Cutting Gary Johnson some slack

Zimbabwe: President – Robert Mugabe. “The world’s oldest and one of the longest serving Head of State.”

ellenjohnsonsirleafRecently, Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for President of the US, was having trouble selecting the name of a current world leader he respects. I’ve noticed The Weekly Sift has decided to cut Gary Johnson some slack, and so have I.

“I was ready to ridicule him over this, when I noticed that I can’t list a lot of world leaders either. What’s the name of the British woman who came into office after Brexit? Who’s leading France? Spain? Italy? India? China? Iran? Iraq? Anywhere in Africa? Who’s heads the junta that took over Egypt a few years ago? I’d have to look all that up.”

Or for that matter, even if you were looking at the list of heads of government, how many would you say you wanted to emulate?

Here’s the ones I recognized well enough to form an opinion.

Australia: Prime Minister – Malcolm Turnbull. Arthur@AmeriNZ seemed lukewarm about him, so I’m going by that

Bolivia: President – Evo Morales. His leftist government is becoming more authoritarian

Chile: President – Michelle Bachelet. Corruption scandal in the current term.
China: General Secretary of the Communist Party – Xi Jinping. It’s China; Johnson can’t name him.
Cuba: First Secretary of the Communist Party – Raúl Castro. Despite the recent opening of the island, would YOU want to say him?

Egypt: President – Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The experiment in democracy is about over.

France -François Hollande. I have no feel about what I think of him yet.

Israel: Prime Minister – Benjamin Netanyahu. I’ve had differing opinions. Subsequent to the Johnson incident, a new Israeli settlement plan, for instance.
New Zealand: Prime Minister – John Key. Arthur dislikes him, which is good enough for me.
Nicaragua: President – Daniel Ortega. He’s back, and problematic.
North Korea: Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea – Kim Jong-un. Nuff said.

Pakistan: Prime Minister – Nawaz Sharif. Our sometimes ally.

Russia: President – Vladimir Putin. If Trump admires him, Johnson could hardly echo that.

South Africa: President – Jacob Zuma. Increasingly more opulent spending.
Syria: President – Bashar al-Assad. Hundreds of thousands killed in a civil war.

Turkey: President – Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Another “ally,” who survived a coup.

United Kingdom: Prime Minister – Theresa May. Too new to tell

Zimbabwe: President – Robert Mugabe. “The world’s oldest and one of the longest-serving Head of State. His 36-year rule has been characterized by gross human rights violations; resulting in him joining the world list of dictators.”

So who to pick?

Myanmar: State Counsellor – Aung San Suu Kyi. Not exactly the head of state, but one is hopeful about her influence in making the country a bit more democratic.

Canada: Justin Trudeau. An easy choice, I thought, but he’s pretty new too.

Vatican City: Sovereign – Pope Francis. This would have been an inspired pick.

Liberia: President – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (pictured). She’s another Nobel Prize winner, trying to stabilize her oft-war-torn country.

Germany: Chancellor – Angela Merkel. The obvious choice, picked by Clinton when she was asked. Last year’s TIME Person of the Year.

Jordan: King – Abdullah II – saw him on 60 Minutes. We should be spending him oodles more money to help with the thousands of refugees he’s taken in. He understands the geopolitical situation better than anyone in the Middle East, in my view.

But that’s a mere half dozen out of a couple hundred unless you wanted to throw in a few figureheads such as Queen Elizabeth II. Who’d be YOUR pick?

I should note that, for the record, I have no intention of voting for Gary Johnson.

Why people hate politics

vote-button-3I was a political science major at the State University of New York at New Paltz in the 1970s, a fairly yeasty time of Vietnam, Watergate (I watched the hearings voraciously), and the first President (Gerald Ford) selected through the 25th Amendment, after Vice President Spiro Agnew, and later President Richard Nixon, left office.

I remember the sharp partisan divide. Yet I recall a strong sense of duty to the country, being greater than a duty to party, taking place, as the Republican members of the Senate committee investigating the break-in, and the House committee that was considering the impeachment of a Republican President, resolutely, though not without anguish.

The political climate in the United States in 2016 is awful. I understand why people hate politics and decide to ignore politics altogether.

These are things I believe about the current season:

The Hillary Clinton supporters who have been nagging the Bernie Sanders supporters to “get in line,” to give up the quest, were wrong. I’ve been saying for MONTHS to leave them alone, respect their views. Bernie has been signaling, for WEEKS, that he would eventually back Hillary Clinton.

But he was waiting. Waiting to get concessions on the Democratic party platform. He had what is called LEVERAGE. You do not give away leverage for “the sake of party unity,” but rather exploit it. What Bernie did was, frankly, brilliant.

Sarah Silverman telling Bernie supporters Monday night that they were “ridiculous” for continuing to support the Vermont senator was demeaning and unhelpful.

Likewise, those Bernie folks who screamed “WE trusted you” repeatedly at Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA) during her address Monday night, as though they were demanding some sort of ideological purity, were extremely rude.

I appreciate the debate about Who Should Bernie Voters Support Now? Robert Reich vs. Chris Hedges on Tackling the Neoliberal Order. One can disagree without being disagreeable, as my mother used to say.

I stole this from Elaine Lee on Facebook: “A primary campaign season is like a nasty divorce negotiation. Each side builds its case against the other, in an effort to paint the other as evil, in hopes of winning the house. Also like a divorce negotiation? It’s most important to think about the future of the kids.”

The Democrats were right to get rid of the party head Debbie Wasserman Schultz over bias toward Hillary. No, she’s not getting a cushy job with the Clinton campaign, but the optics, with novice supporters unfamiliar with the nomenclature, could have been a LOT better.

She’s referred to as Hillary because there was a previous President Clinton. I’m not feeling the sexism here. Her signs have a big H, not a big C.

The Democratic convention, for me, was easier to watch than the Republican one last week. The GOP version was a dystopian version of America that was, frankly, exhausting. I avoided watching the Hunger Games movies for a reason.

Voting for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, or Jill Stein, the Green Party standard-bearer, or writing in Bernie, or voting for no one, is NOT voting for Donald Trump. I so wish my Clinton friends would STOP SAYING THIS. It convinces no one, because it’s bad math. If there are 100 people, and 50 of them voted for Trump, and 50 of them voted for Clinton, if the 101st person votes for Stein, Trump and Clinton still each have 50 votes. The ASSUMPTION is that vote would otherwise go to Clinton, when there is no evidence of that.
hillary.clinton
After supporting Bernie Sanders in the primary, I am voting for Hillary Clinton in the general election, for several reasons, some having to do with my deep fear of a Donald Trump Presidency, but others having to do with the positive attributes laid out by Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, among others. Plus this cartoon. It helps – a lot – that Bernie requested that his supporters do so.

That said, I strongly favor people voting. Even for Trump, Lord help us. Or vote for Johnson or Stein. As I’ve noted, I fear a write-in vote would be less effective because state laws vary in how much they are counted.

But I VIGOROUSLY oppose people not voting at all. If you know the history of this country, and how difficult it has been for black people, and women, to exercise the franchise, you bring shame to America by staying home. (I could have soft-pedaled that a little… nah.)

I freely admit I don’t “get” Donald Trump’s appeal. At all. He appears, to me, singularly unfit for office, as historians such as David McCullough have indicated.

And he invited the Russians to hack into a former secretary of state’s email to help him win an election?

However, I do not believe that anyone who supports Donald Trump is necessarily a racist, or stupid, or whatever. I was, accidentally, the conduit, of such an attack, on my Facebook feed, with someone I know personally bashing the husband of a friend of mine. There were 17 or so comments back and forth, and frankly, I stopped looking.

Ad hominem attacks win over no one except those already inclined to believe that point of view. Fighting on FB about politics is the logical equivalent of eating glass. Maybe a little won’t tear your insides out, but I’m not looking to discover the threshold.

This is especially an issue because social media is the place most likely to view calumny, an offense against the truth, in the political discourse. “We become guilty of this offense against the truth when by remarks contrary to the truth, we harm the reputation of others and give occasion for false judgments concerning them.”

Anyway, there it is. I expect a lot of, “Well, I agree with some of what you say, except…”

P.S. Here is a 1992 cartoon by Paul Mavrides, which initially appeared in Heavy Metal magazine. It’s annoyingly accurate, still. Used with permission.

Power.Mavrides

For President

As someone who wrote in Gene McCarthy in 1976, I have experience in throwing away my vote.

electoral college 2016.0627Someone linked to this article suggesting “the latest Electoral College prediction should have the Trump campaign panicking” about his chance of becoming President.

Moreover, this outcome meant he is himself being lowered onto his own personal kryptonite: Loserdom. This article was met with great glee, and when I didn’t share in the enthusiasm, I was told I didn’t “get” the article. Oh, I “got” it, but I think it’s not such great news.

For one thing, the surveys are not ‘predicting’ who will win the Presidency. So an 80 percent shot doesn’t mean Clinton is a sure thing. It’s a reflection of a point in time, before conventions, before the Vice-Presidential picks.

Another issue I have is that taunting Trump as a “loser” is a low road that won’t stick in any case, so it doesn’t matter. He eschews polls that are unfavorable, dismissing their reliability, or noting that it’s still early in the general election campaign, and if I were him, I’d do the same. Some of you will recall that in the summer of 1988, former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis was up by 17 points against George H.W. Bush, and he lost badly.

Also, I fear a big Clinton lead this early would suggest that voters can feel cocky, free to vote for someone else as a protest vote. We saw a variation on how well that turned out in the UK.

In both 2012 and 2016, Gary Johnson, former New Mexico governor, is the Libertarian Party standard-bearer, and Jill Stein is the Green Party candidate. It seems almost inevitable that, with Clinton and Trump’s high unfavorables, both of them will do significantly better this year.

Red State’s Caleb Howe wrote this recently:

When it comes down to it, when it comes to the Supreme Court appointment, when it comes down to the message we send, when it comes down finally to where to put your faith when you’re standing in the voting booth in November, I can only see myself voting for Gary Johnson.

#NeverTrump. #NeverHillary. #AlwaysLiberty

It is not simply a matter of not voting for Trump or Hillary… I’m voting for Gary Johnson. Because I believe he’ll strive for more liberty, less government, a good Supreme Court, and because the GOP and the DNC can’t be trusted to do any of those things.

Similarly, there are disaffected Bernie Sanders voters who absolutely WILL NOT vote for Hillary for President. Jill Stein is a logical alternative.

In fact, I recently tried to get a college student to do just that. As someone who wrote in Gene McCarthy in 1976, I have experience in throwing away my vote. This young woman says she’s going to write in Bernie Sanders because she felt “disenfranchised” by New York’s arcane election laws that did not allow her, as a voter not declared to either major party, to vote for him back in the April 19 primary.

My resistance to her position is less philosophical than practical. As someone who worked the elections in the mid-1970s as a poll worker, I worry that a write-in vote won’t be counted as a Bernie vote at all, at least in New York. l. In general, unless there is a large number of write-ins approaching a contending total, boards of elections don’t generally differentiate the Sanders votes from those for Peter Pan or Bullwinkle the Moose.

If I were her, #NeverHillary, who will not be bullied into voting for Hillary – and the bullies ARE assuredly out there – I’d consider voting for someone like Jill Stein for President, whose votes would be reported, as a candidate for a party on the ballot in most states. Better Stein than voting for Trump, who I personally find to be an existential threat.

I think, arithmetically, a vote for Stein, or Johnson is NOT a vote for Trump. It’s not exactly like voting for no one for President, because it will point out the dissatisfaction with the system. I think not voting at all doesn’t show protest, but rather apathy. As someone who literally had to argue to be able to register to vote early on, I do not appreciate staying home on Election Day.

Both Clinton and Trump are perceived more negatively than a third- or fourth-party candidate might sway the outcome in certain states. Does former NM governor Johnson take enough votes to alter the outcome in his home state? Will Stein, from neighboring Massachusetts, peel away enough Democrats and independents to give New York to homeboy Trump? I doubt it, but nothing in this election cycle will surprise me anymore, including Trump taking off his mask and admitting that it was all a ruse.

This will please some, and severely disappoint others, but I decided to vote for whomever the Democratic nominee for President will be this November. Barring an indictment, I assume that’ll be Hillary Clinton. (And if she’s not the nominee, then whomever: Bernie, who I voted for in the primary; Joe Biden, which would be a 1968 Hubert Humphrey pick…) There are some positive reasons, which I will lay out as the election nears, but it’s also for a lot of negative reasons. Presently, HRC has the best chance of stopping Trump, and a third-party vote in a close state could lead to a bad outcome.

Yes, the system was almost certainly rigged in Florida in 2000, but the results of Ralph Nader’s candidacy for President in the Sunshine State gave the crooks cover to purloin the election for W. I say this as someone who voted for Ralph in both 1996 and 2000 in “safe” New York. I’m just less convinced that any state is “safe” this cycle.

I’m also likely voting for the former secretary of state in direct response to the rampant sexism she’s endured. A recent example is a similar outfit she was wearing with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) recently. Guys on the stage are wearing the same, or similar, suits, but that is not worthy of comment. Also, picking Warren as her VP has been criticized as too gendery.

Trump’s shortlist includes the former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA), who has the same marital track record as DJT, and Chris Christie (R-NJ), seen as Trump’s lapdog.