Tag: presidential politics

My Thoughts on the Election

So things have been happening this week in the good old USA…

Any follower of this blog knows I am a strong and passionate conservative. Typically that has meant I align with the Republican candidates for office. However, this year I didn’t feel there was a conservative in the race so I voted for 3rd party candidate Evan McMullin. My hope was maybe Utah would vote 3rd party and that would be a message from one state on both of the terrible options we were being given. Unfortunately that didn’t happen in Utah and they voted Republican as expected.

Being a 3rd party voter this cycle has provided me an interesting vantage point that I didn’t entirely anticipate. I’ve explained in the past that a vote itself is statistically insignificant especially for president. That said, when I did vote for a major party I felt an investment in the outcome in a different way than this cycle. Voting 3rd party I’ve been able to simply observe and ponder the great country I am a citizen of and the tremendous events that have happened. It is this perspective that has made me a bit of a post-election coverage addict. I’ve watched an insane amount of pundits from both parties giving their conclusions of how this happened.

To be clear, I was completely stunned by the results on Tuesday. I was positive Hillary Clinton was going to win the election, and we would just have to put up with more of the same type of failed policies we’ve had from the last 8 years. That was it and I could deal with that.

But then Donald Trump won state after state, and I couldn’t believe it. In our world of PC and quick to offend lifestyles it seemed impossible that someone like Donald Trump could become president, and yet there it was. I honestly support more of the platforms and policies of the Republican party that Trump adopted so in a way I was glad but I was also sad to see the highest position in the land come down to someone like him. I certainly hope he proves me wrong and ends up being a better president than campaigner, but I was still sad.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how I have lost my faith in ‘public servants‘. I still believe that and stand by my sentiments in the post; however, I’ve realized a few additions to the ideas I presented. Politics today and perhaps always, is an exercise in self-interest and self-protection.  This is why we saw senators and congressman distance themselves from Trump just enough to claim the moral high ground while riding his popularity to a win. For example, Mike Lee never officially endorsed Trump and he announced after the election he had voted for Evan McMullin, but that doesn’t mean much when you could have  said something before the election. He rode that wave of self-interest in just the right way to keep his job and still claim he did the right thing at the ballot. It’s sad when you think about it but it is reality

But self-interest is what we’ve got and so where is the cause for hope? I actually think there is a fair amount to be hopeful about.

It might sound strange but oddly there is some hope to be had in self interest. Yes, Donald Trump has said some awful things and I understand why people are upset. I really do. However, it is not in his self-interest to implement all those things or continue saying all those things. I’m not excusing it in the least just stating what I think is reality. Even with a house and senate he still has to sell his ideas to the Congress and the American people. It’s in his self-interest to make them as palatable as possible.

It’s the same way with Hillary Clinton. She gave a gracious lovely concession speech where she said:

“Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transition of power and we don’t just respect that we cherish it”

She could have gotten up there and been bitter and gone on a tirade, and I have no doubt a side of her wanted to do just that. I mean just days before she had called Trump supporters a ‘basket of deplorables’. Why didn’t she do it? Because it would not be in her self-interest to do so. Her best move at this moment is to do exactly what she did, and I commend her for it. I’m not trying to take anything away from her. I’m just being realistic about the motives of our leaders.

I think this is perhaps why the Founding Fathers made Supreme Court justices lifetime appointments. It removes, for the most part, this element of self-interest and forces them to look at the cases without fear of backlash or legacy. Their jobs are safe and so they are free to decide on these important issues in the way they see fit.

President Obama stated today he wants to see President Trump succeed:

““It is important for all of us, regardless of party and regardless of political preferences, to now come together, work together, to deal with the many challenges that we face…If you succeed, then the country succeeds”

What he is basically saying is that it is in all of our self-interest to make this work and to want President Trump to succeed because if he fails we all suffer. It’s as simple as that.

I’m not excusing any of President Elect Trump’s behavior. I’m merely saying- this is the situation we have and just like President Obama we have to make the best of it. It’s in our self-interest to do so. Peaceful protest is fine. I did it with the tea party and I’m proud of it but we must never allow it to harm the very institution we are trying to save. People breaking windows and destroying property are hurting the country they feel so passionate about. That is not the answer.

We also need to take stock of the toxic climate we have created where good men and women don’t want to be involved in politics any more. Think about your friends and family. I bet most of them avoid politics like the plague- even discussing it, let alone running for office. Perhaps we have left no one more to vie for leadership than what we got in 2016?

Either way, this is what we have left with. Agree with it or not, Donald Trump is our president.

I want him to be successful because I want America to be successful. It’s as simple as that.

Also you guys should read this post I wrote in 2012 about America and a female president.

Lastly I want to say thank you to Evan McMullin for giving me someone to vote for. You stepped up when nobody else would and that means the world to me. Thank you so much!

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Throw Away Your Vote

voting-twainThis post may seem somewhat cynical but it’s really not. If anything it should be empowering. I have decided to vote third party this election and have heard the outcry of ‘you are throwing your vote away’.  Well, the truth is that my individual vote  doesn’t really matter to begin with. What does matter is the act of voting. This is especially true in the presidential election.

What! I can hear you saying. How can Rachel the patriot be saying that a vote doesn’t matter? Let me state again- VOTING MATTERS, A VOTE DOES NOT.

Statistically speaking voting is not a utility maximizing activity.  Almost any activity you can do has more of an impact than voting. In just the state of Utah there are 2 million people of eligible voting age. Of those people about a 1/3rd actually vote (which is a crime). So, around 700,000 people vote in a Utah presidential election. Just think about it. My vote in Utah has a 1/700,000 chance of impacting the race in just my state. This means it is statistically nearly worthless.  You’d have better chances of entering some lotteries or playing poker in Vegas.

These statistics are made even worse in a presidential election where the popular vote may not even matter at all. United States citizens do not actually elect the president of the United States. The electoral college gives states power over popular consensus by awarding delegates based on their representation in Congress. In theory the delegates are supposed to vote with their states electorate will but they are not required to do so. Typically the votes go on a win-all basis so if Utah goes Republican than the electoral college will give 6 Republican votes. Maine and Nebraska are exceptions to this rule. 

You can debate the value of the electoral college but for the moment it is here and it can have an impact on the election. For example, in 2000 Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the electoral college to George W Bush. If you are one of these 538 electoral delegates than your vote does matter but statistically speaking for the rest of us it really doesn’t.

So why participate in this waste of time called voting? Because what is actually statistically important is the act of voting. While my vote in Utah may be 1/700,000, my act of voting may encourage 3 or 4 other people to vote. All of the sudden that is a significant impact. Those 3 people encourage 3 other people and the ripple effect is real. Plus, there are smaller races, which while still statistically not utility maximizing, the impact is more like 1/20,000

Another reason to vote is simply because it is the right thing to do. There are lots of things we do which we draw mainly moral inspiration and fortitude from. An article I read in the Harvard Political Review put it well:

“There are many actions we consider morally valuable, even when they have little or no consequence. Such actions are intrinsically valuable, or their goodness consists in their being suitably related to a deeper moral ideal or principle we find compelling. Suppose I make a promise to my grandmother that I will visit her grave once every year. It seems that honoring this promise is morally valuable, irrespective of the positive consequences doing so may bring about. It is valuable because promises are simply the sort of thing that it is right to honor”

If we are voting out of a moral imperative than doesn’t that make voting for someone you don’t believe in even more nonsensical? If voting is the right thing to do than voting for the right person logically must go along with it.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter who you vote for. It just matters that you vote. People can say you are throwing away your vote but statistically that’s just not true. Vote for whomever you want and then encourage other people to do the same. That’s how you really make a difference.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

ps. I will be so happy when this election is over!

Not Ready for Female President

I haven’t done a political post in some time but my thoughts have been on the upcoming Iowa caucus.  I am very curious to see who will emerge as the Republican frontrunner (combined with New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida).  There are things I like and don’t like about all of the candidates and I honestly have not decided who I like the most.

I relate to Mitt Romney and feel he has the business sense to help get this economy running- like America’s CEO. I also like his dedication to family and traditional values. I am not a fan based solely on his Mormonism, but I must admit I do feel a certain underlying connection when he speaks. I felt the same thing when Harry Reid spoke at BYU and I would never vote for him, so clearly it is not a deciding factor.  I do think that he is good in debates and will present a formidable candidate to Pres.  Obama.  I also think he is a smart choice for Republicans because he has experience working with democrats to get results.  He is a compromisor (sometimes too much so) but after 4 years of uncompromising liberalism I can live with a moderate Republican.

That said, closest to me in positions is Michele Bachmann who as a fellow tea partier believes in a small federal government with greater rights going to the states.  For example, programs like education should be handled at the local, state level.   Bachmann has also been consistent in her support for marriage, minimal spending, against raising the debt ceiling and supporting pro-life legislation.  The interesting thing is whenever I talk to my Republican friends who mirror my political opinions they all say that Bachmann is ‘unelectable’.

Why is that? Part of the reason is she has some polarizing positions that won’t attract moderates, but I also think that America is not ready for a female president. 92% of American’s say they would elect a female president, but I don’t know if that statistic pans out to actual candidates.  A 2007 study found  “that a significant percentage of people are hiding their true feelings on questions related to female candidates for the presidency….While women candidates seem to be making some strides in races for many offices…the office of the presidency may be difficult to reach.”

Why would people be resistant to a female president?  Well, I think the problem lies that a female candidate has to have everything that a male candidate needs plus they need to prove their leadership abilities (something that is a given in most men).  A woman must also prove that their family is not a barrier to their work (something that has been thwarting women in many careers for years).

Also, all of the female candidates so far have been criticized for their styles in ways men are not. Someone like a Hilary Clinton is too much of a pantsuit wearing unfeminine witch (I would use another word but I have a family friendly site!) or in the case of Sarah Palin you are too much of a prom queen, too fluffy.  Men are not judged by such a shallow filter.  For example, John Edwards was criticized for his $400 haircut and his fluffy internet video getting ready for a photo shoot; however, it was only a momentary laugh and it did not seriously hurt his candidacy.  If it had been a woman with the video getting primped and spending $400 on a haircut she would be immediately dismissed as a joke.

Anne Kornblut author of ‘Cracked Ceiling: Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin and What It Will Take for a Woman to Win describes what is an ‘electable’ female candidate:

“I’ve played this game with myself for a long time. She is completely impossible. She would have served in the military and stayed home and raised her children full-time. She’d be married to someone with money, and she’d have some business experience. There’s just no way she could exist. There are too many demands on this candidate.

But joking aside – she’d be authentic, which would need to be true of a male or female presidential candidate. She’d cross the credential threshold – she’d have demonstrated that she’s qualified, and she’d be a communicator. Those are the areas where women have sometimes struggled.”

The problem is there will always be a male candidate with similar positions without the barrier of being a woman.  What political party will take the risk on a female candidate when you can pick a male without that risk?

I really wonder if the democratic party (a generally more progressive party) cannot elect Hillary Clinton with all her leadership experience is there an electable candidate out there?  I really don’t know.  I certainly believe there are many candidates that are capable and would do a great job but are they electable?  I just don’t know.  I wish they were but I don’t know.

It is generally seen acceptable for a woman to be chosen as a vice presidential choice and perhaps this is a first step but perhaps not.  Since the first vice president the office has been seen as  “the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived”.  Women have always been the supporters of men and is that not the role of the vice president?  Of course, there is always the potential of becoming president as the vice president (happened 9 times in our country’s history) but it is still the silver medal of political power.

The problem is not that women couldn’t do the job, its that people subconsciously feel they can’t do the job as well.  It may be unfortunate but true that people still see maternal affection and feminine virtues as weak and fragile.  I happen to believe they are strengths and provide an empathy that is not as present in most men who have not spent time caregiving in their lives.  In addition, not all women, or all mothers, are the same, even if they are perceived as being the same or as having the same weaknesses.

Just as men shouldn’t be looked at as one voting block, women should be seen as unique individuals with different strengths and weaknesses.  Unfortunately, I don’t know if this will ever happen.  I hope it will, but again my fear is there will always be a male candidate that doesn’t have to overcome these barriers.

What do you think about this issue?  Are we ready for a female candidate?  If so, why do you think the candidates so far have failed (assuming Bachmann does not get the nomination)?  What can be done to create a viable female candidate? Who do you think should run that hasn’t? Do you feel that motherhood is more of a barrier for women than fatherhood is for men?  What other barriers need to be breached and how can that happen? Do you feel resistant in a woman’s ability to lead? (Be prepared to defend yourself on that one!) Do you think that a women would make a better or worse president?  If so, why? I would love to hear your perspective.

On a lighter note, there have been 2 female presidents on network shows (Commander and Chief and 24) so that’s some headway. Now for life to imitate Hollywood!