Tag Archives: elections

Thoughts On Last Night’s Election

We voted yesterday, along with everyone else, but I did not stay up to watch the returns come in. I can’t stand the overly-hyped coverage on TV these days. Plus, the fact of the matter is that either way the election went would have affected me, personally, very little. That said, I do have a few thoughts now that it is all said and done.

  1. I’m pleased with the outcome. I voted for Obama the first time around and I voted for him again yesterday.
  2. I was pleased to see Maryland’s referendum on same-sex marriage pass. I’m glad to see people becoming more accepting. Science fiction writers have been making this prediction for decades.
  3. I was disappointed to see Maryland’s gaming referendum pass. I no longer live in Maryland, but I did live there for 6 years. I hate the idea of raising money through gambling, even if it is for education. If that is the only way we can get more money for schools, it tells me we are really in trouble.
  4. I was pleased to see Tim Caine win the Senate seat for Virginia.
  5. I was pleased to see Elizabeth Warren win in Massachusetts.
  6. Perhaps most of all, I’m happy that the campaign is over. No more phone calls, no more commercials, no more commentary on debates. Driving into work this morning, I saw a van picking up political signs from along the road. I think it was the best thing I’ve seen in this election.

I do have sympathy for my friends who voted for Romney and who were and are Romney supporters. Any loss for something you believe in is very tough to take. I imagine that I would have been bitterly disappointed had Obama not won reelection. But it seems to me that, where the rubber hits the road, the choices were not all that different to the vast majority. The outliers are the ones most affected one way or another. This is something that I think most people miss. For the average American, I don’t believe life would change very much, other than the couple of days of glory in victory or agony of defeat. A representative democracy virtually ensures this.

The Political Phone Call Blitzkrieg

I cannot wait until this election is over. We live in a swing-state (Virginia) and both parties have launched on all-out assault on voters. It’s not just getting out to vote, naturally, it’s getting out to vote for them. We probably received 30 calls this weekend–no exaggeration–from various politicians, parties and PACs, reminding us to vote, and vote for them. Between about noon and 4pm, it seemed the phone was ringing every few minutes, which was particularly annoying because I was (a) trying to write and (b) the Little Man was down for a nap.

How can the various parties involved in these blitz campaign not think that they are being annoying? I joked earlier on Twitter that the next political call I received would lose my vote–I’d vote for the other person. Not really, but it’s still annoying in the extreme to get all of these calls. Not only that, but the folks from Obama for America have been by our house three times to remind us where our polling place is. I knew where my polling place was before they came by the first time. But three times? I might be amused if it was a different person each time, but it has been the same person each time!

If the politicians involved in this election put in as much of an effort running the country as they do running for reelection, I think we’d all be in much better shape. For one thing, a billion dollars or so could have been put to better use–like helping the recovery in New York and New Jersey.

What’s missing is a national opt-out system. If you know where your polling place is, if you already know who you are voting for, you should be able to go to a website, fill out a form, and say, in essence, “Save your dime, kids, no need to call. I’m good. I know where go. There’s gas in the tank. And I’ve done my research (such as it is) and I know who I am voting for. Go bug someone who is still undecided.” Maybe we need big red, white, and blue pins to go along with it, pins that read: “I am not undecided!”

Wednesday morning can’t come soon enough.

Cute Animals and Politics

I am just catching up on some debate-related news. I know–I am days behind. I lead a busy life, what can I say.

I caught Mitt Romney’s comments on PBS and Big Bird and it got me thinking about cute animals and politics. Despite the notion that most Americans are issue-voters, it seems to me that nothing trumps issues like a cute animal. We are, when all is said and done, simple people. We love our dogs and cats. We visit zoos because we are fascinated by animals. And sometimes, a cute animal can sideline all other points of formal debate (such as they are) and make or break an election.

It happened in the fall of 1944 when President Roosevelt gave his famous “Fala” speech, in which he said:

These Republican leaders have not been content with attacks on me, or my wife, or on my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog, Fala.

That speech may very well have sealed an election victory for Roosevelt.

And, political viewpoints aside, Mitt Romney’s comments on Big Bird may have sealed his doom this time around. If you’re a politician, you just don’t go messing with cute little animals. Do we learn nothing from history?

SFWA elections

I voted in my first ever SFWA election today. The Presidential, Vice-Presidential and Secretary positions were running unopposed and regardless, I would have voted for John Scalzi, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Robert J. Howe anyway. I think all three have done an excellent job improving SFWA in several noticeable way since they have taken office.

The vote is done via paper ballots and perhaps in the future the election could be done electronically (we are, after all, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America). Regardless, I’m glad I had the opportunity to vote this time, if for no other reason than to acknowledge the good work done by John, Mary and Bob.

I desperately want an Obama victory…but at what cost?

I just got a call from the Obama for America campaign.  They were looking for donations for their Get Out the Vote effort.  I gave money during the primary, and today, I gave money to the campaign itself.  I was happy to do so.

However, I’ve got to say that I was rather surprised by how the phone person ripped and ragged on Republicans.  She spoke of Republicans as "them" and not in a good way.  It brought to mind references to "We don’t take their kind here."  Now, I’m a life-long Democrat, but I don’t think Republicans are evil.  I don’t believe they are trying to destroy the world.  We may have differing view points, but it’s no different then having a difference of opinion with your friend or your sibling.  You certainly don’t hate because of a difference of opinion (in most cases).  I was pretty disturbed and I wonder whether the Big Wigs in the Obama for America campaign are aware this is going on.  I’d be really surprised if they were okay with it.

The other thing she did was use mild scare tactics.  I laughed at these, but after I’d made my donation, and after she’d gone through her schpeal, and was telling me to help someone to the polls on election day who would other wise have trouble getting there, she concluded by saying, "Oh, and if see any Republicans on the way, try and hit a puddle and soak them all so that they melt."

I’m desperately hoping Obama wins this election.  But does it have to be so dirty?

Obama’s speech

I got back from the gym just in time to catch Barack Obama’s speech accepting the nomination for President of the United States. I thought it was a terrific speech. Of course, he hit all of the Democratic high points, which is to be expected. But he can really speak. As the speech progressed it grew in energy and intensity and I found myself turning to Kelly again and again saying, “There’s no way McCain can come close to matching this.” Of course, speeches like these are preaching to the choir, but I must admit, when the speech was finally over, I felt certain that McCain didn’t have a chance in the election, and that the only thing that would prevent him from being roundly trounced by Obama in November would be a brain-dead electorate.

I didn’t keep track of all of the good lines I heard, but I particularly liked Obama’s echo of McCain’s recent tagline, when he said, “Senator McCain, we all put our country first.” I found his “Eight is enough” reference amusing (being just old enough to remember the TV show starring Dick Van Patten).

Practical politics?

Walking home from the metro station this evening, I thought of an interesting question. I don’t know the answer to the question, but perhaps someone does. My question is:

In this day and age, is it a practical possibility that a middle class person, making the average income for a family in the U.S. run for and win the presidency?

The best figure I could find for average family income in the United States is about $70,000 per year. I ask this question because to me it seems nearly impossible. Everyone who runs for president either comes from wealth or has substantial self-made wealth. But they also seem very disconnected from reality. They don’t know the cost of a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk. Besides, it seems that you need lots of money even to run a campaign. In much the way that real estate in some parts of the country are out of the reach of people who reside in those areas, I wonder if there is a practical minimum income that would give someone a fair chance at winning the presidency. It would be an interesting study I think, in part because it would narrow the types of professions one could have. Doctors might make enough money (Howard Dean); lawyers make enough (Bill Clinton); businessmen make enough (the Georges’ Bush); actors make enough (Ronald Reagan). But could, say, a stevedore make it? Could teacher? Or an administrative assistant?

Given my knowledge of presidential history, the last president to come from nothing and to run for president while still having very little was Abraham Lincoln. Subsequent to Lincoln, a case may be made for Ulysses S. Grant. But that was then. If they were alive today, I’m not sure they would have made it. I think that the dream that anyone can be president is just that: a dream; and the first hurdle that must be overcome is having the money to do it.

I’m just curious what that income threshold is.

What happened to the romance of voting?

I got to my polling place at 7:15 PM and there was a long line. It took 45 minutes to get through the line, and I cast my ballot just before 8 PM, when the polls close.

My voting record

At the polls…a decade ago

Midterm elections are just around the corner. And that means that ten years ago was a presidential election, the second one in which I ever voted and the first time I went to the actual polls to vote, rather than vote by absentee ballot. According to my diary entry for November 5, 1996:

I voted tonight–my first time voting at the polls rather than by absentee ballot. On the big choices, my votes were:

President: Bill Clinton
Representative, 25th District: Diane Trautman
Senator 19th District: John Birke
State Assembly: Jon Lauritzen
DA for Los Angeles: Gil Garcetti
Prop 204 (Clean water): YES
Prop 207 (Lawyers fees): YES
Prop 208 (Spending limits): YES
Prop 209 (Anti affirmative action): NO
Prop 211 (Securities fraud): NO
Prop 212 (Campaign contributions): YES
Prop 215 (Medical use of marijuana):

Ten years later, I probably would have voted the same knowing then what I know now. What’s interesting is that I didn’t record my vote for the marijuana issue. I honestly don’t recall how I voted. It is equally likely then that I voted either way. I simply can’t remember and it’s too bad I didn’t write it down. I did say the following, however, “It felt good to cast my vote. It made me feel important, it made me feel as though I really do have a say.”

More on voting Tuesday evening.

Convergence

Suddenly, a lot seems to be happening. I got the remaining work on my big project at work organized today and now have milestones to hit each of the next 5 Friday’s beginning tomorrow. This is actually a good thing because it keeps me on track with what I am supposed to be doing.

Tomorrow, I get my flu shot for this season. It’s a service provided by my work and it costs $15. The thing is, they only take checks. They don’t even take cash. But checks? Who uses checks anymore? Now I have to dig up my checkbook and see if I actually have any checks left. I know I need to order more, but I can’t recall if I have any left.

Tomorrow evening is a happy hour, a bunch of people from work going out to a yet-to-be-decided-location and I’ve agreed to go, at least for a little while. Battlestar Galactica is on at 9 PM, but I no longer have to worry about that because I now have a machine that watches TV for me.

Saturday morning I have a 9 AM service appointment for my Saturn. Officially it’s the 105,000 mile service. I’ve been pretty good about bringing my car in every 3,000 miles since I bought it 10 years ago, but this time, I’ve gone a little more than 3,000 miles since my last appointment. Not too much, but I wanted to get it in for service before my drive up to New York next weekend.

I canceled my workout with Bernard tonight and rescheduled it for Tuesday evening. That makes Tuesday a busy day, overall. In addition to my Tuesday evening workout, I have to stop at the polls on the way home from work to vote in the elections. Also, I already have 3 hours worth of meetings on my calendar for Tuesday.

It’s as though a convergence of a bunch of little things is happening in a short span of time, making it seem like a whirlwind of activity, when really, it’s nothing short of mundane.

Primary Election Day 2006

By the time I got home from work, I had convinced myself not to vote. For one thing, I haven’t been following local politics lately. It bores me to death. For another, I don’t know what is going on with the Democratic party. The Republicans are what everyone expects Republicans to be, have moved in the direction of conservative. But the Democrats have moved in the general direction of blah. It makes me want to fast forward to the point in time when they have their act together. Thinking through all of this, I decided that I simply didn’t care enough to vote, nor was I well-informed enough to do so.

Plus, by time time I got home, I had only 20 minutes before the Yankees game started.

Having decided not to vote, I dropped my stuff off in the house, and jogged up to the polling place. On the way there, I told myself I’d only vote in those categories that I knew something about the candidates. The school was littered with campaign signs, they grew like weeds. I have pictures but haven’t had a chance to upload them yet. Once inside, I went through the line and eventually wound up at a voting machine.

See my voting record

Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs…

It’s that time of year again–elections are just around the corner. And on just about every corner in my neighborhood (and many places in between) is a campaign sign asking you to vote for someone you’ve likely never heard of, for an office you hadn’t realized wasn’t something that was make believe. These signs are a terrible eyesore. They make it look as though every house on the block is for sale. Each sign tries to outdo the other in catching the attention of a passerby, so even the coloring is not subtle. They might as well string billboards up around the neighborhood too while they are at it.

But that’s small-town politics, I suppose, when campaign war chests are measured in terms of hundreds or thousands of dollars, instead of millions.

Another side-effect of small-town politics is that the politicians go door-to-door asking you for your vote. If you are not home, they leave behind leaflets that clutter your mailbox, or end up spread across your lawn. If you are unlucky enough to be home, they smile and want to shake your hand and ask you all kinds of questions to which they always agree with the answers, and finally, they ask for your vote. I have a little fantasy about this type of conversation, so if you will indulge me for just a moment…

“What is it,” the candidate asks, “that you would like to see done to make this town a better place?”

I think about this for a moment and say, “Well, I’d like to see you get some business into the town center. It’s been empty for four years. And I mean empty. I’ve seen ghost towns in Arizona that have looked more alive than our town center.”

“Well,” the candidate says, smiling, “it just so happens that I have a plan which wil…”

I tune out while he explains his plan. I can’t bear to listen to proposals and plans like this. I want action. I’d love to hear one of these guys say: “When I get in office I will do the following things to make that happen: 1. Immediately hire a…” and so on.

“One of my goals,” the candidate is saying, “is to really clean up this town.”

I raise an eyebrow, “Well, you can start with all of the campaign signs that are growing like weeds around here. Isn’t there something in the code enforcement that says weeds grown higher than 7 inches are a violation of city code?”

The candidate smiles nervously. “So, can I have your vote?” he asked. This is another one of those things that bugs the heck out of me. How can one decide, after listening to five minutes of hooey, whether this guy is right for office or not. I need information. I need to see how he’s voted on various bills in the past. I need to see how he’s acted when people weren’t looking. I need to know this guy better.

But a simple test might do the trick, one that will see just how dedicated and creative he is. So I smile slyly and say, “Tell you what, my friend. You get all of these ugly looking campaign sign-weeds cleaned up between now and tomorrow morning, you’ve got my vote guaranteed. If the signs are still there in the morning, I’m voting for the other guy.”

Clearly, it’s just a fantasy. But oh how I wish it were so!