, Ryan remained calm and poised and did his best to get his points across. That couldn’t have been easy for him.

Who won this debate? I am not sure. I think Ryan did the better job but I am prejudiced, not just because Ryan is the Republican, but also because I think Biden acted like a bullying jerk. I do not like bullying jerks.

I imagine that the more devoted Democrats think that Biden did a terrific job. No doubt, they are boasting to one another that Biden stood up to Ryan’s lies, he kept attacking him, etc. But then, these are the sort of people who think that it is appropriate to tell a 12 year-old boy his parents should have aborted him because they have a Romney sign in their yard, or to tweet about assassinating Mitt Romney. I am not sure sure how Biden’s behavior will be seen by more normal people. It would seem that Biden hasn’t impressed the people of Iowa.

The Vice-Presidential debate probably won’t change the dynamics of the race much. After all, no one really pays much attention to the Vice-President. I do think that Biden’s debate behavior reflects very badly upon him. It is obvious that he has no respect for the dignity of the office he holds, nor with his generally buffoonish demeanor,  can he ever be taken seriously as a leader. If Obama is reelected, he had better be extra careful with his health and safety. Speaking of Obama, Joe Biden’s behavior also reflects badly on the one who picked him as his running mate. I hope that Obama does not draw the wrong lesson from yesterday evening’s debate and decide that he needs to be aggressive. Obama should be more assertive than he was in the first debate and he needs to take the debates more seriously, but if he attempts to be a bullying jerk, like Biden, it will cost him.

 

 


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